Walking: between the lines

We have a fascination with writers who draw from place.  It is probably something to do with the fact that as walkers we are out carving our way through space and experiencing places, one step at a time.  We are not great writers so appreciate those who can write a good story and engage with readers.

We wanted to read more writing from such writers and create experiences on foot, to which we could invite others to discover that writing, as well as exploring places.  In addition, we wanted to generate discussion about the writer and their creative process too.

So we can be walking with others, sharing stories from engaging writers, we have devised “Walking: Between the Lines”, and we hope you will come and join us – choosing to read the writing that we are reading too – a Book Club on foot.

Part discovery of engaging writing, part discovery of place, and part discovery of the writer.

We are starting out on this new adventure in November 2018, running an event once a month.  As it is the centenary of the birth of Dame Muriel Spark, we though it was only right that we should invite you on an adventure to discover Peckham in the 1950s – the setting for her novel “The Ballad of Peckham Rye“.

There is so much more to this slim volume.  William Boyd wrote in the introduction to the Penguin Modern Classic edition “ Remember the title here – The Ballad of Peckham Rye  – designed to conjure up all the bawdy and scurrilous traditions of the balled form….. a catalogue of sexual crimes and misdemeanours, minor and major – suspicion, jealousy, envy, betrayal, adultery, rupture, violence and, ultimately, murder.”

Written when Muriel Spark was living in nearby Camberwell, it was published a year before “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” – by far her most famous novel, because of the play starring Vanessa Redgrave, and the film starring Maggie Smith.  Muriel Spark led quite a colourful life herself, living in Africa during the Second World War, abandoning her son in leaving a troubled marriage, she was ‘discovered’ by winning a short story competition.  What followed was a string of slim novels, far from lightweight however, many drawing on her life experiences and the places she lived.  Latterly she lived with a female companion in New York and then Italy.

The Centenary is marked by a slew of events, many of which have already passed, but there’s a fabulous website, MurielSpark100 listing on-line resources worth a dip into.

Come and join us, in the company of Dame Muriel Spark as we reveal Peckham in the 1950s from 2.30pm-4.30pm on Sunday 4 November read more and book here – and remember to read “The Ballad of Packham Rye” beforehand!

We are open to suggestions on writing and writers who draw from place, so if there is hero or heroine of your’s with whom you would like to go Walking: Between the Lines – just use our Get in touch page and we will try to schedule a walkshop, convenient for you.


Continuing our saunter through the podcast library of interviews we have recorded for Talking Walking, this last week, we have been hearing from people who seek to make the walking environment better, as well as those who have been trying to get us to be more active.   Some of the interviewees are no longer in the roles they were when we recorded them.  Some of the organisations still continue, others have disappeared but it is interesting to hear their enthusiasm and passion for inviting people to experience the outdoors in a different way.

It was great to contrast the views of Bill Chandler, the convenor of Australia’s Urban Design Forum with those of Robert Huxford, Director of the UK’s Urban Design Group.  For Australians, where their roads are wider, and suburbia more sprawled, the key was about making the first part of every journey by whatever mode, more pleasant for walking – this chimed too with what Des de Moor, formerly Everyday Walking officer at the Ramblers had told us too.  For Robert Huxford, traffic speed was a key determinant of whether people chose to walk, with Tony Armstrong, the then CEO of Living Streets suggesting that the pier to change the built environment was squarely on the shoulders of local authorities.

By the time I interviewed Veronica Reynolds of now defunct WalkEngland, health walking had become firmly established with more than 500 local initiatives across the country.  Aspirations were about getting people to test their levels of fitness through walking 1 mile Active Challenge routes with a target of getting 1 million people more active by the Olympics.

Walking the Marsh Loop – Muggridge & Nanni

It was delightful to listen again to two artist curators who interpreted different landscapes through walking, first Sorrel Muggridge (in collaboration with Canadian artist Laura Nanni) recounting how ‘retelling a route eroded its distance’ and how they created a 3D ‘infographic’ of their repetitive endurance walking by rolling up climbing rope.  Second, Martin Kohler, a professor of urban planning and photographer, who has been part of a team who conceived the Haffen City Harbour Art Safari, in which they invited people to explore and ‘uncover’ art installations in derelict (but soon to be developed) docklands, declaring that such landscapes are ‘lived in through dreams and memories’ and that these are as important as the infrastructure that persists.


Paul Wood, author of ‘London Street Trees‘ took us on a romp around Hackney Central on a beautiful sunny October Sunday morning.  Even he discovered trees he wasn’t able to identify, new specimens planted in the streets.  These lapses of Paul’s didn’t disappoint the participants as they all gave him 5 out of 5 for the walkshop.  I concur it was excellent!   We are out in search of street tree delights in Brockley at the end of the month – you can sign up here


Last but not least this week, we ran a Hidden Garden Haiku walkshop in Vauxhall to celebrate National Poetry Day – here are a couple of the haiku written for you to enjoy and you can download a zine anthology of poems from the walkshop from the event page here (there’s also a handy crib on how to fold the paper on which you print them).  It has emboldened us to set up a monthly Hidden Garden Haiku each Thursday – next up is City East, in which we will visit a garden within a derelict church, a labyrinth in a courtyard and the churchyard where Samuel Pepys is buried.  Come and join us – it will be fun!

