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London's Paddington Bear Trail

If you have small children, you may be aware of a new movie that has just been released called Paddington, based on a series of books by the same name. The origins date back almost 60 years when its creator, Michael Bond, bought a small bear from Selfridges on Christmas Eve, as a present for his wife and named him after the nearest railway station to which they lived. And from this, the great adventures of Paddington Bear were born.

Here’s a quick recap for those of you who need a refresher of the plot like I did!

‘Paddington Bear grew up deep in the Peruvian jungle with his Aunt Lucy who, inspired by a chance encounter with an English explorer, raised her nephew to dream of an exciting life in London. When an earthquake destroys their home (now a very recognisable storyline for those Christchurch peeps), Aunt Lucy decides to smuggle her young nephew on board a boat bound for England, in search of a better life.

Arriving alone at Paddington Station, Paddington soon finds that city life is not all he had imagined – until he meets the kindly Brown family, who find him with a label tied around his neck which reads ‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.’ They offer him a temporary home while he searches for the explorer who impressed Aunt Lucy all those years before.’ - Visit London

To create awareness for this film, which has just had its premiere in London last week, you can follow in the footsteps of the world's favourite Peruvian explorer. Fifty Paddington statues (plus three extras) have been placed throughout central London, close to museums, parks, shops and key landmarks in an inspiring trail. Each statue has been created by artists, designers and celebrities with the trail following the bear’s favourite places.

With a weekend to spare I armed myself with the essentials; iPhone, camera and backpack, downloaded the ‘Paddington Bear Trail’ app and set off in search of these wonderful creations. I quickly realised the app, while great in theory, didn’t provide the most logical route. After a couple of times where I had to retrace my steps, I ditched their plan and came up with my own and explored the city just as Paddington Bear had once done.

Initially, I had planned on completing this in one weekend, but torrential rain last Sunday meant I postponed the second half until the weekend just been. Aside from getting to see all these wonderful bears, the great part was discovering new areas of the city I hadn't yet explored, and it was a great way to see how the city links up (aside from the tube). It also doubled as training for Marathon des Sables, I like to think of it as an urban version of a high-country rogaine. Judging by the number of people I bumped into taking photos (plenty of selfies!) confirmed that even adults love a treasure hunt!

If you are in London, I highly recommend you check out a couple of these guys. I didn't quite manage to cross them all of my list, but I gave it a good nudge. There were two bears that I couldn't take pictures of because a) the shop it was located inside was closed and didn't open for another hour and b) it was placed in the middle of a square that was fenced off! I also came across one randomly which wasn't on my list. I was actually lost (typical), so I took it as a sign that I was meant to have gone down the wrong street. I googled to see why he wasn't on the list, and apparently they have been so popular they have added three more. Need to update the app I think! 10/10 for their marketing though as I'm off to check out the film this week. For those of you who can't make a  check out the images below. Which one is your favourite?

The Journey of Marmalade designed by Hugh Bonneville

Dapper Bear by Guy Ritchie

The Spirit of Paddington designed by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Paws Engage designed by Canterbury of New Zealand

Thread Bear designed by Matthew Williamson

Bearodiversity designed by Peru

Paddington the Explorer designed by Ripley's Believe It Or Not! London

Paddingtonscape designed by Hannah Warren

Paddington designed by Michael Bond

Not only is this image special because it is the original Paddington Bear but just as I was taking this picture my brother rang to say I had a new nephew. Welcome to the world gorgeous Harry. (Maybe Paddy would have been more appropriate?

The Mayor of Paddington designed by Costain Skanska and The Paddington Partnership

Texting Paddington designed by Westminster Academy

Brick Bear designed by Robin Partington & Partners

Bearing Up designed by Taylor Wimpey

Futuristic Robot Bear designed by Jonathan Ross

Love, Paddington x designed by Lulu Guinness

The Special One designed by Chelsea FC

Paws designed by Sally Hawkins (Just to prove that I did actually run around and take these pics!)

Stripes designed by Inkie

Flutterby designed by Emma Watson

Golden Paws designed by David Beckham

Good News Bear designed by The Telegraph

Paddington Jack designed by Davina McCall

Paddington is GREAT designed by Stephen Fry

W2 1RH designed by Marc Quinn

Sparkles designed by Frankie Bridge

Goldibear designed by Kate Moss

Bear Humbug designed by Ant & Dec

Parka Paddington designed by Liam Gallagher

Little Bear Blue designed by Intel

Paddington Lloyd Webbear designed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber

The Bear of London designed by Boris Johnson

Special Delivery designed by Ben Whishaw

Rainbow designed by Darcey Bussell

Bear in the Wood designed by Rankin

Sherlock Bear designed by Benedict Cumberbatch

Good Morning, London designed by Michael Howells

R; G; B designed by Zaha Hadid

Fragile designed by Ryan McElhinney

Shakesbear designed by Michael Sheen

Taste of Peru designed by Peru

Wonders of the World designed by Peru

Paddington Who? designed by Peter Capaldi

Gravity Bear designed by Sandra Bullock

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