Huge Thanks and Quick Update

Only 3 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on FB and Twitter for more updates.

Wow! I am so overwhelmed by how many kind comments I’ve had off the back of the Londonist article yesterday! Thank you so much!!

For anyone who was reading along before and didn’t see the article, you can find it here. I have loved the Londonist since I moved here and am absolutely over the moon to be featured on their amazing site. It is the perfect way to end this adventure!

As for this little project I am working on……I only have one walk left!

I worked pretty hard the last few walks to make this final one nice and easy and to give me time to take the Thames Clipper the whole length of the congestion zone so I don’t neglect that part of London. The river is probably my favourite part of the city (ironically, considering it’s street-free), so I am pretty excited to end the adventure there. Plus I get to sit down the whole time! What luxury.

I’m currently in the countryside enjoying a little break with my family before the final walk on Friday and the Congestion Zone Ends Celebration Picnic on Saturday (details here if you want to come along to the picnic!). I hoped to have all the posts out before Saturday but it’s not looking extraordinarily likely. Oh well. I’ll get them to you soon (and I still owe you some from May, so the blog won’t be wrapping up for a little while still)!

Apart from the regular posts, I have a few other things I’ll be putting together for you in August when I hunker down in Utah for a month and process all the information I have collected out on my walks. Here are a few things I am hoping to get done then:

A big archive page and category system with all the links to posts and the corresponding maps, all tagged with relevant neighbourhoods so you can find ideas for places to see near where you live, work or plan to visit.

A stop-motion video of the big map as I have filled it in over the 65 walks. I’m pretty excited about this one!

There are also so many places that I liked but that I couldn’t get into the posts for that day, so I will probably hit you with a series of one-off recommendations after all the big stuff is done too.

Still lots of things I want to do with this project, as you can see!

For now I am trying to enjoy the countryside with my family and rest up so I can really soak up that last walk on Friday. I can’t believe it’s almost over!

Thanks again for reading and I hope to see you at the party 🙂

See you soon! 

Only 3 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on FB and Twitter for more updates.


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Quick update from the future: now that this project is finished, I’m off on another adventure! Keep in touch on my new blog at Three Miles an Hour. See you there!

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Day 58

You can find the map for today’s 6.8-mile walk here. Only 7 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.

Lots of houses again today.

It’s still that same, slow, residential thing I’ve talked about on the last few walks. From reading this it might sound like it’s all a bit samey in the south, and it is in the sense that it’s mainly residential, but it’s not boring. The style and aesthetic appeal of the flats can sometimes change radically from street to street (even midway down the same street sometimes). Today was very much like that. A couple of the estates were really rundown and depressing. A couple of streets were absolutely gorgeous. I enjoyed exploring the contrasts.

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All this repetition means you’re in for a short post today though because, apart from a few photos of houses, I really only found a couple of places that stood out. They certainly stood out though! Continue reading

Day 57

You can find the map for today’s 6.73-mile walk here. Only 8 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.

Today was another fairly lazy walk.

The south has been nice because, without the hustle and bustle of the city and the plethora of shops and distractions, the streets themselves are the only thing I have to pay attention to. I like that. It’s why I started this project in the first place. I like the experience of seeing what the streets themselves have to offer: their aesthetic, their atmosphere, their level of activity. I like observing it all and getting a feel for each neighbourhood as it’s own thing.

The relaxed vibe around here means also don’t feel as much pressure to find amazing things to tell you about. It’s becoming more natural to just walk the walk and tell you how it went rather than try to make it be something spectacular. That’s pretty nice too.

So like I said, today’s walk was slow and lazy. I found some streets that weren’t very pretty. I also found a couple of places I think every Londoner should know about. It’s a lot of fun uncovering these gems in an area that is otherwise pretty ordinary. It’s like going on a big Easter egg hunt.

Although having said that, the first one I’ll tell you about was very hidden, but the other two are pretty much right there in plain sight. Chances are you haven’t stopped to check them out though!

William Blake

I met Mr. Blake and his wife Catherine back on Day 10 in Bunhill Cemetery. It was nice getting a little visit from them again on the walk today.

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Apparently, Blake had a dream of having his works displayed as public art around London, so Southbank Mosaics decided to make that vision come true 200 years later. They designed and installed a whole series of mosaics showcasing his poems inside the tunnel system that sprouts out the back side of Waterloo Station.

Day 57

I like how much poetry is lying about the place in London. In memory of my grandma’s birthday a couple of years ago, I decided to go for a walk to see where the day took me (surprise, surprise), and I ended up getting a poetry-filled day. She was big into poetry so it was an absolutely perfect thing to have happen.

That’s the day I discovered the Poetry Library hidden in the Royal Festival Hall and spent an age reading through the Poems on the Underground at the London Transport Museum. Coincidentally, the Southbank also had a poetry festival going on that day, so the railings were covered in big prints of short poems from around the world.

