‘This feels like being on holiday,’ said the Gentleman Caller. We were sitting beside the river, shimmering in the early morning sun, overlooking one of the world’s most famous tourist sites. We sipped strong Turkish coffee, listening to the Arabic-style music coming from the coffee stand. We’d spent a couple of hours wandering through this city already, listening to birdsong and idly chatting about this and that. It felt a lot like being on holiday – then Big Ben struck 7:45am and it was time to head off to work.
The usual reaction when I tell neighbours or colleagues that I’ve been leaving home in the leafy suburbs at 5:30am to walk the eight miles to Bloomsbury is disbelief, followed by an accusation that I’ve lost my marbles. Yet it’s been anything but hard work. The walk itself goes through some lovely parts of London (and the less lovely parts, which are still interesting). Slowing down to walking pace means you notice all sorts of things you miss on the train, or even on a bike.
For example, did you know there are ornate Royal Doulton tiles adorning the old factory building at Vauxhall? Or that there’s a VW van restorer tucked away behind the arches at Loughborough Junction? As we drank our morning coffee, we saw canoeists on the river, then I spotted the Queen’s barge, Gloriana, making its way quietly downriver.
By the time I arrived at the office in Bloomsbury I felt wide awake and relaxed, ready to take on the day. May I recommend a mini-holiday for anyone who doesn’t have the time to fit in a full one?