We’ve been very lucky in our choice of location, because this part of London is developing explosively. While there is still amazing development still continuing at Canary Wharf, the area around Limehouse basin is renewing at a slightly less exhorbitant price and height. The presence of the locks and canal add to a sense that the old life of the city is still somehow there. After our more ambitious walk along the canal yesterday (and back through Tower Hamlets and the edges of Whitechapel), our morning walk took us along the river towards Canary Wharf, and one could only conclude that, while London is starting to ‘value’ the Thames as a natural wonder, it is still a bit under-appreciated for itself. It will never be Sydney Harbour, but the city shone in the winter sun over the loops of the Thames and was quite beautiful. 

Today was the boys’ day out, so we headed off to Colindale to the site of the old Hendon Aerodrome. Graeme and I associated it with stories of Douglas Bader and the Hendon Air Show in the Thirties, but it turned out to have a richer history that we new very little about; and the RAF Museum left all of us a bit stunned. Much more diverse than Duxford, and focusing exclusively on British military aircraft (of course), the sheer number of aircraft was quite amazing. Many aircraft were not represented, but so many were – and, of course, there were any number of marks of Spitfire, all presented in mint condition.

   

It took nearly the whole day, so one can only congratulate Paula and Sally on their patience as we wander around and through various exhibits. There were some great moments – the recovered stained glass memorials to lost airman, Guy Gibson’s VC, a monstrous statue of Keith Park, the Sunderland (a great lump of an aircraft), the grand slam bomb. The Bristol Bulldog was a thing of beauty, but of course has echoes for Graeme and me of Bader’s crash while doing illegal aerobatics. 

There as something for everyone, with lots of young kids having a day out with mum and dad. We were sitting under the cavernous bomb bay of a Vulcan when a five year old sat down next to Sally and Paula. He proceeded to engage them in conversation – ‘do you know what my favourite plane is?’ And so on.

Back to London for a drink at the Grapes (Ian McKellen’s pub, complete with Gandalf’s staff in the very tiny bar), then over to Canary Wharf for what turned out to be chicken and chips with a cordon bleu price. Oh well, off to Portsmouth tomorrow, so an early start.