Slip slidin’ away

Sunday 20 December 2009

Well so far you’d be forgiven for thinking that these blogs are more weather than walking! (In my defence as well as the English obsession for talking about the weather there is always the fact that whether it’s sunny, raining or whatever the weather has a huge impact on us walkers.) Anyway this week it’s snow and ice. Britain is in the icy grip of winter, the blanket of snow covering the country is accommpanied by all the attendant irritations of traffic jams, train cancellations and black ice. (We have had some spectacular sunrises though.) And of course everybody seems to be getting very excited over the possibilities of a white Christmas. (Conveniently forgetting the aforementioned traffic jams, train cancellations and black ice.)

With our breath steaming in front of our faces Clare and I stayed south of the river but headed to Blackheath. I’m leading a walk there in a coupla weeks for the Metropolitan Walkers (for details see below) and wanted to check out a coupla crossing points. It was a slow careful trudge down to the station but all the trains were running OK. Blackheath is very much my hometown – I was born and lived down the road in Lewisham and went to school here.  So we approached the heath by the circuitous route of The Glebe and Heath Lane. Aah Heath Lane – it runs by the side of my old school (which is just a big building site now) but walking it was a big mistake today. You have to pay a price for nostalgia and I paid mine mostly with hurt pride. (In that pride coming before a fall sort of way). I was flamboyantly waving my arms around explaining where the playground used to be but forgetting about the icy conditions. Next thing I know I’m on my arse with only the cartoon music missing as I theatrically (and unglamourously) left the ground. If that’s not bad enough getting up from the ice is always problematic in gaining traction without keep falling down again. Still it makes for good comedy. Now who do I write to about the lack of gritting?

Before reaching the heath – we’re nothing if not stubborn – we diverted round Pagoda Gardens to look at the Blackheath Pagoda. It’s great. We ‘buffalo gal’d it’ round the heath to The Paragon and stood around for a good 15 minutes watching the outdoor pantomime of cars trying (and mostly failing) to turn right and sliding unceremoniously back down the hill. We decided not to follow the public footpath through Morden College due to the conditions underfoot. Indeed we gave up the whole venture shortly afterwards due to the weather conditions. (Visions of hip replacement surgery kept popping unbidden into my brain.)

We backtracked home via a bus and train only to be back in Blackheath again that evening to see Glenn Tilbrook in concert at the Blackheath Halls. A former frontman of Squeeze (though that’s probably not the correct terminology as they played some gigs this year), Glenn is a local lad about my age. I’ve seen him here at least once before. And in that 1 good 1 bad way – it’s good they now sell Meantime Wheat in the bar but it’s definitely bad they provide seats in the auditorium these days. He was supported by the lead singer of the Raglans whose set was unremarkable except for a fairly decent version of The Faces’ Ooh La La. Glenn Tilbrook was pretty good but not spectacular.

After this walk (and after Christmas) I was saddened to hear of the sudden death of David Taylor MP. He died from a heart attack whilst out walking on Boxing Day with his family around Calke Abbey in his constituency of North West Leicestershire. I had the great pleasure of going on a summer walk with him a couple of years ago in the same area. He was by all accounts a stalwart local MP and I can attest first hand that he was both a champion for walkers in and out of Parliament and excellent company. He will be missed.

More information:

The 8 or so mile Blackheath to Woolwich via Shooters Hill walk starts at Blackheath station at 11 am on Sunday 10 January 2010 – all are welcome.

Listen to:

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