Thursday, 18 June 2009

Putney Bridge to Osterley – (Surrey/Middlesex) – 18/06/09 – 8.5 Miles – Myself.

So this would be my third time along this part of the Thames, in just over a month. The last time was with IVC heading in the opposite direction from further out at Richmond, and before that it was with Helen in this direction only not so far out at Hammersmith. Yet having joined the towpath at Putney Bridge I was disappointed to see the ice cream van from last time out was missing, so obviously not everything round these parts can be relied on (incidentally the Football ground in the second photo, is of course Fulham F.C. of the Premier League, for those non-londoners who follow this blog).

The morning was around about 20 degrees, sufficient to just wear a t-shirt (although it did start to get cooler as the walk wore on).The towpath itself was actually quite busy for a Thursday morning. As such there was the usual cyclists, a large number of female dog walkers, lots of joggers with a ratio of about 80/20 female/male, a fair amount of female walkers, and one male walker (er well that would be me then). Actually this is not the first time I have noticed this phenomena, having also felt rather stand-outish walking through Wimbledon Common on my own once last year. So as I marched along I couldn’t help speculating on the reasons for this. Is it that woman are more health conscious, or have more time on the hands during a weekday morning perhaps ? Or is it something of slightly more concern, namely that there are now social constraints/suspicion attached to any male out walking on his own, along anywhere that doesn’t constitute a high street or residential area ? Answers by email to …………… (well I will set up an address some time for this survey).

What is a problem with the Thames Towpath is that given how busy it is, and hemmed in you are as well, there is nowhere you can answer a discreet call of nature if you happen to get caught a little short. Well I mean it wasn’t a major problem so to speak, but that t-shirt had left me a little exposed to the elements. However I certainly wasn’t going to go behind some barely concealing bush (exposing something else to the elements) only to leap out again onto some female jogger, and thus reinforce whatever prejudices that might exist regarding male walkers on their own. However just past Mortlake Brewery and before Chiswick bridge there is a quiet spot where few seem to tread. Thus the back of some ‘disused’ warehouse provided a concealed doorway that was stacked high with empty lager tins, so that seemed an appropriate spot to resolve the issue.

Crossing over Kew bridge I spotted the newly set up eco-village (see photo) that featured on the local news last week. I had actually seen it before, the last time I was over here with IVC, but then I didn’t know what it was. Now this was the second time I had done Kew Bridge to Osterley on the Middlesex side (the last time with Helen), and unlike before I was able to relax this time and trust in the ‘Thames Path’ signs to guide me. There is however an awful lot of going back out and back in between the path and the road, which does somewhat add to the overall distance. However once I picked up the Capital Ring signs and the Grand Union Canal, I was very much on the home straight.

Now I have to say I was going at a very quick pace today (even for me), to the extent that I am sure there have been times in the past (not many y/hear) that I might have actually jogged slower than my walking pace today. Anyway I did the whole shebang in exactly two and a half hours, which was quite handy really considering that this is a working day.

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