Wednesday, 16 April 2014

London Loop: Uxbridge-Harefield a.k.a. Wandering around for ages in the blazing heat, looking for a bus stop

So I now know what Harefield is like, having actually visited such places as "Mount Pleasant," which one normally only sees emblazoned on the front of dire-looking buses which mostly do the rounds of grimly boring suburban streets.  And surprisingly, Mount Pleasant is actually quite pleasant, if not technically a mountain.  In fact, Harefield in general is lovely, though in mitigation I will say that 
a) the weather was very nice today, which may have made it look better and
b) there was still a generous smattering of enormous England flags flapping in gardens and Dappy from N-Dubz lookalikes talking about selling drugs on the bus (as in, they just happened to be discussing the selling of narcotics whilst sitting on the bus, not actually setting up shop on the back seat.  Harefield definitely would have gone down in my estimation if that were the case).

Anyway, today's journey started in Uxbridge, a place well known mainly for housing large numbers of my students, some of whom seemed frankly astonished to see me pounding the streets of their local shopping centre looking for the toilets (as usual).  I'm not sure whether the gasps of "Oh my God!" as I walked past were due to the fact that they could scarcely fathom that I had a life outside school and do not in fact reside in a cupboard marking books all through the Easter holidays, or whether they simply couldn't believe that I would actually spend my time in a shopping centre where the most interesting shop was a stall in the middle selling balls of wool in a variety of different colours.

Naturally, I hastily left Uxbridge as quickly as I could and headed off down what seems (judging by the last few sections of this walk) to be a never-ending stretch of canal towpath (probably because it goes all the way to Birmingham, although mercifully I was not planning on going that far).  Not much to report here, except that at one point someone who'd clearly had a bit too much of the Special Brew shouted out "What are you having?  A baby?" at me, in what I presume is the pregnancy version of being leched at by a leering sexist.  I answered that I hoped I was indeed having a baby, to which he demanded to know if said baby was a boy or a girl.  Speaking of which, I have noticed that large numbers of people tend to ask me the question "What are you having?" apparently with the assumption that I will know they mean boy or girl.  Not only is it somewhat presumptuous of them to assume I will know the answer to that, given that I can't actually see what's in there, but surely there are a range of answers that could be given to such an open line of questioning.  Next time someone asks me this I may say that I am having a gastric band operation, for example.  Or possibly that I have been impregnated by an alien, or am acting as a surrogate for Tian Tian the giant panda from Edinburgh Zoo.  Although if the latter was actually the case, surely I would not be so fat, as I have seen panda babies and they are SMALL.

Anyway, not much else to report, except that I think I found the remnants of Noah's Ark lying next to the canal.
Well it might be.  It looks more convincing than the boat-shaped rock I saw being passed off as the remains of the Ark on a Channel 5 documentary once.

In other news, there are some really nice parts of Hillingdon (who knew?) including this sailing club in Denham, which I admit you can barely see through the trees in this picture, but it was the only spot where there was a seat.  And I'm pregnant goddamit.  I need to sit down.  
And look at this lovely tree, complete with idyllic thatched cottage.
Group of chavs to the left peering at a car just out of shot.

The biggest disappointment of the day was that after a thoroughly pleasant walk where I had not been desperate for the toilet even once, and had only spent the first half of the walk urgently seeking something to eat (at one point even passing food-related flotsam, such as discarded fast food containers and a fleeting glimpse of a packet of oatcakes through the window of a passing barge started to look appealing.  After all I am pregnant, and therefore allowed to eat large pieces of chocolate cake whilst watching Secret Eaters without shame) I then spent half an hour wandering the streets of Harefield looking for a bus stop.  

I totally should have got a lift with the small child who thundered past on one of those pony trap thingys people are always racing on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.  Sadly he was going far too fast for me to whip out the camera and take a picture of this marvellous moment, where I thought I might get a cameo in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, and have to christen my baby Prince Precious Paddy Doherty Excalibur Michael Jackson Humpty Dumpty the Third and dress him in the biggest rhinestone-studded Christening gown ever made, and then get drunk in a limo whilst throwing cake around and feeding the baby Lambrini in his bottle to celebrate the momentous event.

But anyway, it appears that I am not destined to be a traveller, and instead I found the bus stop (eventually) after someone thoughtfully pointed out that it might be on the main road rather than in the middle of a car park, and hence I returned home safely.  

Until the next instalment of my thrilling round trip of the London hinterland.

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