  • In a small garden
  • Flowers from Ladakh carry hope
  • Humanity blooms

 

  • Footprints through the square,
  • Hidden from sight and timeless
  • Resting, I ponder

All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

Making it better for walking

It is ever so easy to forget what was there before…..what was that building that is now rubble behind a hoarding and where did that path lead to anyway?  Don’t know about you, but we are feeling that our grasp on place is slipping from our memory.  If you don’t cover the territory very often, it is really tricky to remember the detail.  The opposite is also true, that if you repetitively walk a familiar route, you begin to notice things more often and recognise incremental changes.

Making it better for walking is often all about incremental changes, as only a slight (often modest) change in the built environment can be significant for those on foot.  Listening to Leon Yates, former author of the City of Melbourne Pedestrian Strategy, reveals how much thought is given over to making the street better for walking: reducing obstacles, widening the footway, sharing the roadspace more equitably, prioritising pedestrians at crossings, introducing new trees and street furniture into the ‘streetscape’, working with street trading teams and in improving the overall quality of pedestrian routes.  Since the Commonwealth Games in 2004, Melbourne has been able to draw on and add to a network of pedestrian counters, providing unique data on which are the most popular routes and how new developments can have an impact.  Have a listen to the Talking Walking interview with Leon and be inspired.

Jamie Wallace wanted to live in a relaxed and convivial city and felt one way to make such a thing happen was to encourage more people to walk more often.  A seed of an idea came to him in 2000, and by the time Talking Walking caught up with him, his Walkit wayfinding website app was already proving popular in London and beyond.  Although he foresaw the converging trends in climate change, health and energy security, his personal driver was more psychological, he wanted to be in charge of his own destiny in terms of how and where he chose to travel in London.  Often he found his friends and colleagues over-estimated the time it would take to walk a journey and under-estimated the time it would take to drive or take the tube. His simple solution drew first on switching off one-way streets in a global digital road atlas and in adding pedestrian only routes from aerial photographs.  As the community of Walkit users grew, he also realised how valuable it was to have their ‘eyes on the streets’ and their ‘feet on the ground’, such that the Walkit wayfinding could be enhanced through user-derived data. Nowadays we rather take this for granted but back 2008 this was cutting edge. Listen to Jamie describing how Walkit came about and its applications.

London is a vast built up metropolitan area and it is often quite bewildering when one sees the posters of all the rail and tube interconnections.  During the 1980s, the then Countryside Commission started to envision a network of walking routes that might connect up all the different parks and green spaces throughout London – almost to counter the reliance of Londoners on the tube map.  Their intent was to have a network of strategic walking routes, which would be no more than 2kms or 30 minutes walk form the bulk of the population.  Alexandra Rook became the first Operations Director for the the strategic walking routes managing agency, Walk London, and in our interview 10 years ago, she explained how the routes came about and the plans for a Jubilee Greenway to link up all the venues for the 2012 Olympics. She talks about how for most people they need an excuse to go for a walk, and that for her the delight was as much in serendipity as it was in the route she was taking, so her desire was to create ephemeral temporary artistic interventions along each route. Listen to the Talking Walking interview with Alexandra here.

We also hear from pedestrian champions from both sides of the Atlantic, neither of whom had imagined their career paths would follow such  intriguing routes.

Jacky Kennedy, retired now, but when interviewed in 2008, was riding high on the success of delivering a ‘road show’ across Ontario in which she brought international experts in improving the pedestrian experience to work with local communities, and also delivering a Walk21 conference in Toronto.  Coming to realise that ferrying her children to school by car was contributing to congestion was the lightbulb moment for Jacky to seek alternatives through the creation of Active & Safe Routes to School.  She modestly tells her story, but you quickly realise there is a determination and passion in her voice. Listen here.

Jenny Budd is still today in her role as a healthy walks champion in the borough of Lewisham in south east London.  Before she had children she was an Occupational Therapist and latterly a Psychotherapist, but in spotting a temporary part time job advertised in 2001 by her local primary care trust, in which the requirement was to get more people walking to combat obesity, one of Britain’s longest-serving champions in health walking was recruited.  Back in 2008 she had encouraged hundreds of Lewisham residents to join health walks and had trained dozens of front line medical staff in how to incorporate pedometers into their clinical practice as well as recruiting similar numbers of volunteer health walk leaders.  This from a woman who said she hated walking as a child. Listen to the interview.

Fabulous shadows- A Devine

Two walking artists whose interviews we have listened to in the last week, include Ernie Kroeger, a professor of photography at Thomson Rivers University in Kamaloops in western Canada’s British Columbia and Anne Devine, now living in the Caitskills, who took endurance walking to limits that few of us would even dream.  Ernie Kroeger was the artist who conceived the Walking & Art Residency at the Banff Centre of Arts where both Talking Walking and the Museum of Walking began.  He is fascinated by place and a simple act of taking a detour from his regular walk to work, of about 200 metres in which he walks through an are of sage brush, has proven to be a continuing source of creativity, allowing him to free his mind each morning.  Anne Devine on the other hand has undertaken repetitive endurance walks as well as, adrenalin-rush activities, to create extraordinary walking performances.  She like WalkWalkWalk has found that the ‘cloak of darkness’ provides an alternative dynamic to wthe walking experience.

