I used to walk round London all the time... until I actually came to live here. But seeing as I won't be living here a few days from now, I decided to do a REALLY good one.
Today I walked from Lewisham to Hampstead Heath, which hurt.
Went along Old Kent Road and New Kent Road, a walk I've done before, but God knows why, then crossed the Thames at Westminster Bridge, most of which was taken up by a mysterious security checkpoint, where police officers appeared to be checkpointing empty boxes. Which were then caught by the wind and flew across the busy road.
Meanwhile, down below, David Walliams was swimming the Thames. I didn't see him, but I don't want to see his silly round face doing any more stupid dirty swims. Enough already with the swims. No more swims.
Then I moseyed along Whitehall, through Trafalgar Square (Nelson annoys me, with his hat and mighty plinth), then the length of Charing Cross Road and Tottenham Court Road, and into Camden, which makes my slovenly scruffiness look carefully planned. It's not.
By the time I got to Haverstock Hill and Rosslyn Hill I was wincing with every step and going at roughly the speed of a doughnut rolling up a 90 degree slope. I was gazing longingly at the buses all marked “HAMPSTEAD HEATH”. But I thought, no, no, I can't give up now, I'm almost there, I'm almost there. Oh I wasn't almost there.
When finally the Pret A Mangers turned into genuine mansions, every road swarming with black cars, I was in Hampstead Heath. I limped around a pond and a bit of green, then went, okay, that's enough, I'm not here for a flowery leafy walk in the fake countryside. And got the tube home.
I figured out in total I walked about 12 miles today, including detours (not all of which were purposeful), and have possibly injured myself mildly, but nobody will ever know. It was well worth it though, because although it makes sense to take transport at least just to get over the grubby A roads, if you walk the whole hog, including the grubby A roads, you stumble through literally dozens of neighbourhoods, see a lot of strange buildings, and get to watch thousands of people dashing urgently to and from work and shops and friends and booty calls. And I like to think there's not many people who saw the streets of London as thoroughly as I did today.
OH! And speaking of the streets of London – I finally saw a Banksy! It was just off Tottenham Court Road. I took a photo, but I don't have that plugger inner thing with me, so here's a Google photo of it:
As I blankly experienced my first Banksy, a very small old lady with a walking frame hobbled past it, did a double-take and stared at it for a moment. Then she gave it a tiny nod of agreement. And continued on her way.
I like Banksy much more than I used to ever since seeing Exit Through the Gift Shop, so I was really pleased to see one, seeing as I'd heard the vast majority of them have now disappeared.
Which must be why, in Kentish Town, I saw ANOTHER Banksy! Apparently it appeared only weeks ago:
See how the sunlight bounces off the perspex? Just like he always wanted.