Sunday, 1 March 2009

Richmond Park - Gunnersbury to Northfield - 10 miles

It's tough to describe the Richmond Park walk.

First, it was less of a route than a compromise. Dr. Phil had planned to cook a juicy Sunday Roast. Unfortunately, Amanda was down for a visit yesterday, so I could not make a walk on Saturday. This turn about Richmond was a way to bridge the desire for walk and for chicken, of which, both are good for the body and spirit.

Ali and I met at Richmond Station, ordered our prerequisite coffees and headed towards the park. It was quite a jaunt through Richmond town centre, where, despite my bleary-eyed state, I was quite happily window shopping as we passed some fabulous stores.

The view when we got the top of the hill, was pretty cool. Although the sky was overcast and grey, we could still see clearly the bend of the River Thames.

The park itself was huge. Several things were found to be:

1) Within Richmond Park, lies the address, Two Storm Front. There's no real reason for it. it just is.

2) To my shame, despite my years of English prizes, I did not know the plural of deer.

3) Ali may have mistaken when the horns fall off.

4) People were running full pelt around the park, while the deer just lay around, ears twitching in the breeze.

We crisscrossed the park in several directions and eventually made our way back to the station. The walk resumed when we got off at Gunnersbury. The rest of the walk was full of blame points as it was through industrial business estates and by the dual carriage way. I was getting increasingly tired and hungry, in other words, grumpy.

Thankfully, we finally arrived. I would have bitten the next human if they hadn't shoved some chicken in front of me in time.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Harlow Circular - 8.1 miles

Due to various delays caused by the weather, it was only this week that we finally got out of London for a walk. We took it nice and easy with a low level walk that wasn't too long in distance. We took a train from Liverpool Street to Harlow, which is 30 minutes away. We had timed it right, it was pretty glorious weather.


Although walking around London affords its own pleasures, being out in the country was a relief and also a different source of amusement. Out in the crisp air, we encountered the oddest concrete contraption in the middle of the field. Despite GPS and other newfangled iPhone applications, we still had no idea what this was.

Fields stretched in all directions. It put me in a Yellow Earth mood, which you'll see in the way I've framed some of the photos today.

As we climbed into a field, we met the largest pony in the world. It was really cute, with a shaggy mane, oversized hooves and tail. Perhaps it's a horse, but it looks like a pony - a giant pony.

It doesn't look as big in this picture as Ali's fairly tall. But when it got excited and clomped towards me, I did start to quake. It was a whole head and mane taller than I am. Sorry, folks, all those pictures were blurry.

This field of corn made me feel quite optimistic that spring is around the corner.


We had a North By Northwest moment around this bend of the track. From a distance, Phil asked, "Is that tractor moving?" We weren't sure. But soon, it bore down and was almost on top of us.

Running in mud = splashes.

All we need is that pony to be in this next photo.


The pleasures of the countryside include clean, crisp air, pretty landscapes and the reassuring squelch of mud. Although the sun was brightly shining, as we crossed meadows and fields, we sank ankle deep into swampy, marshy sections.

I love my boots so much. It's miraculous the way water rises up to my ankles but my socks and feet remain dry.

"What is that?" asked Phil. It was a curious shape for a plane.

Round a corner, we stumbled across Hunsdon Airfield, a former Second World War RAF base, now used for light aircraft.

Those airplanes look like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.




After a nice sit-down, we started up again. By this time, we were starving. We'd wandered into Hunsdon as advised by the walking guide. Unfortunately, Hunsdon has two pubs. One did not serve food and the other did not serve us. The lady gave us a look and pretty much turned us out.


I remembered I had a small packet of mango and melon strips in my bag. Unfortunately, my hands were shaking and the wet slices were slippery - all but one strip slid through my fingers and straight into the mud. Phil started laughing.


Would have been good if there were pies indeed.


It was at least 4pm when we finally found food at the Plume of Feathers pub. The friendly service more than made up for the simple fare.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Bow to Angel - 6 miles

It's been a challenge to kickstart walks for this new year. There were plans for a trip out to Harlow for a country walk but that was shelved due to weather and scheduling issues.

But if we can't get out of the city to enjoy the beauty of the countryside, we should embrace the city and all its grittiness.

We started off early this Sunday morning. After some mild confusion as to which Bow station we were meant to meet, we went in search of the path down to canal side.


Eastside, the views around the canal are fairly urban and grotty. We followed the curve past warehouses, old docks and disused shacks. It was pretty odd to spot oast houses in the area.

It was early, but already, the canal path was crowded. Walkers, dogs, runner and cyclists streamed past in various speeds and gaits. It always struck me as fairly reckless the way cyclists would speed across the path, trusting in walkers to get out of the way in time. Yo, some of us are half-asleep until we've had a gallon of coffee.