Viv Corringham takes the everyday walks of strangers and turns them into compilations of song and environmental sound compositions, in what she calls ‘Shadow walks‘, often creating urban ‘song paths’.  Her work brings us back to the resonance of place and memory. She uses binaural microphones that sit like headphones on the ears, and allows her to record both conversations and the ambient sounds as if it were 3D.  Those strangers with whom she walks, often open up in a generous way, forgetting that she is recording their conversation, and she develops a free and easy relationship with them. She then takes the arc of the everyday journey as a score for the composition she will make. Our interview is a fascinating window into the creative process of a sound artist and walker.  It was a joy to listen to it again – you can listen to it here.

If tempted why don’t you join us on the #100daysto challenge or just occasionally dip into the Talking Walking podcast library.


A couple of years ago I won a scholarship to City University and the Cass Business School to undertake a Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership, and  ‘what won it for me’ was something I called ‘Woof Woof Walkies‘.  It was a simple way of bringing dog walkers together with socially isolated people, to try to combat loneliness.  In one form, it won a Student Entrepreneurship prize.  Through a meeting in a bar one evening after a day at a Walk21 conference, led to a proposal for a pilot for Woof Woof Walkies in the Netherlands,with partnerships between City University and a University in Arnhem.  Unfortunately, unlike my scholarship, the funding wasn’t forthcoming, so Woof Woof lay dormant. Tinged half with regret half with excitement, as I hear of Dog Dates,an initiative between the Campaign to Endlessness and Pedigree – the makers of ‘Chum’ and other dog foods and accessories.


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

Walking the archives

The #100daysto challenge to mark the tenth anniversary of Talking Walking has begun! We are diving through the Podcast Library archives of 90+ interviews and we thought we would work through it chronologically.  So take yourself back in time to 2007/8 – where were you 10 years ago?

I had been very lucky to win a place on a ‘Walking and Art‘ residency at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity in the Canadian Rockies.  I had never been on a residency (and to be honest, never mingled with so many artists).  I quickly realised that my lack of arts training meant that the facilities offered were beyond my mastering them within the 6 week residency.  So instead, I started recording interviews with the artists to find out how walking was the catalyst for their practice.  Podcasting was in its infancy but offered an exciting avenue for my creativity.

Toward the end of the residency, we had two visitors both of whom well-respected artists: Simon Pope and Hamish Fulton.

Simon had come to lead on a ‘new media’ residency (as it was so called then, now geo-located media is mainstream), and Hamish as the  star guest for our own Walking and Art residency.  Simon was graduate of Banff, previously creating a walking bibliography.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was also author of a book called “London Walking – a survival guide and technical manual‘ – already out of print, he transferred its contents to a wiki that I had introduced him to.

Our Talking Walking interview took place among suitcases packed for our imminent departure from Banff.  Simon talked enthusiastically about how walking through necessity had led to become more observant of the many incremental changes taking place in London, and how he felt driven to write London Walking.

Hamish Fulton invited the residency to walk as slowly as possible around a city block – taking as much as 15 minutes on each of the four sides.  I also remember a bout of walking backwards.  He raced up a mountain and I only was half way up, when he was coming down, so I admit, I turned around and accompanied him down.  He was so enthusiastic and intrigued by the variety of walking and walking interventions in which I had been involved, and was eager to learn more.  So when I came to interview Hamish the following day I feared that he and I had already covered everything.  Hamish was strident, not only fast across the ground on two feet, but talking rapidly as though time was running out, he revealed his frustration with the various walking spheres not embracing each other.  Hamish sees walking as a means of opening up the mind to creativity and inventiveness, and feels that a bout of habitually walking a similar route, but with occasionally adding some absurdity, is a great way of freeing the mind.  He is also a string advocate for nature, arguing that the western world has a severe contempt for nature.

I knew I could bring variety to the Talking Walking podcasts by interviewing people I encountered in my work as an active travel specialist and urban designer. When I left Banff, I didn’t return to London immediately, instead, drove west (through a snow blizzard) across British Columbia (in the good company of Becky Ipp) to Vancouver to meet Arthur Orsini and Bernadette Kowey.  I can’t remember now why I don’t have Arthur as an interviewee, but do I recall walking along the shoreline in Vancouver chatting and recording an interview with Bernadette.   As she was working on tackling car-borne school journeys, I could empasise with her having recently finished project  managing Young TransNet.  Canadians are auto-dependent – to some extent you can understand as the vastness of the country and remoteness of some of the cities is extraordinary.  Not only Bernadette, but two other interviewees were grappling with similar issues.

Peter Tombrowski was a Calgary resident whom I very briefly met at the Walk21 conference in Toronto, where he had shown his award winning short documentary To Costco and IKEA without a car.  In Britain getting to IKEA without a car isn’t too onerous, although buying a sewing table, that was Peter’s intent, carrying back might have proven problematic.  Try it -30C cold and with deep snow it becomes far more than a ‘stroll to the shops’.  I didn’t get to interview Peter at the conference and instead, I only managed to catch up with him when back in London, which meant he was my first interview recorded over the Internet using Skype and Encams recording software.

Elinor Whidden is a sculptor and performance artist, but above all else an intrepid adventurer.  She tackled the car crisis head on, by cutting up cars, or collecting shredded tyres and rear view mirrors with which to make props for compelling art that took her into the higher snow covered peaks around Banff.

