When we first decided to move away from Chessington and from London, I came up with a few different ways to mark the occasion. Some were more successful projects than others.
1) While out on my daily (-ish) walks, I decided to walk along every road in Chessington, Hook and Malden Rushett one more time. This would retrace all the roads I’d walked along at least once while delivering mail over the previous ten years. The rule was, I had to start at home or finish at home; I couldn’t get a lift to some remote part of the south of the borough, walk around a small block and then get a lift home. In fact, in the end, the only time I got a lift was when Liesel dropped me off at the southern tip of Malden Rushett on her way to work and I walked all the way home, including offshoots such as Fairoaks Lane and West Road. I think in every other case, I left home, walked a few miles, at least 10,000 steps usually and then back home. I completed this project in just a few months. Easy.
2) I thought it would be interesting, challenging and fun to cycle along every road in Chessington, Hook and Malden Rushett in one go, on one single day. But after a bad experience with blood pressure medication leaving me short of breath, riding a long distance became, if not impossible, certainly something not to be attempted lightly. So, this is a fail, so far.
3) One thing I’ve always wanted to do is ride on every line on the London Underground, visiting every station at least once. I started this in 2000 when I was working in London, short rides at lunchtimes, longer ones at the end of the day. Unfortunately, Sarah died before I finished this, so I lost interest and this project was shelved. Well, 16 years later, I thought I’d start again. I did visit Brixton on the Victoria Line soon after David Bowie died, to see the mural and the flowers left by mourning fans. I rode the Victoria Line to Walthamstow at the other end. One line completed. And that’s it, I’ve not pursued this project, even though I have plenty of time. One day, maybe …
4) There are 32 London Boroughs plus the City of London. I thought it would be good to visit each one, to actually visit a destination or venue in each one, not just pass through on a bus or a train. How am I getting on? Here’s the list:
- Royal Borough of Kingston – This is where we lived, worked, shopped, took children to school, so we I can definitley tick this one off
- Bromley – I visited my friend Marie in Orpington a few times.
- City of London – We visited the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and more
- City of Westminster – Covent Garden, Hyde Park, Tate Britain, all visited many times
- Camden – Camden Market and London Zoo are just two venues
- Richmond upon Thames – Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Richmond Theatre and I worked in Isleworth for a short period
- Merton – Wimbledon Theatre and Wimbledon Common
- Sutton – Nonsuch Park and the shops
- Croydon – Fairfield Halls and the college where I had some OU tutorials and non forgetting Ikea and CostCo
- Kensington and Chelsea – I went to Uni here, lived here, Holland Park, Kensington Town Hall, the old Commonwealth Institute, Biba, Kensington Market, Kensington Gardens
- Hammersmith and Fulham – lived here, Shepherds Bush Empire, Bush Hall
- Wandsworth – Battersea Arts Centre
- Lambeth – Southbank Centre, National Theatre, Old Vic and Young Vic Theatres
- Southwark – HMS Belfast, Tate Modern
- Tower Hamlets – Tower of london, Tower Bridge, Royal London Hospital where Sarah trained and lived for a year
- Hackney – Stoke newington Church Street: Andi’s
- Islington – Union Chapel, probably our favourite venue in London
- Brent – Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena
- Ealing – lived in Acton for three months, and we’re staying in an Airbnb place here before we fly off to Alaska
- Hounslow – Heathrow Airport from where we fly off to Alaska
- Lewisham – Horniman Museum
- Royal Borough of Greenwich – The National Maritime Museum, probably my favourite museum, Greenwich Observatory, the Millennium Dome (now the O2 Arena)
- Bexley – Dad took me and Pauline to visit his old haunts in Welling, 50 years ago
- Barking and Dagenham – I visited the Dagenham Ford Motorworks when I was at school
- Newham – ExCeL Exhibition Centre, Olympic Stadium
- Waltham Forest – Olympic Velopark
- Haringey – visited my Dad’s Uncle Charlie before he passed away in 1979
- Barnet – we visited Golders Green recently
- Hillingdon – Heathrow airport spans two London boroughs and the country of Surrey, and we used to stop at Yiewsley when driving from Peterborough to Guildford, before the M25 was complete
- Harrow – nothing
- Enfield – nothing
- Havering – nothing
- Redbridge – nothing
Not too bad, then just missing out on four and I admit, some of the historical ones are a bit of a stretch!
5) Cycle on every page of the old Surrey Street Atlas. I did this once in the 1990s, a good way to force myself to go on long bike rides to the extremes of Surrey. Again, I was part way through a second pass on this when Sarah died. It would be nice to be fit enough to have another attempt but as I mentioned above, I am a bit, maybe unjustifiably, scared to attempt very long rides because of my breathlessness issues.
There are also some ideas that I discarded as being a bit too ambitious:
Ride every London bus route
Ride every Overground line, every DLR line,
Cycle the length of the Thames from the source in Gloucestershire to the estuary at Dartmouth or maybe beyond. I’ve ridden it all, in stages, from Walton on Thames to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich, plus a short section near Oxford.
We’ll miss London and Surrey and Chessington but moving away is an adventure and it will be fun coming up with similar, equally silly plans in Northenden or Manchester or Greater Manchester. Any ideas are very welcome!
London Bye Ta-ta is a song recorded by David Bowie just over 50 years ago, and, unbelievably, rejected by the record label!