Thursday 24 July 2014

Thursday Thoughts (9)


Welcome to my new Weekly post - Thursday Thoughts.

This is going to be a weekly discussion post that I hope will get all my blog readers commenting and giving their opinion. I will pick a topic and write how my thoughts and feelings about it and then hopefully all you lovely readers will leave a comment below with your own opinions.

The only rule I have is that everyone is respectful of each other's opinions, there is no real right or wrong here, this is a chance to experience a topic from someone else's perspective. Please listen to each other and be nice.

If you wish to take a more active part in this discussion and make your own blog post about the topic, I will create a Linky list below that you can link your post to. If more and more people take part - the bigger and better it will become.

Some discussions will be light and silly, others will be more serious but they will all be about books and book related things.

So come on everyone, pull up a chair and lets hear your voice.

This weeks topic is:

Book Bench Hunt! 

This isn't such a discussion post, but I would be interested to hear what you think about the whole thing!

Books about Town

2 July - 15 September 2014

Books about Town is coming to London this summer! Find all 50 unique BookBench sculptures, designed by local artists and famous names to celebrate London’s literary heritage and reading for enjoyment. 
Basically 'Books about Town' in association with the Literacy trust has created 50 uniquely designed benches and placed them around London. There are 4 'trails' to follow to find them all.

My friend and I decided that we had to do this. Being masive book nerds this was something we knew we just could not miss.

So I printed off the trail maps, plotted a route between the benches as best I could. Worked out Tube transfers and got ready to explore.

We started with the 'Bloomsbury Trail', so hopped on the Picadilly line to Holborn and started to explore.

We found the first bench quite quickly (Peter Pan) and was so excited. We made our way round the trail, finding them in parks and squares, it was great fun. Some benches had people sitting on them and we had to ask them to move but everyone was really friendly and agreed to take our photo by the bench. The only hiccup we had was the 1984 bench wasn't there anymore - it had been damaged and taken away for repair, so we wasted 20 minutes looking for it which was very annoying but other than that we made good time and was feeling positive. 
I won't flood the blog with pictures, for each Bench we took 4 photos - 1 of the front of the bench, 1 of the back (as they were decorated both sides with a different picture), 1 of the information plaque about the book the bench was based on and 1 of my friend and I next to the bench. 
As you can see there were 11 benches on this trail and we found them all! My favourite was 'The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe' 

We then made it to Russell Square tube and made our way over to 'St Pauls' to complete the 'City Trail'
We knew this one would be slightly harder but I had planned to start with the cluster together on the left then walk up to 'Brick Lane' bench then head to the right and catch the more spread out ones. 
Well, St Paul's is quite a confusing network of connecting streets, but even so we soon found Mary Poppins and those around it, we got the first 4 in about 20 minutes and was feeling hopeful, we then headed to find the Jacqueline Wilson bench, this is where it all went downhill. I don't know how well you can see on the map, but the label for JW covers the road names and there are no particular signs as to where it is. We walked all around this area for 45 minutes, we found the Bridget Jones bench in the process but couldn't get the other. We didn't want to give up, we both read her books as a child and we wanted to get them all.
What I didn't realise when I downloaded these maps were that they were actually interactive and could be zoomed in, but I just printed them how they were thinking that was all you could get. So partially my fault for not checking but the map did cause some problems. We had to give up in the end and because we were so behind time we decided we would miss out the 3 floating ones at the top (Brick Lane, Laura Marling and Cricket) Instead we stopped to buy a drink of water as it was so hot out, and then hopped back on the Tube and got off at Bank to get Stormbreaker etc. 
We were feeling a bit dejected at this point, no benches in almost an hour! but when we got off at Bank we found the next 3 very quickly and our spirits rose again.
We then headed to Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman, this was a highlight for us as we are both massive fans of the books, and we literally ran screaming towards it when we spotted it! 
But I have to say my favourite for this route was actually the last one 'Katie in London' it was beautifully designed.

So slightly more hopeful and with plans to come back later to the ones we missed if we had time we set off across the River Thames to complete the 'Riverside Trail'

Very hot and a bit hungry with aching feet and backs we powered through, determined to see as many as possible. We were on a time limit, our railcards were 'off-peak' only so we had to be on a train home before 4:30 or we would have to wait until after 7:30, but we both had places to be in the evening so that wasn't an option.
It was already nearly 3:00 by this point but we were sure we could do it. We had an hour, that was enough!
The first four were in a nice sqaure and very easy to find and some of the more colourful and beautiful benches. We had a slight problem with the Dr Seuss bench in which case a woman refused to move so we couldn't take a picture, but we did all the others and when we made it clear we weren't going to leave without our pictures she did move. She muttered 'God, it's only a stupid bench'. Which I found equal parts annoying and funny. She just couldn't see why this was important to us. But we got our picture!!!
Most people we met throughout the day were supportive and interested, so it was overall a nice atmosphere.
We got the other 2 close ones, Julia Donaldson's was very busy, but I can tell why, she is amazing and the bench was gorgeous. We then made our way along down the riverfront, as the next 2 look like they are still on the water's edge. As you walk you have to cross London Bridge, which actually means you have to go away from the river a bit, and up some steps into a courtyard area that then leads off into streets, we followed it round. At one point there was a slight fork and we followed the left, as the right hand side looked like a dead end with tall buildings. We soon realised we must have passed the benches somehow but couldn't understand where they were, but by then we had nearly reached the Shakespeare bench so we kept going. We realised we would have to double back to get to London Bridge tube station to get home, so it was easier.
We snapped Shakespeare then made our way back. Still not spotting these benches, but as we came back to that fork we spotted people walking down towards what we thought was a dead end, turns out there is a path hidden in there that leads to a really nice courtyard so hallelujah we found the last 2! Riverside trail complete. Paddington Bear and Great Expectations were our last.

we look so relieved to have found it!!! Finished!

We then walked rather quickly back to the Tube Station to catch a train back to the main station St Pancras and then home. I made it with 5 minutes to spare!!!

We didn't manage to do the 'Greenwich Trail', it's so much further out and needs a DLR connection, we never would have made it, but the way we see it - this means we can go back for another day. Already planning it.
 There are some benches there I am really excited to see so we will be going to do them soon, and also finding the ones we missed on the City Trail. Looking at the website there are also 2 benches not on the trails. There are actually only 48 on the trails, the 2 making it up to 50 are spread out elsewhere, there is an "Around the World in 80 Days" bench near Stanfords in Leicester Square and "Worlds Biggest Flip Book" in Waterloo. So we will try to get them too.

There was a good variety of benches. It was a bit strange but there were 2 Peter Pan benches, one in Bloomsbury trail and the other on City. I was actually disappointed that there wasn't a Harry Potter bench - how could they miss such an iconic series as that? Maybe they will add some extras. A 51st bench has been voted and will be Neil Gaiman 'Neverwhere'.
I would also have loved to see a Percy Jackson bench - how cool would that be!?

If you want to see pictures of all 50 benches just visit the official website and they are all there. Once I have found the rest of them I am going to make an album with all my snaps, can't wait.

Which books would you have loved to see as benches?

Would you go and hunt them down if you could? Or have you done it already?

In September they are going to Auction off the benches with all money going to charity, which bench would you buy if you could afford it? Would you want to own one?
I would definitely buy the Narnia one, but I loved so many of the others too. I wish I could win the lottery!!!

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