 

Once back in the UK, I went to an early meeting of the Walking Artists Network where I met Clare Qualmann and Viv Corringham, both of whom submitted to being interviewed for Talking Walking.  Clare was at the time, one of a trio of women, (the others were Serena Korda and Gail Burton), all walking artists called WalkWalkWalk, who set out to undertake various nightwalks in Hackney, searching out the ‘archeaology of the familiar and the forgotten’.  They all admitted to feeling fearful when walking alone, not just after dark, but also in daylight. Walking as a group, and often leading a larger group of walkers, changed the dynamic of the abandoned city spaces they searched out and encountered.

Why not join us and listen to each of the interviews we’ve recorded and published on Talking Walking – we will give you a weekly round up here of what we hear, and would love to encourage you to seek out our archive and have a listen yourself.


Earlier this month, we ran three sensory walkshops in the London Bridge Low Emission Neighbourhood on behalf of Better Bankside and Team London Bridge. Research reveals that by walking just one block away from a main road your exposure to air pollution can drop by half. The intention of the sensory walks was to encourage residents and visitors alike to experience better air on walking routes away from the main trafficked streets. We had already begun a similar series during National Park City Week. This time however, I was joined by Paul Wood, acclaimed author of “London’s Street Trees” and one of our Museum of Walking co-creators. We took a group of participants along a circular route connecting Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, Guy’s Hospital and London Bridge station. Along the route, Paul told them about the few trees that line the streets and how through careful selection it is possible to plant trees more resilient to pollution and climate change. The London Plane tree is renowned for its resilience to pollution, and with our longer and hotter summers, this species is thriving, with trunks expanding and shedding bark, creating colourful patterns. Latterly I led a listening walk and a smell and touch safari. In all I must have walked the route a dozen or more times!


On a very wet Sunday morning, in the company of Dr Peter Coles, creator of the on-line resource Morus Londinnium and Museum of Walking co-creator we took a group stalking mulberries in the East End. Joined by local resident and now tree activist, Jaime Rory Lucy, we peered over the hoardings to view the top of Bethnal Green’s oldest mulberry (and possibly one of the oldest in Britain). Threatened by the redevelopment of the London Chest Hospital site only a couple of days before, Tower Hamlets Planning Committee had decided that the tree could be re-located, although experts argue that as it is so fragile and reliant on specific micro-organisms in its current root site, it is likely not to survive any relocation. Read more about here from Spitalfields’ Life.


#Forgotten – we are keeping up a weekly walk of forgotten routes and walking initiatives – do Get in touch with us if you would like to join an ad hoc adventure into the forgotten past of the walking world. Last week we struck out on a route from Parliament Hill to Trafalgar Square that included a walk through the newly expanded Royal Academy of Arts – that got us thinking about reviving CrissCrossCulture walks….

Not a Guardian reader? Well you can dip into a fascinating series about walking the city, including an article about following others on their walks, written by walking artist (and one time Sound Salon participant) Debbie Kent. The series is proving to be a delight.


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

#Forgotten

Peter Coles has been unearthing the history, the myths and truths behind London mulberry trees.  He won over the Conservation Foundation to help him secure Heritage Lottery funding to create morus londinium, an interactive map and archive of mulberry tree heritage, that Peter maintains, and now he is putting pen to paper.

Black mulberry in Victoria Park Photo P Coles

 

We are delighted that he has found some time to reprise a walk he did in London Tree Week in 2017, seeking out the history of mulberries and how they shaped the East end of London, from Stepney Green to Victoria Park.  It is not all heritage however, some of it is very current, as one of London’s oldest surviving mulberry trees is under threat by the redevelopment of the London Chest Hospital.

Book now to join Peter on this intriguing walk, this coming Sunday (23 September)book here – and remember, you can avoid a booking fee by using the PayPal button


Are you old enough to remember when London Bridge was sold to the Americans? That was 50 years ago and we can’t be sure whether they actually bought the bridge they intended to buy.  It is noteworthy as it is still the largest antique ever sold. Travis Elborough, with whom we explored Parks, Pleasure and Politics in Battersea Park in July, is the author of a book all about the sale of London Bridge.  So we thought it only appropriate to invite him to lead a walk to mark the 50th anniversary.

There is a lot more history to bridging the Thames than what might have been wrongly done 50 years ago. Not only was it a key thoroughfare, but until very recently it was the only bridge over the Thames. Without any competition, it became a money-spinner for the City of London, and its very uniqueness influenced the growth of London south of the river. Even today, there’s lot of talk about how money may have been swindled from the public purse in the pursuit of crossing the river.

Meet a cast of peculiar characters, including revolutionary radicals, frock-coated industrialists, Thames waterman, dockers and stevedore, Guinness Book of Records officials, the odd Lord Mayor, bridge-building priests and an Apache Indian or two, when you join Travis Elborough and the Museum of Walking on this Thames adventure.

Travis Elborough is the author of the bestselling: “London Bridge in America: The Tall Story of a Transatlantic Crossing”.

Book a ticket from here – remember you can avoid a booking fee by using the PayPal button


Last weekend, we launched a new series of walks considering what has been ‘Forgotten‘.  Whether it’s forgotten paths, routes or walks, or of the people who have trodden the ground before us.  Can you help us identify some #Forgottens that we can dust down and to which we can bring a new lease of life?  If you have a suggestion drop us a line here

London’sPedway‘ was to be a 30 mile network of pedestrian only routes on bridges, terraces and walkways several feet above the ground.  This network was to provide safe routes for pedestrians in the City of London, away from the traffic, so that the traffic could flow unimpeded.

