Tag Archives: Primrose Hill

On the Road Again: Walking across London, Part III

28 Nov

The last two days about London have consisted of vignettes about trying to find a way home from Knightsbridge (think Harrod’s) on Christmas Eve and from Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve.

Today I will just say that London is a most walkable city.

I haven’t been there for over 20 years now, but when I lived there, it was pretty dangerous to walk in most downtown areas of the U.S.  London was a city of about six million people, but it lived life at a slower, gentler pace.  Since England is an island and firearms were pretty strictly controlled, there were not too many attacks going on in the streets of London.  And those areas that were high risk were pretty well-known and easily avoided.

London also is full of royal parks.  As I mentioned two days ago, it was possible to walk from my church to my home via Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and Primrose Hill, with only a couple of streets in between.  Hyde Park connects to St. James Park, Green Park, and Kensington Gardens as well.  So much green!

We used to run our Navy physical fitness test in Hyde Park.  It is also the site of the famous Peter Pan statue.

Kensington Gardens borders Kensington Palace where Prince Charles and Princess Diana used to live back then.

And Regent’s Park contains the well-known London zoo.  As I entered the park to walk or run many days while living in London,  I could see the giraffes, hanging their necks over from their enclosure.  And the giraffes are my favorite animal!

So, while some might think it was fearless of me to walk or run in London as much as I did, I know myself and my timidity about questionable areas.  I never felt that timidity in most parts of London.

And I have never walked so much in my life!

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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