Shirley's UK Trip 2012 travel blog

London City Hall, nicknamed the Armadillo

Tower Bridge

View downstream, towards Greenwich

View upstream showing St Paul's & London Eye on the left-hand edge

The very safe, enclosed East walkway

What a nuisance! I really want to spend a day at the National Archives but this morning was clear & sunny without a cloud in the sky so I couldn't waste such a beautiful day. I didn't even need my coat.

The weather bureau forecast that visibility would be "Excellent" this afternoon so I headed for the Tower Bridge because I'd read that the views from the top were spectacular & I didn't even know you could go up the top when I was here last year.

I took the train to London Bridge then walked along the riverside. I passed an exhibition called "Winston Churchill's Britain at War Experience" so had to have a look. Obviously, it was about London during WW2 but I wasn't all that impressed.

Then I got to Tower Bridge & was happy to see there was a lift in the North tower to take you to the top. Then we were shown a short film about how the design was developed. I can't remember their names but the original designer died not long after construction started & the bloke who took over added all the fancy bits which make the bridge so special.

The bridge took 6 years to build & was completed in 1894, so in the scale of things here, it's not that old. You could wander along the East & West walkways where they had little sliding windows for you to poke your camera out which I thought was a great idea. The walkways were also lined with lots of photos & information about the bridge & about London.

Then you had to walk down the stairs in the South tower & could go all the way down to the control room & see the old hydraulic machinery which was originally used to raise the bridge.

I was amazed to find out that it's raised about 1,000 times a year so roughly 3 times a day, although it wasn't happening today. It will be raised at 11:40 & 12:05 on Thursday so I might try & get to see it. Apparently it used to be raised 4000 - 5000 times before they built the docks downstream.

I had fish & chips for lunch at the Tower of London then went up to the British Library to see the Lindisfarne Gospels because I'm going to Lindisfarne Priory, where the gospels were written in the 7th century, later in the trip. It's very beautiful but, of course, it can only be open at one page, however there's a screen where they show about 30 different pages & earphones so you get a description of what you're looking at, which I found very helpful.

I also saw the St Cuthbert's gospel which is the earliest surviving European book, complete with original red leather binding & has been on loan to the library since 1979. It was buried with St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne about 698 & was rediscovered in 1104 when he was reburied in Durham Cathedral. Currently, the British Library is trying to raise £9,000,000 to buy this little book (it's only about 3 inches across) from the Jesuits.

It was about 4:00pm by then so time to make my way home after another remarkable day.

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