Lee originally left this a comment on my post about Walking in London, but I think it’s interesting enough to share again here.
I wasn’t old enough to spend my days walking in London in 1992, but Lee’s painted a pretty different picture to the London I see on my walks today.
When I first came to London in 1992, I was doing work placements. Then I got my first job which paid 4.5k a year. My pay didn’t cover a flat, so I stayed in various places for free with friends. At the weekends, I’d walk everywhere. I hardly knew London, but with a Travelcard, a belly full of pound slices of pizza with dodgy coleslaw I discovered most of London. I’d walk from Belsize Park to Blackheath and back via Maida Vale, from Burnt Oak to Camden, from Greenwich to Oxford Street. I’d make it a rule to walk somewhere I’d never walked before. Detours were good. There was no plan.
I got to meet people and started to love London. It’s changed a lot. There are few places that offer solitude any more. The South Bank used to be quiet in places. I even saw Banksy before he was famous putting up an artwork (there were a few of them, it wasn’t him alone).
I loved looking up at buildings and catching glimpses of how things used to be, how they changed, imagining who lived in places and how and why areas evolved. The layers of history are still there to see.
What saddens me now, is that 24 years ago, the grottyness was old, the neglect was os something that used to be beautiful but was now falling down, or an old shop sign that had been left. This neglect was discovered and cherished (like Shoreditch) and made beautiful again (when it wasn’t redeveloped).Now the grottyness is new, plastic, cheap, gaudy or fake.
Do you have memories of London from other years? I’d love to hear more.
“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” Steven Wright
“No city should be so large that someone can’t walk out of it in a morning.” Cyril Connolly
Pick up a copy of the Evening Standard magazine today and read Will Self’s article about walking in and out of London. Then wrap up warm this weekend, leave your home and walk for as long as you can. Because like Self, ‘I truly feel that if all Londoners walked out of the city once a year, it would do more for our sense of civic pride than any number of mayoral or local governmental initiatives’.
On Sunday we spent the afternoon wandering around Bloomsbury. You’d never have known it was the last weekend before Christmas as there was nobody about! It was delightfully empty which gave me an opportunity to practice taking photos.
I’m the type of person who just points and clicks my little camera. Until this weekend I had no clue about composition or light but with a few simple tips I already feel more in control behind the screen. Any feedback on the photos or photography tips in general would be appreciated.
Last weekend was a bank holiday which meant that we had to follow that unwritten British rule and head out into the great outdoors, regardless of the weather. So we decided that it was about time that we took a longish trip to the deepest darkest depths of the Central Line and before I had a moment to do my best TOWIE impression we were in Epping Forest, in the countryside, surrounded by trees with the sun miraculously beating down on us.
It was, quite frankly, wonderful. We walked and walked and walked and drunk in England in all its fine green glory before finding a pub, ordering a shandy and tucking into some tasty gastro grub.
Have you ever been to Epping Forest? I’d love to go back with a plan – can you recommend a walking route?