I love London. I never thought I would say this, but I really do think that it’s one of the best cities in the world. Perhaps I’m biased, after all, I was born here, although truthfully, I never grew up in England’s capital. I spent the first part of my childhood in the quiet suburbs of Berkshire before moving to Accra, Ghana. To me London was a vast, noisy city that we visited almost weekly. It was so overwhelming, and each time, I was happy to return to Maidenhead where things were just far more quiet and idyllic. Since relocating back to the UK from Dubai last year however, I’ve slowly begun to explore the city more, and I’m constantly discovering new things. Of late, I tend to carry a camera around my neck and my mobile phone in hand, snapping picture after picture like a tourist. Photographing London has become a bit of a hobby for me.
Recently I ventured out with a friend (D) into East London. We started at the Barbican Centre London where we immediately hit the Barbican Kitchen, grabbing sandwiches, hot drinks (tea for me, cappuccino for D.) and even a cupcake to share. I’m a huge foodie, so I was eager to fuel up before we started. From there, we took pictures of the courtyard, with me marvelling at the Brutalist style of the residential buildings. I’m not keen on postwar architecture, but somehow it works very well here. Especially as a canal lays nestled somewhere in the middle, where brown reeds grow high. Three miniature dancing fountains compliment the area. It’s both beautiful and ugly at the same time. I realised very quickly that the accommodation was probably former council property that now cost a mini fortune.
After snapping shots, we moved into the centre itself, stumbling across an exhibition by artist Imran Qureshi. We stepped inside a darkened room (The Curve) after being cautioned a) not to use our camera flashes and b) to avoid placing D’s tripod on the floor art. I immediately enjoyed the exhibit; D took a little time to warm up. We discussed the spatters on the floor (they reminded me of blood), watching them bloom up the walls onto the framed paintings, depicting what I call a ‘slaughter of nature’. Where the Shadows are so Deep runs until July 16th and really is worth seeing if you are in London and appreciate art.
After our impromptu viewing, we walked to St Paul’s stopping to take pictures of the cathedral from several angles along the way. I remember visiting St Paul’s Cathedral as a kid growing up in the UK. All I recall of my trip is the Whispering Gallery – that has always stuck out in my mind. I really ought to schedule a trip as an adult and learn more about this iconic London landmark. For D and I, our target that day was the Millennium Bridge, across the street from St Paul’s, which up until then, I had not seen. I’m not sure what I was expecting – a huge glass bridge for some odd reason. I think I have seen online pictures that focus more on the transparent end of the bridge. I also expected it to be much, much bigger. Like Tower Bridge perhaps. As it turns out, it is a lot smaller, silver (metal) and wobbles quite a bit as pedestrians cross. D tested out his new camera and lens whilst I took shots of the Walkie Talkie building and The Shard.
The sun was quickly disappearing and the temperature by now was dropping, almost brutally in fact, and after about 30 minutes on the bridge, we decided it was time for another round of hot drinks. This time, I opted for hot chocolate at the Tate Modern Cafe. Although D took my marshmallows; I really don’t like marshmallows.
By now it was almost 6pm; we had been out since 11am and still the day was not over. My sister called, asking us to join her for dinner at Westfield. Her restaurant of choice was Ping Pong. It was my first time dining there, and I enjoyed the simplicity of ticking off our preferences and handing over the form to our waitress. We ordered baskets of steaming dim sum (yum!) and tucked in. Word of advice, let the dim sum cool longer than you think you should!
It was a great day; London is a city with just so much to do and see. I’m realising that now although it’s taken me forever. I think that now I’m looking at London through my camera lens a lot, I’m appreciating its beauty, from the gorgeous neighbourhood parks and meadows, and brilliant sunsets glimmering over the greenery, to starkly modern and ancient buildings juxtaposed side by side. D and I are already making plans to take in more of London with our cameras.