Begun in the early 1960s, and as much inspired by pedestrian terraces of the Festival of Britain, on the Southbank a decade earlier, as they were by the architect Courbusier or town planner, Buchanan.  The network was never realised, in fact there were only ever some short sections, the most enduring being the ‘high walks’ of the Barbican centre.  In part it was found to be unpopular with pedestrians, while it was also left up to individual developers to add to the network as they constructed new buildings (some of whom chose not do so).

A section of the ‘Pedway’ along London Wall has been given a new lease of life, with the opening of a new office block development, with rust coloured sinuously curved steel bridges and walkways replacing the more utilitarian concrete passageways.  It provides for an intriguing view of some of the City’s best kept gardens and the ruins of St Alfage church.  However, it is from the Barbican’s ‘high walks’ that you can see some of the best views of the ruins of the Roman wall and much more ‘greenery’ beside.

We had to go and search for other sections of the ‘Pedway’, and our route didn’t uncover all of it, as that there’s a section around the Middlesex estate and Petticoat Lane market which is only accessible to residents. However,  we encountered anomalies, intriguing views, and eventually ended by joining the Thames Path at London Bridge to see a magnificent view of Tower Bridge.

 


As written up in last week’s post, we are about to take the #100daysto challenge to mark the tenth anniversary of Talking Walking.  Why not join us and listen to each of the interviews we’ve recorded and published on Talking Walking – we will give you a weekly round up here of what we hear, and would love to encourage you to seek out our archive and have a listen yourself.  Tomorrow, Friday 21 September marks the start of the #100daysto the end of the year – so it is even fewer days until Christmas….


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

100 days to

Talking Walking has been marking its tenth anniversary this year.  We have had the delight of reconnecting with several of the walkers we interviewed over the last decade, learning about what they’ve been doing and where they have been walking.  When and where we can, we have been updating their pages on the Talking Walking website.

We have been struggling however, to overcome the technical issues we have with getting Talking Walking re-instated on the iTunes Store – our first 26 episodes were accepted but none since.  In the ten years since we started podcasting, the tech for distributing podcasts has changed considerably and the audience has grown dramatically.  No longer is it unlikely that you will see people walking about with headphones on their heads, even when out in the country.  And when we first started out, the majority of people were still on dial-up modems with little chance of downloading anything much larger than a 10MB mp3.

Intriguingly the tech for publishing podcasts is not that dissimilar to what it was 10 years ago – mp3s are still the most prevalent and popular format, and although downloads from broadband are considerably faster and computers and mobiles more capable of handling far larger volumes than 10MB – mp3s remain the dominant format.

More and more smartphone users are trying their hand at recording and podcasting themselves, merely using their mobile, on which they record, edit and publish.  In the summer, we ran a podcasting tutorial on foot for London National Park City* Week, with fellow podcaster, Rick Pearson.  I had come across Rick’s intriguing podcasts in which he climbs to the highest point in each London Borough in the company of a ‘local celebrity’,  and invited him to be an interviewee on Talking Walking, and in turn he invited me to be a guest on his Londons_Peaks podcast.  Our walk got me thinking how we could devise and deliver a podcast tutorial…..

Tim Ingram-Smith, creator of the London Spiral Walk being interviewed

Author Peter Fiennes being interviewed by rookie podcasters

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s the ‘100 days to‘ title all about?

Dare I say it but it is almost 100 days to Christmas, and just a few days more until the end of the year – our tenth anniversary year for Talking Walking.  With almost 100 interviews published, and sufficient numbers still ‘in the can’ to reach that target, we are going have some fun listening again to earlier Talking Walking interviews, and writing about them in this All About Walking blog.

This will take some discipline on our part – each day another podcast to which to listen, each week another blog entry to write about the seven interviews to which we have listened.  As the nights draw in and the turn of the year approaches, we hope you will join us in our “#100daysto” challenge and listen along to Talking Walking podcasts.


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

Something for the weekend? Snuggle up and listen

Like Mr Kipling, Mr Stanley makes exceedingly good confectionery, and his walking sticks are just such a favourite of ours. Even if you haven’t got a box of these minty delights close to hand, we have got something for you curl up to listen to, and dream about the Spring and sunshine soon to come.

 

Bibi Calderaro

Bibi Calderaro is a ‘forest therapy’ expert who leads people on sensory walks along woodland trails in a north eastern USA, and we had the privilege of chatting to her over the Internet and recording our latest Talking Walking episode.  Like us, you are probably wondering what a forest therapist actually does, and there appears to be a lot more to it that just a walk in the woods. She discusses what are the key elements that she includes in her sensory walks, that tackle the urban maladies of stress and anxiety, and the reaction of participants to them. Such has been the demand for her walks, she has been recommissioned to devise more. Our conversation also explores ‘shinrin-yoku’ the Japanese healing practice of ‘forest bathing’, that as an accredited forest therapist, Bibi has been incorporating in her practice. Bibi is also an artist-in-residence for the US National Park Service, which sounds like an absolute gem of an experience. Have a listen

Bibi’s sensory walks are not dissimilar to the Museum of Walking‘s Sense Safaris, so it was interesting to find out more from Bibi about how her walks have been received.   We have also been doing some ‘forest therapy’ of our own through our Mindfulness through Movement walkshops that have been devised by Mel Sutton.  Mindfulness is proving popular, and Mel has just been running Mindfulness walkshops with elderly participants with slight dementia, commissioned by the Dulwich Picture Gallery – next month she is also running yoga sessions there too.

