Walk the Lines: The London Underground by Mark Mason

“A man once said “A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else,” and I might have to agree. I guess it will come as no surprise that since I moved to London books that revolve around London have been cropping up on my radar a little more. I want to talk extensively about my move here at some point and how it’s honestly changed me but for now I want to talk a little about a book I’ve been dipping in and out of not, truly ‘reading’ in giant hunks, but one I’ve enjoyed all the same. Walk the Lines by Mark Mason.

The only way to truly discover a city, they say, is on foot. Taking this to extremes, Mark Mason sets out to walk the entire length of the London Underground – overground – passing every station on the way.

img_1963In a story packed with historical trivia, personal musings and eavesdropped conversations, Mark learns how to get the best gossip in the City, where to find a pint at 7am, and why the Bank of England won’t let you join the M11 northbound at Junction 5. He has an East End cup of tea with the Krays’ official biographer, discovers what cabbies mean by ‘on the cotton’, and meets the Archers star who was the voice of ‘Mind the Gap’.

Over the course of several hundred miles, Mark contemplates London’s contradictions as well as its charms. He gains insights into our fascination with maps and sees how walking changes our view of the world. Above all, in this love letter to a complicated friend, he celebrates the sights, sounds and soul of the greatest city on earth.

As the blurb suggests the book follows Mason who has lived in around London during is twenties and thirties and like many Londoner’s (I assume) has become interested in the ever changing and evolving map of the Underground. Wandering around where he lives, he travels up a side-street he hasn’t before and realizes if he continues he’ll create a triangle back to his house – a realization he hasn’t made before. Through this realization he decides to walk the entirety of each length of the line in a type of homage to the city. Line by line and with the help of his friend Richard he beings to walk these tube lines and learns and tells us a lot about the city I bloody adore.

I just want to put in a little aside here – Mason only walks 11 of the London Underground Lines refusing to walk the Overground Line and the DLR (which I find a little unfair – definitely still part of London.) Mason wanders the line giving snippets of local history, miscellaneous facts that might one day help on a pub quiz and changes in the line themselves. He is a really entertaining narrator (especially in the beginning of the book) and I found myself desperate to undertake the walks myself especially the Circle Line Pub Crawl.

I guess it’s important to explain I haven’t finished this book and it’s one of the reasons why I’mimg_1962 also yet to finish a Bill Bryson book (which this author certainly reminded me of.) The beginning of the book is really interesting, it’s new ground, it’s a non-fiction book written in a fiction style (in terms of the narration) but soon, as you can imagine we do end up walking through endless housing estates and then leading back into the same famous central locations that we all know and love. As the lines cross we do get quite a bit of repetition.

Due to this a lot of stations do end up being cut; the first couple of stations take up a couple of chapters but as we go further in stops between Whitechaple and Upminster take up a quarter of this. I think a big selling point to this (unless you live along the DLR or the Over Ground shrugs) is that you get to pick out your station and read about it, but many don’t get the coverage unless they’re big names (ie Wimbledon or Morden.) Finally, Mason appears to get a little bored with his own story; although the pub crawl is fun it does feel as though Mason realized that he’d lost a little passion and needed something to inject to make it fun. Following this certain walks are undertaken in the snow and done at night (which does stop the author seeing a lot of the highlights.)

I think a main problem is that it doesn’t really reference people, it references buildings and so it lacks a little passion. I’ve seen it described in context with Bleeding London by Geoff Nicholson but they have two very different ways of telling this story that don’t really overlap.

So, what did I think. I really enjoy dipping in and out of this book – read one tube line, put the book down for a bit, read another tube line, put it down for a bit. It’s not a book I think I could physically read in one go because for me it just lacks a little something. A little bit of a human touch. However – perfect gift for a new Londoner and even more perfect gift for a walker who might be tempted to walk the 11 (cough) lines. For me a great dip in and out but not quite there.

