5 things I liked this week – 23.9.16

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View from Canbury Gardens
I’ve had the chance to go for lots of walks this week and after a blip, the weather has thankfully turned nice(ish) again. I’ve always liked walking anyway but walking has played such a big part in my preparation for the surgery I had this summer and in my recovery. The photo above was taken on a local walk in Kingston.

2. On another walk (after having to be in central London for an appointment, I thought I’d switch my walking scenery up a bit), I walked from Covent Garden to Millbank, to go and see The Smile, which is part of London Design Week and was it was rather cool. It’s a giant wooden curved box, that is completely made out of wood (apparently this is technically very difficult).

The Smile

(You can’t see it from the photos in my mosaic but the box curves at both ends, hence the name)

3. On another trip into central London for an appointment, this time I got to hang out around the London Bridge area, as this was much more preferable than hanging out in a waiting room (I got there early because often when relying on London trains, you’re either early or you’re late, there is no in between). So I got to soak up Borough Market, the river, the area around The Clink (old warehouses) and some street art.

London Bridge

(I love the ‘toilet’ in the third photo, top row)

4. After my London Bridge appointment, I finally got to tick off a London attraction I’ve been wanting to see for years, from my to-see list, The Old Operating Theatre Museum.

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Old operating theatre museum

The Old Operating Theatre Museum is this tiny little place, in the literal roof of a church, on a street about 5 minutes walk from Guy’s Hospital and it’s where they used to store herbs and medicines and do operations on women. Being in the roof of a church, it is not the most accessible of places but if you’re okay with steep spiral staircases and slightly squeamish stuff, it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s quite quaint (in a nice way), with all the hand written labels and stuff, after spending most of my museum time hanging around glossy museums like the V&A, it was a nice change.

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And it was especially eerie and a little chilling to be able to stand in the galleries of the actual operating theatre, exactly where people used to come and watch the surgeries.

Old operating theatre museum

5. And finally, the trip to Borough Market I mentioned? The bakery stalls there are always so tempting and there’s one stall there (unfortunately I can’t remember the name), that sells doughnuts, which are obviously so hip or something because there’s often people standing around the stall instagraming them. Anyway, whenever I pass this stall, I either don’t fancy a doughnut (strange person, I know) or they’ve sold out but they had doughnuts and I wanted one! The London Bridge appointment was to see a dentist, so I was not exactly going to eat this doughnut before I saw him and I was a good girl, I even carried it all the way round The Old Operating Theatre afterwards but by the time I was on the tube platform, heading home, I could not resist. I got the doughnut out the bag, they had had three choices, vanilla, caramel and honeycomb or blackberry jam and I had gone for the classic (well more classic) blackberry and oh my word, when I bit into that doughnut, it was more jam than doughnut. The hipster part of me, I admit, really want to photograph my doughnut at this point but if I had the jam would have ended up all over the platform floor and not in my tummy and this would have been wrong, so you’ll just have to take my word for it, how good this doughnut was. Sigh, the doughnut was lightness and sugaryness personified and the jam, oh the jam, it was more like thick blackberry puree really with a heavy hint of lemon and it was so, so good. Sadly (or perhaps good, for my teeth and my waistline), I don’t have to go back to see this particular dentist until next April, darn it, I need another excuse to go to London Bridge!

(After years and years and years of blogging on Lacer’s Life, I recently ran out of photo storage space, so I’m linking all my blog photos from Flickr now – oh it like going back to the noughties – anyway, there was a lot of photos this week, so if you’d like to see bigger versions, just click on the photos and it should take you to my Flickr account).

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Capital Ring – section 10 -South Kenton to Hendon (#30DaysWild 4)

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I did the next section of the Capital Ring today; South Kenton to Hendon. There’s a bit of walking through suburban streets but there’s two lovely green areas; Fryent Country Park and Brent Reservoir. Fryent Country Park was definitely a wow moment, as you walk through some scrubby trees and then suddenly you see the view in the photo above.

