* no asterisks this time because it was actually quite an adventure! Oh, hey, waittaminit!

TL;DR: I took a boat, walked and biked from Putney to Tower Bridge, and had a fun time at LonCon3

ed: currently the photos are showing up as unavailable, hopefully that sorts itself.

So, I woke up late, late enough that I thought I wouldn’t be able to do the walk I wanted to do today. Late enough that I already started working on alternate plans while showering up, but then that stuff upper lip thing happened and I said. “By Jove! I’m not going to sit here and lament something that has yet to happen! Get on with it, lad!”

So I whipped out of the shower, into my clothes and down to breakfast, which was being enjoyed by more people than yesterday, and hence I shared a table with a gentleman who had the courtesy of not being visibly disgusted with the speed of my fork.

Walk! DLR! Another DLR! Walk through the bowels of London to Monument Station! Tube! Walk! And I made it to the Blackfriars Pier with 15 minutes to spare for my river bus back to Putney Bridge. Pretty good, actually. I caught my breath, watched a couple of the Thames Clippers, as they’re called, come and go, and then it was my turn. No one else came to the pier, so I had the boat to myself for the first little bit. Someone boarded a couple of stop later, but he left before me. I stretched out as far as I could, within reason of course. I saw the bridge I had crossed yesterday looming in the portholes, ok, fine, windows of the river bus, alerting me that soon I would return to my rambling ways.


I got off and headed for the bridge, having decided to take the south bank the entire way this time, it having been such idyll of sylvan something something, you know, whatever I said about it yesterday. Only problem? I couldn’t pick up the path. I looked and looked, and ended up in some particularly dank mud for my troubles. I gave up and joined the trudging masses once again and found myself on the north bank. It wasn’t so bad this time. Though I again spent the first little bit navigating around off-limits bits of the river. At least, this time, I travelled through a neighbourhood rather than an industrial lot. I passed a park with kids around K2’s age playing krislet-style soccer, and posh mums pushed posh prams while their posh dogs pooped on the lawn. I got back to the river and then… Industrial lot! But what a lot! In front of me stood the Lots Road Power Station, once used to provide electricity to the tube, but now disused.  It’s a beaut, if you’re into that kind of thing.


My thighs began complaining, and as I thought about a sit-down, I espied a journey quickener: Boris Bikes. Boris Bikes all the way down. The collection point (or whatever they call it) brimmed with bikes, all waiting for my touch, and £2. I grabbed one, leaving a hole for someone coming this way to end their ride in peace (Note, this is foreshadowing. I’m pretty good at it, no?), and zoomed along the road behind the power station. A group of kids decked out in dayglo tabards (as they call pinnies here (an interesting side note: Dave, of Salisbury bike ride fame, said, “Oh, pinnies, like pinafores. Makes sense.” when I mentioned this to him. I had never made the connection before that. Huh.) ) rode their bikes up and down the street, an instructor giving them advice on the situations they came across. Brave instructors, I thought. The narrow road was made more so by badly parked delivery trucks that pulled in and out of side streets with disturbing regularity, and a garbage truck wended its way stopping traffic in both directions as the garbage man did his duty.


This bike suited me. I tore down the Thames Path, not a care in the world. People smiled. I smiled. Little dogs yipped. I took a ludicrous bike selfie, thinking that I could use it as my new twitter avatar (I’m not, rest assured. Looking for one, though. Every selfie I take I have a stupid, or hangdog, or downright exhausted look on my face.), but no. I rode all the way to Vauxhall Bridge, which was supposed to be my stopping point today, but I figured that I’d gotten on so well, I should carry on! And so I did.


I parked the bike at a collection point and scurried across the bridge, hoping another bike would present itself to me immediately. It didn’t. At this point, I think I should have an aside. Another one of the silly things that I’m doing on this trip is relying solely on the maps that London has quite thoughtfully peppered around the town. I have a guide-book for the Thames path, but that’s only so I have some sort of reference to the things I come across. For instance, it’s the book that told me I passed the Lots Road Power Station. If I had to guess, I’d have come up with some compelling, but wrong, explanation for it. This experiment has worked out quite well, with me only having to ask for directions once. That one time ended up being a complete disaster, by the way, complete with not only bad directions, but punctuated with a random, unasked-for dash of racist invective. But done oh, so politely. Anyway. So, I figured there’d be a bike depot on the other side of the bridge. There wasn’t. No matter. Follow the water. That’s all I have to do. But, O! The thighs. Maybe I should give up, I thought.

