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Mundane Journey

The Mundane Journeys Hotline was a hotline you could phone and listen to Kate Pocrass giving directions to a place to go in San Francisco.

SF0 has a task with the instructions, "Go on a Mundane Journey," and links to the Mundane Journeys site. Below the cut is my completion of the task, which is also cross-posted to SF0.

The first time I called the Mundane Journeys Hotline was several years ago now, and the message then said that the number was no longer in use.

I phoned again at some other point, and I think a man answered and I got scared and hung up.

I tried again today and was told: "Please enter the area code and phone number".

I entered the area code and phone number, and then was told to enter a PIN, and then to leave a message. I did not do either.

Afterwards, I looked at the Mundane Journeys website, which says that the hotline was unplugged in 2009, but "Invited artists will take over the number for a yearly residency. Pick up your phone and dial for the current project."

Looking on Kate Pocrass's blog, it says Robin Bernhard has taken over the hotline and you should call the number and leave the name, address and ordinary behaviour of a person deserving a merit badge. (If anyone wants to give me their address, I could try phoning the hotline again?)

I then consulted the Audio Archives on the Mundane Journeys site, and decided I would follow directions from there. The date today is 15th June 2014, but the most recent year on the site is 2009, so I pretended it was still 2009 and followed directions that were given on the hotline from June 8th 2009.

The directions said:
"Walk, bike or public transit to 345 West Portal Avenue. Inspect the façade of this office building. I'd like to think that the two subtly different red squares was a calculated design decision to mimic the red doormat below, but most likely they are about to paint the entire door brighter, or possibly more saturated than the current colour.

A special bonus journey if you are listening before June 14th: Old Krakow, a previous mundane journey is about to close its doors. Stroll the way to 385 West Portal Avenue and sit down for a warm bowl of cream of pickle soup. Feel free to call back and report your findings."

I opened Google Maps and typed in "345 West Portal Avenue, London, UK" as I was in London at the time.

The results showed a hotel: Ramada Encore London West, at 4 Portal Way, London, W3 6RT.

345 West Portal Avenue Map

That was to be my destination. I got on a bus and then a train to Central Acton.

"Sport is our lobster," a sign on the train said. There were no lobsters on the train, nor sports being played, at least not in the carriage I was in.

At Central Acton station were old photos.

A sign underneath photos of trams said:
"A Horse Tramway operated through Acton from 1895, which was electrified in 1901. The routes became Trolleybus operated in 1936 and Diesel Buses in 1960, maybe to become Electric Trams again in 2009?"

Apart from the horses, the trams didn't look too different from San Francisco's really.

Photo of a photo, with added reflections of the station:


There was also a table with books on, and a sign saying it was a book swap.

I walked up St Dunstans Avenue and it was all quite residential, and then up Friars Way, where there were lots of roses in people's gardens. There were bathmats saying "please take if needed," on a table outside a house. Then I walked down Friary Road and oddly the signs had become more like in San Francisco - high up and on posts, unlike the usual street signs here. I saw cracks on a post, and poppies growing on the edge of the pavements.



I walked up a busy road with a lot of traffic and then I reached the Ramada Encore hotel. It was covered in scaffolding.

Ramada Encore West London

I looked at the red squares that Kate had mentioned, and she was correct, they did all look subtly different to each other. I stared at the red squares for a while, noticing that some had more streaks down them than others.

Ramada Encore London West

I could not see a red doormat though.

Portal Way sign:

Portal Way

It was after June 14th, so Old Krakow would unfortunately be closed, so I would not get to try cream of pickle soup.

I wandered for a bit after that, looking at other things that were around, such as a building that looked like a lighthouse.


The remains of a building:


Lyra Court:

Lyra Court

I wondered if I could get cream of pickle soup from anywhere else. I saw on a map that the Japan Centre was nearby, so I hoped for Japanese style pickles at least. I walked up the oddly named Wales Farm Road, and then Jenner Avenue, but alas, the Japan Centre was closed.

I started walking back beside the busy road, and there was nowhere to cross for ages, but when I did get to cross the road, there was a bridge over it, and I could see the BT Tower and the Shard in the distance.


I passed an armchair that was on the pavement, opposite a garden that was done up with bows.

Before I got back on a train, I decided to visit Acton Park, as it was next to the station. I ate plum cake in the cafe.

I smelt roses:


I sat in a wooden chair that was part of a storytelling circle:


I found a snake in a tree:

Snake Tree

I saw the Twilight Tree, which was an elm tree that had an owl, a fairy, a snail, a bearded face, and other things carved into it, and a sign said next to it "This standing dead elm was sculpted in 2003 to commemorate it as the last elm in Ealing to die of Dutch elm disease."

Twilight Tree

Map of where I walked:
Map of a Mundane Journey

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This is fantastic, and the result looks like a fun walk too. I especially like your trams photo, because I love dodgy reflection caps, and the unexpected lighthouse building.

I've tried similar ideas by exchanging sets of instructions for favourite walks with people who live elsewhere (e.g. turn uphill, towards the brick instead of the stone, keep walking until you see the stars, &c). So I googled 385 West Portal Avenue for the three cities nearest me and have a reachable destination and, as I understand it, I'm looking for...

1. Primary goals: [place googled], red squares (especially associated with buildings).
2. Secondary goals: Old Krakow, and pickles.
3. Tertiary goals: horse drawn trams, a book swap, St Dunstan, roses, bathmats, a lighthouse, a view of the BT Tower (Brum, obv), cake, a seat, a snake, and twilight?

P.S. Did you link this from flaneurs? Because you might want to do that? Or not, of course, it's up to you. :-)

I really like Mundane Journeys.

When I visited San Francisco, I bought the book, Mundane Journeys: a field guide to color, and visited some of the places while I was there.</p>

I attempted to write my own in the style of a Mundane Journey in Oxford:

I wouldn't have the patience for writing a series of instructions to pre-existing places. I'd probably end up capslocking NOTICE MORE over and over, heh. I think I'm more interested in the ways people (re-)invent their surroundings in their heads? So vague or oblique and interpretable instructions are more my style. I do love it when people make the frontages of their spaces into public art though so the mosaic wall sounds fun.

I like the idea of exchanging sets of instructions.

This SF0 task also looks like it might be fun:

I'll try to write a route description when I do the 345 West Portal Avenue walk, of the left/right, up/down, follow/cross, concrete/brick/stone/grass, head-for-the-landmark-thing variety, in addition to the report. Then anyone who doesn't want to search for their local Portal could use the alt-instructions instead. I quite like the idea of a chain of walks inspired by a previous version of the same walk elsewhere.

I'm far too much of a control freak to do Dispatcher-Derive straight as written, heh. Allowing vague or oblique instructions to influence my walk = yes. Following detailed instructions = no. I rarely cook to recipes either. You should do it if it appeals to you though. Maybe sign up for a collaborator and see what happens? You know I'd read your report!

I did the walk. I'd like to link your post in my report (probably sometime next week). Would you prefer I link to your SF0 post? Or not at all? Or?

Ooh, cool! Hope it went well. :) Linking to the SF0 post is my preference.

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