The top of an office block in the City of London is a strange place to want to go on a wet Tuesday Afternoon, but last week we and about a hundred others queued up at the bottom of number 20 Fenchurch St.
Having pre-booked a week before, we waited in a queue that snaked around the base of the tower block to get inside before passing through the airport like security checks and then being escorted to a super speed elevator that wizzed to the 35th floor and deposited us in The Sky Garden. A large three storey high glass atrium on the top of the building often known as ‘The Walkie Talkie’ because of its strange appearance on the North bank of the River thames.
When the Sky Garden opened it was something we meant to go to but never got round to. Then at the start of the Year we thought we would go when the sun was out or on a nice warm evening, but most of the sunny days/evenings were ruined due to Lockdown or the Sky Garden wasn’t open. Recently we noticed it had reopened we thought we’d take the chance and visit.
Once out of the elevator, you find is a large open area with a bar in the centre and a huge glass wall looking south, across the river at the Shard and the South Downs beyond. Past the glass is a walkway and viewing area to take in the sights of the City of London below.
Then back inside you can travel up the side steps framing a sloping garden of large flora and towering palms. If you look the other way you can marvel at more of the sprawling metropolis reaching out in all compass directions. At the top of the stairs is another bar area and more seating to while away the day or night enjoying the changing scenery beyond the glass.
But what we found wasn’t so impressive, it’s a loud, open space, filled with people taking hundreds, no thousands of selfies. You have one of the greatest cityscapes in the world before you and you stand there taking yet another picture of yourself against the steps or in front a leaf frond instead of the vista that has had people writing poetry and literary verse about it for centuries and the Selfie Lovers aren’t just on the walkway outside.
They line the stairs up to the top and fill the little seating areas in amongst the plants. Screaming and yelling ‘Take another of me like this!’ and the like, no one seemed to be playing any attention to what was outside, if they were it was purely secondary to how they looked in front of it.
The bar was equally unimpressive, we thought of ordering but everything had to be done online, ordering via the website even though there were maybe 20 waiting staff loitering around, but no! No service! It all has to be recorded and monitored and everything has to be documented via the Track and Trace app, so your glass of wine, or that bottle of pilsner, or even a coffee is now monitored and catalogued in a never ending cache of information saved about you and where you have been, because Big Brother is here now and we are never going to be alone ever again.
So we avoided buying an overly priced coffee, avoided being asked to take yet another photo of a pair of orange people standing against the window and ignoring the views and we avoided the three camera crews lining up to get in to do yet another ‘edgy’ and ‘Trendy’ photoshoot in the cliche garden and instead left after only 20 minutes or so, in order to try to find a coffee and a moment of piece in a nearby churchyard, even if it was raining it was better than the incessant ‘Take another one I looked fat in that one’.
We would suggest waiting until you’re not monitored continuously and then visit the Sky Garden, but that may never happen, so instead maybe just avoid the top of 20 Fenchurch St and instead try elsewhere, we will endevour to keep looking for interesting and unique places to visit in London and if we find them we will tell you, so why not subscribe and come back each time for somethnig new at Climbing Moss.