diamond geezer

 Sunday, December 31, 2023

The last day of the year is an excellent time to tot up what you've been doing all year... assuming you've been counting, which obviously I have. Cue my Counts of 2023.

(If you don't count these kinds of thing, look at all the fun you're missing out on)

My most important count this year, it turns out, is the number of London stations I've been to. And by 'been to' I mean entering or exiting the station, not just passing through.
stations in zones 1-3: all
stations in zones 4-6: three
There are approximately 350 stations in zones 1-3 and I've been to all of them.
There are approximately 240 stations in zones 4-6 and I've been to three of them.
This is because I have a z1-3 Travelcard and I am a cheapskate.

Two of the three outer London stations I went to were at Heathrow because travelling between these costs nothing. The other was Colindale, which I was trying not to use but I was out with BestMate and it was pouring with rain and such is social pressure. All three of these were visited in a single week in March and I haven't toyed with zones 4-6 since. Ludicrous, I know.

Another thing I've been counting this year is the number of times I visited each London borough.

• Technically I counted the number of days I visited each borough.
• If I set foot in a borough on a particular day, that counted as 1.
• Standing on a station platform or riding through on a bus didn't count.

Here's the annual spread of my 2023 travels.


And yes, these are extraordinary totals.

During the past year I have been to every London borough over thirty times, which is both ridiculous and extreme. I've even been to Bexley, Sutton and Hillingdon, on average, once every twelve days. I confess this is no accident, it required a deliberate roaming focus, aided and abetted by knowing exactly where all the borough boundaries actually are. If you're not ticking off six different boroughs every day, on average, you're never going to get anywhere near my totals. I'm willing to bet that nobody else in London has made over thirty visits to every London borough in 2023.

You can tell I live in Tower Hamlets because that scored a near-maximum total of 357 days. Newham came a very strong second, mainly because I live less than 200m from the boundary. Central London boroughs are next, with the City marginally ahead of Westminster marginally ahead of Camden. The numbers generally drop off towards the outer suburbs, but note Ealing's elevated total which is essentially because it's now so easy to get there on Crossrail.

And the truly extraordinary thing, as you may have twigged, is that I achieved all of this without venturing by train into zones 4, 5 and 6. Instead I hopped aboard multiple buses, plus the odd tram, because these are included for free with a z1-3 Travelcard. Admittedly things took a lot longer by bus but that's fine if you have the time, plus I got to enjoy the sights along the way. My greatest challenges were the ten London boroughs which lie outside zones 1-3, i.e. the nine lightest-coloured squares on the map (plus Redbridge), but yay I still managed to reach each of these more than 30 times.

I will not be attempting to beat this in 2024.

As for number of visits to counties outside London, this year's tally is poorer than it might first appear.
Eighteen times: Essex, Surrey
Sixteen times: Herts, Norfolk
Eight times: Kent
Six times: Bucks
Three times: Berks, East Sussex
Once: Glos, Northants, Notts, Oxon, Suffolk, West Midlands, West Sussex
Never: everywhere else
A lot of the visits to the Home Counties were just minor boundary incursions. Norfolk does well because I have family there. I only visited counties other than those on eight occasions, which is pitiful. This is why the 'Beyond London' list in yesterday's index was rather short, and I need to do better than this next year.
Furthest north: Hucknall  (53.0°N)
Furthest west: Gloucester  (2.3°W)
Furthest south: Beachy Head  (50.7°S)
Furthest east: Norwich  (1.4°E)
These are very similar compass point extremities to last year, latitude- and longitude-wise. But have you seen the cost of rail tickets these days, not to mention how unreliable long-distance trains can be?

Let's check up on how else I've been travelling, starting with the average number of steps taken and miles walked each day.

2019132506 miles
2020164007 miles
20212270010 miles
2022161007 miles
2023146006½ miles

My perambulations peaked during the pandemic, with an amazing average of 10 miles a day in 2021. I'm now down to a more reasonable 6½ miles a day, or almost 15000 steps daily, which I'm pleased to see is still better than I was doing before lockdown. I do however weigh about four pounds more at the end of 2023 than I did at the start, which is about 1½kg, so I'd better go easy on the Creme Eggs this spring.

Next let's check up on how many London bus routes I've ridden.
Buses: all of them
I've again ridden on every single TfL bus route this year (schoolbuses and mobility route excepted). It may only have been a few stops but hell yes, that's every single route from 1 to W19. I'd actually achieved this accolade by the end of March, and since then all I've had to do is nip out and ride any new routes (all of which have been Superloop related).

I've also checked which bus routes I rode most often (because if TfL insist on sending me a weekly spreadsheet I am darned well going to make use of it).
31 times: 108
19 times: 66, 132, 425, 487
17 times: 93, 607/SL8
16 times: 287
15 times: 173, 265
The 108 wins easily because a) it stops at Bus Stop M, and b) it goes to some unique places. The other Bus Stop M-er is the 425, which I like to catch in preference to the 25 because it's always emptier. The other buses in this list are key radial links in outer London, and are precisely the buses you would over-use if you had a z1-3 Travelcard and were determined not to ride any trains.

For the avoidance of doubt, yes I went to every tram stop this year and no, I did not ride the Dangleway.

Please allow me to slip in my usual analysis of Archers episodes. These are the characters to have made the most appearances in Ambridge this year.
1) Helen (100 episodes)
2) Stella (59)
3) Brian (57)
4) Susan (55)
5) Alice (54)
50-something episodes: Adam, George
40-something episodes: Tom, Emma, Lee, Pat, Pip, Ruth, Tony, Tracy
30-something episodes: Lynda, Lillian, David, Jim, Eddie, Justin, Jazzer, Brad, Ian, Oliver, Freddie, Kirsty
Helen is way out in front thanks to the resuscitation of the Rob Titchener storyline (and his subsequent demise). Stella looks set to be in Ambridge for the long-term. Alice is spending her third consecutive year in the top 5, and Susan her third in the top 10. Notable non-speakers this year include Phoebe, Johnny (again), Robert (RIP) and Vince's daughters.

Here's this year's pet project - how many London postcode districts did I go to?
postcode districts: all 249 of them
I still reckon nobody else has ever done this, either in a single year or across a lifetime, because some of the locations were so damned remote.

Other things I've been counting this year include...
Number of photos taken: 19,000   (↑400 on 2022)
Number of photos uploaded to Flickr: 715   (↑25)
Number of visitors to the blog: 970,000   (↓34000)
Number of comments on the blog: 10,300   (↓400)
The decrease in visitors to the blog is entirely due to a Reddit thread about the History Trees in the Olympic Park, because it happened last year and wasn't repeated this. The decrease in comments is approximately one a day (i.e. the equivalent of one absent sycophant). It's still an amazing total, thanks.

If you've been counting something interesting this year do share it with the rest of us. And if not then do consider starting to count something in 2024 because I'm likely to ask you again next year.

n.b. Proper counts only, thanks. If your count is zero or one then you're not a proper counter, more a raconteur.

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