St. Paul’s and Tower Bridge seen through a telescope from the Royal Observatory Greenwich

Posted by Colin

St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge must be two of the most photographed landmarks in London. But chances are they haven’t been snapped like this before…

On Wednesday night I was leading a telescope viewing session at the Royal Observatory Greenwich as part of their annual Evening With The Stars season. At the start of the night our view of the Moon and Jupiter was obscured by cloud and so I turned the telescope’s attention to something a little more terrestrial: Central London.

If you’ve ever been up on Greenwich Hill you’ll know what a spectacular view of the Capital it provides. I was able to centre the telescope on the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is beautifully bracketed by Tower Bridge from the vantage point up on the hill.

Being such a cold night the view was pin sharp and I was able to stick my iPhone at the eye piece and capture this unique view of the two famous landmarks (click image for larger version).

You can spot the coat of arms of the City of London sitting on the gantry of the bridge on the far left of the picture. The glowing “ropes” are also clearly visible.

The telescope eyepiece with Wren’s St. Paul’s in view, and another of his creations in the background

It was even possible to see the flag of St. George fluttering atop the bridge (look closely, and perhaps zoom in and you’ll see it. It is a little dark due to being in shadow but you can definitely see the cross on the flag!) We could even tell the time by the cathedral clock.

Such a gorgeous view was particularly apt as the cathedral’s architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was also responsible for designing Flamsteed House – the Observatory’s flagship building.

So from a distance of 5 miles (as the crow flies) I was able to unite two of Wren’s most stunning creations. We got to see Jupiter and the Moon once the clouds had lifted, but sometimes London can be just as beautiful as the heavens.

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There is more than one St. Paul’s Cathedral in London…

Posted by Colin

Wren’s domed spire of St. Paul’s is one of the most iconic features of the London skyline. City suits and trapsing tourists buzz around the cathedral that saw the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana as well as Winston Churchill’s funeral.

Yet how many realise that there is actually a second St. Paul’s Cathedral in the middle of the Thames further upstream? Granted this second version is much smaller, so small it can be held aloft by a two tonne woman.

This diminutive copy of St. Paul’s can be seen on Vauxhall Bridge, which boasts eight impressive bronze statues installed in 1907 and dedicated to the arts and sciences. Around halfway along the upstream side (left hand side if crossing from Vauxhall) you’ll find the maiden dedicated to architecture. In her hands she holds a copy of the famous Cathedral.

Those crossing the bridge by car would never see the statues or St. Paul’s – they are best viewed from the river itself. However, if you are willing to peer over the edge, pedestrians can easily spot both.

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Hummus Bros

Where: Southampton Row, Holborn, WC1B
When: 17/01/12
Price: £3.50 – £5.30 for a small main course.

When leaving a meeting in Russell Square on Tuesday my colleagues and I set off in search of lunch. The others decided to head to Hummus Bros on Southampton Row down near Holborn Tube station. I can’t say my first impressions of the idea were favourable – hummus has never been particularly high on the list of my favourite foods.

However, always open to trying new things, I relented and decided to join them. I am glad I did. Hummus Bros was a delight and, with outlets in Soho and St.Paul’s to boot, I urge you to get down there to sample their wares, even if like me you aren’t immediately drawn to chickpea cuisine.

Dishes are served in two sizes – regular and small – and consist of your own individual plate of hummus acting a base with a variety of toppings. Regular meals come with two pieces of delicious warm pitta; small meals are joined by a single slice. I plumped for the chunky beef combination – slow cooked chunks of tender beef to accompany the fresh, homemade hummus dusted with paprika. It was scrumptious, as was my drink of warm, spiced apple juice.

After our meal the really friendly staff brought us two small portions of malabi – a milk based desert with date honey – on the house. We also got a small glass of mint tea each for free. That was a great touch and a great marketing technique. Why spend money on expensive advertising when looking after your customers ensures favourable word-of-mouth? I would certainly recommend a trip.

Verdict: Delicious. Despite being highly sceptical at first, I was happy to be wrong as it was a great lunch and I will definitely be going back and taking Ruth. They also do takeaway and have several delivery options as well. I look forward to trying the other toppings, such as mushrooms, chicken or guacamole. Yum!