Twilight at the Tower Bridge

London

Tower Bridge, just beyond the Tower of London, as the sun goes down. February 2016
Tower Bridge, just beyond the Tower of London, as the sun goes down. February 2016

About this time last year, Katie and I flew off to London for the weekend to take in some theater, a London Fashion Weekend show, some good food, some history, and a shot of urban living.

Our first night in town, we’d seen the play “The End of Longing” on the West End.  The play was pretty good, the stage sets were remarkable (both for their look and for their “rapid changeability”), and our meeting with Matthew Perry after the show went well– no matter what my daughter might tell you to the contrary.  (Unless Matthew Perry is actually reading this, in which case, let me take a moment to apologize and say that I’ll try to be much cooler if I ever meet you again, please don’t feel the need to take out a restraining order against me.  And, for the record, that person who called out your name before you approached me, thinking it was me, was actually someone standing behind me– and this is why I was totally unprepared for your approach and may have lost it a little.  Seriously.  I don’t usually blither . . . or shake–it was REALLY cold out too, and I was wearing a sleeveless coat in the middle of winter in London– not practical, but it was really cute, don’t you think?  Anyway, Matthew, we got off on the wrong foot, you and me.  I’m lots cooler than that.  Sometimes. Anyway, embarrassing as it was, I really did mean it– you are great.)

Moving on. . .

Our second night in London required a strong drink to make me forget how I’d embarrassed myself on our first night in London.  Katie wanted to go to a rooftop restaurant or bar and soak up a little urban chic.  Good plan.  But the chicest of the chic would have required reservations much in advance, so we looked for “in and out” bars that would fit the bill.  One popped up with potential, and in an area of the city that we know well and has some great views.  The rooftop bar at the Hilton Doubletree by the Tower of London.

It fit the bill well.  The bar itself was chic enough, if not ultra swanky.  The drinks and desserts we ordered while oogling the view were spot on– I went for a Moscow Mule, my favorite go-to, and something cheesecake derived (fuzzy memory, but I remember that the presentation was great).

We sat inside (it being February), but there is a very large and lovely outdoor terrace too, if you find yourself in London during warmer months.

The view as the sun dropped low and disappeared altogether was stunning.    I did feel urban, and I did feel chic, as I sipped my Moscow Mule and looked out over the hustle and bustle of London.  So much energy and atmosphere rolling out in the streets below and all along the Thames.

First, it’s the urban energy and the architectural artistry that quickens your pulse.  But then . . . well, maybe it’s my wistful nature, or maybe it was the Moscow Mule, but I think maybe it’s a universal truth that you look out over a scene like this and you find yourself not just overlooking geography, but gazing at history rolled out before you like a red carpet just begging you to walk it.

The Tower of London alone could suck you into its stories, never to re-emerge in the present.  (Because so many people who entered the Tower of London never did re-emerge.  So many.)  There alone you have 1000 years of history: a history that includes  Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Guy Fawkes, and Sir Walter Raleigh.  A history that includes the prisoner who escaped by dressing as a washer woman and walking out of the gates undeterred– a tale later immortalized by Mr. Toad in the Wind in the Willows.  And a history that, despite it’s strong-arm nature, notes its own possibly precarious existence in the legend of the ravens.  The flock of ravens that lives at the Tower, considered a menace by some, enjoys nearly sacred status by others.  Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, the Tower and the Monarchy will fall.  This legend is taken seriously, if not somberly: the ravens have their own Yeoman Raven Keeper.  (Brexit may be problematic, Parliament may be bickering, but rest assured that the Monarchy doesn’t plan to fall any time soon, and the Raven Keeper will see to that.)

If your gaze slides just west of the Tower and down the Thames, you’ll be strolling into Southwark.  Into the history of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, past The George Inn, the oldest (or only) galleried Georgian pub remaining in London, and a favorite drinking spot of the ever-thirsty  Charles Dickens.  Here, if you are terribly bookish, or prone to the seductive ambiguity of twilight, or more than one Moscow Mule into the night (which I wasn’t), you might get so caught up in the teaming past-life of the London streets you are over-looking (that you might have, in a less wistful mood, entirely overlooked), in their teaming vapors of past-present-literary lives that, each and every one, ask to be explored and understood– well, you might just never re-emerge.

But we did. We drank in the view and wondered at the lights and lives we peered out over, if not into.  Then we left our towering view above the Tower. We emerged energized, awe-spired, and feeling rather chic and smart.  We emerged ready to tackle more of what our fabulous friend London could throw at us.

If only it had given me one more chance at making a good impression on Matthew Perry.

C’est la vie.  Or, as my London friends might say:  th9sb27hg3

 

 

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21 thoughts on “Twilight at the Tower Bridge

  1. I doubt if Matthew Perry is remembering you as a blithering idiot. It must happen to him all the time, whereas ….. you’re not used to seeming one, because, well, you’re not! A great yarn.

    1. Thanks. You’re right, it’s a hazard of his job . . . which he gets paid well to tolerate. However, I wouldn’t underestimate my ability to blither– I may cover it well, but it is one of my great talents.

  2. Urban energy is certainly one aspect of city life, and history gives it flavour. However, when you have too much of it – as in Rome’s 2000 + years – the energy’s fizzed out and left room only for the chaos 🙂

  3. For me, who lives in a remote area of BC (see latest photo essay on klopp-family.com), it is always a delight to get a free ride into culture centers like London, England, along with outstanding pictures of the sights and tastes of a big city.

    1. Remote areas are so lovely too. We are not remote in Florida, but we live in a small town on the water and we’ve found that one perk is the night sky– so starry and beautiful! Another perk is the wildlife around us.

  4. Great review. It brings back so many memories of the city. Thank’s for the tip about the George Inn. If I ever find myself back in London I’ll be sure to check it out.

    1. Thanks. We loved the George Inn. I had a great meal there– a grilled goat cheese salad. (My kids said the fish and chips were only so so) Our waitress was very rough about the edges– but I thought that added a Dickensian charm!

    1. Thanks. London is remarkable. I hope you’ll have a chance to visit some day. HUGE city, but if you have the time to wander the boroughs and alleys, it really is intimate and charming.

        1. : ) Thanks. I’ll look forward to seeing your write ups on London! (Tips: stay in the heart of the city if you can; see a show, or two, on the West End; if you find yourself out near Portabella Road and Westbourne Grove, pop into the thrift shops there– we’ve found Harrod’s cashmere, Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses, etc, for pennies; go to the Tower of London and give yourself plenty of time– lots of stories to be told there; if you have an extra day to go to Hampton Court Palace just outside of the city, it is fantastic . . . Oh, there’s too much to tell you. Whatever you do, you’ll have a great time!)

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