Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Riverside wanders

So the strike did slow me down. I think it was a planned slow-down by me though. When suddenly your life (nothing serious, just my summer so far) is laid out before you, you say 'woah' and take a step back. I figured it was time for some actual relaxation... so on Thursday while everyone else was having a meltdown over public transport, I was cleaning the flat from top to bottom. Literally. I stood on the work surfaces and everything but don't worry, I obviously then had to anti-bac them again afterwards.

Yeah. I'm not great at really relaxing. But actually, having finally cleaned the flat properly, I have since been able to enjoy it more. Although now the sofa is really and truly cat hair free I may have become a crazy lint roller lady, rolling away any fur after every cuddle, but it does look so shiny and squeaky clean (sorry kitties)!

Despite the majority of my cleaning day being spent indoors (with all windows open to allow maximum 'clean air' flow, of course), I obviously had to venture out to Wilkinsons to top up cleaning supplies (any excuse) via the scenic route.

Seven Sisters may be an incredibly polluted place but it does have greenery around it. One of my favourite places to wander is along the River Lea although getting there is hardly picturesque. Nevertheless, once there it's easy to forget where you are as the sound of car horns, sirens and whistling lecherous men is soon drowned out by the deep hum of narrow boat motors, the whirring of spokes and the honks, squawks, tweets, quacks and cries of a plethora of birds. I often walk through Markfield Park to get to the riverside as it definitely has more charm than four lanes of traffic. 

Thursday's Wilkinsons haul saw me walking back past said traffic lanes brandishing a storage box fortunately large enough to carry the rest of my shopping. I do wonder whether sometimes the men aren't being lecherous at all.

Friday came and I decided I should go a little further afield. I did have a particularly lazy start to the day and didn't head out until after lunch but I realised that emerging later in the day has its benefits. Unlike those bizarre people donning coats and far too many layers, I was much better equipped to deal with the heat of the day! I dealt with it at first in the nicest outdoor seating area a café has ever offered (to be fair the inside looked amazing too, this is definitely somewhere I'm returning) at Hackney Downs Studios. The café in question was The Russet where I quenched my penchant for fresh mint tea and put my feet up with my book. Where I sat was what can only be described as being like a wooden sofa. Only on my sofa I can only outstretch my legs so far. Here, they were fully supported right to my feet due to the seating's depth. Am I really very sad for going into this much detail? I feel it needs to be experienced by others anyway; it was amazing.

I was enjoying being outside so much that I thought I'd walk from Hackney Downs to Hackney Wick (I mean they share the same name, how far apart can they be?) but when I got as far as Hackney Central I was already feeling incredibly hot and unfit, so I jumped on the Overground which I knew would cool me down with its air conditioning; bliss. 

Pretty Clematis & doors while I was still on foot.
When one is riding the Overground towards Stratford and it really is super hot and the air con is so nice, it's hard to get off before the terminus. So I didn't. I stayed on the train to Stratford thinking maybe Westfields could provide me with further cooling so I wasn't such a hot mess by the time I met a friend in the evening. I knew I wasn't there to go clothes shopping, but I figured Foyles couldn't hurt?

Emerging with six books (for less than £30 though! That's a bargain, surely?), I then felt the need to justify my buying by finding somewhere to sit and do some reading. I didn't want the book in my bag to feel left out! 

I do adore Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The river and the grassy areas and the abundance of wild flowers with the view of various fancy buildings is more than pleasant. However, last summer it was void of a 'beach'. This summer, said 'beach' meant that it was busier than before and louder too. Never too dispirited, I wandered on until I could consider the music as drowned out as it possibly could be and found a bench where I made myself very comfortable indeed. 

That evening we visited a bar that I've seen from the train a few times and been intrigued by. Its name was Crate's Brewery and they served good wine and yummy looking pizzas although with the bar queue we were glad to have ordered a bottle and didn't end up fighting the crowds for food. Our evening was enjoyed on the riverside, people watching, catching up and combating wasps. It was a great place for such occupations!

Saturday arrived and I had a whole day to myself. So, I finally decided to seek out those allusive reservoirs I had heard of and seen on a map, but not actually been to. 

The first was literally a 20 minute walk from my house and it's no wonder I've passed it by. It was along Woodberry Grove, a road I've travelled along many a time by car but never on foot. Sun shining, I took a gentle stroll around the West Reservoir where boats were sailing. In the distance I noticed black parasols and knew they must be the outdoor seating area of a café (I'm like a predator recognising prey when it comes to a cup of tea) so thought that's where I would head. 

Once inside I spied peach juice and the idea of a cup of tea became a distant memory. The café was inside a really unusual building and had a small waterside terrace where I sat with my juice and took some time to read more of my book and earwig into people's conversations. 

Sufficiently rested, I then moved on to explore the East Reservoir. Not fully open until the Autumn, this side will be dedicated to nature and wildlife as opposed to housing water sports. At the moment, there's a nice seating area and lots of wild flowers, so I sat for a while just to take it all in. A lot of the flats there are empty at the moment and I was incredibly tempted to go into the Letting & Sales Office to make an enquiry; it would be the most beautiful outlook!

Having not packed my Oyster, I wasn't keen to venture too far as I didn't like the idea of a trek back home at the end of the day but I was still full of energy at this point so figured a walk to the more familiar Lea River wouldn't go amiss. While it may have been some distance from my current location, it wouldn't then be too far home.

Whenever I walk along the tow-path, I tend to go in the same direction as there's a point where pretty boats disappear and I'm not then tempted to walk on so instead turn back before I've strayed too far from home. The opposite direction however, according to the map, looks a lot more interesting so I've never dared lose myself along there. However, this time, I was up for a new adventure.

The walk took me past some really interesting blocks of flats (I know that sounds like sarcasm but I genuinely am interested by architecture in London and to see how some people live; I'd love a place with the river and greenery out of my window) and there were lots of other people walking too as well as cyclists of varying purpose; whether it was to take a leisurely bike ride, get from A to B or to mow down as many pedestrians as they could. 

The river was really active too, with lots of people moving on to new moorings or coming in to those that were along this part of the river. I'd never seen it so alive! As I walked on, I eventually came to Springfield Park which was bustling with families, tennis matches and what seemed to be a very tense game of cricket. 

Just by the entrance to the park there was also a bridge across the river. As it was the first I'd come across in either direction, I had to cross it to see where it led to. According to the signposts if I carried on along the river I'd end up at Hackney Wick which is worth knowing for another, less hot, time. Before me, I was met by Walthamstow Marshes which is yet another place I've seen on maps plenty of times but not yet paid a visit to. 

Call me old fashioned but as a young female, there are still certain things I'd rather not do alone and walking through a marsh is one of them. It's the kind of place murders and other evils are made of. So after perusing the map with great intent so I didn't look so silly going in one direction then turning back around, I made my escape but will be sure to return for a walk with company. From here, I crossed back over another nearby bridge and made my journey back along the river to home. 

If there's one thing London does particularly well, it's rivers! The perfect place to wander come rain or shine. I'm definitely keen to go a little further one day soon.