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

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Him outdoors

Found it again, finally
Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
I left the house today.

That shouldn't be worthy of a mention by and of itself, but unfortunately it is. Almost every weekend, and certainly those while Ruth's away, I spent almost the entire time in the house. Farting about on the internet, watching Sky Sports, or playing on the 360. And every time I do those things -- which I enjoy, don't get me wrong -- I chastise myself for wasting the plentiful opportunities Saturdays and Sundays afford me to get some exercise (because even more frequently than that, I chastise myself for being a fat fuck).

And so, today, after chatting with Ruth for a bit on Skype, I left the house and got some exercise. Specifically, I went out to give the Thames Down Link walk a bit of a go.

The route map, and other write-ups I've read, are all in the direction of Kingston to Box Hill. Muggins here knows better though, and decided to do it in reverse. I figured I didn't want to get to the end of the route a horrible sweaty mess and piss people off on the bus back, plus I coudn't really control what time I'd finish and didn't like the idea of waiting up to an hour for the bus home. So I got the bus there instead, "there" being Box Hill.

Plenty of other people had the same idea. It was a nice morning, after all. Though as it happens, despite my prediction only 2 other people got off at the same bus stop as me, one of them being the muttering drunk of indeterminate gender (by the end of the journey I was fairly sure it was a bloke).

That said, I got off one or two bus stops too late, right next to the biker pub at Box Hill. There were shitloads of bikers around, and I struggled to find the start of the route. I started off up the hill itself until I got about halfway and thought, hold on, this is really knackering and it might actually be too steep to come back down sensibly, unless someone rolls some cheese maybe. I descended gingerly and took out my two GPS phones to give them a run against each other. The Sony Ericsson c905 wouldn't even try to get a signal so it loses. The HTC TyTn II got a signal after a couple of minutes.

Into the biker pub car park. Which was the wrong way to go. So I crossed the road a 3rd time and consulted a map, which showed me where the start was: a bus stop's distance back towards Surbiton. Headed along the pavement to the junction where it was and realised my calves were hurting. Really hurting. Not good. I was really worried I'd fucked them by not really warming up, and heading half way up that hill a few minutes ago. But I also thought that they'd sort themselves out, and I persevered.

They killed for the next 40 minutes. I kept stopping to rub them, stretch them, rest them, try to make them stop hurting despite not really having a clue about how the body (especially mine) works. Oh dear. But, slowly, as the track levelled out and I adjusted my pace the pain went away and I started to feel decent: worked up a sweat, heart going a bit faster than normal, lungs nice and open, this was what I was after.

Most of the first 3 miles were uphill. I wasn't really prepared for that. I figured a route from a hill to a river would, well, be mostly downhill. Oh well.

I hadn't taken a map with me, because I don't own one nor a printer, and because everything I'd read said it would be well signposted. And so it was, for a while, until I got to Ashtead. The path became a pavement along a road full of really really posh houses, but then the signs disappeared. There were 2 bridleways, the signpost for one had a Thames Down Link sign pointing back the way I came, but there was nowt around showing me the way to go. Bollocks.

Thankfully I was near Ashtead town centre, which I know my way around. and I'd remembered that the route goes through Ashtead Common, in which I went the wrong way. Big style. There are loads of paths, I didn't find one displaying the logo, and I failed to follow the one I'd meant to stick to anyway. Unexpectedly, I emerged on the A243 to Malden Rushett. The 465 route. I was expecting to be in the Epsom/Ewell borders, near the entrance to Horton Country Park. Sigh.

This is where the walk stopped being fun really. Not that it matters too much -- I was out to get exercise for exercise's sake, not to see anywhere or anything special, but still...once I made my way back onto the route -- about an hour later, FFHS -- there were plenty of signs. About every 25 yards for a while, in a place where you really don't actually need them because there's not much choice. Thanks for that. Then, when I reached the loos and information centre I found (and photographed!) a big sign about the very walk I was doing, complete with YOU ARE HERE market and a route map.

As soon as I turned away from that sign, I went the wrong way. Spent the next half hour or more strolling along roads and around pavements. I suck SO MUCH at using maps. I did eventually find my way back into the park, but still no signs, and wandered along paths I thought were in the right direction. Once again I emerged nowhere near where I wanted to be. And that was it: time to do a Paula Radcliffe.

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