Still Too Busy

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I spent a week in Oxford where I stayed with my parents and my two brothers. I’ve slept outdoors on many occasions in Oxford just to see what it’s like, and also because I wanted more independence from my parents. Independence is particularly important for me because my dad’s a minister and my parents have very strong religious views which they’re very keen to pass on to me.

Still, they’re very nice people and invite me to stay any time I want so sleeping outside near their house feels really silly and is hard to explain to others. I get too tempted to just go and sleep at their house or even at their office. In the short term it seems to make life easier, but in the long term being around them too much is bad for my mental health. So I’ve now decided to try living mostly in London and only occasionally go to Oxford to visit them. I feel comfortable staying with the folks for just a few days, but for the long term I value independence more than comfort.

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Brentford – Maidenhead – Reading – Wallingford – Oxford

A car full of youths blaring out loud music came down to the riverbank where I had just made my bed and was writing the last post on this blog. They showed no interest in me or my bed, and went off to a corner to smoke and hang out by the water. They were quite rowdy but there were two girls with them so I trusted the fairer sex to temper the madness of the others and hoped that they enjoyed their time there. In contrast to when I rented a room in a flat, I’m not entitled to occupy this outdoors ‘bedroom’ exclusively so I shouldn’t get upset when other people want to chill out there.

I locked my bike on the walkway above where I slept. My theory was that if anyone came over the walkway during the night to have a stroll by the river they wouldn’t see me sleeping tucked up against the wall.

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I’m Going to Oxford to Get My Suit

Last night was dry again so I slept in the same place as the night before, as described in the last post, on the roof of the bin shed in a council estate in Kentish Town (just north of Central London).

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I slept well. The traffic noise of Camden Road was dampened somewhat by my down sleeping bag and bivvy bag that were tightened snug around my head. Sleeping outdoors I normally wake up at first light then fall asleep again in a few seconds, blocking the light out with the sleeping bag – it feels very cosy, like when you hit the snooze button on your bedside alarm clock.

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Southwark – Watford – Hayes – Balham – Wimbledon – Wandsworth – Battersea – Kensington – Islington – Camden Town

The last few days have been really fun – so much, in fact, that despite trying to write to you everyday I couldn’t keep up with myself and this post got longer and longer… sorry about that!

It was great to relax at my friend’s flat for a couple of days. It’s in a place called Elephant & Castle in Southwark which is East-Central London south of the river. This is the view I was enjoying from my friend’s window:

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While she was out I took the opportunity to update my blog – not much had happened but I thought it’s better to write little and often. However I discovered I actually had much to say so I didn’t finish writing this post…

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Friends

After a cosy night and day in the home of a generous client in Belgravia I went for a swim at the Chelsea Sports Centre nearby. I was very pleased to swim one kilometre in twenty-three minutes – forty 25m lengths with no break, which means that I’m quickly regaining my fitness after being a couch potato in Oxford for a few months. My fitness had seriously gone out the window but a couple of weeks sleeping rough in London has put it all right again – I feel fit as a fiddle!

I cycled westward along the north bank of the Thames, my running shorts were wet from my swim but quickly dried in the warm breeze. I had trouble finding a pub by the river that served alcohol after 2300, which I thought was a poor show for a Friday night. Must be because of complaints from riverside residents – wet blankets! I wanted to relax over a pint and write to you, so in the end I found The Swan in Hammersmith and enjoyed a citrussy glass of Jaipur IPA. I glid back down to the river and enjoyed the view of an almost-full moon.

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I Live in Belgravia

After an eventful night in Shepherds Bush I leisurely cycled through the back streets of Notting Hill to get on the Regents Canal. On the way I passed what is probably the most iconic council tower block in London – it looks so menacing that I think it ought to be listed, to show future generations what social housing was like.

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St Katherine’s Dock, a Man Who Lives in a Boat, a Man Who Lives in a Cardboard Box, a Film Crew, the Financial Times, a Wet Day and a Piano Beyond Repair

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After writing my last post at the tower of London I crossed the road to mill around in St Katherine’s Docks for the rest of the day, popping in to cafés sometimes to have a coffee and charge my phone while I dealt with a barrage of emails.

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