Sunday, 15 September 2013

London Loop Part 4: Hayes-Hamsey Green: A.K.A. Shock discovery that food does not always originate in supermarket

"BUT WHERE IS PART 3?"  I hear you wail.  "WHERE IS PART 3?"

The answer is I walked it last week, but I was so knackered from the experience, I failed to write it up.  Or maybe I was just procrastinating.  Either way, I hold my hand up and admit that I am rubbish.

This is a shame, because Part 3 was actually somewhat more exciting than Part 4.  The most exciting thing that happened on Part 4 was this.  I kid thee not.

Mushrooms grow in fields shocker.

Yes, it's true.  They don't all come ready-made in sealed plastic packets from Tesco.  It's a good job this photo was taken when it was because one second later, I bent down to stroke the one on the left to check it was a real mushroom and not some puzzling mirage in the middle of an otherwise fairly innocuous field, and I BROKE IT.   Wracked with guilt at my accidental destruction of a part of the disappearing British countryside, and terrified that at any moment an angry farmer with a gun might come chasing after me in his tractor, I ran away, briefly pausing to look back and wonder if perhaps I should pick the mushrooms and take them home to have for dinner with a nice bit of pasta.

Also, I reasoned, if they turned out to be toxic I might be ill and not have to go into work tomorrow.

Or they might be hallucinogenic, and the remainder of my evening could be spent being chased through imaginary fields by giant mushrooms rolling on bales of hay.  Which could be fun I suppose.

Somewhat disappointingly, after consulting my "Mushroom Book" (this is not a joke.  I actually have one) it turns out that according to celebrity chef and person-in-charge-of-Carluccio's-presumably Antonio Carluccio, these mushrooms are of a variety that are both "versatile" and "good to eat" and neither poisonous not hallucinogenic.   I COULD HAVE EATEN THEM AFTER ALL!  And I was feeling a bit peckish at the time.  I am now trying to get over the disappointment at not having eaten a real wild mushroom for probably the first and last time ever and of buying pitiful Tesco mushrooms to have with my pasta instead by thinking about all the dogs and/or farm animals that must surely have weed on them at some point.

The other notable highlights were as follows:

I walked on a path "trodden on by Saxons" (according to the guidebook)

I can't see any Saxons.  Nor does there appear to be much of a path, just a bit of slightly worn grass, but I am trying to imagine hordes of Saxons with their axes and Fred and Wilma Flintstone-esque outfits trudging up here to go to church every Sunday, or every time they were trying to take sanctuary after robbing a Saxon bank or burning someone's cakes.

I had a panoramic view of Central Croydon.

Who wouldn't want to visit this place rising out of the drizzle?

Now might be the time to point out something which I hadn't previously realised.  Croydon is MASSIVE.  It's like someone stole Reading and plonked it in the middle of South London.  And the Manchester Metrolink goes all the way there.  That's how important a civic centre Croydon is.  Yes, the very same Metrolink that once fell off a bridge and crashed into Coronation Street, wiping out several peripheral characters.  THAT one.

I saw some shining examples of the eternal symbol of South London: radio masts.  Or, as I once heard these referred to by an American tourist on the London Eye, "the Eiffel Tower."  Odd that when spotting the Eiffel Tower from another country, one never sees the sea which separates France from England.  Perhaps there has been a huge tectonic movement which has somehow passed unnoticed and the English Channel has dried up.  I'm sure I saw something like this happen on BBC2, although thinking about it, they might have been talking about millions of years ago.  Millions of years ago, when Jesus was around.  And Moses.  And seas used to part randomly and then move back and stuff.

Anyway, herein lie the highlights of my day out walking, which I must stress started in Hayes in Kent, not Hayes as in "Hayes and Harlington," in case anyone thinks I literally walked half the circumference of London in one day.  Only another five days of walking until I actually reach Hayes as in Hayes and Harlington, and have a slightly shorter journey home.