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Poppies, Sheep and a Hippo

Regular readers will know that one of my favourite walks is from the Isle of Dogs up to the Tower of London. There is always plenty of interest as you walk through the old docklands area ranging from the relatively new Sunday Wapping market at Shadwell Basin to the retail ‘white elephant’ of the Tobacco Dock shopping centre.


However it was to be our destination  this week that would be full of surprises, Any one who has been visiting the Tower of London over the last few months would have noticed that ‘planting’ of the ceramic poppies around the Tower was drawing larger and larger crowds. As it almost reaches its completion, the full effect is beginning to take shape and the scale is incredible.


Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, is being created to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies will eventually fill the Tower’s  moat. Hundreds of volunteers have worked thousands of hours to complete the planting which will be finished on the 11th of November, Remembrance Day.


Perhaps going from the sublime to the ridiculous , a trip into St Katherine Dock next door offers the bizarre sight of a 70 feet wooden Hippo bobbing about amongst the yachts and boats.

Built for the Totally Thames  festival, the sight of Hippopo has caused quite a stir and has become a favourite with Londoners and people all over the world.


The Hippo’s facial expression cannot fail to raise a smile and you can see this very surreal sight for the next two or three weeks.


London Bridge  offered an altogether different scene , the Sunday morning traffic of tour buses and other vehicles  were treated to the strange sight of sheep being herded across the bridge.


On the medieval London Bridge, this would have been a common sight but in twenty first century London it was an unusual spectacle . The event was organised by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen to allow Freeman of the City of London to undertake their ancient privilege of driving sheep across the bridge.

It was all done in a good cause with the proceeds from the day going to charity.

Many tourists stopped and watched the event and were bemused and bewildered by what was going on, Londoners as usual just took a quick look and marched on over the bridge.

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