Of course it was Valentine’s Day; a touch of old world glamour on the streets of London’s theatreland

  • On Thursday we were blessed in London with warmth and sunshine after days of cold and grey.  It was about 4pm and I was ambling west along The Strand when the beauty of the sunlight striking the spire of Mary le Strand church captivated me.  And anyone else with a camera because I wasn’t the only one taking pictures at that moment.  I headed close to the church to get a good shot.

    St Mary's Le Strand at the Aldwych end of The Strand, London

    St Mary’s Le Strand at the Aldwych end of The Strand, London

    I turned back to take pictures of the sunset when I heard the sound of horses hooves clip clopping from behind me.  I whipped around and saw a pretty white carriage drawn by two white horses approaching fast.  My first try when the carriage was closer was ruined by a lorry thundering passed in the middle lane.  And this clean shot feels like I missed the moment.

    The Strand, London

    The Strand, London

    Even in London seeing a horse and carriage like this is an unusual sight and I thought – “I wish I’d been able to shoot the carriage coming towards me, that would have been a better shot” A little annoyed for not thinking ahead, I  remembered that this stretch of road around the Aldwych is like a horse shoe. If I nipped across the road and through the buildings, I might get a second chance to shoot the carriage as it came around the corner towards me.  But building work meant the side road was closed, even to pedestrians and I realised I was going to miss that shot by the time I walked the long way around.

    I didn’t give up and I found a way to the other leg of the horse shoe where I was in luck. The carriage was parked outside the Aldwych theatre where the musical Top Hat is playing.  I took a series of photos before a man in a red coat and top hat appeared and directed the carriage around the corner onto Drury Lane.  It paused on the corner before pulling up at the stage door.  By now I was very curious to see who was going to get into the carriage.  But I’d make a terrible paparazzi because in respect of their privacy I hung back up the road at a respectful distance.

    A few minutes later a very ordinary young couple appeared, looking as if they’d come from the office and both dressed in grey.  His suit had that rumpled look of one he wore every day.  I barely glimpsed them before they were inside the carriage.  But I was on the right spot for my original wish, for some good shots of the carriage coming towards me.

    On Drury Lane, heading North.

    On Drury Lane, heading North.

    It was only after all the photo opportunities had finished that I wondered why this carriage had been hired to pick up this couple who must have been to see a midweek matinee of the musical.  And then I realised.  “Of course, it is Valentine’s Day!”  A day I never mark so I barely see all the hearts and flowers so blatantly  displayed for weeks everywhere.  And what had drawn me to this moment?  The real beauty of the sunlight striking the church spire.  Now that was a magical moment for me and equally romantic.

    Here is a gallery of the short series I took.  As usual click on any photo for a better view in gallery mode.

    Now I’m all for the idea that a bad workman blames his tools and I hope this isn’t that.  But I must have a small grumble about how useless the San Diego camera phone is.  Its focusing is unreliable.  Even though it has 8 mega pixels the very small sensor means pictures can’t be enlarged the way they can on my 5 mega pixel compact camera.  And the lengthy delay between pressing the virtual button and the picture is so slow you could drive a coach and horses through the gap.  Any shots that worked were guess work and most are only okay.  I need another camera as I’m just as frustrated with the compact too…another reason there has been less new work recently.  End of grumble and thanks for reading.

  • 2 thoughts on “Of course it was Valentine’s Day; a touch of old world glamour on the streets of London’s theatreland

    1. Great set of pictures. I really like the one of the carriage outside the theatre with the warm illumination of the tungsten lights in the background. Great observation of one of Londons more unusual moments.

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