Tuesday, June 22, 2010

London Journal - A Long Walk

Today taking the train just didn't seem to be a good idea. The sun shone in a perfect blue sky, little fluffy clouds peppering out to the horizon. The idea of descending into the abyss of the underground caused my heart to seize in my chest and my head to feel muddled.

As I recently put new music on my iPod and as I had my nifty iPhone handy (Technology is so magnificent, isn't it?) I felt set to embark on a spontaneous walking adventure.

I love walking. Since I was a kid I have enjoyed long wandering travels through unexplored wilderness or the well-loved bike paths in the city. I have never shied away from getting around on foot and whilst cycling is quite fun as well, there is something about the pace of walking that gives me so much to reflect on.

I decided to head along the Thames, as I have a fondness for rivers and all the wonders one might behold upon their banks. The first such delight I discovered were majestic houseboats, mansions of their breed, tucked in behind riverside warehouses. The location wasn't grand but the homes certainly were. They had more plants than some of the gardens that extend out of the Victorian properties where I live. Through half pulled curtains I could see spiral staircases and long oak tables, shining kitchens with stainless steel counter tops and all the luxuries of a swank apartment. It was juxtaposed by the mucky river bed that cradled the hulls and smelled slightly of fish.

The concrete path wound away from this bizarre living complex and I followed the Thames River Path arrows through back roads lined by factories. The concrete let off as much heat below my feet as the sun did from above. I crept along the shadows of high fencing covered in advertisements, hoping I wouldn't burn but also gloriously thankful for the bright orb in the sky and all it's warmth and majesty. I was just thinking that the bustle of the road to my left and the stink of factories to my right was not the best place to fully appreciate the sun. Fourtunately I was not far off one of those delightful places that London holds so dear...a green space.

Battersea Park greeted me with the smell of roses, as just inside this gate I discovered droves of them. They were probably in their prime only a few days ago, as many of the petals were starting to show brown, but the smell was still magnificent. It permeated the air and broke through the baking heat, adding a scent of fresh, wild beauty to the lush green park grounds.

I followed the path that wound around stunning flower displays to find the lake at the middle. Wild birds swam back and forth, chasing bugs and hoping for someone elderly to bring crumbs. A few chicks, not quite fully grown fuzzy versions of the adults they would soon be, splashed and darted nearer the shore. I paused to watch their antics.

Where I stood was a large piece of art, testimony to the fact that London really is a public Gallery. Certainly, the elephants are delightful, but they're a special guest exhibit. The permanent pieces are just as abundant and are not limited to one particular style. I inspected the oddity I had stumbled upon and wondered about the dedication.

I often think I should try sculpting something on a larger scale. I know that larger canvases are more conducive to my work. It stands to reason that I would do well to make some Henry Moore sized sculpture.
It was then that the lyrics I was listening to got through: "live by the signals of stomach and intuition as your guide." It was apt and something to reflect on as I made my way back to the path and in the direction of what I hoped would eventually be a tube station or bus stop.
As I stood waiting for a light I became aware of a small child standing on my right. He was loudly proclaiming something and suddenly he tapped my wrist. I pulled one headphone from my ear and said, "Yes?"
He looked at me with great seriousness, pointed to my plumerias and said, "I like that. I want that."
I smiled, "Do you? I think you'd have to ask your mum. And be a lot older."
He seemed surprised that I'd answered him, looking at me with a steady gaze and then dashing back to where his siblings were having a shoving match. The light changed and I crossed the street, leaving them behind.

I walked along a quaint road lined with countless shops selling everything from greasy food to hair removal, knitting to fireplaces. I wondered how many people visiting this city would find this street and how many people who lived here their whole lives had never been to Battersea Park. It seems you can miss just as much living somewhere as you can when you visit in a whirlwind and have limited time.
It's a big wide world to discover and I do like discovering it on foot. However, I knew I would have to catch some form of transportation if I hoped to make it home in time for the dinner I knew was waiting, lovingly prepared by my darling Chef. As it was, not only did a delicious meal greet me, but also three shiny new pens. They're just what I have been after for several weeks now and truly, they were the shiny topping on a glorious day.

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