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.
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!
Where to Go
Apart from one visit to the Old Vic tunnels a couple of years ago, I have always exited Waterloo Station on the north side, headed for the Southbank. The one night I did pass by the south side, I was running late, and I remember wishing I had more time to explore it because it looked like it had a lot of potential. I was really glad I finally got to spend some time there today. Both of my favourite places on the walk ended up being here.
Lower Marsh Market
Lower Marsh is basically just a really cool street full of street food vendors and independent shops. It also hosts events on weekends with like cake decorating, poetry performances and craft shows. It’s nothing utterly unique for London, but it had an easy, relaxed feel that reminded me of Exmouth Market on Day 16. I don’t know what it is about these places that makes them stand out, but they feel like hidden gems every time I uncover them.
I arrived here just in time for the lunch stalls to open and thoroughly enjoyed a fantastic takeaway from Cubana: slow roast pulled pork, chili rice, black beans and plantains with a tropical smoothie to wash it all down. I don’t know if I have ever gotten more for my money than I did with that meal. I was absolutely stuffed. It was heaven.
The best place of the day for me was Leake Street, a road that runs off of Lower Marsh and under Waterloo Station. This is apparently the only legal place for street art in London.
I started chatting with a dude who was there watching some artists at work. According to him (and verified by the internet), Banksy ran a show in this tunnel a few years ago with the stipulation that, after he finished, the tunnel be a space for street artists to work freely. It feels free. Every bit of wall is covered in colour.
Watching these guys work made me really jealous. I’m really drawn into the idea of making such a physically interactive piece of art. It’s a bit like the weird colour shower I saw on Day 48. There is something appealing to me about spraying colour all over the wall, getting it all over your hands and hair and clothes in the process.
I talked to the dude for quite a while (he actually looked a lot like The Dude, to be honest) about the process of becoming a street artist; how they find places to practice if no where is legal; how they learn techniques; how they know when they are ready to put their work in a tunnel with other professionals.
He also showed me the hidden signature in the piece we were watching an artist work on. If you look at the shadows made by the baby super heroes (yes, even super heroes are babies at some point, and they’re adorable), you can see that each shadow forms a letter and together they spell out the artist’s name: Parlee.
I felt pretty cool by proxy after I hung out with these guys for a while.
And that’s about it for today. Like I said, not a lot of places to tell you about, but the ones I found really represent some of the things I love most about the streets of London. I’m not sure what could be more street than eating from a food truck and hanging out with street artists while they work.
See you next time!
Only 7 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
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!