Snapshots of London

For the month of January, while the skies are grey in Aberdeen, I’m sharing a few photo essays of days I want to remember from 2015!

From a very quick trip I made in November, here are Snapshots of London!

Whenever I go to London, I try to fit in something new.

Or a few new somethings.

I flew down on the first flight out of Aberdeen to London City Airport, which I highly recommend, because as the name suggests, you are already in the city.

You just hop on the DLR, which connects you to the Underground.

I stopped first in the London Docklands, an area which has been completely remade into a hip business district where food trucks dedicated to falafel and fancy barbecue line the water.

I went to the Museum of London Docklands, an old warehouse full of a fascinating history of the shipping industry in London and of the area.

Out of all the exhibits, the one that disturbed me most was dedicated to one kind of cargo that came through these docks.

The exhibit explained that most of London’s great wealth and prosperity came from England’s monopoly on the slave trade, and the slave ships passed through these docklands, where slaves were sold and sent off to work in America.

Our history with slavery continues to be heart-wrenching to me, partly because of how slavery still exists. In some ways, instead of slavery’s being eradicated in the world, it has simply evolved.

It was raining when I left the London Docklands with a heavy heart.

On to the British Library.

Home of treasures such as the Magna Carta, original Dickens manuscripts and napkins with lyrics scrawled by Paul McCartney.

I loved seeing the Lindisfarne Gospels after having pilgrimaged to the Holy Island a couple of years ago. I’d read about St Cuthbert and these manuscripts when Anna and I walked St Cuthbert’s Way. They are from the year 700. (So like, super old!)

Next I headed off to find my room (and a cup of tea!) at the YHA near St Paul’s.

If you are facing St. Paul’s steps, and you look down the street to the right, you will see the YHA.

It is in an older building, delightfully close to St Paul’s.

Hello familiar little green triangle.

Up the stairs.

And into my little happy single room.

After a cup of tea and a little rest, I headed off to Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral.

I have been to a service at Westminster on another visit to London and I went to Evensong again on a visit to York.

This is easily my favorite way to visit a grand church. You get to hear the organ and be a part of the church as it was intended to be, filled with singing and worship. This service, so soon after the attacks in Paris, was very special.

I wrote down a beautiful reminder in the middle of the liturgy that only God can bring peace to our world.

I loved watching people file in and end their day on their knees, souls being fed before heading home for an evening meal.

When the service ended I walked down to the Thames, turning back to look at St Paul’s at night, with buses going by.

I crossed the Millennium Bridge to make my way to Southwark and The Cut.

I passed a Christmas market on my way.

I met a friend at The Old Vic to see a play, because on my last trip to London, I went on a theatre tour where our guide mentioned that The Old Vic and The Young Vic were some of his favorite venues in the city for plays. Such a fun night out and The Old Vic was all lit up for La France!

The lights in the staircase at The Old Vic were my favorite!

I woke up the next morning to a little bit of sunshine coming through my window.

I hit the streets just outside my room in search of coffee and fruit.

As crowded as London is, it amazes me that you only have to get a street or two away from the main thoroughfares to find quiet.

I turned off the main roads several times to look for new spots in London.

So many parts of London can feel like little English villages all tacked together on a map in a string.

Back at the Thames, London’s grandeur astonishes all over again.

PS. I am super grateful to World Vision UK for the opportunity to be a part of #FarFromHome in London in November and to YHA St Paul’s for giving me a cozy bed for the night while I was down!

PS If you enjoyed this post you might like to see more of London or more on our YHA Hostel Stays. Or even subscribe to the Chino House?



  1. Always love your posts and pictures. I have a couple of questions, so I can live through you and your trips. How much do you pack when you make your jaunts. I’m sure it depends on where you go, but do you pack really light? You obviously don’t eat much, but do you ever eat anything besides fruit and drink tea? What does YHA mean? Is the DLR downtown London Railway? I’m traveling with you…vicariously. I have seen St. Paul’s but did not take the time to take pictures. (I was with a crowd and had to move along.) OK, I’ll wait for your response.

    1. Hi Judy!! Thanks so much for your questions!! I have been thinking for ages about doing a post just on packing, so you’re giving me a push in the right direction!! YAY! I do pack really lightly. I use a backpack/daypack that I bought for one of my hiking trips.

      Here’s the link:

      It’s pretty small but I just wear the same thing most of the time and bring undergarments and t-shirts. I’ve found that I can do anywhere from 2-10 days with just this backpack. For this trip to London, I actually left the backpack at home and managed to pack in a medium size purse. I was only there for one night, so I wore the same clothes and just threw a change of underwear in my purse. Kinda crazy but I really love the freedom of traveling without a big bag. And there are shops everywhere so if I spilled something on myself or got soaking wet or needed toiletries, I could always shop for what I need.

      YHA stands for Youth Hostel Association, so YHAs are hostels. While hostels typically mean that you are just renting a dorm bed in a room full of bunks, most YHAs have private rooms and family rooms now. The family rooms have been great for us because it’s really hard to find a hotel room in London that can hold four people. Most rooms have either one double bed or two twins, so for our family, we would need 2-3 hotel rooms. But at a YHA, we can get a room with bunk beds for our whole family. There is usually a sink in the room and a bathroom just outside the room. That was the case for my room in St Paul’s. There is also a kitchen/dining area so you can get your meals in the YHA or even prepare them yourself. 🙂 This post has a picture of one that my mom and I stayed in with the boys last spring:

      Speaking of food, I definitely eat more than fruit and tea! 🙂 In fact I eat A LOT. On this trip to London, I was down for some meetings, so I had most of my meals at those. But when I first arrived I went looking for some Mexican food, which is hard to get in the UK. I ended up finding some mediocre tacos. Next time I will just go to Chipotle, which they have in London. (Just one location the last time I checked!) I also tend to pick up sandwiches or soups at chains like Pret-A-Manger or Leon, both of which have healthier “fast food.”

      The DLR stands for Docklands Light Railway, which is part of the London Transport Network. I think it’s called that because it’s above ground, but it connects to the London Underground and runs between South London and East London. In London, you can get one card (an Oyster Card) and use it on the DLR, The Tube (Underground) and all the buses. It’s wonderful! Makes getting around so easy!!

  2. Alison–did you go to see Dicken’s Old Curiosity Shop–building from the 1500’s where he wrote much. Worth your time. Thanks so for sharing so much–always I am amazed with what you’ve encountered!

    1. I keep missing this stop! I’ve got it written in a more permanent spot now so I won’t forget next time!! 🙂 XOXO

  3. Oh how I love this city. 🙂 Have you been to Richmond-Upon-Thames yet? It’s my favorite part.

    Also love love love the YHA!

  4. […] Since I usually travel with my backpack whether I am on the road for five days or fifteen, I wondered if I could get it down even smaller the last time I went to London for the weekend. […]

  5. […] maybe the terrors that were funded by the British Empire on foreign soil. I read last year in the Docklands Museum in London that the wealth of England TODAY can be traced and attributed to the slave trade. […]

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