Have I mentioned that I hurt my back? If you have had even the loosest dealings with me over the past couple of weeks then the answer is undoubtedly YES! I will take any and every opportunity to bitch and whine about my clapped out body and how if it was a car it would be written off and scrapped. It is something of a tradition amongst the male Stanleys to have a bit of a moan up about our ailments, and it is one of those things that makes me realise I am more like my Dad than either of us would care to admit!
Anyway this week Felix had enough of my pitiful bleating in the morning and sent me off to the doctors. The doctor was a lovely chap who apologised for laughing at how I got injured, and then poured petrol onto my flames of hypochondria by referring me for an x-ray with a “possible compression fracture” – so now I fully expect the x-ray to appear in the daily papers with the words “miracle survivor of snowboarding horror crash”.
…which is an elaborate way of saying that I didn’t feel capable of a long walk this weekend so we decided to go to Weybridge and write the directions that link the Wey Navigation up with the Thames Path as part of The Games Way. If all was well then we’d get the train to Hampton Court and also write up the bit that goes from Hampton Court through Kingston, and across Richmond Park to Putney.
Conversation for the day was mostly about Angora rabbits, sheep and our future smallholding. There was also plenty of anthropomorphising the many robins, blackbirds, pigeons, ducks, geese, swans, dogs, Shetland ponies and deer that we passed on our way, with the occasional grunt at humans.
If you walk along many towpaths the chances are you’ll be familiar with the fondness pigeons have for nesting on the rafters under bridges, and the mild exhilaration at successfully walking under such a bridge without being shat upon. Just down from Coxes Lock is a railway bridge and it is moderately populated with pigeons. At this time of year the babies are learning (slowly) to fly, and unfortunately one of them had ditched into the river and was fast learning that swimming is not so easy without webbed feet and oily feathers. Mummy Pigeon was stood at the side encouraging her baby to get across, but it was sinking so I fished the poor sodden thing out of the river. Here it is:
Felix donated a hanky to the cause and I dried him off a bit and tucked him into my jumper for 10 mins or so to warm up as it was shivering and frankly far too placid for its own good. Once it had warmed up and was getting a bit restless we put it back up under the bridge, over the path rather than the river, and out of the way of inquisitive dogs! Hopefully it will be okay and I will become some kind of folk hero among pigeonkind.
Our walk continued in the sunshine and we soon wiggled through Weybridge and found ourselves on the Thames Path. It was about a mile back to the train station or 4 miles (ish) to Hampton Court. As the painkillers were working and I knew of a good lunch spot a mile or so along the path, we decided to carry on walking. There are two pubs next to each other, The Swan (a Youngs pub) and The Anglers, which has gone upmarket since I was last there and looked busy so we thought we’d try it out. We were lucky to get a table, this young family weren’t so lucky, but got lots of attention:
The Thames Path is lovely along here and there were lots of spring flowers on show, keeping the bees busy while we fantasised about owning different houses on the oppsite bank.
Molesey Lock is clearly a highly desirable location for ducks, geese and swans. They tolerate the poor throwing efforts of kids in buggies and enjoy an abundance of breadcrumbs and dropped ice cream cones. Pigeons and jackdaws masquerade as waterfowl and nobody seems to mind.
A few minutes later we left the river and walked uphill to the foot of Richmond Park. The Games Way route goes in at Kingston Gate and leaves via Roehampton Gate so we get to walk right across the park with all its deer…
…and somewhat randomly shaped trees!
Richmond Park is remarkable for many things – for me there is something totally incongruous about a herd of deer with tower blocks in the background. Jumbo jets slowly grumble their way across the sky to Heathrow and parakeets squawk abuse from the treetops while squirrels squabble on the ground and up the trunks.
We walked past The Priory, temporary home and rehab centre to the rich and famous on the way to Putney. We also passed by the place where Marc Bolan died, and there is still a shrine there in his memory. Not very glam I’m afraid – I think he would like more glitter.
…and then a few minutes later we were back on the Thames at Putney Bridge and the walk was over. We did about 18 miles in all, and you guessed – I have been moaning about my poor back ever since. Felix is such a lucky girl
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