It’s Talking Walking’s tenth anniversary and we’ve had the pleasure of delving through the archive and getting in touch with all the fabulous people we’ve interviewed – all of whom share our passion for walking.  Hamish Fulton  has provided some fabulous new artwork for his Talking Walking page, that tells you what he’s been up to since our conversation took place. Have a listen


Like many events this week, we have had to postpone Tom Bolton’s London’s Loss walkshop in which he will be revealing the Lost Rivers of Camden but the great news is that on its new date, more of it will be in daylight – why not join him on Wednesday 28 March Book now

Our Urban Forest Explorations with Paul Wood stride into Spring, with our first visit to a west London neighbourhood on Sunday 18 March.  Starting Turnham Green tube station we will be making our way through Chiswick, joined by campaigners from the London National Park City and Abundance London.

The following week, we are celebrating ‘Hanami‘ – the coming of the cherry blossom, which is celebrated in Japan and increasingly in other parts of the world too. Come and join us as we explore first Herne Hill on Sunday 25 March and then Crouch End on Sunday 8th April

We have linked up with the International Cherry Blossom Festival in Vancouver, who have generously sent us this delightful photo by Clarence Chan.

 


Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you on a walk in the not too distant future.


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

This week is full of anniversaries – here’s one of which we are particularly proud

Talking Walking is 10 years old

Way back in February 2008 we published our first podcast episode on talkingwalking.net an interview with Simon Pope – the interview itself had taken place in a student room at Banff Centre for Arts in Canada in November the previous year.  Simon was a guest artist for a Locative Media Residency and Andrew Stuck was a participant in a Walking and Art Residency.

As it happens romance also blossomed for Simon that month too – just ask his partner Sarah Cullen, where it was they first met……

While in Banff, Andrew had interviewed a dozen walking artists and set out to publish them as podcasts in monthly episodes in the following year, but that didn’t quite come to pass, as he hadn’t anticipated the time it would take to edit each of them!  Andrew caught the bug of recording interviews and already knowing a few others working in the field of walking, he began interviewing them too. So Talking Walking became far more than just an anthology of Walking Artists, and instead grew into a library that includes a diversity of voices from across the field of walks and walking.

So how to mark such an anniversary when there are so many more important life and society changing anniversaries to commemorate?

Throughout the year, we are going to be highlighting interviews from the Talking Walking archive, and Andrew has been able to track down a number of his original subjects and asked them to bring us up to date with their work, and we will share these with you.

The current episode is an interview with Nick Hallissey, from Country Walking magazine, and he has boldly printed an interview of Andrew that you can read in the March issue of Country Walking – on sale now!  All listeners and readers of this e-bulletin can benefit from a reduced subscription of Country Walking and discounts off our walkshops – read more here. Go on, treat yourself to a listen – there are more than 80 interview to choose from and all are free to download or to stream.

So what has been going on this week for Talking Walking?

Apart from updating some of the original webpages, Andrew has been out along the Regent’s canal recording an interview with George Fort, the brains behind Gooza a web-based app that collects stories about places and walking routes in London.  Andrew was introduced to George by Tom Bolton, historian and author of several engaging books about London for walkers, who he had interviewed for Talking Walking back in 2010.  This stretch of the canal was also the spot where Andrew recorded an interview with epic adventurer Nick Hunt. There is a fair bit of editing going on too, with an interview with Tom Hall, Editorial Director of Lonely Planet travel guides, on the editing suite.  While the final touches are being made to an interview with Grace Adam, a sculptor who has put whimsical messages on finger post signs in Queen’s Wood to encourage those on foot to get lost in the woods.

We have also created a Twitter account @talkwalk10 where you can follow what Talking Walking interviewees are currently posting and #talkingwalking10 to capture events linked to past interviewees.

Is this the most woolly hats on a Hackney street?

It was certainly a cold day for a walk, but everyone appeared to enjoy our most recent Exploration into the Urban Forest with Paul Wood, author of London’s Street Trees as we walked through the diverse forest of Haggerston.

 

As Spring starts to emerge, days get lighter for longer, and a little warmer, why not join us for future explorations, in Pimlico (25 Feb), Chiswick (11 Mar), Herne Hill (18 Mar) and Crouch End (8 April).  You can even purchase a Loyalty Card on line and save money or book individual walks in advance to get early bird discounts.


And must watch TV is ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks – only available for a limited time.


Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you on a walk in the not too distant future.


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

Chasing the Dream

Can it really get better than being paid to go for a walk – not just any old walk, like the errands I used to be asked to undertake as a child whenever my pocket money was depleted, but instead go and discover the Lake District, the north Norfolk coast, or the South Downs, and all the while get paid for doing just that.

