As I wrote in my last post, London was hectic, and I am thankful for that because we got to see a lot. But there comes a time in every vacation when you just need to stop, step back and look, take a real good look, at what is around you; touch base with yourself, if you will, and with the city you are in. It was a Monday afternoon and after watching the Changing of the Guard and walking along The Mall to Trafalgar Square, my husband proposed a visit to the National Gallery.
Although we would normally have joined him, the Mischief Maker and I had other ideas. While my art-loving husband hurried through the vast spaces of the National Gallery and admired paintings created by some of the greatest masters, the Mischief Maker and I hoisted ourselves up on the pedestal of Nelson’s column and ate our freshly-prepared sandwiches from Pret-a-Manger: egg salad and water-cress for him and smoked salmon and cream cheese for me.
It was time for us to relax and watch the micro-world of Trafalgar Square go by. And what better place to do it than perched on the pedestal of one of England’s greatest heroes? Some 50 metres above us, the admiral continued to survey the pulsating rhythm of London and we too were able to ‘kick off our shoes’ and take it all in.
There’s a little bit of everything here: kings, generals and admirals, frozen in time; unexpected works of art; amazing architecture; fountains; and people of all ages, colours and nationalities.
Around the square, taxis and buses, cars and bicycles, whizzed by incessantly. Trafalgar Square is at the heart of this city. It is a place where Londoners gather to celebrate and to protest. They come here in droves to ring in the New Year and whenever an English team wins an important sporting event. And they come here to vociferously make their concerns heard.
But, up there on the plinth, we had our moment of peace and a perfect spot for people watching. I could have spent more time on my perch, enjoying the sound of the water splashing into the fountain basins, the constantly changing scene and the babble of different languages.
I was in my own reverie, dreaming of London, or my version of London, but suddenly, the strains of Hallelujah brought me back to earth. I landed into reality with a very gentle bump and threw some coins into the busker’s guitar case. I was thankful that he had unknowingly turned my moment of peace into one of those moments that will forever remain etched in my memory.
Trafalgar Square – make of it what you will but I made it into my moment of peace and reflection. I’ve always had a hard time deciding which spot in London is my favourite but I think that, on this visit, I can safely say that this was mine.