This weekend I had absolutely no plans and it became a great opportunity to embrace the tourist that still exists in me.
The weekend commenced with a literary walking tour of the newly installed book benches – quite literally benches throughout London painted in works of art inspired by famous books.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about London history, a fortunate skill she held as she was asked questions about every area we strolled to.
We ended the tour in a pub and I’m now convinced to book another one night after work.
On Saturday I wanted to try out the Barclay’s Bikes (or Boris Bikes as they’re more commonly known). The weather was great and after a few minutes struggle working out how to eject the bike from the stand (you just pull really hard), I was off. I started cycling through Bishop’s Park and there were way too many people to avoid so I cautiously took to the road.
The quiet residential streets are great but I found that it’s difficult to get to popular parts of London without cycling on the main roads. And that’s bloody scary indeed. So I went west by the river to begin with, docked and then walked the rest of the way to Kensington.
I came across Pembridge Rd, a road I’d been meaning to check it. It was quite disappointing. It holds rows of what appear to be boutique stores but they’re actually touristy cheap shops that all contain exactly the same short, cheaply made dresses. The place was packed too. Ah well.
I walked to Hyde Park and tried to hire my next bike. Unfortunately the machine wasn’t working so I walked 30 mins to the next one. After three attempts it accepted my card and I went on my way. I was surprised that many paths I came across had NO CYCLING printed on the path entrance and I resigned to sticking to the roads throughout the park. It was a bit annoying but maybe I wasn’t in the right area for cyclists.
After another 30 mins I was done. You know how you can do something enjoyable for hours until very suddenly you’ve had enough? It was like that. But despite the few aspects that tinged what could have been a perfect cycling day, I’m still very keen to do it again. Cycling to work would be fantastic… If I could bear the cars and busses. We’ll see!
I had planned to go to Selfridges on Sunday but it’s actually very close to Hyde Park, so I went there next. I have to admit, wearing a bright yellow hoodie, green backpack with the word ‘Extreme’ on it, denim shorts, white socks and fluoro pink sneakers put me fairly out of place in this luxury department store… I didn’t stay long!
After some fairly decent tabbouleh at the food hall I got the bus home. All in all a very nice day!
Today (Sunday) I went to the Tate Modern. At first I felt extremely cynical as I sometimes do about modern art. “How is a few red lines on canvas, art?” I thought. There was even a mirror on the wall that claimed to be “genius” because it put the observers themselves into a frame in a gallery, and thus became artwork themselves. I chuckled inwardly as I snapped a sneaky photo.
But after an hour in the Tate my thoughts were changing. I was reading descriptions and making connections to the works.
Poems on the walls about the mind, body and spirit spoke to me in a nice way and I felt that within these walls is an understanding of the fascinating and somewhat abstract workings of the human mind. It was comforting that this place validated weird self expression.
When you walk through the streets of London and you go to pubs or shops, there is a tacit understanding that you’ll conform in your dress, your manner and your topics of conversation. But although I always initially get confused by abstract art, it never fails to remind me that our weird thoughts, crazy songs, disturbing poems, unique photographs and over-sharing blogs are validated. We are expressing how we feel from deep within our minds and connecting that to the physical world.
And I think we appreciate this from each other more than we realise.
My initial cynicism subsided and now I was feeling open minded and inspired. I want to see your scattered red stripes on canvas, your self portrait in drag, your sculpture of duct tape on mannequins.
We’re all artists on this earth, so why the hell not?
You have permission.