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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Rawson


Updated: Jul 31, 2020

It was exciting to pull the backpack out of the cupboard this morning and fill it with water bottles, sunblock and lunch. Neither of us could believe how empty the streets were. My fears of too many people out and about were unfounded. There were five people in total in our train carriage and the Vauxhall station where we got out was deserted. It was busier in our high street than it was in town.

I had booked us into see the small Derek Jarman exhibition at the Garden Museum. The museum was created from a deserted church, sitting right next door to the Lambeth Palace. It’s a little piece of tranquility in what would normally be the hurly burly of Lambeth Bridge traffic but today the streets were calm.

I’ve been to the museum before and love the cafe and garden associated with it. Sitting having our coffee Steve saw Michael Portillo coming through the door. He does Great Railway Journeys around the world on BBC and it’s a programme Steve and I enjoy. His previous life was as a Conservative politician in the House of Commons. Mr Portillo wears flamboyant colours and clothing on his programmes but today he was in subdued attire.

Steve spied a little arched door at the back of the old church and ducking down we stepped through and climbed 130 narrow, circular stairs up the tower to the small viewing deck. The reward of great views made the climb worthwhile.

More days out are planned as it felt easy and safe getting around with so few people about. The Thames, normally a highway of watercraft plying up and down, was calm. Sadly for the UK economy, the tourists just aren’t here to discover the history of London both on the water and on foot.

Derek Jarman - painter, film director, gardener

The view from the tower top at Garden Museum

The rear of Westminster Abbey

Houses of Parliament and Lambeth Palace buildings.

Garden Museum stained glass window

The Burghers of Calais (Rodin sculpture) in the garden beside Houses of Parliament

Baptismal/immerson walk-through in Garden Museum

Us on the top of the tower

Lambeth Bridge with minimal traffic.

One of the lovely paintings in the Garden Museum

Our very empty train.

One of the many gorgeous lamps adorning London bridges.

Derek Jarman's home - Prospect Cottage

Mr Michael Portillo, presenter of Great Train Journeys on BBC 2. A charming man.

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