Friday, 13 June 2014

Flying down the Thames

When one of my dearest friends recognised that the cancer she'd lived with for several years was finally not going to be kept at bay, she sent me a text saying she'd like to take me somewhere special.  

We share a passionate love of London and even after all those years of growing up, working and living here, it still fills us both with delight and awe. When she was first diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was determined to whisk her off to see all those London places she loves. Her blue badge and the amazing access our museums offer disabled people, meant we could take journeys through the layers of London, Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian to its crowded heart, a delight in itself. We wandered through the roman and medieval galleries of the Museum of London and drove across the Serpentine to park just in front of those giant edifices of Victorian collectors and slipped into the V&A and around its circle of fashion. There were trips to bluebell woodlands in the spring and talk of car journeys through Epping Forest's tunnels of autumn beech trees. But in the end we returned to what we'd always done together -  just sit and talk and drink tea and talk and eat cake and talk. It had been lovely going out and about together, but the real treasure is just being together in a simple way. So when I got the text, I replied with that. 

However, she plotted and the next time we met up she asked if I'd like to go for a trip in a helicopter along the Thames. Who could refuse that! Her daughter Suzanne booked the trip, to our amusement on Friday 13th. 

The first treat was our cab ride through London, passing old haunts, the winding back lanes of Hampstead, the grand Houses of St Johns Wood, the dense green of London's trees lining streets and spilling from parks, and its people - how good it is to see all those people. 

The heliport was right on the banks of the Thames in Battersea. All three of us had prepared ourselves for a slight disappointment, that it would be very hot, noisy, over in no time. But it started well - there were only three of us in a helicopter for six. As we rose up it felt like we ourselves were flying, just the best feeling. And then London appeared before us in all its magnificence and I mean the whole of London. That huge Crystal palace ridge which throughout my childhood had seemed such a physical barrier between the suburbs and 'London' was just a small wrinkle. The photos are not the best but I hope give some sense of the ride

London with the Thames winding to the sea. 

Higher than the Shard

The 02 and Thames Barrier as the Thames goes to meet the sea

Looking over to North and East London 

Docklands with the Thames at each side

Mudlarking Territory: Tower Bridge, and on right St Katharine Dock, Tower of London, the City, St Pauls....

The City with its new Skyscrapers, Walkie Talkie in foreground with cranes atop and diamond fronted Cheese Grater behind right. 
lt was better than any of us could have imagined. So - it's the cable car across the Thames next.


  1. Thanks for the tour. We lunched on a barge in the Thames once. A wonderful experience...
    Prayers for both of you.
    Hugs, too

  2. I so love it when an aeroplane I'm in approaches heathrow along the Thames and fight hard for the window seat coming home just in case.......