It’s been over a month since I headed down to the big smoke. Now I’ve actually sorted accommodation for the next month or two I have time to pull some random nuggets out the experience bank while they are still fresh.
The plan, as you may recall, was to use the excellent Airbnb.com service (basically, premium couch-surfing) to buy some time to find a nice room in a nice part of London at a nice price. Whilst Airbnb proved useful for trying different areas, finding a place that matched all criteria was getting hard — particularly as I only wanted a place for 3 months. One week rolled into two and then three. I even contemplated going south of the river before the lovely landlady of my most recent stay made me a special long-term offer.
So, for the next couple of months I’m in the Blenheim Lodge on the Great North Road at East Finchley. It sounds posher than it is. I’m in the London Room, so-called because of the heavy theming for tourists: union jacks, London buses, telephone boxes and local landmarks all over. East Finchley itself is notable for being the constituency of Margaret Thatcher, the home of The Kinks and the birthplace of Jerry Springer (East Finchley Tube station during the war). This is such a random mix it must be true. Round the corner, on the way to Hampstead Heath, is Bishops Avenue – also known as millionaire’s row. This might be billionaire’s row these days. Huge LA-style houses, some of which are rumoured to be protected by ex-gurkhas.
I commute in on the propelled human sausage that is the Northern Line. Aside from this localised overcrowding, transport in London is pretty good. Everything is on Oyster cards which avoids faffing around with change. The tube is always fast, dry and warm. The Boris bikes are genius. Grab one from wherever and park it within 30 mins and it’s no charge. You can get a 24 hour window of use for £1, £5 for a week or £45 for a yearly membership. I’ve a widget on my Android phone that points the way to the nearest bike rows (with stats) and can whisper directions in my ear via Google Navigator to get me there. This feels reassuring like the future.
Enough for now: I just wanted to shift some backlog. Next instalment is likely to feature people and conversations.