Last spring we had a quick trip to London, hanging out with family there before showing them around Helsinki. With all the activity of summer we somehow never got around to blogging about the trip – so, better late than never, a few of the highlights of that visit!

We arrived on a Friday evening, but were so excited to be in a new city that we took a detour on the way to Jeanne and Robert’s place, exploring around London Bridge, luggage and all. It was a beautiful evening (at least in comparison with the cold weather that was still lingering in Helsinki) and we so enjoyed stumbling upon St. Dunstans in the East. This church damaged by bombing during WWII, and now contains a beautiful garden instead of pews. It was a lovely spot – definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area (location on map).

Flood-lit views of the Tower of London on our first night

We spent time in a few of London’s amazing museums – the Victoria and Albert Museum (the “V & A”), the British Museum, the Museum of London, the Natural History Museum… and a few others that I’ve probably forgotten! And the National Portrait Gallery too… At the British Museum we took two guided tours (introductions to ancient Egypt and the Romans) and were surprised to see Rowan Atkinson listening in on both occasions – is he maybe preparing for a role as a tour guide?

The Roman emperor Hadrian.

One of my favourite pieces of the tour was the bust of the Emperor Hadrian

– he sounded like an interesting guy and one of the better leaders of the time. The Casts Court at the V & A was an interesting experience too – in this fairly small space is squeezed plaster cast replicas of many of Europe’s oldest monuments. The exhibits are all “just” copies of the originals, but it is still very, very impressive (and probably important too as some of the originals have since been destroyed).

The entrance to the British Museum (Jeanne and Mom rushing in ahead of us in!)

Another lovely surprise was St. Martins in the Fields – a church that is definitively no longer in “the fields”! Located on Trafalgar square it is right in the heart of London. It was great to pop inside an hear a violin quartet practicing for an upcoming performance – it was amazing to hear how loud violins can be and how the whole space was filled with their beautiful notes. Two pieces of art also caught our attention there – just outside the main door is a beautiful sculpture of Jesus as a baby (by Mike Chapman) with an inscription of John 1:14 (“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”). Scattered in small groups around the church and the church crypt’s entrance were tall wooden sculptures of people – these comprise Robert Koenig’s “Odyssey”.

Sculpture outside St. Martins in the Fields

Travelling with my folks we also spent a day around St. Albans (visiting the Roman ruins and the cathedral) and Berkhamsted (having an excellent lunch with my grandma, aunt and cousin at Brasserie Blanc).

Ruins of Roman walls at St. Albans

To also mention two other eating spots – I enjoyed a meal at one of London’s Nando’s, enjoying all the South African art on display and some “local” music playing in the background. Far more impressive, however, was joining the family for a meal at Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen – very, very tasty. No to forget being able to enjoy some Zimbabwean boerewors with old friends at Sam and Jacques’ new house!

Nando’s in London – a quarter chicken with chips please!

You can read more about Brigitte’s subsequent summer visit to London and surrounds elsewhere on this blog (for example, her trip to Bath).

Looking out over the Thames to Big Ben

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