This was a trip long planned, intended for Easter, and implemented at entirely the wrong time of the year, because we arrived in London with hordes of All Black supporters and a sprinkling of gold on our QF1 journey. Ironies of ironies, in that I would have cheerfully train-hopped anywhere in Britain for a game, but Dom and I both know that taking him would be a waste and I’m actually enjoying showing him around my favourite city.

Bringing Dom to London was an easy decision. He is unusually well-informed, although I would describe his reading as eclectic rather than extensive, but he keeps surprising me by making connections between the historical and geographical clues that I love to drop and stuff he knows. This is such a great city for history, probably only rivaled by Paris, because so much has been preserved in a small area; and London is extraordinarily dynamic. Once might have thought that the GFC and years of European worries would have clipped the capital’s wings, but not so. Infrastructure investment is amazing by Australian standards, business is clearly booming, and residential property is a Sydney-sized headache on a much bigger population.

Two stories that illustrate something about this city in the 21st Century; first, that I could purchase a £20 SIM for the mobile which has unlimited data. Last year, this was not possible when we were starting on the Coast to Coast, and the coverage in the north was spotty; but here, technology marches on, with fibre everywhere and satellite dishes ubiquitous. The second story comes from the observation at Canary Wharf tube station, that London has perhaps become even more dgeographically divided than ever. We hopped off the DLR, which has a democratic path from north to south in addition to its role connecting London to the Olympic development. Walking over to the rather more monumental Jubilee line station, it became clear that all of the financial minions that are the reason for the whole development are travelling west to home and hearth. Heading east, as we were, was a much smaller and less expensively dressed group. I suppose the oinhabitants of the East End and beyond should be happy they have transport at all. Let’s face it, those in power left them without much for 140 years. Such is the remnants of London’s social and economic divide, and it is still potent even as housing prices force all except the middle class of much of London.

I can and will write volumes about Canning Town, but I can tell you that its motley collection of Victorian slum housing, council flats and semis won’t survivethe March of new developments down the river. In ten years, this area will be shiny new apartment blocks with distant view of the River. I don’t know where the vibrant communities that fill the Barking Road high street with life will go, and no one would want to go back to the old docklands, but there is always something lost.

Anyway, we’re here, with sore feet after a big plod through Regent Street and Picadilly on Sunday after our arrival, and a day at the Museum of London. Monday afternoon was a wash out, but Dom’s verdict is that he is pleasantly knackered after a really good day. 

Me too.