Crazy Walking Week Starts Today – International Women’s Day

So, I’m about to head off on my crazy walking week. Today is International Women’s Day – what better way to start a week of walking 100km to raise money for CARE Australia.

My plan for the day is somewhat vague… I’ll be starting with turning on Map My Walk as I walk to work, and basically playing it by ear from there. Watch this space for updates.

I still have a long way to go on my fundraising goal. If you’d like to help out here is the link to my fundraising page.

Walking 100km next week… would love your support!

Like many of us, I have been watching the unfolding Syrian Refuges Crisis and thinking: “What can I do to help?”

I’ve decided to walk 100km the Walk in Her Shoes challenge from 8 to 14 March 2016.  I hope to raise AUD$5000.

It’s my 43rd birthday on 15th March 2016. According to Douglas Adams, 42 should be The Answer. It doesn’t seem to have materialised yet. We’ll see what 43 brings.

So from Tuesday, I’ll be aiming to walk a minimum of 15km every day for a week. I’ll be doing this as well as working, so will be a bit tough, but I’m sure will also be rewarding. London is an amazing city to walk around, so although my legs may feel it a bit, it’ll be with it on many levels. And of course, it’s not like I’m walking to collect water for my own survival, which so many people have to do on a daily basis.  I’ll be walking to support Syrian refugees and women and girls who have to walk an average of 6km every day to collect water and food and firewood in developing countries.

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All I ask is for you to donate the cost of a birthday card. And maybe we can all do something real to help.

Almost 11 million people are in need inside Syria and a further three million have been forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Women and children make up three-quarters of the refugee population.

Care Australia do great work supporting the Syrian refugees, you can read about all their great work here.

You can donate on my fundraising page here.

 

It’s Hot in London

It was 33 degrees on Wednesday. In London terms – that’s Armageddon.

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I am now sitting in a pub, drinking a cold beer. This is the current status.

Sunny 21People are sitting here in shorts (with very white, skinny legs on show), wiping their brow and trying not to faint.

This is somehow even more amusing, because I was recently in Alicante, Spain, where the temperature rarely got below 30 degrees. The average bar was filled with at least as many Brits as this pub currently is, mixed in with few Germans and Russians.

You can tell the Brits a mile off. When the Brits turn up at the beach, they strip off their clothes with reckless abandon, and run towards the brightness. There is no thought to body grooming ahead of this plan. I mean – why bother to cut your toenails? Your feet have been in shoes for 10 months, and never seen the light of day, so I’m sure they look great.

And then they get confused. This sun thing – it’s hot. It burns. It’s all very confusing.

So they lie in the brightness all day, all the time refusing to acknowledge that the sun is very very hot, and burning them. They then stagger to the bar with 3rd degree burns.

Which beggars the question. Why then, as soon as it inches above 20 degrees in London – do they run back to the dark corners of the pub, like cockroaches?

I’ve worked it out. Brits like brightness – not hotness. They are all for sitting in the twilight until 10pm drinking their beer. No worry that it is only 10 degrees outside – that is not the point. Let There Be Light.

Put them in The Tube, with other people very close to them (God forbid), and a temperature where they may need to take their jacket off… well I’m sure you can imagine. It’s not pretty.

But with their stiff upper lip reserve, and their absolute commitment to being strong, and resolute, and showing no emotion whatsoever – I’m sure they’ll see it through.

They’re a tough bunch. They may be confused, disorientated by ‘the heat’ and without their bottle of water – but they will never let on. They will stagger to their pub, where the beer is good and their friends are waiting, engage in witty repartee, and regroup to face the world.

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Walking home through Trafalgar Square

I needed some salty hot chips after work tonight. After indulging I needed to walk home. It was far from a trial.

This evening in London had a blue, cloudless sky. It’s warm. London was sparkling as I wandered through Trafalgar Square.

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St Martin in the Fields

Everyone was smiling.

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Except for this guy.

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The trees are starting to sprout green. I am fascinated by how, every day, the streetscape changes as the trees bloom. It was a gorgeous walk down to the Thames. Big Ben sparkled in the sun this evening.

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The Thames was sparkling too.

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Arty Shot

It felt like a summer party.

Now sipping my sparkling water, and eating my fruit and yoghurt. The salty hot chips were definitely worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

Being Cool and Arty at the Tate Modern

Number 3 on Lonely Planet’s “London’s Top 16”, I thought the Tate Modern might be a good option for my Sunday afternoon. Had a look on Google Maps – 6 minutes walk away! I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be so close to amazing works of art. One of the main reasons I longed to go to Europe when I was younger, was to see amazing art. And here it is – 6 minutes away.

So off I trotted. Started pondering the idea of joining up as a member – being so close and all.

The Tate Modern is famously inside an old power station.

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Quite an impressive entrance.

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As it turns out membership is only £69 a year. I was in. So I signed up, and headed up to the Members Room for lunch. An awesome chicken and chorizo stew, with a drink – all for under £10. And this was the view.

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Not bad (apart from the cranes – man they are everywhere in London – supposedly a sign of an upwordly mobile city… ). This may be my new coffee spot. Perused my membership kit, and decided to start with one of the free tours at 2pm: Structure and Clarity.

