Lovely London Days

I know I haven’t blogged in many many months and there are reasons for that and they are good and proper and many and they are: too busy and was writing other things.

Mainly I’ve been writing theatre reviews, which has been great and not only gotten me free tickets to some excellent (and some not-so-great) shows, it also stretched my brain a bit. In terms of busyness, well, I’m not going into much detail, but all my time has been occupied and maybe some day I will tell you more about that and maybe some day I won’t and maybe it’s totally obvious and maybe it’s not, but it’s been a wonderful, jam-packed 4 months.

On top of being too busy to write, I went through a very strange period at the end of last year where I wanted to keep everything to myself (I know, right? Weird). I think it was also an acknowledgement of the amount of crap out there on the internet to distract you and rot your brain and I decided I didn’t want to be another contributor to the steaming pile of brain-rot poo. But, hey, now I’m on my own in Berlin and I don’t have the internet (am writing this on Microsoft Word to be uploaded later) and I don’t speak the language and I don’t know where to go and so I’m all lonesome (and bored) tonight and suddenly recording all the little thoughts that have gone through my head in the past 4 months seems not only a good idea, but the only useful thing to do with my time (yes, I should be writing my Edinburgh Fringe play, but, shhhhh… procrastination is the only way I get OTHER things done).

I have had many a lovely London day in the past 4 months, which I have neglected to record. However, in honour of me leaving London behind (*sob*) I thought now was the perfect time to get caught up in a haze of nostalgia and talk about some of those lovely days.

First of all, going all the way back to February, I went on the Deptford Creek Discovery Walk. And even though I got the WORST two-week cold afterwards (and I do kind of blame the walk), this was awesome. Deptford Creek is a little creek coming off the Thames and running through Deptford and Greenwich areas. The walk takes pace IN the creek at low tide, so your ticket includes thigh-high waders, waterproof jackets and long walking sticks to put ahead of you in the stream to measure the height of the water ahead of you. Because of all the rain on January and February in the UK, the water was unusually high and fast, even at low tide, which made the whole thing that more fun. There was a real thrill to standing in the middle of the creek and feeling icy-cold water rushing against your rubber waders at the knee level and yet not getting wet. We had a very charismatic guide and some enthusiastic volunteers and they took us through the history of the area, helped us identify interesting objects on the shores of the creek and explained the local ecology. What was most interesting to me was hearing our guide rhapsodise about rubbish like carpets and shopping trolleys being dumped in the river. He said most people don’t like to see that sort of thing in the river, but actually, because we have so altered the environment already, most of the ‘natural’ habitat of the critters in the creek has disappeared. Therefore, man-made things like carpets and trolleys can provide excellent substitute habitats. I thought this was a really interesting point, which I had been pondering a few months previously in regards to London and other big cities. With conservation we are constantly talking about preserving some kind of pristine ideal. In highly built up areas like London, this is obviously impossible. ‘Native’ animals have long since moved on or adapted. These places have a new urban ecosystem. We seem to ignore the fact that we have essentially destroyed whatever previous system existed in this spot to create our new urban paradise.

Me in Deptford Creek

Me in Deptford Creek

Anyway, enough ranting. The rest of the day was spent wandering through the beautiful Greenwich, Deptford and New Cross areas. I really love this area of London. It gets a bit of a bad rap, but I think it’s an utterly fascinating area – not yet gentrified or hipsterfied (though its fast approaching both), it’s also got the grittiness of an inner-city university hub due to Goldsmiths being in the area. It also has one of the most stunning views across the water to the city. Stunning because it’s an angle you never see – not on postcards, not when you’re wandering about trying to get places. Stunning because it takes you by surprise – you don’t realise you’re that close to the city and you don’t expect that view exactly where it appears. There are many cute pubs around (including one in which Shia leBeouf has now been beaten up – TWICE – holla to any Shia fans) with excellent cider and board game choices (essentially my only requirements for an English pub).

In March, I was taken for a wander from Finsbury Park to Highgate via an old railway line. If you love trains (I LOVE TRAINS), this is the walk for you. It is nice and flat, has beautiful views over North London, but best of all, you walk past various derelict, overgrown station platforms and under train archways. It’s almost like YOU ARE THE TRAIN. But, shhh…. Don’t tell too many people. There were already loads of people up there walking around and I don’t want it to get like… the rest of London. I’ll tell you guys ‘cause I like you. The walk ended with oh-so-pretty (but crazy over-priced) toasties, quiches and tea from a oh-so-twee Highgate cafe. We didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Alexander Palace (there’s a second, more secret part of the walk, so even more shhh….), but, next time, Gadget, next time. To top it all off I saw the statue of Dick Whittington’s cat and headed off to do a show at Victoria in the evening.

Part of the old railway walk (Parkland Walk). Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parkland_Walk_-_2007.jpg

Part of the old railway walk (Parkland Walk). Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parkland_Walk_-_2007.jpg

 

Dick Whittington's Cat

Dick Whittington’s Cat

The final lovely London day was a very large walk from Limehouse to Blackheath, where I thought I had never been. Blackheath had been pointed out to me when on the Finsbury Park/Highgate walk and as Blackheath in Australia is one of my favourite places I decided I had to see London’s Blackheath too. The walk down the Thames was wonderful, with many entertaining apartment blocks to mock along the way. There was a stop in Greenwich Park where we watched children turn tree branches into trampolines (more successful then you would at first think) and many beautiful old houses to ogle. Of course, after walking a good 3 hours to get there I realised, oh yeah, I had actually been to Blackheath before, which was a bit of a disappointment. But, never mind. We had a beautiful lunch in a little Italian deli and then waddled back again, stopping at my NEW FAVOURITE PUB IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD (which I now cannot remember the name of – don’t worry I’ll google as soon as I get the internet UPDATE: Its the Traflagar Tavern!). It’s in Greenwich and it hangs out over the Thames and it is lovely big windows and it is SO NAUTICAL. And there is nothing I like more than a tastefully nautical setting.

As long as it’s not an actual boat – I mean, I get terrible seasickness.

So, yes, out of all the many lovely London days I have enjoyed over the past 4 months and even further back – these were some of my highlights. New places, new stories, new pubs, good food, lots of walking and wonderful company. It’s quite easy to keep me happy.

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