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A walk from Putney to Piccadilly

Friday 6 January 2012

When I land in a city, one of my favourite things to do is just walk, with only a vague idea of the direction I'm heading. This has landed me in some great spots around the world (and some pretty dodgy ones too). Just take a look at a map, get a bit of a plan in your head and head off.

I know London pretty well, but not where I'm staying at the moment, which is Putney. So when I looked at a map, I saw it was a pretty easy route from Putney into Chelsea, up to Sloane Square and then on to Piccadilly, where I was meeting friends for dinner.

It was a great walk. There's nothing too exciting at the start of the New Kings Road (apart from a few fantastic charity shops) but there is some great people watching to be done once you reach Chelsea. Batty old women with lipstick over their chins, glossy young Sloanes with flippy hair and shiny cars, and men in dark suits and a hurried look on their faces.

There are some gorgeous cafes along the route but my, are they expensive. Really expensive. Stop in for a coffee but plan on lunch somewhere else, unless you fancy a treat.

When you reach Kings Road proper, you'll find the real fancy pants shops. Anthropologie is like Urban Outfitters for grown ups. The interior is beautiful, filled with beautiful clothes, lush furnishings and little oddities - there's even a giant water feature. It's like the home I wish I have (but know I never will - sigh).

When I reached Sloane Square, I popped into the beautiful Saatchi Gallery. Now, this is my perfect gallery. A good variety of beautiful art, gorgeous building and in the middle of a lovely big square...

The gallery is spread over a few floors, and is free, free, free. There's only a bit of the random shite that makes you walk into a room, mutter something that sounds like "Ugh" and quickly leave again. Most of what's on display is fantastic...

You could easily while away a few hours at the Saatchi, but I paid it quite a quick visit as I soon realised that I only had an hour to get up to Leicester Square. So I booted up to Sloane Street, walking past some of the fancy designer stores that would walk me right out if I shot through the doors. If window shopping is your thing, you'll find all the labels you dream of. But I just hotfooted past, occasionally looking through the windows and thinking that the clothes looked pretty mank.

Before I knew it, I was at Hyde Park Corner, on to Piccadilly (where tradition dictates you MUST stand, look at the crowds and proclaim "It's like Piccadilly Circus here!") and then into Leicester Square, dodging tourists and their cameras.

We ate in Chinatown, where I've never found decent Chinese food. I've also just found out that my friend has spent the night expelling his dinner in quite a dramatic style. So the quest continues.

If you have a day in London and fancy this amble, I would get the bus down to the start of the Kings Road, and finish up in the centre of town. You could do it the other way, of course, but if you're staying in town it's always nicer to end up closer to home.

Have you any hot spots along the way? Have you ever had a decent Chinese meal in Chinatown? Let me know in the comments below!

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