26 February, 2012

Anyone for Tennis?

Today Wimbledon Village presented itself as Greenwich's rival for my affections (It didn't win, of course, but should Greenwich ever do something to disappoint me I'll know where to transfer my loyalty).  Not being an avid tennis fan it wouldn't have occurred to me to make a special trip to Wimbledon, but my friend Jess was going out to the tennis club shop to buy some logo-bedecked gifts for family members.  I went along for the ride just because it was a part of London I'd never seen, and I'm so glad that I went.

An inviting detour
After poking around the shop and making our little contributions to the British economy, we decided to walk back through Wimbledon Village to the Tube rather than wait for a bus.  Despite some quickly-scribbled walking directions and a mildly consistent Maps app, we did get lost, but the best sort of lost; the intentional detours taken because the surroundings are so wonder-full that you want to delay reaching your destination just a little bit longer.  Stone churches surrounded by brick cottages with round hobbit-hole windows and wiry vines climbing up the side; artisan bakeries and local restaurants; rambling lanes and steep hills untouched and untamed by modernity's imposition.  I believe the beauty of it was amplified a hundred-fold by the simple fact that we were there at dusk, when, as my friend Vicky put it, earth seems close to touching heaven. 

Photo courtesy Jessica Arnold
Our walk reminded me of one of the things I love most about London:  It feels like a collection of villages, each with its own flavor and history and architecture but still somehow part of this one city.  This was captured in one panorama today when we suddenly rounded a bend in the road and found ourselves overlooking Battersea Power Station, the London Eye, the Gherkin, the Shard, and Canary Wharf all at once.  We were so far away, our perspective so flattened, that all the major figures in London's west, central, and eastern skylines were condensed into one view.  We were so far away...but still in London.

On a completely unrelated note, when we were about a minute away from home this evening a man on a bicycle stopped us to ask if we knew where he could find "the boat pub."  He was referring to the Wibbly Wobbly, which is anchored in nearby Greenland Dock and proudly proclaims its status as "London's Only Floating Pub!"  I gave him directions and then he said that, judging from my accent, he thought I must be from New Zealand.

Er, no...but I suppose it's nice to know I give off an exotic sort of vibe?

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