IN QUEST OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR

This being Monday and a work day in London I realized that only mad dogs and Englishmen would get anywhere near the tube until the morning rush was over. With that in mind a lie in was not only the easy way out, it was the “smart” thing to do.

Sunday was a day of new experiences and a day in London that had barely any mainstream touristy things on the menu. Dale has been wanting to go shopping for several days and anyone can go to the big name department stores but we decided to head to the East End and shop like Londoners. East End Londoners, and hyper trendy sock head hipster Londoners.

We left Waterloo station on the jubilee line bound for a change at Canada Water. Simple as and we were northbound to Shoreditch. Shoreditch for those who don’t subscribe to pop culture or have had their head buried in the sand is the most trendy up and coming area of London. With the East End development curtesy of the 2012 summer olympics, Shoreditch has gone from little more than the poor cousin to Whitechapel (once terrorized by Jack the Ripper), to dripping with cool.

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We got off the tube and headed into the fray. All streets in all directions were closed to traffic. Stalls selling everything from vintage clothing to hammers. Mostly stolen, all operated by crafty cockney merchants that remind me of every character in the movie Snatch. If you couldn’t find what you needed it would have been a miracle. “Come over here love and have a look at my melons” came a call from a fruit stand. “Hey mate, if you’re not here shopping you must be shoplifting came from a stall selling socks and spirit levels.

Dale spent his morning trying on clothes once worn by another man (?) and I just wandered plying my hand at street photography. Subjects abound as some of the most “unique” individuals I have ever seen paraded about. Once the merchandise section came to an end we transitioned to streets filled with ethnic food stalls. I would have had to use an atlas to help me find a country’s cuisine that was not represented.

We had tasters to get the palette going, Dale decided on Turkish food. It looked and smelled top shelf. Then onwards to Brick Lane. Brick Lane is an East End institution & world renowned for the most Indian restaurants on one long street other than India of course. It all smelled great. From there we began to wander the streets of Tower Hamlets and the square mile. The interspersed modern architecture is amazing. With feet sore we transitioned to the Hung, Drawn and Quartered Public House for a pint or two. Job done it was on to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge for photo ops. Just in case you were wondering, it is $50.00 CDN to get in to the tower at the moment.

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I’ve been before so I opted out, but if you dig your Henry VIII history it’s a good’r. At the end of the day it’s really just the queens jewelry box. She has a big jewelry box with a lot of jewelry. From the tower and the north bank we hopped the tube for the journey back to the UJC. Quick power nap and all systems go for a night time Instagram mission along the south bank towards the Shard and St. Paul’s.

Mission accomplished and photos posted. We even made a stop at the globe theatre and checked out what Shakespeare we could take in this week. So back to the club after a quick stop at Tesco’s for a cheese and chutney sandwich and then lights out.

So here we are back on Monday and this morning we parted ways. Dale wanted to go shopping again and I wanted to visit Temple Church (Knights Templar) and to my surprise the Magna Carta was there. Well this turned in to a couple of hours as I read about the Knights from the time of the Crusades to present day. Of course I also stared at the Magna Carta and listened to the church organist play beautifully. I left the Temple to walk in this area known for housing all the top law firms in the city and clearly with that some extraordinary legal minds. The Old Bailey came next. All stops today were unique and interesting. From there I walked down the strand and gazed into the windows of shops as I simultaneously looked at the marquees of many super famous live theatres along the way.

As noon had just passed, I grabbed a sausage roll (2) and took my super healthy lunch to my Pugh in St. Martin in the Fields church situated in Trafalgar Square. Everyday there is a free concert with a classical performer and today’s virtuoso was Maria Marchant. A pianist of such talent and with a wonderful gift. An hour went on for about 5 minutes in my mind as she played. An exceptional experience.

A quick walk for a few shots of Trafalgar Square, Admiralty Arch and the Police memorial and it was off to marble arch to meet up with Dale. We missed each other so we reconvened at the club a little later. Tonight is a walk over Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and the Abbey and down Petty France Road to one of my favourite pubs. The real ale of the Buckingham Arms awaits us. The BA sits just behind Birdcage Walk and the Guards barracks. You could throw a stone to Liz’s house from there. Maybe she will pop by for a pint?? What?? It could happen. Belfast on Easyjet tomorrow and our journey to the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, and our room at the Europa Hotel (the most bombed hotel in Europe) awaits.

Wish us well!!!

Cheerio,
Mark

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