London’s South Bank, Geographically Inexact

The famous bends of London’s river mean that at a point where you are actually on the east bank of the Thames, you’ll find the South Bank.

Not that it seems to worry anyone.

Geographically inexact, the South Bank Arts Complex and river side walk, is a brilliant, yet undersung, part of the capital, whatever the compass point or season.

Here, sixty years ago people gathered for the Festival of Britain; a concerted effort to cheer a population who had endured the dark days of the Second World War, and the austerity that followed.

My parents went. Married three years and pretty penniless. I imagine my mother, in the first weeks of pregnancy, strolling wide-eyed, seeing a glimpse of this future world where her child, my older sister, would grow up.

Today, even in recession, people on the South Bank look look well fed and well dressed.

They are enjoying a festival to remember that festival of 1951, which was itself a conscious echo of the Great Exhibition of 1851, an event that spawned Expos around the globe.


I had a meeting on the South Bank the other morning. Arriving early, I took the opportunity to use my camera.

I’ve been admiring the Urban Fox sculpture for weeks, every time I’ve crossed Waterloo Bridge on the bus.

Urban Fox Sculpture

I think he looks rather sad, but I was amused to see how the pigeons were using him as a roost.

Beside the river, there’s a with a seaside theme. Early in the morning, there was only one little family busy with the buckets and spades.

At the Beach

But by lunchtime, the area was full of chatting adults and playing children.

The sun shone, and with seagulls wheeling and crying overhead, it really felt like the seaside.

Fortunately, none of the real life gulls was quite as big as this one advertising the work of the RSPB.


Outside Foyles, there was a croquet game in full swing.

Croquet Game

Everyone was enjoying the beach huts.

Beach Huts Promenade

Though for a calmer view,and a glimpse of the Thames forsehore at low tide by Festival Pier, you needed to go onto the Jubilee Bridges.

A View From the Bridge

It was a bit early for the Kinks’ waterloo Sunset to be appropriate, but the sun is going down as I type, and that’s good enough for me!

12 thoughts on “London’s South Bank, Geographically Inexact

  1. This is wonderful! You are making me even more excited to move there. 3 more weeks. I’ve been hearing that there are a ton of seagulls. Is that true? I love the Fox sculpture! And I don’t know if I’ve ever played croquet. But it looks like something I will try. Loved the video. Thanks! I can’t wait!

    • Yes, lots and lots of gulls,and cormorants. You see swans, coots and ducks too, right in the centre of town.
      I have some pix on my blog somewhere, last year I think.
      Sounds like you’re going to up for some cat sitting too. You’ll be very popular!

  2. Not so much a job as something people need!

    Not Cat goes to the cattery, but often people want someone they know and can trust to take care of their cats.

    I had Australian friends, living in a horrid shared flat, who stayed and looked after Cat a couple of times. It worked really well, as they were glad to be on their own and Cat loved them.

    Vicki, if you read this, add your mite!

    • 🙂 I know that feeling. We are always looking for people to watch our boys, Miles (dog) and Atticus (cat). It is nice to have people you know and trust.

  3. Lovely post Isobel, and the pix are brilliant, I love the beach huts. We are having another burst of summer, it’s really hot today, and the beach is swarming with sun seekers……and guess what? even the beach huts are full 🙂

  4. Classic tune, Isobel!! 🙂 I have photo album pics of my parents at the Festival of Britain. It was a very big deal. They went up to London on their motorbike.

    The festival sounds and looks like lots of fun. I used to like that walk up from Waterloo, there were some nice restaurants and cafes overlooking the river. The beach huts promenade is a lovely idea!

    • No I haven’t. My little Olympus u? I dropped it the other day and chipped a bit off the battery chamber cover, so it’s stuck together with Sellotape at the minute. I’ll have to take it to camera hospital.

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