In December members enjoyed a boat ride up the Thames to the London Eye to see the spectacular sights of the capital by night, writes Sue Sheldrake
A large group of excited U3A members set off by Hardings coach for Greenwich. After an unusually swift and trouble-free journey we arrived at Greenwich Pier alongside the Cutty Sark. We boarded our boat as the skies were darkening and set off.
On all sides lights were twinkling. As we cruised along we were given an interesting commentary about the places we were passing. We passed Canary Wharf and then Limehouse, where the kilns stood that made the lime and bricks to rebuild London after the Great Fire. Soon we passed St Katharine Docks and its marina and the Tower of London and then had a wonderful view of Tower Bridge lit up with thousands of lights. The river water here is clean enough to attract trout, salmon and seals.
Further on an enormous new sewer is being built to replace the Victorian one, which cannot cope with the storm water and flooding. We passed HMS Belfast, which saw service at the sinking of the Scharnhorst in 1943. There was a wonderful view of the Shard, which was all lit up. Then we passed Southwark Cathedral, which is almost hidden by enormous office blocks. Shakespeare rehearsed at the Anchor tavern, parts of which are 400 years old, before the Globe Theatre was built.
We passed Tate Modern to our left and under the ‘wibbly wobbly’ bridge by St Paul’s Cathedral, which has the second largest unsupported dome in the world; under Blackfriars Bridge, named for the Black Friars who originally lived here; and past the Oxo Tower, which overcame planning objections by installing windows shaped to advertise Oxo. We sailed on past the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall, which has the best acoustics in the world, to Westminster Pier. An amazing journey.
Then it was by coach again to the London Eye. Soon we were soaring over the River Thames. Cranes all around London were lit up showing us all the developing sites. They reminded me of the searchlights during the war sweeping the skies to spot enemy bombers. We excitedly vied with each other identifying the buildings around us.
After that we explored the delights of Old County Hall and were treated to a delicious fish and chip supper.
The evening ended with a tired but happy group of members travelling home in a comfortable coach. Many thanks to Sue Willis and her team.