LIIIIINKS

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Week Commencing: Nov 14

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Where has November gone? Already I’m starting to make lists for Christmas; what does Mumma B want, what does Char Balds wants, WHAT CAN I AFFORD. I want to write a post about London living soon (it feels a little soon a couple of months in) but has been a bit of a shock in terms of money. It’s not really every day things but as EVERYONE says renting is just well, sickening. (I’ve been watching a lot of Ru Paul #yaaaas.) This week has been pretttty horrible, but I want to feel positive, so here’s a week in my life.

GYM LIFE (and new outfit) 

As some of you will have seen – (if you add me on Instagram.) I’ve been a little Gym Mad recently. I’ve been on a little bit of a weight loss campaign which I might update you on, I don’t know whether that’s something you would want to see?) But I invested in a couple of new tops, bottoms and this new Greenwich University Water Bottle. I drink no-where near the recommended amount but having this water bottle (in the most the yellow colour,) means I never forget it or lose it!

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NEW BOOKSS! 

I’ve recently started The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz. I can’t lie it’s been a little while since I read anything from the Millenium Series so I’m struggling a little to remember. It’s always awkward when you leave a series a couple of years back and then have to try and sink yourself back into the story. I have to admit I can tell it’s not the original author, but I’m not hating on it. Review to come soon!

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Views from our flat

I will move on and start talking about things that aren’t our beautiful flat soon but honestly, this view in the morning whilst eating my scrambley eggs on toast is just fantastic. I find it hard to start the day in anything other than a really brilliant mood because of this view. Imagine me, sat in my unicorn pyjamas, eating breakfast on the sofa with Ru Paul and then seeing this view – #happydays.

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The Greenwich Union Pub 

Gah, T and I love this place so much! I think I mentioned that my Dad was born in Greenwich so there’s a lot of family history in Greenwich. If you walk from my street cross the road and walk forwards you walk past where my Great Nana and my own Nana used to live and then you come to this pub which is PERFECTION. They have over 150 beautiful beers for all tastes, and a fantastic looking food menu. T and I are going back soon to try it out!

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Warm Clothes (THANK YOU STOKE.)

Moving to London I thought – oh my it will be blue skies, and wonderous Sun. It is still November and it is BLOODY COLD. I think living in Stoke where it rained almost 24/7 has prepared me. I’ve been wearing a blanket like Poncho all week and it is just the snuggliest thing eva. (Sorry for another feet photo.)

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So there you go, another week in the life of Lizzy. I should also mention here that I’ve written four book reviews and it just felt so good to get back into it. I’m happiest when I’m writing and I’ve missed my blog hugely. I think currently there will only be one review a week but they’ll all be fantastic books that I hope you enjoy.

Week Commencing: Nov 7

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Hello readers – I’m here, on a Tuesday with another Week commencing. I realise I haven’t written a book review in a little while but now that we finally have internet I spent the weekend having a content update so look forward to some new reviews cause after having a 5hr commute for three weeks (OH MY LIFE,) I have a lot of new reviews to write. But for now, another week commencing because I really enjoyed writing the last (and they will be my new Monday post! Not Tuesday ;))

Cannalo at Casa Cannoli

(Twittttter)

One of the beauties from Greenwich Market (which we might not be able to get away from in these weekly updates because oh my life – I adore Greenwich Market.) T bought three of these; pistachio, lemon and hazlenut.) These were honestly incredible – hazlenut was definitely my favourite but even though we’d eaten hella burritos at the market we couldn’t help but dig into these.

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Fried Eggs (and lots of toast)

Maybe this is a little, I don’t know odd. But I have never really been a massive breakfast person. I’m kind of the grab an apple and diet coke can as I ran out the door, but I’ve been making a lot of effort to make breakfast every day and I have fallen in love with fried eggs. This (below) covered with hot-sauce #yaaaas.

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Vietnamese food (specifically baguettes.) 