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The park is full of the most gorgeous long grass and wild flower meadows. There was a couple of hills to climb too. I did get hopeless lost twice in the park though 😁.

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On the way between Fryent and the reservoir, I also came across this lovely old graveyard.

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Brent Reservoir was lovely too, very calming, watching the boats sailing about.

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And then it was back to civilisation.

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(This will probably be my last Capital Ring walk for quite some time, as I won’t be fit enough after my op but I will be back!)

 

Capital Ring – section 9 -Greenford to South Kenton

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Amazingly, even though I only did section 8 just over a week ago, I got to do section 9 today! Section 9 of the Capital Ring is between Greenford and South Kenton. You start off by following more canals (nicer ones this time) and then head off to Horsenden Hill.

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Horsenden Hill is the first proper hill I’ve encountered in the three sections I’ve done so far and yeugh it was a shock to the system. It’s very steep (steep enough to have steps for a good chunk of the way) and I was breathing like I was about to burst a lung for most of it, although in my defence I’m not 100% sure my lungs have fully recovered from last year’s surgeries yet. I made it to the top of the hill, staggered to a bench and watched as first an old man with a cane strolled up the hill like he was strolling out to get the paper, then a man with a bike came up the hill and I was thinking “how on earth did he do that?” and then he got closer and I noticed he had a white beard! I maybe (1) shouldn’t be so ageist and (2) get fitter! The icing on the cake though was when, in the old people party that is obviously the top of Horsenden Hill, two old Polish guys strolled up the hill, smoking cigarettes! Now if they can do that on smokers’ lungs!

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The very top

Once recovered, I managed to find the correct path off the top of the hill (some clearer Capital Ring signs would have been good, this time I was navigating by a paper map and a written description and it was the written description that got me in the right direction). The path at the bottom of Horsendon Hill on that side is extremely muddy, the sort of mud that would do a hippo proud and there wasn’t really any way other than through it. So I was glad I decided to put my DMs and not my Converses on this morning!

Once out of Horsendon Hill, there is a large chunk of residential, typical London, urban streets to get through, ie not that inspiring but once through that and up another steep hill, you hit Harrow on the Hill, home of the famous Harrow school. And although this part of the section is also streets, Harrow on the Hill is rather pretty and it was interesting to see how the school has pretty much taken over the village (and yes, although it is still London, it definitely does have a villagey feel). You can feel the privilege oozing of it though.

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You leave Harrow on the Hill by walking down a steep slope towards Harrow’s sports pitches, the school has allowed Capital Ring access along a bit of their pitches and you head off over the only stile in the whole of the Ring. You then head off down a bit of a grotty path through another bit of wood, past a hospital and along yet another golf course (had enough of those, last section) before walking through some playing fields before “yay! there’s the tube station!”.

I liked this section, it was definitely better than the bit boring section 8, although my favourite section so far is section 7, although I may be biased about that, as I live nearby. This section is also 8.8km (like section 8) but I felt like I coped with it a bit better this time, even with all those hills. I don’t know when I’m going to do section 10, it has more hills and is even longer, eek!

5 things I liked this week -1.4.16

  1. A nice walk in the sunshine, I particularly liked this viaduct.

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2. This article about the discovery of the remains of a massive Bronze Age battle, which is completely changing how historians and archeologists view that era. They had thought that any fighting in the Bronze Age would be small skirmishes when one group stole someone else’s women and stuff like that but the remains discovered in Germany, show skeletons so densely packed, that thousands may have been fighting. And early research has suggested that the men would have come large distances to fight, suggesting a level of organisation that is surprising. The battle took place before written history, so there is no record of it and it has only been discovered thanks to the archeologists. Further research has suggested that there was a bridge in the area of the battle and they may have been fighting over that or one group trying to repel another at the only place an army could cross. I know that these were actual people who died but it does sound a bit Game of Thrones. I’m always so fascinated by the story behind these sorts of discoveries; what were they fighting about? How did the result of the battle change the area afterward? Did the ‘good guys’ win? Did everyone live ‘happily ever after’ or did some despot take over the area, making everyone’s lives miserable? What happened to the families of the men who died? How did they cope? It’s all that untold story, although I bet there was tales about that battle for years after. I think those men may have approved of being discovered again, so that their story could be told.

