Our family walked around London last weekend. There was no particular reason for the walk. Just a desire to explore this massive, ancient city.
It is difficult to believe this incredible place has now become our stomping ground for a while. A simple train ride takes us into the heart of a vibrant, modern city that is steeped in history.
The city of London was founded by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. By the third century, Londinium, so named by the Romans, had a population of about 50,000 people.
From vikings to the Normans, its history is one of numerous invasions and conquest.
It wasn’t always the best place to live. In 1665 a great plague killed thousands of people. The next year, a great fire burnt down most of the city.
They say its reconstruction took more than 10 years to complete.
Its centrepiece, St Paul’s Cathedral was finished in the 17th century as part of the rebuilding project after the great fire. The still working cathedral was consecrated 322 years ago in in 1697.
The cathedral is a good 91 years older than colonised Australia. However, it is still a minnow compared to the many millennia of aboriginal history in Australia.
The cathedral looked beautiful as we walked on by.
My first impression of London wasn’t a city mired in tradition, but one that was constantly changing and evolving. Next to centuries old buildings were glass monoliths. Old pubs in ancient lane ways were just next to modern high street stores. London seemed to be a city that catered for the new and old.
We walked to the Borough Market — a thriving market place that sold delicious food from all over the world. It seemed like any other ordinary market — full of people, over flowing with things to see and eat.
I was astonished to find out the market has been operational since 1014.
After buying some treats to eat, we ended up at Fishmongers Hall, near London Bridge. It was rebuilt after the great fire in 1666 and opened its doors in 1671.
It’s been a few days but there were still floral tributes for the people who where killed in the frenzied stabbing attack. It reminded me of the sea of flowers that covered Martin Place in Sydney after the Lindt Cafe siege.
As we continued to wind our way to the nearest tube station, there was a fancy dress party at the local pub. People came dressed in Santa outfits to enjoy the festivities.
“Oh wow mum! It’s an army of Santas!!” my son pointed out delightedly.
It was an interesting thing to come across before we headed to the train station. It reminded me yet again that old as it was, London was still a living and vibrant city.
It was nice knowing the walk was going to end, not at a lovely but temporary Air BnB, but home.
Home for now anyway.