Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Day At The Docks

I joined the Singapore Lawyer, also known in some circles as the SSG, for a nice long lunch and walkabout around St Katherine Docks on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. It’s a charming redevelopment area sited to the east of the city, near to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, complete with a marina, hotels and other businesses and a batch of restaurants.

“For over a thousand years the site of St Katharine Docks has been a focus of commerce and human endeavour,” we’re reliably informed by the development’s website. The history, which one can read about, is certainly impressive, full of change and convulsions. But more immediate was the relaxed atmosphere which the place afforded, with a quiet and calm demeanour – yachts and motorcrafts moored silently, a white swan gliding elegantly by, and few souls around. Certainly a place that doesn’t seem archetypically London.

We had lunch at the pizza and pasta restaurant in the Dickens Inn, a well-restored former spice warehouse, but now curiously Alpine-looking, with its dark wooden beams. Having been denied the Tagliatelli Fruit D’Mare, which she pounced upon, I went instead for the Tagliatelli Carbonara, savouring the food and the wine, the company of a good friend, and the lovely view of the Tower Bridge, which loomed large out of the window.

We walked across the Thames later to check out Butler’s Wharf on the other side, buffeted by a blustery and cold wind, yet strangely stimulating, for it reminded us of the thrills to be had in London – this great city that we are calling home for this one year. Will it be home for even longer? Will the attractions and allure of this amazing metropolis be with either of us for longer?

We soon returned to St Katherine Docks. Located next to the water’s edge was a Starbucks outlet, where we ended our afternoon. It was housed within an interesting free-standing structure, and it was unfortunate I didn’t get an image of it. For it was entirely round, with tall columns supporting the dome. What could it be called?

“It’s a cupola,” I ventured, a little unconvincingly.

“No, it’s a gazebo,” she countered.

“But a gazebo is surely seen only in gardens?” And I would imagine as well that they were usually made of metal.

“Maybe it’s a rotunda,” she said. And we left it at that.

But as we were about to step in for our skinny latte and mocha frappuccino, I noticed a memorial slab on the doorway, which read that the structure had been erected in 1977 in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee.

And what was it called? A coronarium. Constructed on the site of the former Church of St Katherine.

But now it’s a Starbucks. What a difference thirty years make.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Secret rendezvous ...

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like where this is going... :o)

8:49 PM  

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