A Grand Day Out

London Town… not exactly the location you’d expect from me for a day out! After an early morning rise and flight on Wednesday… hey presto we are walking the streets of London. Well, not quite…

Perhaps a Londoner might guess our location? We were sailing along the Thames on a river boat! My daughter and I really just ‘flew’ down from Edinburgh for the day and were now sailing from a pier just East of Big Ben towards Canary Wharf… under Tower Bridge!

We passed The Tower of London first which has so much history behind it including the Traitors’ Gate to the left on the water’s edge in the photo above.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it you’ll see the crescent shape on the wall with the writing above it. On previous holiday visits when my daughters were young we did the tours but not this time.

On this occasion… we were heading for the more modern skylines. Sadly, from the pier, Canary Wharf didn’t quite meet with the expectations my daughter had for our trip after seeing it in a Geography video at school. Perhaps we needed to see it from another part of the river.

Many of the buildings we saw prior to it looked much more interesting like the blue windows reflecting across the water in the building above. What wonderful clouds and skys were seen from the river too.

Okay… so this isn’t showing any garden watching! A tight itinerary was required for this trip and a bit of research too so we could take in a few sights. A garden visit had been discussed… but reality kicked in on my part and it just couldn’t happen. Oh yes… but I had one in mind!

Image of Kew from Wikipedia
Kew Gardens is probably the most well known garden in London and we have been lucky enough to visit there on a few occasions when we have stayed longer. That… still wasn’t the garden on my mind.

Looking for extra photos for this posting I remembered that Kew had a new treetop walk …oh that would have been great to see! Mm… but would we have been brave enough to walk it? Oh… but I do know someone who has… thanks for sharing your visit Celia.

Image of Thames Barrier Park from Wikipedia

The Green Dock at Thames Barrier Park was where I would have loved to have visited. “Renowned international horticulturalist Alain Cousseran and Alain Provost selected colourful flowers and shrubs which reflect the river’s ever changing spectrum of tints, shades and shapes creating a micro-climate where varieties of plants and butterflies abound.” I loved the strips of clipped wavy hedges and was certain that walking through them would have had quite an atmosphere.

“Set within 22 acres of lawns, trees and uniquely contoured Yew and Maygreen hedges you can discover the delights of this urban oasis. An excellent children’s play area, 5 a side football/basketball court, great places to picnic and play, the Thames path, with magnificent views of the barrier, and a fountain plaza where 32 jets spring from the ground to provide a cooling and entertaining delight for children to splash and play.” Yep… I’d say A Grand Day Out for all the family.

Image of Thames Barriers from Wikipedia
The Thames Barriers themselves I would have loved to get a closer look at too. Although I do love the natural world I am also absolutely in awe of large pieces of engineering with strong design such as this making their mark on the landscape.

“Located downstream of central London, the barrier’s purpose is to prevent London from being flooded by an exceptionally high tide moving up from the sea, often exacerbated by a storm surge. It only needs to be raised for the duration of the high tide; at ebb tide it can be lowered to release upstream water that backs up behind it.”

“…constructed between 1974 and 1982 at Woolwich Reach, and first used defensively in 1983. It is the world’s second largest movable flood barrier (the largest is the Maeslantkering in The Netherlands).”

Ah… finally I am thrilled to be able to link on to another engineeering masterpiece a little closer to home and one I have managed to get time to visit.

Using less energy than used to boil a kettle The Falkirk Wheel can turn 180 degrees. I found that absolutely fascinating especially in this age of trying to save energy. I loved this structure shown here on my first visit back in 2003. As with the Thames Barrier this also holds back water but in quite a different way.

“The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It is named after the nearby town of Falkirk in central Scotland. The two canals were previously connected by a series of 11 locks, but by the 1930s these had fallen into disuse, were filled in and the land built upon.”

“The difference in the levels of the two canals at the wheel is 24 metres (79 ft), roughly equivalent to the height of an eight storey building.” It really is amazing to stand under it as it rotates. It is also amazing to be sitting on a boat as it sails in from the bottom level knowing that you are sitting in a boat lift! The doors open and hey presto… you appear at the top ready to sail along another canal.

This isn’t a garden visit so I’ll not chat on much more about this but it is definitely another ‘Grand Day Out’ however when built this was never even seen as a tourist attraction at all! It very quickly became a top tourist site so booking during the summer months is probably a good idea.

Back to gardens and a good idea for a ‘Grand Day Out’ over the weekend, one I cannot recommend more highly, is a visit to gardens that open for Charity. The two Yellow Books here in the UK (England/Wales and Scotland) list them all as do their websites. However, other gardens may also open outside the Open Garden Scheme so I’d suggest you check out local noticeboards and newspapers.

If you check out my menus above by selecting “GARDENING LINKS/Open Gardens for Charity” you’ll find links to other countries doing this outside the UK too… just incase you fancy an Open Garden Visit on your hols! Perhaps, you live in these countries and didn’t realise this was operating. Please do browse around.

