My London dwelling daughters have settled south of the river in Camberwell & Tooting respectively. Last weekend was a first proper foray into South London.
For someone who is both a fairly frequent traveller and a geography graduate – I am embarrassed to admit to a dreadful sense of direction. Or more accurately, I never quite succeed in making the connection between reality on the ground & maps. Whether they are of the paper or Google variety – I struggle to join the dots.
It’s a conundrum because I love maps – reading them and pouring over the detail of the symbols, the cartography and notation. Have even been known to choose an OS map as bedtime reading.
Unfortunately, when walking or running I need more obvious visual references to stop me getting lost and am much more likely to arrive at my destination by following simple instructions like take a left at the big red sign or right at the Wheatsheaf pub.
A perfect example of this disconnect was when arriving at Balham underground station I failed to locate the Balham Travelodge – even though the hotel is pretty much on top of Balham station!
As is often the way – opting for the wrong underground exit and surfacing I saw the hotel entrance beaming out at me from the other side of the road.
This lack of map reading ability does mean that I often make interesting discoveries unintentionally, and as long as I am getting lost in daylight hours, I see this failing as a good thing- and a serendipitous way to get to know a new place.
When venturing out later in the day and in darkness, fortunately Transport for London do keep you informed via electronic bus displays.
On Saturday & after a most excellent evening of pizza & wine – I was dispatched safely by my daughter onto a number 45 bus. And with tables turned, I was given detailed instructions of where to get off, & advice to use Google as back up.
With tables turned, on arrival above ground – my girls have texted to see I have arrived safely & I must update via WhatsApp that I am back in the hotel in one piece.
Happy to report that regardless of being directionally challenged & inclined to a wee snooze on the tube – I survived my first time south of the river & by Monday was slowly feeling I had the measure of another slice of London.