We haven’t done much walking this year, what with one thing and another so a trip to Barnes in South-west London was just the ticket. Two friends, Dog, the Textiliste and me. And an orange. I forgot about the orange until we were on the train home. It was that sort of walk.
The joy of being a Londoner is the amount of public transport – tubes, trains, buses, trams, river boats, bicycles – we are spoilt. And having just downloaded the latest version of Geoff 6.0 with enhanced surgical supports, I had my oyster card that gives me free range on the first four services London-wide, I was bouncing. The bonus is that I got to chose the route both where we walked and how we got there – I love the fact we can approach from several directions.
Anyway we emerged at Barnes Bridge railway right on the Thames. It is tidal here and, joy, the tide was out so we could beachcombe the first half mile.
Dog had ingested polonium or something so he glowed while the rest of us sought out some hag stones amongst the grimy shingle – Thames beaches are grubby affairs, even if the water quality these days is a notch or two up from ‘instant stomach pump’.
Back on the embankment we circled the meander, glimpsing Chiswick on the north bank opposite.
‘North’ is a relative term since the meander means that at any one point you could be facing in any one of a dozen directions.
The path cuts through woods and but for the occasional cry from a cox as a well drilled rowing boat hurtled past the noises were left to the birds.
Beyond the apex of the bend we passed under Chiswick Bridge – a formidable and beauteous piece of cast iron and on to the Harrods Depositry.
Harrods for those who don’t know is this large, essentially overpriced department store that pulls in the tourists.
This place was its warehouse for many years, built by the same architect to mimic its central London brother. Now it is flats and equally overpriced.
Shortly after we cut in from the river alongside the Wetlands centre; these reservoirs are now major wildfowl sanctuaries and open to the public; sadly they aren’t dog friendly so we walked beyond wondering if the many groups of half term freed children were appreciating what they were to see as they were dragged out of the their cars by equally mewling parents.
Beyond the centre, urban Barnes re-emerges in the guise of Barnes High street.
The shops are trendy, verging on the twee, you can spend the GDP of Togo on outfitting little Amulet and her sibling Tungsten in Finnish mohair and yoghurt jodhpurs and you can certainly eat you weight in Carrot and Quinoa cake. We had coffee.
Some angel smiled on us as, skirting the ponds we made it to the station as a train pulled in. But, as with angels everywhere, this one had a snarky streak because, on changing at Clapham Junction, we found all the trains from Victoria were cancelled for an hour, due to a recurring lack of drivers. Either the announcement was on a loop or aliens were abducting ASLEF members to carry out egregious but wholly warranted experiments to see if any of them have the compassion gene….
At least I had my orange…