Recently I picked it up again, wondering how ludicrous it would be to finally read it in humid Brisbane. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much more it all means to me now. The detailed explanations of how the road layout developed organically since Roman times is no longer pointless to me, because I've spent the last 18 months negotiating (and cursing) that very road layout. Ackroyd uses modern day landmarks and existing street names to describe the layout of the city during the Middle Ages and onwards, and now that I know (some of) the areas and street names he refers to, I can see the teeming city forming over time in my mind. When he talks about 16th century London and its clearly divided trading areas - butchers in Smithfield, fishmongers in Bishopsgate, old clothing dealers in Old Jewry, to name a few - I now know how closely proximate these areas are and can imagine the amazing and dangerous cacophony of noise and life (and odour) he describes.
I still don't think I'll finish it before I leave though, with all the goodbyes and packing and organising to fit in. Plus (only!) seven more days of work. Not that I'm counting.
I've mentioned here a couple of times London's unique way of revealing (and hiding) open spaces just when you think there are only office blocks, pubs and warehouses in your 5km radius. Well, I've spent the last 18 months working in Holborn without ever realising that Central London's largest open space, Lincoln's Inn Fields - mentioned in London: The Biography several times - was just a few blocks away. Imagine the Vitamin D I've been missing out on by never venturing there for a sun-drenched lunchtime sandwich! So once I made this amazing discovery (about two weeks ago), I was determined to go and see it at least once before departure time.
In the meantime, the weather gods played a trick on London, so my outing was less sun-drenched picnic and more slow and careful shuffle along icy pathways. But it was still beautiful, and definitely worth seeing.
I posted this shot on flickr and someone very astutely pointed out that the snow-person looks like a busty E.T.
Someone else on flickr suggested this was a snow-vampire.
Abstract snowman perhaps? To go with the existing art I suppose.
This is Lincoln's Inn itself, or more precisely the library. Lincoln's Inn is one of the four inns of court - where the barristers hang out, study and work from - in London and it's been around since the 1400s.
Finally, berries and snow.