3. I loved this article about a species of mosquito that evolved in the London Underground, that is now so unique, it can’t breed with above ground mosquitoes (which is obviously what makes them a different species). Some scientists disagree though that the mosquitoes evolved in the Underground, as this species is found elsewhere in other underground places, so it may have been bought into the tube network but others think that those underground mosquitos from other places all descended from the Underground mosquitoes.

4. Peter Capaldi narrating an episode of Horizon on Anti-Gravity in full on sexy, mysterious voice. That man can say certain words, like universe, adventure and engineers, in a way that makes me go all a quiver. I can imagine him reading out a shopping list to his wife, ooh if I was his wife, we wouldn’t actually get out of the door to do the shopping 😉 But in all seriousness, it was quite an interesting documentary, it featured a lot of old guys who had worked or are currently working on anti-gravity projects and they were so enthusiastic, it made me kind of hope that we do have that breakthrough soon, so that they’re around to see it.

5. This story about Rademenesa the cat nurse is so cute!

Capital Ring – section 8 – Osterley Lock to Greenford

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I finally got to do the next stage of the Capital Ring (I had started on section 7, last month) today. I had planned to do it much, much earlier than this but it has been difficult to find the time, as not only are they quite long walks, it takes a while to get to the start point and back again. I would find a spot on my calendar that looked good and guaranteed, every date I picked, it rained heavily and more often than not the weather either side of the day I could do it on, would be absolutely fine! I became fixated by the long range weather forecast for Brentford.

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Anyway, the weather today is glorious, the only good weather day of the whole long Easter weekend. We had thought about doing something as a family but Boy Lacer wanted to go biking with daddy instead and Girl Lacer wanted to spend some quality time with her iPad practice her cello, so I used the opportunity to head out to Brentford (I don’t have a bike, so couldn’t have gone biking with Mr. Lacer and Boy Lacer).

The route starts out at Osterley Lock on the Grand Union Canal and to be honest, just as I hadn’t been too impressed with the last part of section 7, which had also been (obviously) along the canal, I wasn’t too impressed with the start of section 8. The route is muddy (god I’m such a softy) and the area the canal goes through isn’t exactly the prettiest but it does improve as it joins onto the River Brent. The route follows the river for quite a way, as it runs through several parks and golf courses. I did get a bit confused at one point, in one of the parks, as I lost track of where the Capital Ring signs were (they’re, most of the time, little wooden posts with the Capital Ring symbol and an arrow) and at another point I went totally in the wrong direction and had to retrace my steps, as I’d taken the wrong path at a junction which didn’t have a Capital Ring sign. In Capital Ring’s defence, if I had been following the written descriptions and the map on the Capital Ring website, more closely, I probably wouldn’t have got confused / lost but I had been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking those little wooden posts were everywhere.

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My favourite bit was this viaduct (if I’d been following the map more closely, I’d probably be able to tell you its name). I’d never really seen all the fuss about viaducts before but up close they are quite impressive things. Also, I saw a bird of prey (equally bad at bird names as I am at map reading), fly to and from the field and trees, several times, as I walked along the path in the photo.

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Section 8 is slightly longer than section 7 but ugh it felt much much longer. Not helped by the little bit of getting lost and also a detour at one point where I hit a busy street of shops (I’m not even sure where) and I walked up and up the hill with the shops on, thinking ‘there must be somewhere I can buy a snack from’ and finding the first suitable place a much further walk away than I had initially thought (I’ve never been more pleased to see a Greggs). I think as well, that section 7 felt considerably shorter, in that it was more my home turf and also there was more variation along the route, which keeps my interest up, whereas you see one suburban waterway / park, you’ve seem ’em all.

