Angus Walk: South London Green Chain

On my MA course, we were often graced with the presence of Angus, a visiting lecturer from SOAS. At the end of the course he taught--and as often as we could politely beg him for another--he would plan a history walk around London, where you would learn more from him just talking than you had ever had learned about anything in your life. How all that information stays in one person's mind, I don't know. Anyway, Angus usually takes us on London city tours and tells us all about architecture, companies, politics, and famous people; we'd had a City of London, East London docks, and London cemetery tour already. This time, we asked him to do a South London tour of all the greenest green spaces down there. There is a path called the Green Chain that is full magnificent tree-lined and cemetery-filled walking paths to be had south of the river, and Angus walked (sprinted) with us right through it

Now, to my American friends, prepare yourself for some English pronunciations! As you can see on the sign, we were wandering through Sydenham (Sih-denum) Hill, one of many gorgeous leafy green areas of Southern London which used to be the Great North Wood before it became a trendy neighborhood in the 19th century. We also wandered through the boroughs of Southwark (Suhtherk) and Lewisham. Dulwich (Dull-itch), or Deepest Darkest Dulwich as my friend calls it, is around there as well, and that's where the Horniman Museum and Gardens are. The museum has a musical instrument collection, and I once went to a really awesome ethnomusicology conference on instruments there with my friend who spoke about mouth harps in Norway (and totally shut down some jerk who didn't understand why people liked mouth harps). Anyway, even the suburb parts are green like this, and there are tons of gorgeous cottages, a great place for 18th century paintings called Dulwich Picture Gallery, and all the wonders of English leafiness within Overground distance of all your favorite London things. Why are people so hung up about living or visiting friends 'South of the River'?? EMBRACE IT.

There were lots of hills and stairs involved and I got a good workout because I was stupid and decided to run up all the stairs, so I was sore the next day. But I digress. We passed lots of WWI cemeteries including Nunhead Cemetery, one of the Magnificent Seven of London cemeteries. It's Victorian, like almost everything around here, and was opened in 1840. It came complete with an Anglican church but it lost its roof in a fire, so now it's just open to the sky.

I don't know how many miles we walked but it was probably around twelve, and by the time we got to the restaurant Angus took us to we were so hungry we almost starting eating the silverware. The place is in Peckham and is called Artusi, and let me tell you, I had one of the best meals of my life there. We got a set menu where they just kept bringing out trays of delicious fresh/local/sustainable/seasonal things. I don't remember exactly what was in which dish, but there were cuttlefish and cherry tomatoes and an anchovy emulsion in there somewhere that was to die for. As usual, I was too busy stuffing my piglet face to take any pictures, but just trust me when I say it was incredible and fresh-looking. Also, we had some kind of cake with raspberry sauce and custard, and we all looked at each other like, is this happening? Is this real life?? It was real life, and after we had stuffed our miserably rumbling gullets, we waddled half-drunk to the overground and went off in our respective directions all over London to sleep like we had never slept before.

Bye for now, my friends. There is more Englishness to come!

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