It’s certainly true that, as Dr Johnson said, that London holds everything that life can afford, and one can do it quite cheaply and simply. I was determined that at least one of our religious excursions was to see a building at work, so we did Sung Eucharist at Westminster Abbey before heading in the museum district in South Kensington. Howeve, on the way we determined not to waste a minute — well, I did, and Dom was suitably impressed by my (very sketchy) local knowledge. I said that I would take Dom to the Monument, but then I realised I was five minutes walk from both Leadenhall Market and the infamous 20Fenchurch Street. 

Walking over London Bridge seemed a very pedestrian task (sorry!) but this is England. On the Bridge, a flock of sheep and a bunch of blokes in red robes and shepherds crooks, claiming some ancient right. The accents revealed that their were not the All Blacks in disguise — and the relaxed attitude of the sheep should have given that away — but who would have thought?


The monument wasn’t worth the effort of climbing, after St Paul’s, but this early crowd obviously didn’t think so. Of course, the nearest bar is called The Hydrant!


Leadenhall is for me one of the most beautiful places in London and, oddly, I’ve never been there while it was open. The first time was on a photographic course at about ten at night, and the only other time was, similarly, on a weekend. Its colours and dimensions are perfect for photography and wandering the halls turns up all the oddities that one finds among small British shops.

Fenchurch Street boasts one of the most bizarre buildings in a part of the city that now boasts the inside out building (Lloyds), the Blade, the Gherkin and, just over the river, the Shard. 20 Fenchurch has been mocked for its resemblance to an early Nokia and achieved notoriety for reputedly acting as a reflector and melting a Jag parked outside. The last I don’t believe because there is so little parking in London, but as the thing wasn’t finished last time I was here, I thought Dom would appreciate its interesting form. Predictably, he was amused and interested where some would just huff a bit! Astonishingly, you can buy a ticket to the top — and there was a queue at  Sunday morning!

The service at Westminster was delightful, with a setting by Padilla. It was high but not over the top, and Dom remarked rather sagely that he was glad that we had not gone to St Paul’s, as I had been tempted to, because he felt it would have been a much more formal and ritualistic service. I suspect he was right, but I was glad we had made the choice to come to the Abbey, because the congregation mainly sat in the transept (the choir screen would have blocked the view in the nave) and we, completely by chance, ended up in Poets Corner. William Blake glowered at my shoulder — probably deeply pissed off at being memorialised in an Establishment church. The literary worthies of England surrounded is and, after a very nice little mass, we sneaked around to greet lots of old friends. I asked Dom now he had enjoyed the service and he replied that he quite enjoyed it, but as usual I had sung too loud. Sigh.

We hopped on the Big Bus and headed for Kensington, lunch and the Natural History Museum. Dom, as usual, went into museum overdrive, but I struggled with the sheer numbers of ankle biters and the tendency of the displays to talk at the level of a ten year old. In fact, the highlights for me were the gorgeous Edwardian building and the minerals collection, mercifully devoid of the prepubescent mass and a quiet oasis of wonders. 12,000 specimens and samples of something like ¾ of all known minerals, plus an amazing collection of gems. We happily wandered and wondered, while downstairs amidst th dinosaurs, Homo sapiens was demonstrating why evolution doesn’t always work the way Richard Dawkins would like it to.

Never one to waste a quid, Dom decided that we would use our free night bus tour. Our feet were the worse for wear but we crossed Westminster Bridge in the dusk and picked up the tour outside County Hall. Your Training College is now the Marriott, Mum: how things change.

Every city has its beauties by night and London is one of my favourites. We staggered home after another one of Dom’s amazing days.