On the Road Again: Walking across London, Part I

26 Nov

I moved into my flat off of Primrose Hill in London in late November of 1985.  I was starting to learn the London Underground system, but had not yet ventured out aboveground on the buses.  You see, there are color-coordinated charts everywhere to show how one Underground (“tube”) line interacts with another, but the learning curve for catching buses and transferring between them is much steeper!

My church, Holy Trinity Brompton (Church of England) was down the street from the famous Harrods store in Knightsbridge.  Knightsbridge sits on the southern edge of Hyde Park.

My office was on the northern edge of Hyde Park.  I have been known to walk to church from my office in the early evening, right across Hyde Park.  But I didn’t do that within my first month in London.  And I couldn’t do it after 9 PM, as the London parks were gated, and were locked after that.

Furthermore, up the street from my office was the building where Noel owned a flat back then.  So I could walk to his flat from my office, too.  But I hadn’t met him at this point.  I didn’t meet him for six more months.

And then,  in addition to the above information, the  most direct distance between my flat and Noel’s flat lay across Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park (adjoined).  So I could literally walk from my flat to his and almost never leave the park.  Again, before the park was locked at night.

All that to say, even in those days before GPS, there was a very logical way I could have walked every step of the way home from my church and done it within about two hours.  And been safe doing it, if it wasn’t late at night.

But I didn’t yet know that after living in London for just one month.

And the issue came up when I decided to go to the midnight service on Christmas Eve at my church.  Because the Underground and the buses stop running on Christmas Eve and don’t start again till the 26th, Boxing Day.  Not all of them even run then.

And there are fewer taxis on Christmas Eve.  And they are very expensive.

Yet my singles’ group at church wanted me to come to the midnight service, eating Mexican with them beforehand at one of the few Mexican restaurants in London.

So, in the style of 20-something singles everywhere, I said . . . “yes!”

And went along, not knowing how I was getting home.  My car had not even arrived in country yet, so that wasn’t an option.

I was a bit worried, but tried to just enjoy the meal out and the soaring carols of the service.

Worst case, I would have to pay the equivalent of about a hundred bucks for a taxi ride home.

Well, during the time of  “the peace” in the service, one of the singles introduced me to a young family of four who lived in my neighborhood and had driven to church that night.

A ride home!  They seemed like angels to me.

Oddly, I never saw them again at church.  It was a big church, but that was strange.  I could find them on Christmas Eve but never again!

Merry Christmas, Mary!  God took care of my need for a way home!




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