I only had a day to explore this time so planned meticulously what I would do, to then not do it as like any respectable 'flaneur' or 'flaneuse'? (not flannel, thank you spell check), I got distracted by the lure of previously-unknown alleys, buildings and signs, one of the most memorable being 'The Horse Hospital' somewhere in WC1.
Starting point: outside St Athan's Hotel in Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury at 5. 30 am
So, I wandered around the borders of Camden and Holborn with exploratitive (not a word?) zest and part nostalgia, as ever, seeking the perfect Formica, fuggy café of my London years - sadly mostly gone, certainly from the hyper-center; Nero's, Starbucks, et all, now sitting smugly on nearly all streets.
The art gallery part of my plan now becoming less likely, time-wise, I headed towards Clapton Pond and Lea Bridge Rd to do a bit of shadowing of my main characters' footsteps in my current tome.
Smithi and Jarvis walk (in 2070) from Sureditch (Shoreditch) to the Hackney Marshes, to a pub called the Princess of Wales, and then back again, avoiding certain dangers but encountering others unforeseen. I wanted to see how long the walk would actually take (not allowing for the total fog-out and swamp of which I have placed in the book).
as decreed by Jesus?
re-postisioned gravestones in the beautiful St Georges garden/ancient burial ground, WC1
A habitation of extreme pointiness in Lloyds Square.
Time restricted after meanderings in WC1, I took a bus to Clapton pond and was amazed to find . . .a pond! For some reason I had imagined this to be not so, the water just a memory, now filled in, the ghost of it trapped under a chain coffee shop.
the pub and below, part of the filter beds area
group of sulking pigeons - man pictured had just walked over, stood near them and told them over and over 'don't you move'.
I walked up Lea Bridge Road and found the pub lurking betwixt the river, the bridge and large grassy zones bordered by vast plane trees. The pub was shut so I couldn't investigate the inside and imagine where 'Jarvis' was going to play the violin standing on a piano with antlers strapped to his homburg, so I traced their journey back to Shoreditch, following the river before turning westwards.
The joy of discovering completely unknown (to me) areas of London. I had never imagined there to be a tract of such wild land enclosed within the city - the filter beds of the river Lea. I could have been standing in the Fens, such was the quietness, just waving bog grasses and birds flitting.
I continued to 'The Marshes', enormous, flat expanses of cropped grass as green as, well, grass . . . But the space! interrupted only by the white, skeletal poles of football goal posts and the occasional dog-walker.
Time-restricted now I ceased wandering, tuned right over a bridge and strode onwards to Chatsworth Road where I had a tea break in the intriguingly-named, and atmospheric, 'Cooper and wolf' café where a friendly person drew me a map of how to get to St Leonard's church, my return point.
A pink house a blue house
I followed the criss-cross of roads and eventually arrived on Kingsland Road, got my hair cut (much needed) in a barbers, ate an iced bun and found the church where I was happy to enter its cool interior and spend a little time thinking about my characters' 2070 existences within the building.
A train to catch, I walked on, retrieved my case from the hotel and caught the tube to Waterloo pleased with the day and already thinking ahead to the next opportunity to discover/re-discover more of my home city.
The biggest fig tree in London town? Somewhere near Farringdon Road