Out of London
Trip Start May 08, 2011
3Trip End Ongoing
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The air is full of pollen as I started the walk out of London. Down the Mall - closed to traffic for the day - the air stings the eyes as it blows across from St James' Park.
There is a crowd outside Buckingham Palace - watching the changing of the Guards. The scaffolding and fences are still up from last weekend's royal wedding - there are plenty of tourists thronging around.
The road up to Hyde Park Corner is also closed to traffic - several joggers and cyclists on Boris bikes are taking advantage of it
Across the junction and into Hyde Park it is a typical spring / summer day. A brass band is playing over the banking to my right, and there are teams playing football and other groups learning to rollerskate.
Kensington High Street is full of shoppers when I get there - quite a few of the shops have changed since the last time I was here.
At Shepherd's Bush I join Uxbridge Road at about 1300, I can follow this road to my destination now. I have to check the map to make sure I am taking the right fork in the road, otherwise it will add kilometers to my journey. I've decided to try not to buy from shops en-route and not to use the maps on my phone where possible - so that when I get further out into the country I make the right preparations. It seems a little over-the-top for today, as there are shops along the whole route so far.
The floodlights of Loftus Road poke over the houses to the right - QPR were promoted to the Premiership just yesterday.
The road changes character slowly - with people less busy as they walk along the paths and fewer cars travelling back and forward. I stop to have a bit of lunch just south of Acton. The pidgeons look fat and full and are pecking at dried out bread crusts. Just after I leave the small park I discover that Acton Park is just around the corner. D'Oh - would have been a better spot for lunch.
The sun is out in full force as I'm walking along. My left arm is taking the full brunt of the rays - suntan spray will be on the list to go into my backpack next time out.
An hour or so later I pass a pub called the Viaduct - I doubt it has been around since Roman times. Just past it there is a nice park with a view of what is now a rail line but may have been a viaduct at some point in the past.
I pass throught Southall which is an amazing experince on a Sunday afternoon. It almost feels like I have taken a trip out to asia - lots of colourful shops and plenty of fresh fruit displayed on the road side.
Scattered cloud now intermittently shade me from the sun
As I walk along my feet are starting to feel the wear of the day. Second strategy for next time, I'll go for walking boots rather than trainers - trainers just have too much flex and rub against the foot raising blisters. A section of downhill after a long trip of flat roads just emphasises the point.
On the horizon as I walk down the hill I can see the hint of trees that suggest that the countryside is not too far away now. It quite some motivation to continue the trip after I finish this leg in Uxbridge.
A long corner and Uxbridge is finally in sight. My pace has been getting slower as I get closer. The emergent blisters on my feet stop me from any almost-there hubris.
As soon as I get into Uxbridge I am inundated by people asking me for directions - ok I am carrying a map in my hand, but it's surprising. I don't know where the 222 bus goes from or where Bridge Street is.
The city center streets are quiet and almost empty, which is to be expected for late afternoon on a Sunday. As I get to the underground station I find The Three Tuns pub is just across the square. I grab myself a pint and sit outside to reflect on the day.
It's a nice pint, but not quite a Guinness - maybe if I go further west...