I mean look at this. Lemon grass chicken, a hella load of sauces, crispy onions, cucumber and whole load of other bits and bobs. This was delicious.

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MERMAID TAIL!!!

Okay – I bought a mermaid tail blanket and honestly – no regrets. This blanket is warm and snuggly and both T and I have been loving it. I think the New Look one I bought it now out of stock (probably because the fantastic Hannah Gale gave it a shout out.) But I’ll let you know if they re-appear!

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Flannel shirts (and Autumn in general!) 

Gah – I adore a flannel shirt and a cosy coat combo. This is my favourite I’ve been rocking for a couple of week but I utterly adore it. Snuggly leggings, flat shoes (I mean London can hurt your toes) an over-the-shoulder bag. YAAAS.

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I tried to get this out on Tuesday but I just didn’t have time. I’m so busy with 10000000 other bits and pieces. But I hope you enjoyed this post – without further ado I’m off to finish reading the new Lisbeth Salander book – cherrrio.

Week Commencing: Nov 1

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Hello readers – I’m here, on a Wednesday and it’s not a book review? What, I hear you say. Well – today is a new blog day and I thought, let’s not sit around and cry about the mind-boggling election of Donald Trump (insert cry face emoji.) Lets explore all the exciting things I did last week and kinda move on from all the drama; because reading about the life of a small time blogger is quite distracting right?

QUICK NOTE: For those of you wondering what’s happened to the bloody blog – well, London is an exciting, amusing and crazy new place but it’s pretty exhausting and although I’ve read a hella number of books, I kind of want to push the boundaries of this blog and write a little more about my life here in London. It should still be primarily bookish but I just want to share a little more about my life here in London. Without delay, here’s what I’ve been up to! 

Cocktails at Somerset House

On Saturday afternoon one of my loveliest long-time friends @HopeCami came to visit. After visiting Wagamama’s for a well-deserved catch-up (GIVEE me all the R A M E N,) we trekked towards the London Eye to take a number of touristy shots. We gave up though at Somerset house and spent an eye-watering amount of money on cocktails. (If you do go, The Somerset is one of the most perfect cocktails I’ve ever tried – so go try it!)

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Walks in Greenwich Park

I’ve mentioned it maybe 100000000 times; but I recently moved to Greenwich and it is just the most beautiful place. Leanne, (another brilliant friend who I missed a hella load in Stoke) and I went for an early morning walk and it was sublime. This photo doesn’t have a filter; it was honestly perfect. (Plus hot-chocolates were pretty fantastic too!)

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Having my own kitchen (yaaaas) 

Basically I can now make the most delicious breakfasts each and every single morning; (then add mouth-watering filters and post them to instagram cause I’m that cool) . But seriously getting our own kitchen was a serious deal breaker. There might be fewer people to deny needing to wash up but it’s much better than the soul-destroying moment when going to cook and there being NO GODDAMN SAUCEPANS.

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Greenwich Food Market 

You guys, if you live anywhere near Greenwich you have to try this out, seriously. The range of food from different countries/cuisines/diets (gluten-free anyone?) is incredibly. Plus there are so many vegetarian and vegan options T was pretty damn happy.

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Getting back into Instagram 

This one coincided with moving to London. I have very, very fond memories of living in Stoke on Trent but after 5 years there I struggled to photograph it in any other light than it was kinda sucking the life out of me. Moving to London means I’m constantly whipping out my camera and taking photographs, and posting them on the ole instagram. I’m still getting a feel for it but if you fancy following me you can find me at @littlebookblog1!

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So there you have it; my first week commencing style post? I’m not sure what I’ll call them in the coming weeks and I’m pretty sure I want them to come out on a Monday but once again we’ll see. Let me know if you enjoyed this – I would love to make them very book related but I don’t know how easy that will be. But I’ll stop withering – and chin up about Donald everyone. It’s only four years? (hits head on table.)