Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sunday on the South Bank

Spring has come early to the city, and, just like the daffodils, Londoners are unfurling in the sunshine, willing to trust in the blue sky and hope that the weather isn’t playing an April fool. I, like many others, headed to the South Bank, and went to...

...a chocolate festival. Or, more aptly, a chocolate scrum. The thing is, thousands of people mill around the Royal Festival Hall on a sunny day in search of something, anything, to do that doesn’t involve listening to chamber music. So any little market that sets up around the back is pounced upon by everyone and their niece faster than a cheetah in Nikes, especially if it starts handing out free chocolate.

The best way to imagine the scene is to picture a stall covered in bunting, manned by shell-shocked chocolate makers. In front of them is a jostling, heaving wall of people, all seemingly absolutely desperate for a taste of dark chocolate and chilli. Occasionally the stall holder will gingerly hold out a free sample, akin to feeding ravenous penguins. I had this vision of me leaping out from the back, catching a piece of chocolate in a single bite, and then vanishing into the crowd with a self-satisfied ‘arf’.

I didn’t do this, good people. But I might have done, had I stayed there any longer. Instead I went and...

...watched some break-dancing. We sat opposite Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and were treated to a fab impromptu display from four guys and a girl, all throwing athletic shapes and spinning arms over legs on the dusty concrete floor. We clapped and we cheered; we threw money in the hat and marvelled at folk who go out dancing wearing a crash-helmet. I mean, you’ve got to be seriously committed to doing a head-twirl; it’s a tricky style look to pull off, otherwise.

We walked on and heard music drifting up from the Thames. A quick peer over the wall, and down in the murky water there’s a bloke in waders, playing a guitar. He sings to us, and we see that he has a blanket pegged on the strip of shoreline, covered in coins. We turn back and narrowly miss bumping into a bloke dressed as Oliver Cromwell, strolling through the crowds, his lady-friend nonchalantly carrying a trailing pennant. Following behind, we came to my favourite place...

...the long trestle tables filled with second-hand books underneath Waterloo Bridge. Five minutes later, and I’d already bought a 1963 Pan edition of Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie, and the 1968 book Poor Cow by Nell Dunn, author of Up the Junction. It’s too dangerous for my wallet’s health to linger so we did a quick flutter around the arts and crafts found in Gabriel’s Wharf before retiring to a secret place overlooking the river, continuing our evening inside while the sunset transformed the water into dusky pink and shot silver.

Chilly, chilly is evening time
Waterloo sunset’s fine...

The Kinks, 1967


Old Kitty said...

Free chocolate?!!? Moreso, free DARK chocolate with CHILLI?!?!? And I didn't know!?!


Oh but seriously! Awwww sounds like you had a fantastically fabulously fun time strolling round the Thames and bumping into its many quirks while taking in the sites! Now where did I read about the guy playing guitar IN the Thames!?!? Must have been in the Metro!

Oh I do hope this weather stays - but I do know we need rain! Oh but the sun is nicer!

Take care

S.P. Bowers said...

What a lovely day! Thanks for sharing it. I've only been to London once and it was only for a couple days. I would love to come back and have a day like that. Especially if it involves chocolate.

Out on the prairie said...

Spring has sprung, and all are in marvelous activity. What a lovely time you have had.

Shirley Wells said...

That sounds like the perfect day. Wonderful!

And free chocolate...

I loved Poor Cow. I might have to read it again now.

Maggie May said...

Mmmmmmmh! Dark chocolate is my favourite! Chilli though...... not so sure about that.
I recently tasted dark chocolate with rock salt. Now that was strange.
Plain, dark Belgian chocolate is best.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Ah, this sounded like such a lovely day, from start to finish. Thanks for the share. Your writing made me feel like I was there.

Debbie said...

What a wonderful spring day. More days like these, please.

snafu said...

That was a great description of your outing. Many moons since I wandered around that part off the world, but you brought it back vivdly. Too right about second hand book stalls, my wallet shirinks in their presence.

Happy Frog and I said...

So beautiful Jayne, particularly that last sentence ...'continuing our evening inside while the sunset transformed the water into dusky pink and shot silver.' That is such a beautiful and evocative line.

Dolly said...

You have me so very homesick reading this. You write so beautifully that I can picture every scene of my beloved London (I think I know where the secret place might be!) and Waterloo Sunset has to be one of the best songs ever written about London.

I am so excited for your work on your novel coming along so very well.

X ps and thank you for a lovely hour spent catching up on your posts that I have missed due to college work overtaking my life :)

Anonymous said...

Very well described.alas the weather changed.

Jayne said...

Old Kitty - It was a fab day!

S.P Bowers - There are always things like that going on, so next time you are here I'm sure you'll find something similar.

Out on the prairie - We did! Although spring has tucked itself away again for a while.

Maggie May - That reminds me of salted caramel. Yum! Although I have yet to find soya-free ones. (Bah!)

Elizabeth - Ah thank you! :-)

Debbie - We all need more days like this, I think!

Snafu - Thank you! My wallet gives a little shriek of despair at bookshops.

Happy Frog - Thank you for telling me - I so appreciate it. :-)

Dolly - I loved reading all your comments - such a lovely surprise to see you had taken the time to linger here a while. Waterloo Sunset is such a wonderful song.

Wordmusician - Alas and alack!