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