Day 2. A walk through central London

After breakfast at our hotel in Kensington, we took the District Line to East Putney with the intention of taking a stroll along the Thames Path towards Barnes.  However, our plans were dashed as it started to pour with rain just as we left the underground station.  Instead, we decided a morning’s shopping was more appropriate so we wandered along Putney High Street, popping in and out of stores trying to avoid the torrential rain as much as possible.

Putney High Street, London
Putney High Street

After a bite to eat we took the train to Waterloo station.  Do remember that Oyster cards can also be used on National rail services in London at no extra charge.  Waterloo is London’s busiest station but like all other stations up and down the country at the moment it was practically deserted as we walked through the concourse.

The London Eye and South Bank
The London Eye on the South Bank

Fortunately, the rain showers had eased so rather than a riverside walk in Putney we strolled along the South Bank from Waterloo to Westminster.  The London Eye is the main attraction along the embankment and on a clear day it provides spectacular views of the city.  This giant Ferris wheel takes around 30 minutes to complete a rotation and was the world’s tallest when it was constructed in 1999.

Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament
Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament

Despite the weather being overcast I never fail to be impressed with the views across the river to the Palace of Westminster and of Big Ben, the great bell in the Elizabeth Tower.  The tower has been covered by scaffolding for three years due to major renovations but it was pleasing to at least be able to see part of it visible once again.  Parliament is home to the House of Commons and House of Lords.  Tours of the Houses of Parliament are offered each Saturday and most weekdays during parliamentary recesses but are temporarily suspended.

The Women of World War II Memorial, Whitehall
The Women of World War II Memorial, Whitehall

Our walk took us across Westminster Bridge passing Westminster Abbey on our left and then onto Parliament Street which continues as far as the Cenotaph from where it changes its name to Whitehall.  The name of this road comes from the Palace of Whitehall which occupied most of the area in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Banqueting House is now the only surviving part of the palace.  Alongside the Cenotaph is the  memorial to the Women of World War II which was unveiled by the Queen in 2005.

A glimpse of the Downing Street Christmas tree
A glimpse of the Downing Street Christmas tree

We had now reached Downing Street and were able to peer through the railings at the end of the road to get a glimpse of the Christmas tree outside of No. 10, the Prime Minister’s residence.

Horse Guards Parade, London
Horse Guards Parade, London

A few steps further and we had arrived at Horse Guards Parade.  With few people around, it was the perfect opportunity to photo the guards on horseback.  We then wandered through the archway into the large parade ground where the Trooping of the Colour takes place.

Horse Guards Parade, London
Horse Guards Parade

From there, it was just a short walk to the eastern entrance of St. James Park, the oldest of London’s parks.  It is surrounded by some of the capital’s famous landmarks yet remains a haven of tranquillity.

Duck Island Cottage, St. James Park
Duck Island Cottage, St. James Park

The park contains a small nature reserve known as Duck Island which is home to the park’s bird collection.  Next to the nature reserve stands the picturesque Duck Island Cottage, a small lodge serving as the offices of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust.

Pelicans in St James Park, London
Pelicans in St. James Park, London

Pelicans were first introduced to the park in 1664 as a gift from the Russian Ambassador.  As recent as last year, three pelicans arrived as a gift from Prague Zoo and joined a colony of three others in the park.  The pelicans are free to roam but rarely stray far from the lakeside.

St. James Park Underground Station
St. James Park Underground Station

Leaving the park, we took the underground from nearby St. James Park station along the District & Circle Line to Sloane Square, an affluent district in the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.  This is one of my favourite places in central London for shopping and is easily walkable from Knightsbridge.

Duke of York Square, Kings Road Chelsea
The Duke of York Square

Do take care when leaving the station as the road crossing gives the impression of a pedestrian walkway.  It is in fact a shared surface intended for both pedestrians and vehicles but as both the pavement and road are built to the same level pedestrians often don’t realise and walk out onto approaching traffic.  A few steps from the station lies the Duke of York Square built on the former site of the Duke of York’s army barracks.  The square is of a contemporary design and surrounded by more than 30 high end stores.

Partridges grocers, Sloane Square
Partridges grocery store

In one corner stands an absolutely wonderful grocery store called Partridges.  The shop is one of just a handful of family grocers remaining in central London.  It has the esteem of being grocer to Her Majesty the Queen, having held a Royal Warrant since 1994.  The shop contains a bar/cafe and holds a popular open-air fine food market in the square each Saturday.

Entrance to the Saatchi Gallery, London
Entrance to the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

At the heart of the square lies the Saatchi Gallery which was opened in 1985 by Charles Saatchi the co-founder with his brother Maurice of Saatchi & Saatchi, the world’s largest advertising agency at that time.  The gallery is housed in a large neo-classical building and offers free admission.

