For eight years now I've lived in East Finchley. And for eight years I've been walking down to Highgate on the south side of the Great North Road as it snakes past East Finchley station.
On one of my day-off rambles recently – yup, I'm a walking tour guide who walks on his day off – I crossed the road.
Well hold the front page, I hear you mutter. Hardly headline news.
Yet this simple act of taking a few steps off the beaten track allowed me to see something, a tiny London detail, that had been sitting right under my nose all along: An Edward VIII post box…
Only around 160 such boxes were made during King Edward VIII's short reign.
It reminded me of one of the cardinal points of being a London Walks guide. It's less "What will we see?" and more "How will we be shown?"
You can bet your boots that each London Walks guide has chosen the best spot from the best angle from a wide range of vantage points on her/his walking tour. Chosen them carefully on your behalf. We're able to point out the unexpected, the "aaawww!" details to you because we've REALLY looked for them.
All except, that is, in the case of my own neighbourhood on my own workaday "commute".
It reminded me of something else: there is no such thing as a workaday commute in London. There's always something to see.
If you can't join us on a London Walk any time soon, then you can try this for yourself: walk a different route every once in a while. It's a technique that's been cited as everything from a potential aid for depression to a means of staving off mental stagnation. And switch off your phone! We invented them, remember. That's why they've got an off switch.
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A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.