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Celebration Time, Come On!

During our last night in Brighton we awoke to banging windows, and howling winds. Howling might be a bit of a stretch, but not by much. Overnight rain came through making for a soggy start for my early morning walk.
Not only was everything wet, it was darn right chilly. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I'd find it hard to imagine anyone could go for a swim.
Although it's hard to make out, there are about half a dozen swimmers on the left, as well as one brave woman at the shore line. Dressed in my spiffy quilted jacket, I watched her make her way across the rocky beach in only a swimsuit, no towel, or anything to cover herself. Oh my, oh my!

Before leaving the flat for the final time,  we fixed breakfast in the kitchen, although small, efficient enough.
On the wall to the left of this scene is the smallish refrigerator; to the right, the sink and a tiny bit of counter space, with a large window flooding the kitchen with light, while affording a nice view of the street. 

Saying goodbye to Brighton, we boarded this train to London,
zooming by pastoral scenes such as this as we traveled:
With Matt's guidance we made it to our hotel, situated on a small street with two landmarks at either end of said street. Here is a view down one end:
and this is what we saw at the other--the complete opposite!
We were very pleased with the accommodations with bonus points for an elevator to the fifth floor! This is in an historic area of the city called Southwark which I never did learn to pronounce properly. 
Before touring the cathedral above, which is Matt's home church by the way, we met Tom for lunch at the very, very busy Borough Market.
Begun in 1851, it must have been quite a different place back then.
There is something for everyone, and there were lots and lots of everyones while we were there. 
After the relative calm of Brighton we had to get used to crowds quickly!
Following lunch, we took our time exploring the cathedral,
before heading back to the hotel to meet Tom's parents who traveled to London from Melton Mowbray, earlier in the day. It was so lovely to see them again with Jane saying she felt like she knew me better than I did her because she's been reading my blog since last we met two years ago. :)

Tom graciously purchased tickets for us all to go to the top of The Shard which dwarfs everything in the neighborhood.
Jane is not one much for heights, so it was quite a cause for celebration that she not only managed to go up to the 72nd floor observation deck, but enjoy every minute of it! You know that song, "I Can See for Miles", well that's says it all; according to one of the helpful guides up there, with the naked eye on a clear day you can see for 40 miles, which is just about how far Brighton is from London.
The River Thames sparkling in the afternoon sunlight. Look closely at this photo and you'll see something unexpected:
Cranes everywhere in London; Bruce counted 28 on a walk along the Southbank! 
From the left, Ray, Tom, Bruce, Jane and Matt who is also sporting a quilted jacket. He took this one of us:
That orange shirt stands out in a sea of dark doesn't it?!!

The long shadow of The Shard falls onto the Tower of London, which pretty much sums up one of my impressions of the city--the blending of the very, very old with the new and modern.
With views from the tallest building in the European Union, it's hard not to take loads and loads of photographs:
Which reminds me--this past Sunday, my market neighbor Kathy brought me the National Geographic photography issue to read while waiting for customers. Here's a mind blowing statistic for you: 2 million photographs were taken for the magazine in 2012, with only one in 1,313 being published!!! I took around 1,000 photographs in eight days, with maybe one or two good enough to print. Mostly I think about my readers while traveling, and if something super pops up along the way, all the better!

My zoom lens let's us get a closer look at The Tower of London from 72 floors up:
The old with the new...
Next up--dinner at the Tate Modern, which according to the link is the most visited modern art gallery in the world. Nadia, Tom's oldest friend, along with her boyfriend Simon met up with us as we walked along the Thames. We saw no art, but we did have this view from our table:
Before the recent development of skyscrapers in London, St. Paul's Cathedral dominated the skyline. What's that blue line on the right you ask? The Millennium Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge opened in, you guessed it, June of the Millennium.
Tom looks so darn cute here doesn't he? So, we had a lovely meal, becoming even more so as the night progressed. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, Matt rises from his chair to announce that he and Tom
are going to make their relationship official in the new year!!!! We all laughed and cried, so very happy that soon, very soon, anyone can marry whomever they love! It's a shame this was blurry, but I'm posting it nonetheless because, despite the poor quality, it seems to capture the pure joy of the moment. 
Needless to say, our walk back to the hotel was a happy one. What began as a somewhat gloomy day in Brighton, closed as a monumental one in London. Celebration time indeed.
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