But I will continue! I see this very much as a walking around London because it’s there sort of thing. I have always been attracted to the sort of walking challenges which have a fixed, definite quality to them, such as walking coast to coast or the three peaks challenge. I may not be fit enough / have enough time or money for those two but I think I can manage the Capital Ring. I am not sure when I’m going to hit section 9 though; I think timewise, doing one section a month is probably reasonable, considering other demands on my time. I’m still waiting for my big op though and after that I’m not going to be able to walk anywhere for a while.

Starting the Capital Ring (stage 7)

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Heading towards the starting point (Richmond)

I haven’t done that much walking recently, my last proper walk was before Christmas, with my knackering, just under 6km walk to Kew and I’ve been using the bus far more than I should (instead of walking). Part of the problem has been, is that the weather has been miserable and there’s just no incentive to go and walk in one of the places I normally walk in because it’s all boring (so says the February weather). Walking a route I don’t know though, that’s different.

Living near the river in south west London, I’m familiar with the Capital Ring signs. The Capital Ring is a walking path that circles the green bits of outer London, to be honest, I’ve never been that interested in it, maybe a vague thought when staring vaguely at one of the signs that I should maybe do the ring one day but never anything definite or even that keen. But as I seem to have hit a rut with my walking and I do know that I always get a kick out of walking in new places, suddenly the Capital Ring seemed a much more interesting idea.

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More heading towards the starting point (Richmond)

The problem is, though, although I live relatively close to section 6 and the starting point of section 7, as I work my way around the circle, getting to and from the starting and finishing points will take more and more time. All the starting and finishing points are nearish public transport (the Capital Ring information is hosted by TfL for a start) but getting from one suburban part of London to another part of suburban London, right across the other side of the city, always takes ages, so that is going to make it difficult to find time to do this. But I’m going to give it a go, it will take me ages (probably way over a year), due to the time issue plus I have (hopefully) two more surgeries this year, so I won’t be able to walk anywhere for a while.

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The start of section 7

So, to the start; section 7 starts off in Richmond, by the river, it’s actually part of the same route I walked to Kew before Christmas, past Old Deer Park, which is currently a bit flooded.

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Old Deer Park

But the route crosses over the river at Richmond Lock.

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Crossing the river*, I won’t be crossing back again on the Capital Ring for quite some time.

Then it was along the river to Isleworth (looks like a nice pub, there on the left).

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Isleworth

Then leaving the river to head into Syon Park.

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Syon Park – not the most photogenic place in February

Once out of Syon Park there’s a bit of walking the streets of Brentford before reaching the Grand Union Canal.

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The Grand Union Canal

The remainder of section 7 followed the canal, past modern housing developments and onto a more secluded, rougher looking stretch, which is probably a bit nicer when it’s not February. I did like this old warehouse, though.

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Presumably, cargo was loaded on and off boats here

 

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Just before the end of section 7 (which was the other side of the bridge) – not somewhere I’d walk in the dark

The entire section was 8km, I had been a bit worried about tackling that distance, as that just under 6km walk to Kew before Christmas finished me off and I’m still building up my strength from last year’s surgeries but actually the 8km was fine. I think that walk to Kew had been so bad because most of the route is really monotonous, so it was more mental exhaustion in a way with that, whereas doing the Capital Ring was more varied and had the added challenge of making sure I didn’t get lost (which wasn’t too hard, as it was fairly well signposted). Of course, as well as the 8km, you also have the walking to and from the start and finish but it was okay. Although apparently section 7 is one of the easiest sections, I’ve noticed that the other sections are slightly longer.

