A weekend in London

London is a very complicated place.  It has very large things, like the new Shard skyscraper going up near London Bridge 71 stories finally, plus another seven of roof:

But in between these large modern buildings are some little gems:

And then there are grand old buildings like the Hop Exchange:

With a beautiful tympanum above the entrance showing the process of growing and harvesting hops:

There’s a bigger version where you can see the detail more clearly, here:

However, despite man’s best endeavours, nature always stands waiting to take back everything for its own:

Closer:

Buddleia roots anywhere, and we were followed at close quarters by a thin-looking fox later that night near Deptford.

We also had a look round the newly opened medieval galleries in the Victoria & Albert Museum, it was stunning.  Especially this breton staircase:

It has some fine detail, besides an interesting structure and function:

And even it’s own Green Man

And a jolly little griffin, from what I can make out on the top gallery:

There is also a host of amazing medieval ironwork, these particularly took my fancy:

Here’s the one in the middle in close-up:

The weather was kind to us too, and we enjoyed some decent ale outside in The Albion in Hackney with our son Will on a surprise visit from New York:

The Smoke

Down (well I live UP North, yes?) to London last weekend to visit my daughter whose birthday it was.

Lots of trees, but not much variety, I had always noticed there were lots of plane trees, but not how many.  They are everywhere, and not much else in the streets.  They looked pretty good in their autumn colours, and loads of leaves to kick about on the pavements.

OK these are mainly limes, but there were some pretty big plane leaves:

See the size of the sycamore next to it!

We went on the top of this building; The Blue Fin:

There were trees on the top!

It’s an extension of the canteen, rather more formal than the bodgery canteen, but it has some fruits, which turned out to be edible, but rather seedy:

The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), it’s a broadleaved evergreen, and the seeds are on the outside of the skin a la strawberry.  Doesn’t taste anything like strawberry though!  Native to the Mediterranean and Ireland and a member of the heather family.

In the middle of the Barbican (or Barbican’t, as we rechristened it, not being able to find anything doing on a Saturday morning) we saw a heron sleeping on St Giles’ church

It is a seriously strange ghostly place, will not be revisiting there in a hurry:

All those dwellings and hardly a soul about (it was All Hallows Eve) at 11am.

Maybe London looks prettier when it’s all put away for the night: