Day 10

Today’s walk could be described as a mishmash, a hodgepodge a…salmagundi? (Thanks for the new word, Thesaurus.com). There were no consistent themes, no all-present buildings, just bits and pieces of city mashed together to create a lovely day out.

Because Halloween is just around the corner, let’s start of with the creepy stuff. *ooooOOOOOOooo*

BONE HILL

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Just in time for the year’s scariest night, we have our first Congestion Zone cemetery! Well, that’s not exactly true since I’m pretty sure every bit of London has bones beneath it (it’s just a matter of how deep). Bunhill Cemetery is the first official resting place I’ve come across on my wanders though. And it turns out it’s full of famous writers (and cheeky squirrels) too! Plus the name comes from when it was originally referred to as “Bone Hill” so that makes it even cooler.

Let’s take a little stroll through Bunhill Fields, shall we? Continue reading

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No More Agreeable Company

~ Book Review: Boswell’s London Journal ~

I’m no historian. I am rubbish with dates and events and kings and queens and such. And let’s not get started on wars and battles and strategies lest my eyeballs cross themselves and stay that way forever.

The only history teacher who ever got through to me was the one who believed students only care about stories of the past if they involve sex, drugs or violence. Even better if you can find all three. It’s a philosophy I stand by to this day. Luckily, London history is dripping with tales of these vices, which is probably why I am so curious to learn more about it.

Perhaps this is why I so thoroughly enjoyed reading Boswell’s London Journal.

BOSWELL THE HISTORIAN PLAYBOY

This fabulously bawdy, mischievous, arrogant journal is the pride and joy of its author, James Boswell (future biographer of Samuel Johnson, but for now an immature youth). We enter his life just after his 22nd birthday, on the brink of his move to London. He’s visited before and was intrigued (even after his little bout of VD from a lady of the night under Waterloo Bridge). He moves to London and sets up his life among society’s most elite.

Boswell’s life is the perfect mix of high-society boredom delayers (the Society of Beefsteaks, cheese adventures, and tea – oh so much tea) and hormonally-induced rebellion (seedy bars, prostitutes and moping – oh so much moping). All that in the most fantastic, 18th century language you could hope to find.

MY RECOMMENDATION TO YOU

1. Go get this book now. Here’s a link to Amazon to eliminate all your excuses.

2. On November 15th read Bowell’s first entry. Don’t read the preface and don’t read any introduction other than Boswell’s. No one likes spoilers. History people, read all that stuff on August 4th next year.

3. Keep it by your bed and read it every single night, one day at a time, on the day it was written (yes, he actually does manage to write every day) until you are done (August 3rd).

4. Don’t skip ahead! This is one of the best immersive London experiences you can have. Don’t cheat yourself.

It might take a few days to get into his style of writing, and even more time to look past the fact that he’s a spoiled kid who thinks the sun shines out of his own ass.

WHY CARE ABOUT HIM THEN

Boswell is a true lover of London (in every way) and, for all the walkers out there, he paints a fantastic picture of London from the streets. Savour the details of his rambles through Covent Garden, of the Thames frozen over in January, of hackney coaches on Fleet Street. Allow him to bring you into his London (Just be careful not to fall for his wily charms. This guy gets around, if you know what I mean!).

You’ll soon stop getting annoyed with him bemoaning his oh so difficult life, and actually start to have a soft spot for him. You may even be proud of him as he shows signs of growing up. Let’s not get to far ahead of our selves though.

In case I haven’t given you good enough reason to read this journal, let me ask my dear friend James to speak for himself:

I think there is a blossom about me of something more distinguished than the generality of mankind…I have such an opinion of myself as to imagine that nobody can be more agreeable company.

 

Day 9

Well THAT’s more like it!

After an abundance of Lackington Streets on Day 8, I’ll admit I was pretty nervous I’d have another “meh” kind of walk. That was certainly NOT the case today! Day 9 was fantastic. Perhaps even the best day of walking so far. A big statement, I know.

I love having days that are so unique they’ll never happen again. Today was one of those days: walking into shops and having a laugh with the owners, enjoying street art that will be gone when the sun rises tomorrow and basking in the warmth of a gorgeous, unpredicted Autumn day. Heaven.

So Where was this spectacular walk? 

Now that I’ve told you that the day was amazing, I’m sure you’ll want to know where it was so you can go there yourself (and please, for the love of God, go there!). Well, the answer is, I don’t really know. That is to say, the area suffers from multiple personalities. Is it Old Street, Shoreditch, Hoxton or Hackney? Continue reading

Day 8

Ok, fair readers, things get a little dark today. Can you handle it? We’re talking medieval hospitals, holocaust survivors, terrorist threats and really dull streets. Hey, no one said this adventure would be all roses and rainbows.

But don’t worry. We’ve also got friendly construction workers, ice skating rinks and the warm evening sun to balance it all out.

Ready for Day 8?

Let’s do this.

New Official Name For Boring Streets

Out of the 7.49 miles I walked today, I’d rate the first 4.67 of them a 2 out of 10 (on a scale from waiting for someone to piss in Sugar Baker’s Court to riding the lift in Heron Tower). I’m not talking about the back alleys and industrial access streets I pointed out on Day 4 – every neighbourhood is bound to have it’s boring parts. But street after street of it was a bit dull. I mean, how is it possible to have every access point on all sides of a building appear to be the back door?

It seems fitting then, that the perfect name for these lacklustre streets would be found in this very neighbourhood. In future, all boring streets will hereby be referred to as:

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After that rave review, I’m sure you’re dying to experience them for yourself! Examples of Lackington Streets can be found below. Continue reading

Day 7

Spitalfields

After 6 days and 35.75 miles of walking in the City, I’ve been pampered with gorgeous, green squares where I’ve enjoyed people-watching during lunch hours and resting in the afternoon sun, all while being continually surrounded by crisp suits and angular architecture.  Today’s walk was quite different.

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Though technically within the jurisdiction of the Corporation of the City of London, Spitalfields felt like an entirely different world, a rougher, more real-life world. I was continually struck by the contrasts between the City and this new neighbourhood: perfect, glittery skyscrapers looking down on worn out, brick buildings; men in suits cutting through graffiti-lined alleys; fabric shops and the rusty carts of street vendors replacing high-end retailers.

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One of the few plaques I did find in the area informed me that I am not the first to observe this mismatch: Continue reading

Map Attack

Well hello again!

Forgive the delay in posts as I was out of London working at the Henley Literary Festival (a fine do if I do say so myself). Since I wasn’t in London to go on walks, I thought I’d catch you up on what the progress looks like.

Here’s a one-minute summary of my little project so far.

Day 7’s post is coming shortly!! 

Day 6

It was a long one today.

In an attempt to finish the majority of the City, I logged just under 9 miles on my stroll. Lots to report on.

Here are the things that stood out on Day 6:

Best Example of a Working Day in the City

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Best Shared Moment with a Stranger – Broderers’ Hall

Continue reading