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

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lost in Thames Ditton

I hate Thames Ditton. I just can't get to grips with it. The road layout has always confused me. So yesterday I tried to overcome that, by walking to Hampton Court in time I had spare prior to meeting up with Loz for his birthday duck-feeding session. A session Thames Ditton made me late for.
me feeding ducks

First mistake: taking the wrong road at Winters Bridge. It ended up meeting with the right road, but was an unwelcome diversion. Then in the town centre I went the wrong way, and finally as I was trying to remember/work out which direction Weston Green was I picked wrongly. Consequently I ended up back on Portsmouth Road. I didn't want to give up completely and from where I was I knew the way for sure: down to the Scilly Isles and right. I just didn't realise it was more than 2 miles :-( At the point on Hampton Court Way where the sign said it was 2 miles I sped up, and I'm fairly sure I managed to do it in 20-25 minutes. 6mph seems awfully fast to me but I was certainly bloody knackered and out of breath when I stopped to get the bus. This is the route I'd ended up going. Look at the fucking state of it. Still, 5 and a bit miles though. Walking from the Bishop to Harts and back plus a little detour in Kingston town centre probably made it 7 in total for the day.

When I was young, about 6 or 7 I think, my family went on holiday to a camp in Sussex called Sussex Beach. Not a Butlins or Pontins, not part of any chain (at least back then) IIRC, I think we went there probably 5 times when I was a kid. Anyway this one year, we were all feeding ducks at a pond, and I pointed at one. It bit me. A fucking duck bit my finger. Being much the same back then as I am now I made a right hooha about it. I got bitten by a duck! It didn't cause any genuine trauma and I've not had to have regressive hypnosis to recall this episode, but it has long caused amusement amongst my family and since then duck feeding has never been a big part of my life. Well yesterday, I fed some ducks. Go me! I'm sure my Kevin and dad will be very impressed when they learn of this.

Fuliguline activities dispensed with the rest of the day was considerably less healthy. Way too much to drink and eat led to a total twat of a hangover this morning. Thankfully birthday season is in recess now, 3 over 3 consecutive weekends to celebrate has been murderous.

So. Work tomorrow. As well as get rid of my hangover I really wanted to clear my head. A walk'll do that, especially a 15 mile one.
Hampton Court bridge

First things first, another stab at Thames Ditton. Actually, the first thing was going to the newsagent (and wondering what a "Newsagent provocateur" would be) to buy the Observer. No Sport Monthly though, FFHS. My Skinless t-shirt says "Trample the weak" on the back and the Sunday Times are reporting that that might actually happen, with a headline of "Doctors: Let us kill disabled babies". Nice.

Anyway. Thames Ditton. I'd looked at a map before leaving to make sure I got it right today. I got it wrong. Not as wrong as yesterday but still wrong. For crying out loud. But whatever.

I don't like Hampton Court any more. Streets might have been a battered up place and every so often full of racists and thugs but I have fond memories of many decent evenings there. And how good is a pub with a branch of Pizza Hut built in? But now it's Zizzi and luxury flats, next to it is some typically overpriced poncey bistro and it's all bollocks. Oh well. I wasn't hanging around anyway.

Just along from Hampton Court bridge is Molesey Lock. This is the second lock on the Thames, Teddington being the first, if you're counting from the sea inwards. I don't really know much about locks but there are a bunch of them about and for some reason I find them really nice to look at. Odder still considering my general distaste for most things waterfaring, but there it is. After that there's Hurst Park, then Sunbury, Sunbury Lock, and Walton. Turns out this stretch of water became my new favourite bit of the Thames. It's fantastic. The weather helped, what with it being clear and sunny and great today, but the views in Sunbury and Walton are awesome. And Sunbury Lock was being used too.
downstream at Sunbury Lock

Again like last week I didn't really have that much of a plan, but since I was heading away from London I had at least thought about a few exit places. An unofficial Thames Path site I'd looked at had made a section out of Hampton Court to Staines, a 12 mile trek that did cross my mind. But I'd already walked 3 or so miles to the start(!) so I was thinking of maybe Shepperton or Walton. By the time I got to the latter I needed to deal with liquidity issues, so headed inland from The Anglers and to the town centre.

Popped into Boots for some scran, by now it was around 3pm and I was thinking of heading back. Just wasn't really sure of the best way. Not sure I would be able to work out the route from the town to the station, train got discounted quickly. The idea of walking back through Esher didn't really appeal so bollocks, back to the river with me for some step retracing. Had to pause thanks to being intimidated by the swans which a guy in front of me had managed to tempt out of the water such that there were about 10 of them blocking the path. One of them nearly bit his hand off when he was taunting them rather than actually throwing food their way. Good! But once that hazard was dealt with it was plain walking.

Sunbury and Walton really are awesome. And facing the opposite direction while the sun goes down, the differences in views were subtle but noticeable. The Thames just seems to rule, really. I hadn't taken many photos on the outbound leg, inbound was better though. Especially the sunsets.

Got back to Hampton Court and there was a train in the station, leaving pretty soon I think, but NO. Thames Ditton was not going to defeat me. One last attempt must surely solve all my issues and so it proved: I turned off Hampton Court Way early enough, went down Summer Road and finally got my bearings. Now I need never go back there again.
sunset in Thames Ditton

A slightly different route back from Portsmouth Road to the house, during which my one-eared music turned into Alien by Strapping Young Lad. What a fucking song Shitstorm is. And you can legally listen to an mp3 of it here! I've listened to it a lot when angry or miserable in the past but today I was neither and the damn thing gave me goosebumps. Ended up listening to it 3 times between Winters Bridge and home. Such a fucking superb and amazing choon, irregardless of the mood I'm in, it seems.

So apparently that was more than 15 miles, and apparently 2600 calories burnt. Here's the entire route plotted on gmap-pedometer. I love that site. Mark found this alternative the other day but I'm staying loyal.

1 comment:

auswomble said...

Newsagent provocateur is a pun; agent provocateur is a posh undies store. Kylie did an ad for them a while back, very saucy.