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

Sunday, September 14, 2008

blimey, a walk

After getting a prod on twitter I managed to do today what I've failed to do so many times this year, and drag my sorry carcass away from the TV/xbox/laptop on a Sunday to go for a walk. Turned out to be a very good idea 'n all, for a number of reasons.

Not that I hadn't spent a bunch of time in front of the TV, xbox, and laptop this morning anyway. Got up with a vaguely woolly head and did a bit of coding unrelated to work, a habit I've surprisingly fallen back into after a 4+ year hiatus. More of that later, possibly; I'm undecided whether to ever launch or publish anything, the main motivation is just to learn how to do python well so I can do my job better.

Aaaaanyway. Coding on hold I put the xbox on to play Death Magnetic a bit more (what an album!) but left meself on Yahoo! Messenger so I could chat to the still-in-Pakistan missus when she popped up. Pop up she did, apparently with a very bad hangover, and she soon went back to bed after not much more than a quick hello. After that the twitter prod happened so I showered, sorted my GPS and camera (k850 in flight mode! hah) out, put a spare shirt in me bag and buggered off towards the Thames, destination Richmond.

I didn't go to Richmond. I did this:

Surbiton, Kingston, Home Park, Thames Ditton at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

Hmm. That's not a bad embeddable widget (the other one everytrail do is worse). Anyway, I took the familiar route from home to Kingston Bridge, which on a day like today always reminds me, as if I need reminding, why I love living here. It's just such a nice view and walk. But I wasn't really hanging around to savour it, this was a very workmanlike trip, done to take advantage of the nice weather as an opportunity to do something vaguely healthy. I had my mp3 player on very loud, a bag on my back to both make sure my posture was OK and to provide some extra weight (the dual aim being to get some upper body benefit as well as lower body, and to just generally use up a few more calories than normal), and I was keeping up a pace that meant after just a mile or so I could feel me shins saying hello.

Mind you, it would have been really stupid to be out and not take any photos at all. I took some duplicates (ie, I've done this bit quite a lot) around the river and at Kingston Bridge -- including a pretty poor panoramic effort -- before diverting off a familiar track and into Home Park (which seems to also be called Hampton Court Park).

Oh, wait, I already skipped over the whole didn't-go-to-Richmond thing. Yeah. I got to Kingston Bridge and decided it was a daft idea. For one, I don't actually like Richmond. I do like locks, which means Teddington Lock would have been good, but I fairly recently walked with Ruth to Richmond Park which involved trekking as far as Ham along the river. But even with the spare shirt (designed to change into at my destination, out of the super-sweaty one I'd be in at that point) I didn't relish the idea of finishing up that far away and having to get a couple of buses back. Also I was sort of time-bound, in that I wanted to get back in time for QPR vs Southampton (4-1! Come on!) on the box at 4pm. So, all those factors combined to make me decided on a new route: from Kingston bridge, back on the other side to Hampton Court and then a train to Surbiton and home.

Turns out I went to Richmond, though, sort of. On the north side of Kingston Bridge there's a sign saying "Welcome to Richmond Upon Thames". Sure, it's only the borough, but, meh... along the river towards Hampton Court I spotted a sign which piqued my interest (the royals are going to kill a bunch of animals), discovering in the process of photographing it that I was next to a gate into Home Park that I hadn't previously known about. I knew there was a golf course there, and that in that area there was also a park, but I didn't know there were a few public entrances. Having stumbled upon that one I diverted my route.

Christ, was I ever glad I did. Not that I don't like walking that stretch of the Thames, but I've done it a few times and new things are always better than old. Better still, there were mushrooms and deer! The 'shrooms were pretty cool, but the deer took me by surprise, almost literally. I first spotted a few wandering around the car park of Hampton Court golf course, and then there were 3 just sitting on either side of the path I was walking along. Being a huge wouss I avoided walking between them, but did use poor digital zoom to get a snap of them once I was a safe distance beyond.

Home Park does actually seem to mostly be a golf course. It's quite boring. Oh, but before the deer I had gone past a lake where loads of blokes were, I think, racing radio controlled yachts. They were certainly using them, and a little portable tannoy thing was counting down 60 seconds until the start of something. I didn't hang around to see what it was.

Jubilee Gate was quite useful because it gave me a you-are-here moment, and showed me I was on the right path to one of the exit/entrances which is right near Hampton Court -- and that I could still avoid walking alongside the river. After crossing a couple of fairways I headed up a big corridor of trees towards a fairly majestic gate with the palace behind it. The gate was shut. It's shut from April 1st to the end of September. Toss. But it said I could go to ... Jubilee Gate, and walk along the river, to get to the Palace. Ah well. I hadn't actually expected to find a gate directly into the Palace gardens there, and am glad I haven't been there by myself since Ruth wants to take me there anyway. But it did annoy me that I had to backtrack.

If any of the above is interesting that's quite a surprise, and it's also quite sad, because that's about it. The rest of the walk was, obviously, along the river to Hampton Court bridge, then an ice cream before changing my mind (again) about the train and treading the roads through Thames Ditton and back home. Really nothing special, and that's why the pictures end as well. Still, 9.2 miles at 3.4 miles an hour is decent, in fact my brother had suggested I try to do a round 10 miles in 3 hours and that's the pace I managed, if not quite the distance.

Back home in plenty of time for the game. Got a call from Ruth telling me it wasn't and isn't a hangover; she's proper ill. :-(

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