millionreasons: (london)
So, after the Westbourne, Tyburn, Fleet, Walbrook, Earl's Sluice/River Peck, Neckinger and Effra, it's finally time, eighteen months later, to finish the Lost River walks.

We get to South Croydon at 9.45, very undignified for a Saturday morning, and start off for Wandsworth, through the London boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Merton, and Wandsworth, along eleven miles of winding Wandle. Despite a flyover being built on Crodyon Old Town, there are still elements of Croydon's past, a church, a row of old houses, an ex-palace (now a school). Oh, and there are still traces of Croydon's retro-futurism.


Even though we have to cross Purley Way and London Road, the rest of the journey is through parkland, woodland, by the side of the ever flowing Wandle, sun-dappled, dream-green on this, the last good day of the year. We traverse Wandle Park, Beddington Park, where a vulture was spotted in 2007, Wilderness Island, Poulter Park (featuring Tooting & Mitcham FC), Watermeads, Ravensbury Park, where we stop for lunch, perched on a little jetty, feeding bits of bread to a friendly swan, Morden Hall Park, with its still flourishing rose garden, Merton Abbey Mills, where we stop for a drink in the William Morris pub, Wandle Meadows, Garatt Park, King George's Park, and finally the Thames. Whereas it seems obvious that parks, once private land, would have grown up around the river, the water was mostly used for industry; snuff mills, paper mills, gunpowder mills, dye mills, copper mills, leather mills, wool mills, felt mills, flour mills, and calico mills - so much calico. Now all luxury flats, obviously. We also pass a fox, various cats, yappy dogs, a woman who tell us about egrets nesting on two branchless trees, two OAPs who proudly show us their Freedom Pass Walks book, and a very pregnant Portuguese woman who's having her baby shower in the park and wants advice on how to do soft focus photos. Who says Londoners are unfriendly?

Wandle River Walk - 2015-09-26 11:56:59 - 15

(all photos by David).
millionreasons: (london)
Last week but one, I was in a disconsolate mood where nothing but wrapping myself up in TV seemed worth it. The very thought of carrying on made me feel weary: it was the lowest of winter ebbs. On the Thursday, everything seemed pointless, on Saturday I couldn't get warm, so on Sunday I wrapped myself up in furry hat, snood and calf-length coat, none of which I needed because the weather decided it was almost Spring, and Vitamin D and exercise conspired to lift my winter-broken spirits. We followed the path of the River Effra from Crystal Palace (via the dinosaurs) to Vauxhall, a hip-hurting 9.5 miles through the boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Southwark, Lambeth. In Brixton, a man walked topless, in Norwood, we discovered stink pipes and also that West Norwood used to be called Lower Norwood until the Victorians wanted a posher name. In Herne Hill, we walked past the almost defunct 1948 Herne Hill Velodrome and stopped at the food market to buy lunch to eat in the park.

At Vauxhall, we went through the Park with its surviving model village to the Thames, where we found the lion that has accompanied us on these lost river trips, and then through the MI6-aping St George's development and over the bridge to Pimlico.

All photos by David.
millionreasons: (pankhurst)
On Friday, we did the fourth of our lost river walks, this time the small but perfectly formed Walbrook. Settled by the Romans and built over by successions of Londoners, it was/is less than 2 miles long, which made a post-work saunter in the sunshine from Shoreditch to the Thames very appealing. Once again, we walked through certain half-deserted streets, flowing with after work drinkers and late commuters, past the sites of old theatres, water fountains, through the Broadgate centre, where we got told off by a security guard for taking photos because this isn't a public thoroughfare, it's private property, so unless you're here to consume - fuck off, under Soane's classical Tivoli Corner with its sky view (and CCTV), past a memorial to the removed dead, the Temple of Mithras (now hidden behind Crossrail purdah), Dick Whittington's old house, down to the Thames, where there's an outfall pipe discharging the Walbrook into the Thames and where, if you edge past the group of drinkers on the steps, you can go down onto the shore, past the odorous rubbish barges, over the stones, under the cathedral of Cannon Street Bridge, and go mudlarking.

millionreasons: (Default)
I have all these blog posts in my head, about why Comic Relief sucks (the celebs should have pooled their efforts and forced Vodafone, Top Shop et al into paying their taxes), about the best children's authors (Gene Kemp, Jufy Blume, Joan Aitken, Paul Zindell) and how David Cameron plans to re-instigate a feudal society (with bankers and the uber-rich as our overlords), but instead will post these photos, taken by Heike, on our trip to Box Hill on Sunday.

