Until the beginning of the week I had no idea of what I would be doing on the day of my birthday. There had been mutterings about a day at the seaside with fish and chips but nothing planned and at the last minute we decided that it had been a long time since we'd had a day in London... so did that instead, ignoring the weather forecasts of torrential rain and thunderstorms.
On arrival at Kings Cross, we headed behind the station towards the Regents Canal where there has been much regeneration and restoration. In my youth this was a run down, seedy red light district (not that I would know anything about that of course!) but it is now a pedestrianised area of open spaces, modern water features and an abundance of restaurants. We chose Caravan, a lively open plan eatery housed in a large grain warehouse next door to Central St. Martins.
Having skipped breakfast in the knowledge this would be our first stop I opted for a poached egg on avocado on sourdough toast... despite being tempted by a fresh nectarine and amaretti pancake. I wasn't disappointed although maybe wished I could have had both.
The other member of my party went for the full brunch... and finished the lot! It really was as big as it looked.
Finding ourselves fully replete we headed towards the Royal Victoria Docks for the first of our mini adventures and another 60 x 60 wish... to ride on the Emirates Air Line over the Thames.
At almost 100m over the River Thames, the Air Line cable car spans for 1 km from the Docks to Greenwich.
We were really lucky that it happened to be very quiet and we walked straight on with a cabin all to ourselves. The views were stunning... as were the blue skies!
Two years ago we walked over the top of the O2 and it felt so high... but it looks nothing looking down on it here! A great experience that I can recommend.
Back on terra firma we made the short walk to North Greenwich pier and picked up the river bus to head towards the Embankment in Westminster. A much nicer way to travel through the city than going underground.
Our next stop was The Royal Academy for the summer exhibition. It is a few years since I last went and there is usually plenty to see of interest among the vast numbers of exhibits, but I have to say I felt rather underwhelmed by it all. It felt tired... but maybe that was me! There were some vaguely interesting sculptures and a few "nice" prints but nothing that really grabbed me. My favourite gallery was curated by Yinka Shonibare, mostly because it was colourful and a bit subversive but in truth I preferred the art we saw walking around Cambridge Open Studios last weekend. Pretentious and trying too hard to be "edgy" was what sprung to mind. And what's more... £3 for a bottle of water... that's just having a laugh!
Our next stop was another 60 x 60 list item and that was to visit the London Icebar. There is no doubt this is very gimmicky and something you would only do once but it was a laugh!
It is a small room tucked in a side road off Regents Street that is kept at -5 deg C. The bar and seating areas are all sculpted from beautiful clear ice that comes from Northern Sweden and even the glasses for the cocktails are scuplted from ice. Fur trimmed capes and gloves are provided!
We were only in there for half an hour which was really one big photo opportunity but it was fun... more fun than the RA!
We did wonder about this 21st century phenomenon that requires us to seek out such diverse and bizarre experiences but then decided it was best not to over think it and to just enjoy the fact we were drinking outrageously expensive cocktails from glasses made of ice sitting in a large freezer. If nothing else it was welcome relief from the heat outside... no sign of the rain or thunderstorms yet!
On leaving the Icebar we eventually managed to hail a taxi after walking a fair distance first, both being reluctant to head underground at rush hour, and ended up at Ottolenghi's in Spittlefields for our dinner... and a glass of fizz! As ever the food was wonderful... as was the entire day. A fabulous day to celebrate turning sixty and a couple more things notched off my list... past the half way point now!
We were home by the ten o'clock news and I even managed an early night... well, I am in my sixties now you know!