London is a fantastic City to get lost in! Indeed, I would go so far as to say that, if I were asked to choose any city on the planet in which to lose myself, then London would be high up there on the list.
A lot of people are somewhat nervous about taking a wrong turn and finding that they don’t know where they are.
Yet, being a glass half full sort of chap, I would say that one of the best things that could happen to you is to stray into a London neighbourhood and then realise that you haven’t got the foggiest idea where you are.
Why is this such a good thing? Quite simply, you will start to take note of your surroundings and, as you do so, you will, in turn, start to notice things.
Suppose, for example, that you are trying to walk from Green Park to Trafalgar Square and you suddenly find yourself disorientated in, I don’t know, let’s say. St James’s Street.
Your initial reaction might be to panic and reach for the A to Z. Don’t. Trafalgar Square is going nowhere and afte has placed before you an opportunity to get to know a truly fascinating neighbourhood.
Take a deep breath, calm yourself down and look. A little way along St James’s Street is the oldest cigar merchant in the world, Fox of St James’s. They used to provide Winston Churchill with cigars, and they have a cigar museum that you can visit and where you can even see the chair in which Churchill sat when he came here to enjoy a smoke. See, you wouldn’t have spotted that if you were hurrying to Trafalgar Square would you?
Further down St James’s Street, on the left, you will find a line of three shops that belong firmly in a long ago, bygone age. These lovely old shops still provide various commodities to sundry members of the Royal family, and have done for several hundred years. Lobb, are shoemakers; Lock and Co are hatmakers and Berry Bros are wine merchants.
Just before Berry Bros there is a narrow, easily missable, alleyway called Pickering Place. It is a long tunnel of an alley, lined with old oak panels. Once you’ve passed through it you find yourself in a delightful 18th century courtyard surrounded by sturdy 18th century houses, and to think you would have missed this if you hadn’t got lost.
Having enjoyed the thrill of discovering this forgotten, and oft missed, fixtures of old London, you can just ask directions in one of the shops and, within a few moments you’re back on track and, within 10 minutes you’ve arrived at Trafalgar Square, having encountered some true treasures en route.
But that is the great thing about London. It is almost impossible to get lost. Just keep walking and, sooner or later, you’ll reach a main road with a direction sign on it, or, more often, you’ll arrive at an underground station where you can either look at a map of your locality or simply hop on the next tube and get to your destination via London’s speedy and efficient(ish) Underground system.