I know when I interviewed Nick Hallissey, the Deputy Editor of Country Walking Magazine, he tried to convince me that his job wasn’t just walking, but entailed some office-bound work, but I will let you decide, when you listen to the latest episode of Talking Walking.  The interview took place on balmy mid summer’s day and I travelled by train to Shelford, where Nick and photographer Richard Faulks, met me, and then drove me to Trumpington on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Walking from there, the plan was to keep close to the Cam, walking across the Grantchester meadows, and eventually along “the Backs” into the heart of Cambridge itself.  It’s a route that I have walked and cycled many times before.  Grantchester made famous by Rupert Brooke, and more recently, Jeffrey Archer, was home to me in my final year at university.  I partied for my 21st along the Cam and in and amongst the pubs, the Red Lion and the Green Man.  We frequently strode over to the Green Man to fill up our coffee pot with Greene King IPA and carry it back to our flat above Tony Sargeant’s Skoda showroom.  I lived there before Jeffrey did, so I realised I hadn’t been back to Grantchester for over 30 years, and yet the flat above the showroom looked as bedraggled as it did when I lived there.  Jeffrey has done a splendid job on tidying up the vicarage, but beyond that, the hamlet still has that feel of charming backwater.

Well, you can read more about where Nick and I trod on that day, as Nick has written it up as a feature in the March edition of Country Walking Magazine – and I am rather flattered to have been included, when he has had all those other paid walks to write about. 

So not only did we conduct joint interviews that day, but we have also negotiated an reciprocal offer – as a listener, you can qualify for a discount off the a subscription to Country Walking Magazine, and as a subscriber, you can get a discount on any of our walkshops in 2018.  What greater invitation do you want before listening to Nick Hallissey talking walking?


“Amazing walk in spite of the weather”

So wrote Rachel Gomme, live art performer, ecological walking artist and Peckham resident to boot, but her comments were echoed by the 25 diehards who joined Museum Co-creator Paul Wood for an Exploration of the Urban Forest in Peckham last Sunday. Oh did it rain and never stopped.  This didn’t deter the group, and although I was a tad confused as Paul deviated off our carefully planned route, we managed a circular walk full of intriguing trees, local myths, and a lovely meeting with a local hero.  Eileen Conn has been a community activist for more than 40 years.  Indeed it is the 40th anniversary since she won over Southwark council to plant an avenue of birch trees in Nutbrook Road – selected by Paul as one London’s best street tree avenues. It was terrific to meet her and hear her talk with such enthusiasm about Peckham and how she has galvanised the community and the authorities to invest in civic buildings and public space.

We have managed to get Paul’s choice of 9 best street trees in London in the on-line edition of Time Out, with a handy link to the Museum of Walking website, and next week, we hear, there will be map of street trees included in their print edition too.  All the more reason, why we recommend you book your place on forthcoming walkshops in our Explore the Urban Forest series.

  • Sunday 4 February 10.30am-12 Noon
  • Hackney – Haggerston
  • Exploring the Urban Forest with Paul Wood
  • Read more or Book now
  • Sunday 25 February 10.30am-12.30pm
  • Pimlico
  • Exploring the Urban Forest with Paul Wood
  • Read more or Book now

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you on a walk in not too distant future.


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..


How is your resolve? 5 days into 2018

How is your resolve? 5 days into 2018. The Museum of Walking is here to help – whether it’s starting something new, trying to get fit, or just being determined to be more worldly wise – we have something for you in the next few weeks – join in..

Be an experimental drawer and get to grips with London’s famous skyline – with encouragement and top tips from Museum Co-creator Ruth Broadbent.

You can read more and book from this web page or if you fancy, you can use FUNZING to book your place.  We are running Drawn to the Skyline walkshops in January and in February – booking is only available for Saturday 20 January at present, but make a note in your diary Saturday 24 February – a date etched in mine as it’s my mother-in-law’s birthday!


We are popping with excitement over the news that Time Out, London are as mad about street trees and Exploring the Urban Forest as we are.  This month, you will be able to pick up a copy of Museum’s Co-creator  (Guardian Nature writer of 2017) Paul Wood‘s handy map of street tree hotspots in London or spot one on-line, and you’ve guessed it we are going to be visiting each of them on future explorations.  The great news is that we already have 3 Explorations lined up in Peckham (Sun 21 January), in Haggerston (Sunday 4 February) and in Pimlico (Sunday 25 February).  We are also looking to develop a street tree cherry blossom series of walkshops from mid March when the pavements are lined with pretty pink petals.


Over the Festive period a lot of listening goes on in our household, in part that’s because I am trying to catch up with my editing backlog of Talking Walking interviews, but it also in part as there are some fantastic radio programmes and podcasts to listen to.  And with New Year resolutions in mind, did you hear the one about how exercise is a MUST for a healthy life, but it can’t help with weight loss without a change in your eating habits.  Dr Michael Moseley in Radio 4’s You and Yours spells it out, that Sunday stroll is just enough and even regular brisk walking has to be maintained over considerable distances to be of much benefit.

New look London Bridge station

Here in London, we are known for walking further and often faster than fellow Britons around the country, and now Network Rail is helping us even more, by opening the cavernous London Bridge station.  So vast and so far to walk, you have to leave at least 10 minutes to change from the Underground to National Rail, so far it is to walk. Do that twice, 5x a week, you are well on way to the recommended weekly dose of exercise.


At the Museum, we try to support the endeavors of as many walking activists and artists as we can, and with our limited resources, that often means collaborations, support in kind, and generally raising awareness and publicity.  Our plan is to invite guest bloggers help raise the standard of the content that you are reading here and publicise walking initiatives, pieces and events as we come across them.  Please do let us know about walking events etc. by using our Contact form.

