Old juxtaposed next to new.

London isn’t like it used to be. Skyscrapers have created a new skyline that dwarfs the old buildings. In the past 20 years (time since our last visit) the number of people has increased tremendously. Many of these are immigrants, so that even the language you hear on the street is something other than “English” — American or British. 

The city may not be as it was on my first visit in the 1990s, but London’s icons will remain the icons.  So what better way to spend a couple days in the London than to re-visit a couple of the iconic places.

Since sunrise in summer is at 5am, we decided not to shoot sunrise (after all, we do need some sleep). But we still got up early enough to take advantage of capturing the iconic sights in decent light — without the crowds.

First up was Westminster Abbey and it’s new neighbor (relatively speaking) Big Ben. The Abbey is nearly 1,000 years old having opened circa 1090, while Big Ben is quite new at 1859. Our friends in the Cotswolds  had mentioned that Big Ben was covered in scaffolding, but we were not prepared to see it completely covered. Only the clock face remains visible. Not only is it covered, but during the 4 year restoration project, the clock is silent. There are three years left to go. London isn’t like it used to be.

Hard to believe we had Westminster Abbey all to ourselves.

Poor Big Ben, all but hidden.

Kensington Gardens may have taken shape around the turn of the 18th century, but one of it’s newer additions appeared just about 20 years ago. Said to “shriek like throttled muppets” (Matt Brown), the gardens are now home to large green ring-necked parakeets. London isn’t like it used to be.

Yes, “keets” in London.

Should I be jealous?

Another mixing of the ages is the alignment of the Millennium Bridge (2000) with St. Pauls Cathedral (circa 1675). The Millennium Bridge was the first new bridge to be built over the Thames in London in more than 100 years. London isn’t like it used to be.

Early morning light on St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Another juxtaposition of new with old is the Westminster Bridge (circa 1860) with the 1998 skyline addition of the London Eye. London isn’t like it used to be.

Icons old and new. The lights has been there for a long time while the “London Eye” is relatively new. [photo by Jeff]

No trip to London would be complete without a trip to the iconic Tower Bridge (1886).

London Bridge silhouette

And what better way to capture it than with the red double decker bus (introduced in the 1960’s)? Ah, at least one thing that hasn’t changed in 20 years.

To get “the shot”, sometimes all you have to do is show some patience. The setup was easy – just stand at the end for he bridge. All that was needed was to wait for a red bus. [photo by Jeff]

Remember, it’s all about the light! At least it hasn’t changed.