I'm still holding out for a walk where some lycra-bodied wheeler will tumble in and make a huge splash.


At one point, it was pretty funny. Two women carting large brown crates on their bikes were trying to get through the path under one of the bridges. The crates were a little too large for them to walk through upright with the bikes. They had to tip them at a strange angle, balanced against the bikes and edge their way past without falling in. We did offer to help but were waved away, so we watched their maneuvers with interest and mild amusement. .


The canal bridges were also covered with graffiti, some tagged by more famous artists than others.


We arrived at Angel in time for hot coffee and pastries.

Friday, 2 January 2009


Sorry, folks. Walks have been suspended without plan due to 1) me being away in India 2) blastardly cold weather 3) Ali being away 4) distraction of Christmas festivities.

We'll get going with some walks and activities soon. There's a need to find different routes, I think - due to us having pretty much criss-crossed anywhere a hour or so outside of London. Also, my camera's busted but I'm sure I can co-op photos from Phil and Johnny.

However not all good work has been halted. Please read Project Enlighten's blog for some amazing updates from Asad, Olivia and Lisa. They've been spending time in Cambodia, Mae Sot and spent Christmas doing some work at the refugee camps.

Kinda makes you re-think what goodwill towards all men really means.

How amazing. They set the bar for 2009. Happy new year, everyone!

Edit: Another kind donation from a stranger. Thank you, it's these random acts of kindness that are so very heartening.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Project Enlighten Report

I spoke with Asad from Project Enlighten the other day about their efforts over in Burma. Apart from some exciting developments in the pipeline (more scholarships and sustainable programmes), he also forwarded me some reports on how the monies were spent.

I don't know about you but when I think about the goal of $1000, I kinda feel it really isn't that much even though it's taking a while to accumulate. It's hard to imagine what kind of difference it would really make.

I feel pretty humbled and moved when I saw their spreadsheets.

Tinned fish. Cooking oil. Instant noodles. Rice. Blankets. The basic fundamentals to survive.

The road to rebuilding is long. Thankfully, they're getting started. They're also building wells so the villages have access to clean water.

The good thing about walking is it teaches you, the longer you walk, the longer you can walk. That's definitely useful when there's quite a way to go!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Goal miles reached!

Two hundred miles clocked!

However, as we've yet to reach $1000, just got to keep walking!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

A.A. Milne Walk - 15 miles

Perhaps it's because of the universal attraction of Pooh Bear, but for some reason, we had more guest walkers today than ever before. Two scientists from Dr.J's lab and Chris, a friend of my colleague, with his most suitable last name, came along. We've been doing these walks for a while now. And while it's usually good whether we are few or many, having some fresh feet along for the jaunt injects new energy into the group.

From London Bridge, we got the train to Ashurst.

As we moved out into the countryside, I chuckled as Chris audibly reacted the change of locale by commenting, "Hey, even the graffiti is more soothing out here."

The walk was very picturesque as the weather was glorious. There was a sense of enjoying it to the fullest as this might be the end of summer and the beginning of the winter period of short days.



Our new group dynamics quickly found its stride, as various folks split into groups according to pace. This didn't last throughout the walk, as quite often, there were shifts. It was great as we got a chance to chat and get to know different people.

The tree caught my eye. It was startlingly bleached against a vibrant backdrop.


I was a little disappointed that this toadstool had lost its spots. But Chris had a marvellous shot of one that looked like something out of a fairy tale, with folk living under it. According to Chris, many animals seek out plants for their hallucinogenic qualities and are quite inebriated during certain seasons. I've never witnessed it myself, but having seen the cats at the studio get a little silly over catnip, I'm convinced.

We made our way into the famed Five Hundred Acre Wood of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.


We stopped on the bridge of Pooh Sticks. It amused me that there were posters in English and Japanese. Japanese folk must love Pooh. Of course, a game ensued. Chris won! "It's all in the selection," he grinned.

I lagged behind to pose Edward on the bridge. Some kids were clattering back and forth. One of them spotted Edward and shouted, "Look, someone left a bear!"

"He's mine," I snarled, to my surprise. No kid is getting his grubby hands on Edward!

Bear at Pooh Bridge


Whenever I think I've seen it all, something still surprises me still. We peered behind a bushel and spotted this. There were excited gasps all round. A couple of us edged nearer for a look.


Finally, we reached Pooh Corner in Hatfield. It was just closed but we managed to beg entry into the shop for a few minutes.


It was obviously a very quaint part of the world.


It was the longest walk we've ever had. We were definitely glad when it was over and we could celebrate with a few choice sips of whisky at the train station.