Wandering Ways

Welcome to Around This Corner

Like the reindeer in the above picture contemplating life in Richmond Park, I also like to wander. I’m a firm believer that a good walk is the best way to really get to know a place.

This holds especially true when it comes to navigating around cities. In my experience, getting lost in a new city is the quickest way to gain your bearings. Something about the sensation of adrenaline and creeping dread being instantly replaced by triumphant exhilaration when you finally recognise a landmark or road, locks that particular route in my mind much more efficiently than if I was wandering around with my nose in a guidebook or squinting at city mapper.

Who knows, maybe it’s the actual act of thinking, the workout for my grey matter that makes it that more memorable but that just seems to be what works for me. I’m pretty confident if you dropped me outside the Asakusa Temple in Tokyo right now,  I could navigate back to the hostel I stayed in for a couple of nights back in 2008:  a result of a particularly trying few hours wandering alone, lost in the dark without a map or a smart phone and just one or two poorly remembered Japanese phrases. Once I figured out where the entrance to the metro station was in Akihabara to get me back to the temple (harder than it sounds – if memory serves I found it tucked away around the block from the exit and entrance to the main station with no signage), I just had to follow my feet back to my bed for the night. Ask me to give you directions to a street that’s two or three away from my house and I’ll struggle, mixing up names and sending you to the wrong side of the road.

The point being it’s easy to switch off and not take in details or remember the cool things we see everyday on our way to and from work, to the gym, to our friend’s houses. We take them for granted. I’m still a fairly new Londoner – I’ve only been here 18 months. Which, it seems, is just enough time to spend the majority of my journeys watching my feet and getting annoyed by slow pedestrians and tourists. Don’t they know I have somewhere to be?!?  But when I’m not being an impatient idiot and I actually let my mind and my gaze wander and look around me as I travel, I’m struck again and again at all the surprising features this sprawling city has to offer: the abundance of weaving passageways in it’s heart with curious names hinting at their past histories; the oddly practical features and design choices that were once a revolutionary idea and are no so necessary they’ve become unnoticeable; the craftsmanship and artistry on display everywhere because, well, why not?

I see things that make me curious, make me wonder how and why they came into being, that make me wonder – why there? Who made that? Around This Corner is me sharing these observations and questions with you. It also gives me an excuse to find out more about these things that have stopped me in my tracks and made me think, which I’ll share with you too.

I hope you’ll enjoy wandering with me.

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