And finally, a massive cock:

millionreasons: (Default)
In early January, in the depths of snow, I suggested a bright 'n' brisk walk through Essex (well, Epping Forest). I said: the snow will have gone by the end of the month. We woke up yesterday to - guess what - snow, although most surprisingly, this didn't stop either the train or the tube and only two people had wimped out by the time we got to Theydon Bois, although they were replaced by another Rachel, also once of the metropolitan parish of Doncaster, and her beau. It's possible that she is my alter-ego, she talks a lot and doesn't sleep. Whereas I need my 9 hours and occasionally utter a grunt.

With only a print out from the Epping Forest website to guide us (and we missed the visitor centre, Connaught water and arrived too late at the Hunting Lodge to go inside), we navigated our way to Chingford, and even found a pub that didn't kick us out for having muddy boots.

The sun and the company and the beer conspired to create a nice happy feeling, the opposite of my traditional January pessimism. I remembered that the year will bring things, maybe not new things, but things nonetheless.

millionreasons: (Default)
Monday: out into the Chilterns for a Beltane good walk. Up hill, down dale, past photogenic cows, Chequers (cameras in trees, but no snipers, fortunately) big skies, through woods with bluebells getting ready, to a Boer War monument to a church with a tower you can climb up for 50p (we don’t) the pub and back to the dinky railway station 12 miles later. Walking is the only ‘sport’ I can do and even that is very tiring.


millionreasons: (Default)

Friday night, after my course, which has reverted to people having a chat, rather than trying to learn anything, I attempted to get a bus up Holloway Road so as to avoid the bone-biting wind* and the Australians/students on the street celebrating their faux-Irish roots by wearing annoying Guinness hats** and screeching, but lo, there was none so I marched up the A1 in an ever-increasing temper to get to Nambucca and the return to North London of How Does it Feel indie discothèque. I know the Buffalo Bar has no beer, rubbish toilets, cramped dancefloor and you’re not allowed to stand on the stairs, but I have a soft spot for it in my cardiovascular system and Nambucca is just a bit too brightly-lit and un-atmospheric for me to dig it that much. Still, it’s nice to hear the Orchids in a confined space.

*I think that we have somehow slipped into Narnia (without the public school brats and the allegorical lion (I think I would have been with Edmund and the witch – hot chocolate and Turkish Delight wins every time over everlasting life)) and from now on it will always be winter. Always winter and never spring.

** David ordered a (fortunately non-green) Guinness which arrived with a shamrock drawn into the foam - he immediately changed it to a St George cross

We leave about half-twelve for we have to get up to catch the train to St Albans catch the train to St Albans with Dave#1, Jo, Heike and Janna, except Jo, Heike and Janna miss the train so we meet them at the Waffle House which is a café attached to a watermill museum, but most people seem to be here for maple syrup ‘n’ batter, rather than pre-industrial revolution engineering. 


We walk through 9 miles of flat-ish English green and brown countryside, passing woods full of snowdrops, some lambs, a C16th ruin and at one point, brilliant sunshine, spring-ish in its intentions. The meteorologist-magicians who control the weather must have taken a small amount of pity on us. We walk back to the city through the park and end up at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks which claims to be the oldest pub in Britain but I think somewhere got in before that. Leave that for the nicer Goat pub where we eat food and play a general knowledge board game based on trivia about Britain. Heike seems to know the most, despite not being from this sceptic isle.



January 2017

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