Live to travel

London Day 2 – A walk with Dickens


Day 2, Aug 17 2018.

August 17th has a special significance in Krishnan and my life. On Aug 17, 1987 – I landed in Hyderabad to start the second year of my college education. I met Vidya during college and like her sister Padma said to her on meeting me “now you have a friend” – we have been the closest of friends since then through all the ups and downs in our lives. On Aug 17, 1997 – we had reached Delhi after going bankrupt and it is in Delhi that we clawed our way out of the financial mess. Besides it was on Aug 17, 1997 that we met our dear friend Rajinder who has been the lucky charm for us. Yet another decade later Yesterday, on Aug 17, 2018 we are staying with Vidya in her house in London !

We woke up as always at 4 then slept in a little finally waking up by 5.30. Vidya made awesome coffee and for breakfast it was idli and chutney. I never told Amma that I got idlies on my first day in London because she would have laughed her head off … some karmic connection with idli I guess. Krishnan and Vidya then left to buy a local prepaid SIM card and to top up the two spare Oyster cards that Vidya has. They returned only by 12.45 or so as there was a bit of a queue.

We ate lunch quickly and got ready to take the Tube to Temple station for our first London Walk. We had initially planned on the Sherlock Holmes walk but chose to do the Charles Dickens one instead. Richard IV was the guide and there were about ten of us for the walk.

London is a walker’s dream city. The London walks are just tailor made for our kind of tourists. The Dickens walk was worth every penny we paid and every minute we spent on it. All the novels that Dickens wrote came alive and Richard transported us back to the times that Dickens lived in … some new things I learnt about Dickens – he wrote his novels as chapters released in a magazine weekly. You could read them weekly without illustrations or buy the monthly edition with illustrations that was a little more expensive. Finally you got the whole novel as a book. Fascinating !

As Charles Dickens was a lowly clerk in a legal firm, he always painted most of the judges and highly placed lawyers in a bad light except a couple. Our guide pointed out where possibly some of the characters in Dickens’ novels lived and where he himself lived. We learnt that most of his characters came from people whom we worked with or were neighbours etc. The walk ended at the office of Prudential Assurance which has a bust of Charles Dickens, the only one anywhere in London.

Some pictures from our “Charles Dickens” walk –

This street is where we started the walk. All the building around this area are lawyers chambers, courts etc.

The river Thames was flowing close to this place in the time of Dickens, but they had just started work on the Victoria embankment to reclaim some land from the river.

The Round church – Templar church?

The two giants that hit the clock on the hour and half hour were apparently removed for sometime before being put back and find a mention in one of the Dickens novels.

A close-up of the two giants

This area is used in many soaps and films as it offers several types of buildings – old and new. Lincoln’s Inn was built in the 1600’s and many of the buildings have been redone.

An old building from the time of Dickens – still standing

The Lincoln Inn’s chapel

The entrance into the Prudential Assurance building which is where Dickens lived and his bust made by a friend of his is kept.

The Thames river just in front of the Temple tube station

As we returned from this lovely walk we found a marriage ceremony about to begin in Chiswick and either the bride or the groom or both are Indians –

A great start to our London sight seeing with the Dickens walk. We have done one more interesting walk today and plan to do another one tomorrow as well.

 

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