 

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Obviously not to scale or even that accurate

 

I will be continuing but almost certainly not until next month, at the earliest, as it will be difficult to find time for the rest of this month. Continuing along the Grand Union canal in March is probably nicer anyway.

*I’m a Londoner, when I refer to the river, it is, of course, the river, the Thames.

An unintentionally long walk (Richmond to Kew riverside)

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I wanted to go to Kew today, when I was there over the weekend, I quickly glimpsed something in the gift shop that I thought would be a good stocking filler for the kids, so I thought I’d go back and get it (benefit of annual membership). It turns out that the thing I glimpsed was not quite what I thought it was, so I didn’t get it in the end anyway (although I did end up buying two cacti because they were too pretty to resist) but I’m getting ahead of myself. Kew opens at 10am and I was on the bus shortly after school drop off at 9am, it doesn’t take an hour for me to get to Kew by bus (well, it does sometimes), so when the bus was going through Richmond at 9.20am, I thought I might as well walk ….

 

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A scene in the recent Rivers of London comic was set underneath this bridge, so nice to see it in the flesh

My  original plan was to walk along the river for a bit but then head away from the river, basically back following the bus route till I got to Kew. But it was nice walking along the river, I’ve lived nearby for years and years now and walk along my home stretch of river all the time, yet had never walked along the Richmond stretch, so I thought I’d remedy that.

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I was having too much fun walking along the river, so when I came to the bridge I was meant to turn off at, I didn’t, instead figuring ‘well, there is an entrance to Kew on the river, I’ll walk to that’, never mind I’d never been to that entrance before and didn’t know exactly where it was.

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Weird, random structure the other side of the bridge, in Old Deer Park.

The river path between Richmond and Kew turned out to be on the nice side, but the mud, puddles, grey sky and semi naked trees got a bit samey after a while and it is a loooong walk. It was interesting though, the Thames between Richmond and Kew is a bit different from the Thames I know by Kingston. The river was low, so I was walking by sandy banks for quite a bit of it. The path is also interesting because as well as the river on your left hand side (if you’re walking towards Kew), there is a second river / big stream / ? directly on your right hand side, which follows along the path (and hence the course of the Thames) for quite a large chunk of the path. Which was interesting but it did mean that once I was on the path, I was on the path, as there was no suddenly deciding this is actually taking a bit long, I know I’ll cut towards the road, you can’t do that, not without just simply turning back and following the path you just came up anyway.

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Anyway, when I actually saw Kew, albeit on the other side of the stream / big fence, it was a sight for sore eyes because it at least meant I was getting closer.

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I still didn’t know where that entrance was though and Kew is a big place. So I walked some more and walked even more and eventually came across a car park, yay, have I ever been so glad to see a car park! I knew that Brentford gate would therefore be nearby, but I couldn’t find it! I certainly couldn’t see it from the tow path anyway. All I could see was what looked like a staff entrance. So, I walked some more and eventually got to Kew Green and went in through the gate there, which thankfully was handily close to one of the restaurants, where I immediately collapsed for a cake and a drink.

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I wasn’t planning on photographing my food, honest. I was just editing some photos I had already taken and I saw this through my screen as I did so and thought it looked quite good.

And as I’ve gone and photographed my food, I might as well describe it. Peyton and Byrne, purveyors of good but expensive museum / gallery food across London (which at least is better than horrible and expensive, like it used to be years ago), do the food at Kew. The cake was a minature Christmas Cake, it was quite nice, not too heavy on the fruit, moist and with quite a strong citrus tang but it was quite filling and I could only manage half of it (and yay me for actually leaving half of it, even 30 years later I still battle against that parental brain washing to eat up everything on my plate).

The walk, from when I got off the bus, to the restaurant at Kew was actually only 5.78 km, I’ve done longer walks in Richmond Park recently, I think it just felt longer because whereas in Richmond Park I normally do a circle, so it’s 6 odd km there and back, this was very much walking A to B and it felt like it was taking forever.