Saturday 1 June 2024

Walking by Train

Nottingham Midland Station (detail from an early-twentieth-century postcard)

I love London.

Thankfully, it's easy to travel there from Nottingham.

Assuming advance booking and flexibility in timings, it is possible to purchase return train travel from Nottingham to ONE OF THE GREATEST CITIES ON EARTH for less than £40.

When I travel to London, I will sometimes walk from my home in Sherwood to Nottingham railway station and then, upon arrival in the capital, walk from St Pancras to whichever part of London it is that I'm aiming for.

When this method is used, a journey from my front door to, say, Trafalgar Square, is really not so experientially different from a journey from home to the Old Market Square (with a bus assuming the role of the train for the latter).

In both scenarios, I walk to the place from which my means of conveyance will depart, hop on board, sit down, wait for a bit, hop off at the other end and carry on walking to my final destination.

The fastest trains from Nottingham to London take less than an hour and forty minutes. If, like me, you are as happy as a sand boy when travelling by rail, the time flies by, and before you know it you are stepping off the train and making your way through the magnificent surrounds of St Pancras station.

Unless I am staying overnight, very little additional preparation time is required for a journey to London as opposed to a trip into Nottingham city centre. The practical considerations are, by-and-large, the same.

Author Will Self went through a phase of embarking on what he called airport walks. When on an airport walk, he would walk from his home in Stockwell to, say, Heathrow, catch a plane and walk all the way from the airport at the other end to his final destination.

On the subject of an airport walk to New York, he commented, 'It had worked, ...walking to New York.  It had done exactly what I wanted it to do: the Atlantic had been siphoned off, the continental shelf jacked up, and Hayes, Middlesex, had been rammed unceremoniously into South Ozone Park [areas adjacent to the airports at either end of his journey].'

We Nottinghamians can adopt a rail-based version of the same practice in order to accomplish the unceremonious ramming of Nottingham city centre into the district of St Pancras, thus significantly reducing (or eliminating altogether) the psychological gap between Nottingham and London. In the mind, the latter becomes an extension of the former.

I last travelled to London a few days ago. After arriving at St Pancras, I walked away from the station and wound my way through Bloomsbury towards Soho, where I partook of an alcoholic beverage in a pub with a storied past. I then moseyed on down to the National Gallery and spent a pleasant hour-or-so admiring various paintings. After a ritualistic pitstop at Five Guys for some cajun fries, I headed east on an Elizabeth Line train for the last of the day's activities - an evening in the august presence of writer Iain Sinclair.

A splendid day out.

Sublime metropolis!

When a man is uninterested in London, he is devoid of life.

St Pancras Station (detail from From Pentonville Road Looking West: Evening, by John O'Connor, 1884)

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