I plodded sadly along the riverside, thinking these sad thoughts of bailing on myself when, what’s that? Another Boris Bike depot? Fully stocked? Foreshadowing? I leapt to it, crossing the 50 metre distance in a single bound. No I didn’t. I wanted to see if you were paying attention. I do ramble on a bit, I know. But grab a bike I did, and ride it I did, all along the Jubilee path (um, I think), a path festooned with signs saying “we welcome considerate cyclists”. So I stopped kicking people as I biked past them and said pip pip and all that. And then I went under Westminster Bridge. If you’re wondering where the tourists are on any given day in London, it’s on the other side of Westminster Bridge. I had forgotten this, at my peril. I now had a bike, which I couldn’t ride. Time was ticking (it’s the opposite of pizza delivery in the 80s. 30 minutes or it’s not free!). The crowd was thickening. I had what now felt to me a boulder of sisyphean qualities that I had to roll up the path, only to be blocked and back track and generally start to bemoan the incessant need for humanity to go other places and look at stuff they hadn’t seen before. The irony dripped like the sweat down my back. Finally, Finally! I managed to find an open space, near where the Sci-Fi London parade started last time I was in the area (Boj knows what I mean, if no one else, sorry, everyone else, it’s near the National Theatre, at any rate), and I hopped on the saddle and bolted. My timer had gone off and I had mere minutes to return my bike to a depot (I’ve decided this is a better word than collection point, FYI) before being charged the grisly sum of £1. Success! I found one almost immediately. But, and you can guess from my excellent foreshadowing, I couldn’t return it there as there wasn’t anywhere I could put the bike. They have a system wherein you can complain about the lack of spots and it’ll spot you 15 minutes to go find somewhere else. So I did that, just in time! The handy map on the kiosk pointed to two more depots within a 5 minute ride. I found the first: full. I found the second: full. Uh-oh. The second showed two more. I found the first: full. I found the second: a solitary slot gave me a sideways wink, and I knew that I had escaped a fate worse than totally awesome, that is, having to bike on quiet, bike-friendly roads, travelling from depot to depot, adding 15 minutes here and there until I gave up and called the city to tell them my woes. It doesn’t sound that bad, really, other than having to _talk_ to somebody. Plus I had somewhere I needed to be, namely LonCon3, namely the actual reason I’m here.

So, with bike stowed, I made my way back to the riverside, and plowed through the ice-cream-eaters, and Tower-Bridge-selfie-takers (oh, wait, I did that too!) and made it to Tower Bridge, my final destination for this extended walk. Chosen because the DLR line that passes the hotel ends there, and I wanted to zoom back, no changes. I’m half convinced that I forgot to badge in when I got on the DLR, so I’m expecting a big dip in my available cash on my Oyster card. Oh well. Maybe I did it, hard to say. I don’t think I’ve been here long enough for it to have become a habitual thing though, and I don’t actually remember doing the action, so eh.


I ate another ridiculous sandwich, this time an “All Day Breakfast” consisting of egg, bacon, sausage, ketchup and mayo on whole wheat bread (taste = yum! Texture = gag!), and grapes and a shower (because no one needed to be around me post 20 km bike and hike in a black t-shirt on a sunny day), and I was off to LonCon3! Except, I shouldn’t have bothered with the shower, as the rain pelted down, pelted so hard I had to check the calendar to make sure I hadn’t fallen asleep in the hotel. It had been so nice and bright when I finished my walk, and now: buckets. I wanted to go to Mur’s literary beer though, so I braved the elements, and got soaked through because of my bravery. Nothing like sitting through a con in wet pants (erm, trousers? I’ve already reached the giggle phase when the word pants comes into my head).


It was all for nought. By the time I had my badge and all, the signup sheet for her LB was gone, and I was left looking for a number two choice, which happened to be George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis in conversation with Paul Cornell. Fantastic! The next couple were interesting, too. The first, “Governing the Future” gave me an idea for a story, and the second reminded me of how little TV I watch nowadays. I went to my obligatory steampunk talk, and then it was the Retro Hugos. Fun times! I tweeted my impressions of it, so I won’t bother repeating myself here. I mean, 140 characters should be enough to get one’s point across, right? Hmm, let me check my word count on this post… 1875! Um, fine, I’ll say something, I guess, if only to get this up to a nice even 2000. Mary Robinette Kowal and Rob Shearman emceed, with the Brideshead Ballroom Stompers providing the period music. The ceremony, set up as a 1930s live radio broadcast,  started with Mary singing a “Retro Hugos” song to the tune of “Anything Goes” (not the Monty Python version), and was followed by awards, ads for anti-concrud medicine, and a martian invasion. A recipe for an enjoyable evening. There was a swing dance after, which I considered staying for, and of course, the parties, but I figured I was so tired, I needed to go to bed early, and so instead I wrote all of this, and it’s now late. Go figure.