One mild December day, we caught the train to London again. From Waterloo Station, we walked westwards along Lambeth Palace Road, to cross the Thames via Lambeth Bridge. The skyline of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben is lovely from here, with only low-rise buildings surrounding it.
The characteristic red and black wrought ironwork of Lambeth Bridge.
Looking upstream from Lambeth Bridge, the growing skyscraper, Vauxhall Tower, dominates its neighbouring buildings. There are, apparently, plans to build more high-rise towers for business and residential use in this area, which is not far from the old Battersea Power Station.
It was just after midday when we walked across the bridge, but the sky in the west already showed pastel tints of an early winter sunset to come.
After a brisk walk on grey pavements, under the lime trees beside the river, we arrived at The Tate Britain Art Gallery. Our destination was the exhibition of The Pre Raphaelites - Victorian Avante Garde. I have always loved the Pre Raphaelites and this exhibition was wonderful. So many beautiful paintings have been brought together from collections across the world. There was so much to learn and such colour and technique to wonder at.
When we left the Gallery to walk back to Waterloo again, dark had fallen and the lights of a December evening illuminated the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey as we passed them by. Warmly clad office workers and tourists mingled on the pavements. The Westminster Christmas Tree shone its silver lights beside Pugin`s tower, where Big Ben chimes the hours, and in front of the elegant buildings of Parliament.
Crossing the road at Westminster Bridge, we stayed on the North Embankment and enjoyed the lights and bustling street scene. We walked towards the new pedestrian bridge at Hungerford, that spans the river alongside the railway crossing into Charing Cross Station.
Looking back from new Hungerford Bridge, along the Embankment towards Westminster.
It was strange to think that the area beneath us was once the site of the Blacking Factory where Charles Dickens worked as a young boy, pasting labels onto bottles of boot blacking.
Across the pedestrian bridge towards the South Bank.
The London Eye shone blue against the night sky...........
.....and the old ships, now converted into restaurants and bars, waited for early evening customers.
It took just a few minutes to walk across the Thames. In the Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank, a Christmas Market was in full swing. The air smelled of hot dogs and candy floss. A musical Victorian carousel of galloping horses swirled round and round, lighting up the riverbank as people gathered to look, to listen or to find unusual gifts to buy in the wooden cabins by the path.
If we had not been in a hurry to catch the train, I would have loved a ride on one of the old, gilded Gallopers........