Last weekend, I browsed around a very special Open Garden myself but ran out of time this week to post about it… it’s coming up next and then we’ll have a bird and wildlife update.

Suitably, this posting has to end with a link for… the many Open Gardens of London! Have a great visit if you go and if you are a blogger and have posted on any London Open Garden visits please do send me your link and I’ll add them… I’m sure I won’t be the only one that would love to read about your visit. shing you ‘GRAND DAYS OUT’ over the weekend 😀

The first three photos above were taken by me in London on July 23rd 2009. The Falkirk Wheel was taken by me in August 2003. All other photos have been taken from Wikipedia.

12 thoughts on “A Grand Day Out

  1. Looks like you enjoyed your visit to the Smoke, Shirl. It has changed so much since I lived there over fifty years ago. We often caught the Underground to Kew. I wonder how it feels on the treetop walk. Like you I don't know how I would react but it could be a wonderful experience to get a bird's eye view of the grounds.

  2. What a day! So much to enjoy. The bridge is beautiful. London is so many things to offer 😉 I would love to be there. Have a great weekend!

  3. Hi there John, Patsi and Stephanie, nice to see you all this sunny Saturday lunchtime 😀

    John – Yes, thanks we did even though it was a tad whistle stop! Ah… I bet it has changed. I am mostly a country girl and don’t know if I could ever live in a big city. Great to visit though! Yes, I believe from memory Tricia has done this treetop walk but I do have a problem with movement at my feet so could only survive going up there if the path was very sound and didn’t move. I agree, the view of the garden would be spectacular 😀

    Patsi – Excellent… did you just visit England on your trip or did you get to any other parts of the UK? Kew (as John mentions above) is usually an underground trip from the centre but well worth the journey when you get there and you could spend all day there 😀

    Stephanie – It was and as we drove a familiar road home after leaving the airport it was hard to think where we had been for the day! Yes I agree, London has something for everyone so even with a few days for a visit it would be best to plan out where you wanted to go to see if it was practical in the time you have. Perhaps you will visit one day. Thank-you, wishing you a great weekend too 😀

  4. Such a wonder filled day. Those man made sites are as interesting as a garden. I am glad you shared your trip.

  5. I am glad that you enjoyed visiting London Shirl. Born and bred in London it has my heart, the countryside has my soul.

    You are right the gardens that open for charity are often beautiful and never cease to surprise one by their charm….
    People work so hard to get them up to standard to enter the little yellow book. I do hope that they get lots of support, they deserve to…..

  6. Hi Shirl, we love the river boats too – such a great way to see London.

    We visited Kew in May (see: purplepoddedpeas.blogspot.com/2009/05/kew-views.html)

    and the tree-top walk is fantastic, I highly recommend it. I have been known to chicken out of stepping on high level walkways or freeze halfway along!!! But this was so fascinating (you can't feel it move unless you really concentrate hard) I skipped along in the tree tops loving every minute 🙂


  7. Somewhere I really need to go if not just for the architecture I definately need to go the london wetland centre, nice pics.

  8. Hola Shirl,

    I haven't been to the UK yet, but hopefully will do soon to visit my husband's family 🙂

    I have to confess that I was expecting some gardens in this post, but it was ok. I had a green day out yesterday. Stop by and see!



  9. Hi there Lisa, Cheryl, Celia, Mike and Mel 🙂

    Lisa –Thank-you, it was and it past quickly too! Yes, I agree completely it is amazing what man can make. Have a great week 😀

    Cheryl – Thank-you, gosh… I would never have guessed you had lived in a city. I agree there is so much involved with opening the gardens and some serious pats on the back are deserved. Have a great week 😀

    Celia – Thanks so much for passing on your link. I have included it in my posting now. So glad you enjoyed your walk. Sounds like I might cope going up it too… thanks for that 😀 Wishing you a great week 😀

    Mike – Yes, I had such limited time I never considered the wetland centre… I agree that would be a good visit. Thanks, have a good week 😀

    Mel – Wishing you a great visit when you do. Yes, you were quite correct a garden visit posting was due before this one… sorted now just for you 😀 Wishing you a good week, Besos 😀

  10. Glad you enjoyed your day out. Despite living out on the far reaches of one of the London Underground lines I have still not made it to the Thames barrier or the park. Embarrassing – sometimes you don't make the effort to visit close to home!

  11. That brings back memories, Shirl – I used to live round the corner from Canary Wharf, and for a while I went to a church near Tower Bridge. I think the best way to approach Canary Wharf is probably via the DLR, but then I have never been on a riverboat down the Thames – another thing you don't tend to do close to home! And, as another Londoner (well, London/Kent borderlander) born and bred, I blush to admit I have never been to Kew :-[

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