I think it must be about 18 months ago, well actually it was once I received my London60 pass and I decided to visit every railway station in London.
And then the lurgy hit the world, and as I can only go out on the warm days, the trips to London stopped for a while, and like most other people, I hid away in my shell for a while. And 150,000 deaths later, as we come out of lockdown 2, I am now the proud owner of a blue badge, and an very unhealthy set of lungs, and legs, and totally zapped of all confidence to wander out by myself, but then someone posted a video of the covid wall on twitter ….
I hope this works for others – see a video of the wall in all its glory, in April 2021.
One day, those in charge, who mishandled this pandemic and handed out billions of pounds to their mates for dodgy ppe contracts, will be held accountable; but just for now, I wanted to visit this memorial wall. It was an important part of my dealing with such an horrific and emotive trauma, and some of the mental health issues that arise when you lose complete control of your world.
And I also lost my big sister, not from covid, but entirely due to covid. We all have our reasons.
So, I thought a trip to London in order, and as usual I start at Upminster station. It has a car park, and is an accessible way of accessing the c2c line to Fenchurch street (also on the district line). There are lifts, an entry direct from the car park, and even better I discovered there is free blue badge parking. This is quite limted, and some of the spaces look almost impossible to park in, but that’s another story. You also need someone who has savvy of using a phone to register, that’s not me, but I had a friend (wife) along for the day.
If you are not great on stairs, then Fenchurch street has options in exiting the station, one incurs many stairs, the other offers either lifts or escalators to exit. There is also the Tower gateway station which is on the DLR nearby. The DLR is an entirely accessible route.
We took the stairs as I can manage these downwards, and into Coopers row, and a short walk down past the hotel on the left, and towards the Tower, where you can visit sections of the London Roman wall. We then walked down to the Tower and headed for a boat along the river. There are river boats run by TFL, but on this day, it appeared that only the Uber boats were operational. Fortunately there wer a couple of helpful guys selling their services and explained how my discounted travel worked with my London60 pass, and allowing me 50% discount, although I had to purchase tickets from the machine. I opted for a day pass which cost me £10.40 which seemed fair (it is even less using their online app), and discounts were also available if you paid for tickets by bankcard, through TFL, at about £4.60 – £7 a single trip, I think. The boats were very clean and had toilets and seating, both indoors and some limited seating outdoors. They also served refreshments.
I started taking lots of pictures as we headed towards Westminster. Lots of London skyline, and I am not certain yet what the buildings are:
We exited the boat here, and crossed over Westminster bridge. To get onto the bridge there were quite a number of steps to climb up to the bridge, probably about 20, so factor this in. I will revisit this area to find an alternative route, as I usually do, even if it means quite a detour.
We needed to get to the opposite side of the Thames, over the bridge, and then it begins, lots of it, and joggers running past, and many people like us were wandering along and reminiscing and in no rush.
The wall ends at Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and i remember seeing him on TV visiting the covid wall, and mentioning two words – IN AWE. I get this, it was awesome.
I have to say after all that has been happening over the last year or so, the highs and the lows, this experience is worth sharing and visiting, for whatever purpose it serves. I received an question about my visit as to whether all of the hearts have names on them, and the answer was – only the larger hearts have a name or writing, many do not, and I believe that it is OK to add names to the wall. I don’t know if this is correct, but I think I would have added my sisters name if I had a pen, even if it meant adding an extra heart!
Obviously TFL should provide all of this, and do provide limited detail. Their maps are often out of date, but staff are always friendly if you ask for accessible advice.