So from our Co-creator community, stalwart Tim Ingram-Smith is continuing his Spiral walk around London – you can join him on Sunday 14 January at 1.00pm at Chingford station with a walk through Epping Forest.  The walks are free to join and you may find someone walking soul mates and you are sure to discover something new. Find out more here: http://londonspiral.wordpress.com/

We are also collaboration with the Architecture Foundation and their Tales of Three Cities architecture walks – we are joining them on Saturday 13 January for the Architecture of Money – you can too – and as an incentive if you use this code (afboxingday) you can get a 20% discount. Book here


Now our influence is never more broader than through our Talking Walking podcasts.  Even I find it hard to believe that it is ten years ago since I started interviewing people from the world of walking – artists, activists, professionals  and those who just have a passion for taking a walk…. – how many times have I said that? – well, at least 85 times as this week marks the 85th podcast episode.  Unlike many of them, my conversation with Professor Maggie O’Neill, a criminologist and

And searching for asylum – women walking and wellbeing

sociologist who using walking as a key element of her ethnographic research into the more vulnerable in our society, this one takes place in a hotel lobby and not out on a walk.  Our efforts to go for a walk were disrupted by a terrific downpour, and with Maggie, strapped for time between speaking engagements, we sort shelter in a hotel.

Words to navigate by – finger post in Queen’s Wood Highgate

Shelter wasn’t necessary this week, but careful foot placement to avoid slippery leaves and deep mud, as I recorded and interview with sculptor Grace Adam, whose intriguing “Out of the woods – words to navigate by” installation (or should we call it intervention) adorns Queen’s Wood in Highgate.

 

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you on a walk in not too distant future.


All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

 

 

 

I looked with new eyes at things I had not noticed before

Level 10 of Tate Modern‘s new Blahvatnik building  offers 360 degree views of London’s skyline. To the north with St Paul’s Cathedral directly in your view, on a winter morning, with low light, colours are muted and yet the eye picks out shapes, lines and things one may not have noticed before. Under the careful guidance of Ruth Broadbent, our first ‘Drawn to the Skyline‘ workshop participants, began with experimental drawing using a technique, Ruth calls ‘Till roll skyline’ in which we were encouraged to deconstruct and reconstruct the skyline view in front of us.

Descending to ground level, we then undertook a ‘Scribble walk’ using a drawing machine that included a ‘Heath Robinson’ requisite rubber band, in which we walked over the Millennium Bridge, getting the movement of our body to trace lines. It was surprising how quickly we created art work of which we were proud, and Ruth encouraged us to share our work.  There followed a period of time during which we not only drew where we were walking but undertook a performance in which we we walked the lines each other had drawn.  That and learning a technique to slice the view to make it easier to sketch on the move, we were brimming with our success and didn’t want the walkshop to end.  We also tried more traditional drawing techniques including using the built environment to frame our view and looking back and forward to observe from different perspectives.

As one participant wrote in her feedback “Thank you for making this morning’s expedition such fun! I looked with new eyes at things I had not noticed before. Ruth obviously has so many good ideas and such a friendly way of communicating them.

However confident or novice you are in drawing or sketching, our Drawn to the Skyline walkshop is a must – our next one is on Saturday 20 JanuaryRead more or Book now

If you want to buy a couple of spaces as a Christmas Gift – drop us a line to arrange this


What would make your perfect neighbourhood in which to live?

Easy to get around on foot, a variety of destinations within walking distance, quintessential charm  with little traffic and places to sit, contemplate, chat to neighbours and friends, or play out with your children, would probably be the key factors we would choose.  Terence Bendixson believes his local London neighbourhood of Chelsea fits the bill – he has lived there since he was 11, when he used to walk to school, and since then he has walked his children and grandchildren.  It is all about street pattern and layout apparently – just don’t invite cars to come, instead make it known that it is difficult to get around by car, and they will stay away. As some will already know, Terence is President of Living Streets, and possibly the longest serving pedestrian activist in the world, so it was a great pleasure to walk his local neighbourhood and talk with him about his passion for walking in city neighbourhoods.  You can listen too with our latest Talking Walking episode.


A-Z in blue c/o Planet International Lettings, Crouch End.

Blueprint for walking? Examples of intriguing ways to navigate.

Just this week, on a bright sunny morning, I met up with the Museum’s Co-creator Simon Waters to walk from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace in a roundabout route via the Parkland walk to Highgate, and then Queen’s Wood and up to Muswell Hill.

The Parkland Walk is a disused railway line through Haringay that links parks that we have used for the Mayor of London’s London Tree Week in May this year.  We Stalked Trees in Highgate Woods (commissioned by The Woodland Trust), composed haiku in Queen’s Woods and ran Mindfulness walkshops in Finsbury Park. For Simon and I these, off-road routes were actually fairly icy and one had to pick ones way with care.  Frustratingly that was the case too, on tarmac footpaths and footways, and we had to resort to walking on the roads….why, oh why is this still the case in when London claims to be a ‘walkable city’?

Our curiosity was piqued after we stopped for coffee at the Queen’s Wood community cafe, by some intriguing finger posts, with quotes, from Dylan, Shakespeare and others, it wasn’t until we got through to the far side of the woods that we found out about “Out of the Woods – Words to navigate by” by artist Grace Adam.  Thanks to the Friends of Queen’s Wood for commissioning her.

 


Listen out next week when BBC Radio 3’s slow radio champion Horatio Clare sets off in the footsteps of J S Bach on five “Bach Walks” and if you are looking for a stocking filler, look no further than Adam Ford‘s wonderful book ‘Mindful Thoughts for Walkers‘. Both highly recommended!