Festive lights on Kings Road, Chelsea
Festive lights on the Kings Road

Running alongside the Duke of York Square is the Kings Road which stretches through Chelsea and Fulham in west London.  It became famous in the 1980’s when the ‘Sloane Ranger’ effortless yet sophisticated style emerged.  Diana, Princess of Wales was considered the archetypal Sloane Ranger and many followed her example.

Christmas Tree, Sloane Square, London
Christmas tree in Sloane Square, London

Lining both sides of the Kings Road are a wide collection of shops catering for all tastes from designer brands to Boots and Marks & Spencer.  Near the underground station are two of my favourites, one is the department store Peter Jones, part of the John Lewis partnership and the other, just across the road is a branch of Boden, filled with lots of lovely dresses in natural fibres and attractive prints.

Kings Cross Station, London
Kings Cross Station, London

As darkness fell, our short break in London also came to an end and it was time for us to make our way back to Kings Cross station for the journey home.  London may be quite different without its usual hustle and bustle but it’s still a wonderful city to be enjoyed at any time and the perfect pre-Christmas treat for us.

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71 thoughts on “Day 2. A walk through central London

  1. I lived in London for several years, but it has been a long time between drinks. One day I will return. Your pelicans made me laugh. We have many on the coast where we live, and when they fly past our fifth floor window in formation, they look like so many Airbus’s!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience 😁 Especially for those of us who has never been to London but reading your post after watching “The Crown” gave me real feels of places like Downing Street!! London seems an amazing place to go and explore and hopefully someday I can make that happen!! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reena Deshmukh

    Really an interesting read. I loved the whole cottage view. I know most of the places might look deserted, but London has successfully managed to charm people, despite the pandemic. Either crowded or not, the streets and corners look great. I would be delighted to visit after pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words Reena. I do hope you get an opportunity t visit London after the pandemic, it would certainly be a wonderful treat to look forward to. Have you ever visited? Thanks for commenting Reena, your thoughts are always appreciated. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Reena Deshmukh

        No, not yet, but my sister lived there for some time, and while chatting, she always got me jealous with her London stay, hehe. She always had interesting places, eateries, etc. to tell about. I have plans for our vacation travel in 2021, so still hope that we might be able to catch up with the lovely city.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so pleased you also enjoy walking around London. Let’s hope it won’t be too much longer until everyone can return. Incidentally, I loved my visit to Manila a couple of years ago and can’t wait to return to explore more of your beautiful country.

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  4. My niece spent two years teaching there before returning to get married, She loved every minute of her time there and valued her time meeting people in this original melting pot of cultures. We are so sad the pandemic is affecting this city so much.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s so sad to see London deserted Ian but I’m certain it’s the same with all towns and cities around the world. I’m confident things will bounce back it’s just going to take time. How lovely that your niece had the experience of living and working in London, a memory to cherish evermore.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So pleased to read that you walked in many of my footsteps on your last visit to London. London feels strange without its commuters and tourists but even on a gloomy day it’s an amazing city. Glad you got to stay in style! Hope your weekend is progressing well. Take care. M.

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  5. Haha, I feel like a trip down memory lane when I read this post and look at your pictures. I used to work in Putney and went to the shopping center many times and I also worked around St James’s Park underground station and went to the park around the corner almost every day during my lunch break. I miss London!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s so nice that this post brought back fond memories of your time living and working in London. It’s so sad to see the city without its usual commuters and tourists but hopefully everyone will be able to return within the coming months. Hope your weekend is going well. Marion

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    1. I agree London does look eerily quieter
      without its commuters and tourists but still enchanting nonetheless. My son works in the centre of Manchester but has only been there twice since March, to the airport and a weekend stay back in July. I really feel for all the hotels and businesses the outlook is so bleak. Let’s hope it all ends soon. M x

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    1. Thanks for taking an interest in my London posts. It’s good that they brought back some fond memories and hope it won’t be too much longer before you are able to return and experience the city for yourself. In the meantime take care and enjoy the weekend. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Even without the beating heart of daily commuters and tourists London can lift my spirits. Let’s hope everyone can return to enjoy the city in the coming months. Hope your weekend is progressing well. Have you any plans? It’s freezing cold here so we’re going to wrap up warm for a walk soon. Marion

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  6. I visited London and saw Big Ben just several months prior to its scaffolding; it was towering and gorgeous, and I hope that renovations will be completed soon! Hope to return to London someday, as your post gives me all the more reason to go again. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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