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Finding things like these poetry mosaics always brightens my day (particularly if it is in an otherwise grim tunnel).

Lambeth Riverside

I don’t know why more people don’t know about the Bankside walk between Lambeth and Westminster Bridges. It is absolutely gorgeous. I mean look at this view! Continue reading

Day 56

You can find the map for today’s 5.74 mile walk here. 10 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.

After three days of walking in the south, I can safely say that it is mostly houses around here. There’s not a whole lot for a visitor to get into in these parts. The things that aren’t flats are warehouses, company headquarters, storage facilities, educational institutions, community centres for the people who live here…but not much to report on in terms of things to visit.

I can say definitely say though that I could see the benefits of living in some of these places – not just the pretty spots either. The idea of the south overall is actually quite appealing (sorry about that, Northerners). When I am walking around here I feel so far from the chaos of the city. It’s so calm and quiet. Even the high street chains aren’t as prevalent.

Let me take that back.

The high street chains don’t exist.

On a normal walk, unless I find an outstanding place for lunch, I eat at Prêt and end the day at a Nero for a tea and a Skype date. Don’t judge. I have my reasons. Mainly the new Passion Pop smoothie and reliable internet.

On my first day in the south though, I did a quick search for a PrĂŞt for lunch and there aren’t any – any at all – between Vauxhall Bridge and Waterloo. That’s basically half of the congestion zone on the south side. That’s crazy. These things are like the plague everywhere else. Don’t believe me? Look at this map.  Continue reading

Day 55

You can find the map for today’s 5.7-mile walk here. 11 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.

I was so lazy today. I really did nothing at all and it was so wonderful. I just meandered through the neighbourhood, enjoying the sun. The biggest decision I had to make all day was which flavour of ice lolly to buy.

The guy at the cafĂ© helped me break it down by categorising them (milk vs. water-based), removing the flavour I knew I didn’t want (watermelon) and giving me the pros and cons of the remaining fruits so I could make an informed decision.

I finally settled on strawberry.

I love strawberries.

When I was a kid I loved them so much that I named by cat Strawberry, my five-year old logic being: I love strawberries and I love her…let’s call her Strawberry!

We travelled to California a lot at that time too, and we’d always stay at the Big A Motel (which, shockingly, still exists!). In the 7-11 next door they always had strawberry fruit bars, and they were the first thing I begged my dad for the minute we got there. I loved those things so much.

Turns out they still do the trick for me.

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Other than that very important decision, I didn’t do much apart from chat with a street sweeper and take lots of photos of flowers. Continue reading

Day 54

You can find the map for today’s 7.03 mile walk here. Only16 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.

When I got off the train at Vauxhall to start this walk I had to remind myself, Don’t be a dick. The south is not all the things people say it is. It’s still London and it’s fully of great things too, I’m sure.

I tried to forget the stories of friends who were mugged around here and tried to chill out about the fact that I have a GoPro visibly strapped to my chest, an iPad in my bag and a camera in my hand. Sure I am a massive moving target but I move unpredictably, like a ninja! They’ll never get me!

I focused, opened up and said to myself, Let’s see what’s here! It’s going to be awesome!

Then I turned the corner to see four police vans descending on a local business. In the park behind that, I watched four officers pour out of another van and fan out to interview people.

Remain calm. It’s going to be ok. Something happened but it doesn’t concern you. They’re not going to come for you. You’re going to be fine. Breathe.

Then I turned onto a street lined with neon yellow signs saying, “WARNING: You ARE going to get mugged here, just thought you’d like to know.” Continue reading

Day 53

You can find the map for today’s 9.39-mile walk here19 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.

This is it! This is the one! The one where I finish walking ALL of the streets in the northern part of the Congestion Zone. I can’t even tell you how excited I was when this happened. I squealed when I walked over Vauxhall Bridge and finally touched the southern side of the city. I couldn’t help it. I mean, the south? The south! How crazy is that?!

In walking time, it took me 53 days (138.5 walking hours) and over 305 miles to get here. In real-time though, it has been years. I started this quest as a very quiet and private thing in August of 2010. No one really knew about it apart from a few friends who were lucky/unlucky enough for me to drag them for miles and miles around London when they thought we were going to a café around the corner. I hung my maps in my room and slowly marked off streets as I found new ones, thinking about how cool it would be to see them all someday.

Some day.

Well today is a pretty big some day. I haven’t seen them all (yet) but I have seen all of them in the north!!!

ALL of them.

That is ridiculous!! And just so exciting.

It’s hard to think of anything that was more exhilarating than the last steps of this walk, but as I did manage to cover almost 10 miles before that moment happened, it would be a shame not to mention any of the other things I saw.

Here’s a quick rundown of the things that weren’t Vauxhall Bridge today. Continue reading