Wednesday, 23 January 2013
I'm leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it's not raining.
What can I say ... I went up the Shard and struggled to see as far as Big Ben. The Houses of Parliament were lost in the mist. It wasn't a blizzard, just a grey, horrible day.
On a clear day, you can see for 40 miles and see the sea. On a January morning you can just about make out the London Eye.
It was still a thrill to go up.
It took 19 seconds to get up to level 33 in the first lift, travelling at six metres per second. Then into another lift to reach level 68. (The snowman, alas, is on the 87th floor which is out of bounds.)
I was expecting the lift to be something special. But it's just a lift, not a white knuckle ride. (Actually, the glass lift here is rather more thrilling - and it's free).
But it's breathtaking when you step out, especially onto the outdoor gallery at level 72 (as high as you can go). Where you can hear the sound of the city instead of banal Muzak-y soundtrack.
Way down below, the trains are like a Hornby train set. The Tower of London could be a toy-town fort.
To make up for the bad weather conditions, you can fiddle with telescopes that show you the view as it would appear on a sunny day or at sunset - facing west - or sunrise - looking down the river. (Same telescopes as at Burj Khalifa in Dubai.)
But the best bit was the performance by the young workman swinging outside in a harness as nonchalantly as if he were on a seesaw in the park ... what a show-off! And yes, we were impressed. I couldn't help wondering if his mum knew what he got up to at work.