Sunday 12 October 2008

Stroll on the South Bank, central London

A riverside promenade, heavily-redeveloped in the 1950s and 1960s, stretching between Blackfriars Bridge and Westminster Bridge, the South Bank is lined with tourist attractions, restaurants, bars and cultural institutions. Sturdy black vintage lamp-posts intertwined with serpents punctuate the fine views of the handsome buildings on the north bank of the river, including the neo-Gothic splendour of the Houses of Parliament. Near Blackfriars, the narrow walkway can get uncomfortably crowded on summer weekends, especially around the Art Deco Oxo Tower renown for its top-floor posh restaurant.

Concrete Brutalism
Further on is Gabriel's Wharf with its bohemian shops and the concrete brutalism of the boxy National Theatre. Underneath Waterloo Bridge is a giant outdoor second-hand book stall and nearby is a graffiti-plastered skateboard park, sheltered by the Queen Elisabeth Hall, where youths spin over towers of coke cans. On this stretch the walkway is wide, pleasant and lined with trees and street performers, most of them spray painted statues that come to life when you give them a few coins. As you approach the vast gleaming white wheel of the London Eye and the green patch of Jubilee Gardens, large crowds gather round jugglers, acrobats and comedians. Full of variety, London's South Bank is a nod to life's rich tapestry. 8/10