I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

All the way home

Good entry this one. Boring, no photos, and loads of text. You lucky lucky people.

So, last night: with music to my ears (albeit with broken headphones, FFHS) and nothing to do, plus a weather forecast saying it was the only evening this week without rain, I walked home. All the bloody way. 12.6 miles.

See yell.com has a walking route calculator thing. You can shove in a couple of postcodes and say you want to walk rather than drive, and instead of the perhaps more sensible response of "how far?!? fuck off!" it actually tells you the route. I thought from the office to home was 18 or so miles but it turned out to be just over 12. I had a bit of a fight using gmap-pedometer 'cos I didn't trust the route yell gave me to be the shortest, turns out it pretty much is though. How dare it know better than me, bah! But still I failed to follow it exactly, through a combination of pig-headedness, road/area preference, and forgetfulness.

First things first, office to Piccadilly Circus. Small distance, horrid walk at 6pm. Too many people around. Just nasty as hell. As soon as I got onto Piccadilly itself though it got better, presumably because people are scared of getting poisoned through being in close proximity to that sushi restaurant where the Russian spy got fucked over the other week.

First deviation from yell's route came at the end of Piccadilly. I didn't want to walk along Knightsbridge, plus I still wasn't convinced it was the shortest route. Instead I wanted to head through Belgravia towards Sloane Square and get on the King's Road at source. I managed the last bit but not without getting a little lost inside Belgravia, ending up on Sloane Street which was rather surprising. Turned out it wasn't a massive diversion though.

The King's Road, and New King's Road, is bloody long. It also fluctuates greatly between posh and lovely and grim and nasty. At one end there's Sloane Square and Peter Jones and a bunch of mews, in the middle there's a knife amnesty bin next to Tesco, ... I love London. I love the way the whole place is a mixture of ace and grim separated by pretty much fuck all. Pick the wrong direction from any given place and you can be somewhere shitty inside 5 minutes. Start somewhere shitty and walk for 5 minutes and you'll find tree-lined roads or a nice park or a river or little square or whatever.

Anyway. At the end of the New King's Road is Putney Bridge, and just as I was walking down the side of the station I got a call from the Frankenkarma's creator. Not sure what he was most interested in checking up on, my progress or his baby's ;-) I was doing better than it was... not 'cos it was broken though, only because the battery had run out and my headphones were fucked. Mind you this had made answering the phone a lot easier 'cos I was listening to XFM on it, playing the same old fucking shit AGAIN.

Putney's where the walk gets rubbish. I really like the centre of town, Belgravia, the King's Road, even the New King's Road in a way, certainly from Parson's Green to the bridge, and I don't mind Putney High Street (which was the scene of my first calorie stop; prawn mayo sarnie, sausage roll and a diet coke please mate ). But from there on...

As it goes the aforementioned had predicted I'd give up on the trawl up Putney Hill, not necessarily through fatigue but because it's a shit walk. He's right 'n all. Walking along the A3 through Roehampton Vale isn't my idea of fun and isn't something I'll be doing again in a hurry. In fact the nasty stretch was a good 4 miles all told. Bah! How disappointing that the entire route home isn't glorious.

Oh yeah. On the A3 there was a road sign saying "Kingston 4". About a mile later there was one saying "Kingston 3". And about a mile later, at the foot of Kingston Hill (where I was coming off the A3) there was a pedestrian/cyclist sign saying "Kingston 4". FUCKERS.

Kingston Hill is long. Not that steep, but fucking long. It never feels that long on an 85 or K3 but that's probably because they're going along at 40mph or so. As I walked I kept thinking, I know this bit, the crest is soon.. and it never was. Well obviously it was, after a while, but a lot longer of a while than it was meant to be. But it was informative, in so far as I'd never realised before just where the border between SW and KT was -- and I'd never have placed it halfway up the hill near the Uni.

Kingston Hill is something else too: very very boring. But I had Radio 1 on 'cos XFM was just pissing me off way way way too much, and they were playing a variety of stuff most of which I'd never heard of. Hurrah! And then along came Tim Westwood too! Hurrah!

Trouble set in near the tail end of Kingston Hill. By the time I'd reached the top I was knackered by the climb but determined to carry on, but as soon as the descent kicked in my mind wandered toward the possibility of jumping on a bus. There were Surbiton buses now, see. I could just get a K3 home. At Norbiton I could get a K1 or K2 also. And if I went into Kingston town centre I had even more choices... in the end the only thing that happened in Norbiton was I stopped for more liquids. Lucozade hydro-active FTW!

As it turns out Kingston was the scene of my second yell deviation. Not through choice this time, I thought I'd remembered the route properly but after checking it this morning I hadn't. But even given that, and my earlier Belgravia shenanigans, the full route was only 0.4 miles longer. Stepped in the door dead on 2130 which meant I'd taken exactly 3.5 hours. That means I averaged 3.6mph, about 0.6mph faster than normal but with liberal adjustments for calorie stops, hills, and traffic/road crossing (virtually none of which were present on any of the river walks) I reckon I must have walked at 4mph pretty much the whole way. Go me! And stuff!

Anyway, that's that then. I can walk home on a weeknight and feel virtually no ill-effects the next morning. My feet are a tiny bit sore but my legs aren't. Not that I plan to do it regularly mind, but it's nice to know it's possible. It'll do as a contingency plan for next time the trains get proper fucked up ;-)