It was a lovely day yesterday, so I went for a 12 mile walk. I am eventually going to tell you all about this 12 mile walk, in more detail than you'll probably require, because that's how I roll. But to do this properly will take more hours than I have available, so you can have that report later, whether you want it or not. In the meantime I'm going to write about my day out from a completely different angle, and one which hopefully completely disguises what I did.
It was a lovely day yesterday, so I went for a 12 mile walk. This wasn't the plan when I woke up, indeed I had no plans at all at this point, so over a cup of tea I selected a "Thing To Do" from my great unwritten list. Of all the things I could have chosen, this felt like a suitably offbeat way to waste a gloriously sunny afternoon of opportunity. I wasted the morning away, and had a bath, and had another cup of tea, and finally at twelve noon I was ready to leave the house.
I took a couple of trains to a town in outer London, where I walked through the main shopping centre but didn't buy anything, not even a snack or a drink or anything. If anyone ever comes with me on any of these trips they invariably stop for liquid refreshment at this point, usually caffeine based, because they know I won't have organised my day out based on proximity to barista availability. But I was fine at this point, because I'd had two cups of tea for heavens sake, and there was only a 12 mile walk to go. One bus ride later, off I strode.
There were no shops in the village where I started, so far as I could tell, so it was just as well I wasn't hunting for a bottle of water. I should have brought one with me, to be honest, but I never remember, and my London 2012 bottle leaks anyway so what would be the point? I found the footpath I needed down a country lane, and set off south across the dung-strewn fields. There even was a damned excellent view of central London at one point, which was fortunate because I could point at it when the highly suspicious local farmer drove over to ask what on earth I was taking photos of.
Eventually the countryside faded out and, somewhat suddenly, the suburbs of London kicked in. There are no shops in these back streets, I suspect everyone drives to Tesco, although I understand I narrowly missed a Costa Coffee at one point because everywhere has to have one these days. There wasn't a footpath where I really wanted to go so I had to divert, past a parade of shops which had a newsagent but it was sponsored by The Sun, so I gave that a miss on principle. In the next playing fields I spied a cafe of sorts, which I was sorely tempted to pop into for liquid refreshment, but it appeared they'd closed two minutes ago, dammit.
By now I'd been walking for over five miles and was re-approaching the town I'd passed through earlier. This was packed with queueing traffic and reddening people in t-shirts, most of them milling around the main shopping centre for the opportunity to consume. It's the last place I'd want to spend an afternoon, an artificial conglomerate of pizza restaurants, big chains and cinema, so I eschewed the opportunity to join the masses and their frappucinos, and walked on.
In the retail park beyond the ring road, the only purchasing opportunities were clothing, white goods and a sit down meal, so my burgeoning thirst went unquenched. Never mind, I thought, I've brought a tube of Polo mints with me and one of those will see me through. I was then expecting to follow the main road for a mile except there was an unmarked footpath so I took that instead, which turned out to be an excellent move. However no liquid dispensaries were located along this route, indeed I passed nobody at all, just a stretch of languid river unsuitable for consumption.
The horses along the next section seemed to have enough water to drink, but I was now set on a southerly course somewhat distant from civilisation. A few dogwalkers schlepped by, but I was amazed by the solitude afforded by this lengthy London stroll. I'd now survived over six hours without a drink, which for you might be the end of the world but for me, even on a sultry afternoon, was merely par for the course. A locked gate forced another mile's detour, which my legs didn't especially enjoy, and took me no closer to anywhere selling bottled anything.
At the very end of my walk I spotted a conveniently-located McDonalds, except there was a bus leaving in two minutes so I waited for that instead, only for the driver to pull off from the stand and leave everyone standing. Muted curses ensued. At this point I thought I'd just head home and have a drink there, because how long could it take, the answer being a whole extra hour of slightly parched tongue. And once through my front door I gulped down a large glass of water, and made myself a cup of tea, and checked on the scales and noted that I now weighed three pounds less than I had that morning. It's not a recommended dietary option, the 12 mile dry walk, but I complete such journeys far more often than you'd think.
I shall tell you this story again tomorrow, but with the emphasis on geography rather than refreshment. My apologies that the proper report may be less interesting.