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I knew I should have brought along a hat. The rain was heavy, the wind was brisk and my new cheap umbrella was already in the nearest bin, broken and way beyond repair.
Wet and with a lack of enthusiasm, I made my way to the entrance of London’s Shard. With such bad weather, would there be anything to see?
There was not much of a queue, but then I had pre-booked my ticket so I did expect to fast-track my way to the first lift. Straight up to level 33 with a group of fellow travellers with an on-board atmosphere charged with anticipation. Then into a second lift and with mounting excitement, but without any real sensation of movement, we were heading further skywards. The doors opened and there we were; the 68th floor of the Shard.
The weather was not being kind but the dark storm clouds did have gaps, large gaps, and this meant that some views were cloud-blocked but others were much clearer. Tourists were eagerly capturing on camera vistas that only a few minutes earlier had not been on show. I also started taking photos but I was not just taking the panorama around me as others were doing. No, I would be moving around the viewing platform looking for all the landmarks to work out where my ancestors had dwelt going back seven generations and more. In the distance I could work out where I had spent the first six decades of my own life but more exciting was seeing close to the Shard the locations where generations of my ancestors had lived and worked.
Some of them had been based south and north of the Thames and others right next to it as for generations they worked on the river itself. Below me was the street where so many of my Thames watermen kin had lived and worked. What would they think if they looked up at the sky? Would they have been able to grasp the idea that many generations later their direct descendant would be up there so proudly looking down at her very own roots? Fran Sales, by email Editor replies: Thank you for sending this in Fran. I hope you enjoy our feature about maps. It sounds as if a trip to London’s Shard would work well with a historic map in hand!
A view over central London from the iconic Shard building