So it’s official: we’re moving back to New Zealand, leaving London, our friends, our jobs, our neighbourhood (the good and bad), our local off-licence with Budvar for £1.30 a bottle, our walks on the New River (and now and again on Regent’s Canal), our blasé approach to a critical terror level, our disgust at Uth culture, our infuriation with public transport (but our joy when it works, which it often does), our lazy acceptance of the educated middle-class cleverness that makes so much of London life work, our knowledge that the Tate and BM and BL and the V&A and National Gallery and the NPG and all those other things are just there on the off-chance we want to go, our access to the most wonderful city parks in the world (and yes, we do go to these), and so much more… all this we’re leaving.
So my partner’s office has moved and to work out how to get to work, and how long it will take her, she’s happened on a nifty wee website that tells you just that, as well as how many calories you’ve burnt and how many carbons you haven’t. Here tis: http://www.walkit.com/.
Brilliant. Almost as good as the book she bought me for a birthday years back when we were of an active bent: London Walking, by Simon Pope. My favourite tip was on supermarket shopping, advising always to shop using a basket. When the basket became too heavy to carry around the supermarket you’d know you had too much to carry home. It further advised that with the help of a spare broomstick balanced over one’s shoulder, one could carry double the amount of shopping with a bag dangling from either end.
The train back from Oxford, goes through Reading, stopping briefly, then the same at Slough, before making the final run into Paddington. Somewhere near Old Oak Common, on the way in, there’s a goods yard on the left and a service depot on the right. Sitting on the right side of the train, facing forward, just before the depot, you can look out over all of London, from the west to the east, taking in the Trellick Tower, London Eye, the Gherkin, BT Tower, Centrepoint, the whole lot. And then it’s gone, the depot momentarily blocks the view; after the depot, the scene’s changed and you’re nearly home.