I’m writing this as I drink a large coffee and people watching, noticing people I recognise evey so often. Spring seems to have finally appeared in Lincoln,with the sunshine finally bringing warmth as well as light, and that familiar first of many regrets of leaving the flat with a coat and gloves.
I’m in the middle of reading Roger Ebert’s autobiography, ‘Life Itself’ (iBooks link), and reading his experiences about walking around London, and this first day of spring heat brought me back to the same thing I did when I had time free in my first year of University.
Either to get away from where I was living at or just the University itself, you could walk in the same direction and find something equally or if not more interesting than the path you chose before.
It’s one of the few things I took away from that year, and it’s why I want to try and visit the city as a holiday every so often. I was fortunate to be there for work a couple of months ago, and walking through Canary Wharf and keeping up with everyone’s pace again brought back good memories.
I remember once it took me a good hour and a half to get me from Kings Cross to the flat, but on the way I’d come across a person playing guitar upside down, hanging one streetlight, or genuinely stumbling across the famous Abbey Road crossing by accident.
Even though I’d have my faithful iPhone 4 at the time with me to take photos, I’d still have my digital camera, something which I’d started in my first year of Sixth Form. (The fact that Sixth Form is now 10 years is incredible to me,and I’d do a lot to have a day there once more.)
Looking back at the album on Google Drive, memories of Camden Town with their incredible food market, or Covent Garden with the constant film crews and hidden shops for instance came flooding back.
It was as if every place was its own village, separated from the others in its own style and personality.
Camden Town and Covent Garden were favourites of mine, and you could go down a different alley and find yourself at a great pub, or a place where they could only do subs of pastrami or coffees in their own way.
Within a week of being in London, Steve Jobs had passed away, and so at the Covent Garden and Oxford Street stores, many flowers and apples were spread across the entrances, with people paying respects. The photos I took were on the iPhone, and photographers were taking shots of me taking a photo with the phone. It was surreal but oddly moving,to a person who no one here had ever met, yet were taking the time to lay down flowers and stand beside them for a while.
Along with his passing, it was also the time of the Olympics. As I had finished the first year in May, I wanted to avoid the nightmare of a jammed London with thousands descending to watch the games.
Looking back, I’m in two minds whether it was a good decision to go back home, because as busy as it proved to be, a chance to be near an event which wouldn’t possibly to return for many decades to come , was missed.
The food was incredible across many places, Camden Town especially. I’ve yet to have had a burrito that ascends what I had there. Next time I visit, a return there is definitely on the cards.
As I’d walk, I’d have either music or a podcast to pass the time. Those who know me, know that once I have my earphones worn, it’s impossible to get me out of my tunnel vision, and you’ll have to either shout or walk into me to grab my attention. Around this time, I’d just discovered Karl Pilkington, and listening to the podcasts or episodes of their XFM days would pass the time incredibly easily, and would cause me to stop at times in fits of laughter, with his ‘Rockbusters’ game being the highlight. YouTube this as soon as you can.
Having these play would turn the 3 hour walks into an almost 5 minute interlude between places. Another area that caught my interest was Hampstead Heath. More contained than the others, it reminded. Me of Lincoln, in the way that you’d only have to walk up one high street and you’ve essentially found everything there is to offer. But with Hampstead, there were many good quality pubs, along with the park that was only a 5 minute walk away.
I may do a second part to this once I go back, as I’d love to have a week of just aimlessly walking around London and seeing where else it takes me. Sometimes instead of having a plan and just doing something works out for the better, and it’s no different here.