Really starting to feel the effects of the extra God-knows-how-much weight I'm currently carrying.
Today, by the time I got to Hatch End Station I needed a sit down, and that was before I'd even started walking properly. In Ye Olden Days, before I was pregnant, I used to clock in a good ten miles on these walks, and now I'm struggling with four. What has become of me?
I decided to go and sit in a cafe for a bit before starting the walk-a fact that would also ensure that I was able to use the toilet facilities before any major emergencies arose. Finally, I set off back onto the path and found to my distress that it looked like this.
What is this? A booby trap for local burglars? Worse was to come. There was an equivalent level of overgrowth further down the path, but instead of these relatively harmless white things, it was STINGING NETTLES. Frankly it's a miracle I managed to get through without having to be carted off to hospital by helicopter and treated for Acute Nettle Stings (is that a thing? Probably. Still, it didn't happen so probably best not to dwell on it). After this, walking through a field with horses in it-one of whom was literally RIGHT ON THE PATH-held no terrors for me.
Before long, however, I was beginning to feel the stirrings of another impending toilet dash, and had to stop again at a nearby garden centre (and use the toilets, that is. Wouldn't want you thinking I just cocked a leg up against the ornamental laughing Buddha statues. I do have an iota of respect). Thus, before I had walked a mile, I had already had to stop twice, catch my breath, put my feet up, have a coffee and enjoy the facilities. I can no longer call myself a Serious Hiker. Bear Grylls would probably facepalm me and refuse to speak to me. Not that I speak to him anyway, as I've never met him. Although I would quite like to, as apparently he owns a private island somewhere in Wales and has built a water slide on it, which I would quite like to have a go on. Although maybe not at the moment.
Urgh. Sorry just have to interrupt there to let you all know that I have just pulled A BIT OF TREE out of my hair for the second time since returning from today's walk. This is what happens when you are forced to walk down ridiculously overgrown paths.
Anyway, after leaving the garden centre I had to walk up a hill (knackered. Needed a rest at the top) and across yet another golf course. With the amount of golf courses on the London Loop, I honestly don't know how they all survive. Surely not that many people play golf? Although I suppose those that do pay about fifty thousand pounds a year in membership fees, so maybe that's how they all manage to stay afloat. Anyway, I liked this golf course, as when I gingerly attempted to walk across it, some friendly golfers showed me the best way to get across, whereas usually they are launching golf balls at me and practically chasing me with their nine-irons shouting "Get off you lower class vagabond! You haven't paid your fifty thousand pounds membership fees!"
OK maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Anyway here's a picture of the nice golf course, so you can see the nice view.
Yes that sign does say "public footpath." One of these days I'm going to waltz right up to a game and start cheering "come on you in the gingham tank top! Make it a hole in one!" just to see how they react.
The rest of the walk seemed to take absolutely ages, as they always do when walking at around the same pace as a group of soldiers slow marching behind the coffin at a state funeral, and involved a lot of woods, as they always do (see previous post for my thoughts on excess woodland action). Still, it seemed that I was getting closer and closer to home, passing this picnic spot from which I could see clearly the St George's Centre in Harrow, scene of many a disappointing trip to the Smallest and Most Pointless Topshop in The World that lies inside.
This would have been a far better photo if I had stood up and walked closer to the viewing point, but I was too knackered. If you have particularly amazing vision, you may spot Wembley Stadium, symbol of home, in this one. It's on the left or, as us Serious Hikers call it, the South (probably. Didn't get the compass out to check).
Anyway, hopefully you can definitely see it here, albeit I was using the zoom facility-such as it is-on the camera phone, a bit further on in the walk. In fact, the end point of today's walk was Stanmore Station, which felt like a luxury indeed, given that it's only a few trifling stops on the Jubilee Line away from home. Granted I had to traipse through the wholly unnecessary "Stanmore Country Park" to get there, but still, I can't see any of this walk getting any closer. It's all downhill from here.