After I finished writing my last post to you my phone battery died. I decided not to charge it for a couple of days so that I could ignore my emails and finish reading an interesting book about a plucky Autralian who sailed around the world in a 12 foot mini-yacht.
It was still raining so I made my bed where I had been sitting writing on my smartphone, in the sheltered overhang of a large office block fronting the River Thames. I had just got in bed when a security guard told me that I wasn’t allowed to sleep there. I apologised, immediately rolled my bed up and cycled off.
I left King’s Cross Station at 0100 last night to scout around for a place to sleep near my next job in Highbury, Islington. I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across a giant adventure playground! Photographed this morning:
Last night was warm and dry but I slept in my favourite sheltered spot atop the Battersea Park peace monument anyway, just because I know it’s always clean and nobody will disturb me.
I was heading for my favourite sleeping spot on a Buddhist peace monunent in Battersea Park when I thought, since it’s not cold or raining I should try somewhere else, some where I won’t get woken up by angry Buddhist monks if they notice me. The monument is great for shelter from the rain but it wasn’t raining so I headed for a secluded rock garden that overlooks the boating lake in the same park. I’ve sat in the garden before on occasion to deal with emails because Vodafone just happens to have an excellent 3G signal in that spot.
You’ve probably heard about the 310-meter-high Shard, the new tallest building in the EU, at London Bridge. But another one has finally got off the ground recently. ‘The Tower’ is the final part of the already impressive St George’s Warf residential complex by the river at Vauxhall Bridge. I was sitting opposite when I wrote you my last post.
Today is Sunday so I went to my sailing club who normally go out on the Thames all day on Sundays.
The Westminster Boating Base is my sailing club, where I learned to sail dinghies and I also go kayaking up and down the Thames in Central London. It’s run as a charity and adult membership is a mere £160/year to use all their boats and equipment, some expert tuition, and it includes the company of safety boats out on the water. What a bargain! And for under 23’s it is almost free of charge.
This is possible because of the donations of generous people and because their bright riverside lounge is hired out for events like wedding receptions. It is a gorgeous venue with glass from floor to ceiling, and balconies facing the afternoon sun where we sit for lunch in good weather.
I slept on the embankment by Vauxhall Bridge under some scaffolding because it rained all night.
Towards the morning some water trickled down from the scaffolding above – rusty brown water that may have been sitting in a scaffold pipe for a while. Everytime I begin to wonder if I could do away with my waterproof bivvy bag, something like this happens to remind me what it’s for.
I had intended to update this blog every day but the days were so full of activity that in my last post I had to summarise the first week. But this one is just a one-more-day post.
There were many sights and experiences to share but on this blog my intention is to give special focus to the places where I sleep and other practical considerations related to sleeping rough.
I slept in a hidden alcove of the entrance to a disused police station on the Archway Road, Highgate, Haringay, North London. Well there were a couple of lights on and windows ajar all night so perhaps they’re still running some covert operations there, who knows…
The bushes and my sleeping bags provided some insulation from the roar of traffic, and I slept very well.
I slept in the gardens
I slept in a small park called Pimlico Gardens because my sailing club is also in the gardens fronting the River Thames in Westminster. It was about two o’clock by the time I lay down hidden in the bushes, where I thought the park warden wouldn’t see me when he opened up in the morning.
I slept well but at 0630 there was a bright yellow park warden standing in the bushes saying that I will get arrested if I sleep there. Oh well, I thought, at least I got four hours of solid sleep.
I apologised and got up, then after he left I draped my sleeping bag and liner on the bushes so that the warm breeze could air them out. Even if my sleeping bag is not wet I think it’s a good habit to prevent moisture buildup and odour.
The club finally opened for the ten o’clock cast-off. I was a bit hesitant because I was so tired, but I’m glad I went in because conditions were ideal for both sailing dinghies and paddling kayaks.
I wanted to write to you so I sat on a bench and opened the WordPress application on my smartphone only to discover to my horror that some selfish person has already hacked it and changed my username!
Apparently this is a very common problem with WordPress because it’s such a widely used blogging platform that many malicious programs are written to hijack it. Read on if you’re new to WordPress…