Was great! Pete took us around and showed us some truly cool pieces. I really liked this one. Fascinated that metal can be made to look fluid.

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Emma Dipper by Anthony Caro

We started with the cubists. This was Pete’s choice.

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Clarinet and a Bottle of Rum, Georges Braque

We had a lovely trip, all the way to the minimalists.

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Supremist Painting by Kazimir Malevich

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Paintings by Elsworth Kelly

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Bird in Flight by Elsworth Kelly

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Painting by Elsworth Kelly

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Fish by Constantin Brancusi

Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but I love the colours and shapes.

But we didn’t stop at my favourite. I had spotted a Kandinsky – I had to go back and have a look. Kandinsky is as close as I can get to choosing my favourite artist. I really love Picasso too. His pictures are amazing, I can at look them for hours, seeing more each time. But they are so dark, and dismal feeling…

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Seated Nude by Pablo Picasso

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Bust of a Woman by Pablo Picasso

Kandinksy, or at least the paintings of his that I love, are full of colour.

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Swinging by Wassily Kandinsky

Paintings never look the same in a photo – it flattens them, both in colour and perspective. This painting is vibrant, wonderful. I love it.

And it’s only 6 minutes walk from my flat. I shall be paying it a visit quite often, and then retiring for a quiet bevvie in the Members Lounge, overlooking the Thames.

 

 

 

A Walk Along the Thames

So much to do in London – it’s exciting! So much to do – it can be overwhelming. Where to start?

After spending a rainy morning poring over Time Out (I don’t know why Time Out can’t just give you a list of what’s on by date. Really – how hard can it be?) – I was more confused than ever. When the sun came out after lunch (notice I’m getting British already – talking about the weather), I decided to do what is always important to do in a crisis: go and find a book shop and a good coffee.

I wandered down to London Bridge (about 10 mins from home), where I had a vague idea that a book shop might be lurking. Hoorah! Found one, and as fate would have it, right near the door was a copy of Lonely Planet London. Ah – Lonely Planet my old friend, where have I been without you?

Round the corner I wandered into this;

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found a nice cafe, and settled down with my Lonely Planet. Just opening it made me excited. After perusing it for a while, I decide that I have a new mission: to see if I can tick off everything listed in the Lonely Planet to do in London. Quite an ask – oh but it will be fun!

With a nice full belly, and the sun now shining in full, a walk along the Thames was in order. This is the view that greeted me as I walked outside:

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The modern London. You can guess which one is nick named the Walkie-Talkie, and which one the Gherkin.

From here I crossed the road at London Bridge, went beside Borough Market (to be explored another day), to Southwark Cathedral.

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Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London (wow!). I’m guessing that would be because it is on the south side of the river, and escaped The Great Fire (but don’t quote me on this). Archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that. Some believe there was a church here as early as AD 606.

I loved that the courtyard was filled with young people eating food they had bought at the market next door, relaxing with a cigarette (or if they were cool hipsters, an e-cigarette).

I ducked in to check it out. Wow – awesome stuff. I didn’t have any cash on me for the photo permit, so no photos to show you here. I saw Chaucer’s window, dedicated to pilgrims aka Canterbury Tales. William Shakespeare’s brother is buried there as well. There is a lot of wood inside – and it made me wonder if this is what the old St Paul’s might have been like. Oldest wooden effigy of a knight – unknown identity. Was quite moving and beautiful. Truly beautiful place. Will definitely be heading back to explore some more, and maybe check out a choral performance or two.

I followed my feet, and within a few hundred metres found The Golden Hinde. Evidently Sir Francis Drake completed the second-ever circumnavigation of the world between 1577-80 in this galleon ship.

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You can do tours – another thing to add to the list. I couldn’t concentrate on the ship because I was distracted by some cool loud music nearby. I had to go and check it out.

Was great music actually. Playing right beside the ruins of Winchester Palace, one of the largest and most important buildings of medieval London.

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Wandered some more…

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And finally came out by Southwark Bridge. IMG_0769

I say finally, but this whole walk (slow wander really) took me about an hour. Every inch of this city has a story to tell. I’m not sure if I crossed anything off my list, or just added to it.

What’s next?

 

The Adventure Begins

London is huge. It’s like a country unto itself, mini-cities within a city. Every corner has it’s own story. Like a never ending jewellery box to explore. Tiny pieces of beauty, telling a story.

On my first day, Peter Pan leapt out as I rounded a corner, transforming an otherwise ordinary building into a trip to Neverland.

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The next day, on Oxford Street, this happened:

You never know what you are going to get. The first couple of weeks I was staying in Pimlico. The walk home from Tottenham Court Road had some nice treasures.

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I’m now in Borough, and can walk home in 40 minutes, across the Thames.

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Spring is here, with daffodils, and spring blossoms everywhere.

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Last night, I had a drink at the Royal Festival Hall – just a 15 minute walk from home. The sun was out, a beautiful Spring evening, with joy everywhere…

A whole fresh weekend ahead. More treasures to find, and joy to be had. As it said over a pub door, my first night in London:

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