Tag Archives: walkabout

Yesterday Threw Everything At Me

I had kind of a crazy day yesterday.

It started with an exam in Quantum Field Theory. Painful, but I think it didn’t go too badly. Had a bite to eat, then it was straight into some last minute revision on the Queen’s Lawn for the second exam of the day in Optical Communications Physics, which was actually sort of pleasant, in a slightly strange way. Less like the hideous mental assault which constituted my other exams, anyway.

To celebrate, Rowan, Susan and I took a trip to our customary haunt — Nando’s — and proceded to consume chicken. It was delightful.

After that, I decided to take a trip into central London to grab some comics at Forbidden Planet, and as I was strolling up Monmouth Street I walked past none other than Neil Gaiman, award-winning fantasy writer and graphic novelist. By the time I’d realised it was him he’d already walked past me and gone round the corner. It took me a few more hours to realise that I was in fact carrying in my bag a copy of his “Sandman” graphic novel “Dream Country”, and that asking him to autograph it would have been incredible. I later found out via the wonder of Twitter that he would have signed it if I’d asked. Never mind!

So yeh, went to Forbidden Planet, grabbed a new Buffy comic and a Penny Arcade book, and went and sat down on a wall just up Shaftesbury Avenue and read my purchases for a while, and watched the world go by. I don’t spend nearly enough time in central London, which is a shame because I love it dearly; it’s so full of life and bustle and remarkable buildings and architecture and it goes on and on in all directions.

Rather than go home, I decided to take a bit of a walkabout. I set off east towards Holborn, passing whichever way took my fancy.

The first thing I discovered was what looked to be the entrance to an underground tramway.

A disused and gated tramway under the streets of London

I wonder how long it’s been since it was used, and where the other end of it surfaces, if it still has another end.

I wandered over to where a section of street had been blocked off by Crossrail signs. This old building, a sign on which read “The Ivy House” was abandoned, encircled by signs exhorting me to visit the site office. The building across the street bore the likeness of, and a dedication to, John Bunyan. It too looked decayed and abandoned; I turned the corner into a desolate alley, and leaned to look through some railings; through them smelt of damp and decay.

The building was apparently called “Kingsgate House”, and despite appearing to be derelict, somebody still seems to be in habitation, judging by the light and the open window.

It appears that I’m not the only one to find this building interesting.

Places like this fill me with wonder, make me think about their history, why they were built, and how they fell on hard times. I wonder if Crossrail is doing any good to this little microcosm of Holborn at the moment; I must confess that apart from the Astoria, I’d never really considered the impact the building of Crossrail would have.

I turned north, and found that Warner Brothers keeps replicas of the Hogwarts house insignia in the Foyer of their offices.

From there I wandered into a residential district, near Great Ormond Street hospital. Houses draped with the flag of St. George, people in bars, drinking and chatting, the beautiful chattering sound of people enjoying themselves wafting over the streets. I walked down an alleyway that passed through a building, joining the street through a crack in the facade of a shop. Behind this was tucked a little house, sounds of a party coming from inside.

It was getting late, so I headed in the direction of Russell Square tube station, marvelling at water fountains, and a house draped in lights for some unfathomable reason. I came across a park called Coram’s Fields. The sign above the gate read “No Unaccompanied Adults”. I thought this was marvellous.