Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blake and Mosaics in Lambeth

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Whew! I finished my last map for the London trip. This walk is primarily about the life of William Blake, who lived in Lambeth from 1790 to 1800, and the Southbank Mosaics project that commemorates his work. The goals of Southbank Mosaics are to beautify the streets around Waterloo and to provide skills to marginalized people of the area. Hundreds of members of the local community have also volunteered their time on
Project Blake, working on the mosaics and recording Blake's poetry. A few of my Flickrmates and I volunteered for an afternoon last year, mostly sorting donated tile into bins by color and also putting a few glass pieces into Blake mosaics that were in process in the studio. The panels we worked on are now hanging in a railway tunnel in Centaur Street. I really haven't read much of Blake's poetry, except for "Jerusalem" and the one about the tyger, but I'll read up.

A visit to Lambeth must include a stroll down Lower Marsh Street, where there are many vintage clothing shops, market carts in the street, and I Knit, the best knitting shop in London and the only one in the UK with a liquor license. You can hang out on their sofas, work on your knitting project, and have a glass of wine or beer. Northampton SO needs something like this.

On this walk, I may also spend some time at the Garden Museum and the second hand book stalls by the National Theatre. The Tate Modern and the Hayward Gallery are close by -- both good places to go to use the loo or get out of the rain.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dickens in Southwark

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I've made yet another walking tour map. This one follows nearly verbatim and step-by-step the Dickens in Southwark walk on Richard Jones's London Walking Tours website. I'm not sure if I'll climb the 311 steps to the top of the Monument at the beginning of the walk (nah, too chicken) or pay to see the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret at St Thomas Church. I've got this planned for a Friday so that I can buy portable food for the day at Borough Market. The banana cake and brownies from Flour Power City Bakery there are to die for.

The last walk I need to map out is Blake in Lambeth before I start plotting out our plan of attack for London Open House weekend. I hope my loyal readers aren't getting too bored by these maps. I've made them public on Google maps, and I surprised to see that they're getting quite a few views, so I'm curious if other people are actually printing them out and using them. If you do, please leave me a comment and let me know how it went for you.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ladbroke Grove to Notting Hill Gate

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Now that I've gotten the hang of making my own Google maps, I'm having a lot of fun plotting out my London adventures. Usually when I walk around London, I carry a map book as well as narrative descriptions of a particular walk copied from a book or two, and maybe another map that I've printed from the web. It's rare that I follow any one prescribed course, as I'm generally trying to cobble together bits of different ones and work in other things of interest to me along the route. Now that I'm slipping into my dotage, I tend to forget some things in all this checking back and forth between my papers (and I look like a fool standing on a street corner, leafing through everything and trying to work out where I'm going next). With my own customized maps, I'm hoping to see more of what I want and look less of a prat doing it.

I'm planning to start this walk at the gates of Kensal Green Cemetery when they open at 9 a.m. I'll roam around the cemetery for a while (this will be the third of the Magnificent Seven that I'll see), and then cross Regent's Canal into Ladbroke Grove. From there, I'll wander down Portobello Road, which I hope won't be so crowded as I'm planning this for a week day, and into Notting Hill. I've mapped out some of the places in Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (2004 Man Booker prize winner, and also a great miniseries). After that, I'll head toward Hyde Park for a walk through Kensington Gardens and over to the Serpentine Gallery. Weather permitting, of course. If it rains, I reckon I'll spend the day at the V&A and the Natural History Museum.
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