The Winter Sun

December 29, 2011

Back in May I started a walk from the source to the mouth of the Thames. Its a national trail in the UK and one good for fitness restoration. The scenery is interesting, the walks can be long but the gradients are slight. I’ve also been doing it with friends – Peter, Julia and Nick with the odd extra (others welcome) which aside from adding motivation also adds conversation. We did the first four sections over the summer which took us to Oxford. My long trip to Australia then halted proceedings for a bit so we started up again in December.

The section from Oxford to Culham saw temperatures that did not rise above freezing. Yesterdays section to Benson weir had milder temperatures but were more overcast with some spots of rain at the start. What we have had on both occasions is a more solitary walk, only one boat in both winter sections while they flocked in the summer. We have also had the winter sun which is one of the glories of walking in the UK a few days after the winter solstice.

The light is always low, the effects of water, sky, trees and birds a constant series of visual dramas/ I managed to capture a few which you can find on flickr in a growing collection titled Thames Walk. All the photos are geo-tagged so its easy to follow the path and see the changing seasons. We are also a learned little group, the first conversation as we crossed a bridge touched on Wagner and Nietzsche. Julia is a linguist and an expert on English place names and their origins. All of us are reasonably well read and generally curious.

The only discordant note is the disputes between cat and dog owners. The company of the righteous, i.e. the cat lovers, find their walks disrupted by the constant need of lesser members of the party who wish to pet all available dogs and there are a fair amount of those as you approach population centres. I am considering buying one of those deterrent whistles which cannot be heard by humans. Naismith’s law of walking times needs a dog petting adjustment!

The next section is from Wallingford to Tilehurst and we start to enter the sprawl which becomes London. But that is what I like about the Thames walk, its not only wonderful country, but the flow of architecture covers many centuries.


A post script

Euan (pictured) emailed me tongue in cheek (I hope) to complain about being described as an “odd extra” I must admit that I didn’t have him in mind as he has been walked the Thames from mouth to source over some years. I joined him for one section last January and that was one of the motivators for starting a series of these trails – Kennet and Avon complete, Thames half way, Cotswolds Way one section.

The Pembroke Coastal Path will have a section added on Sunday from Whitesands Bay around to Porth Clais if the weather is good enough. That will be a sentimental trip as we used to holiday there with my parents and sister every year so expect an appropriate post for New Years Day. I’m staying in Swansea on New Year’s Eve to allow a start at sunrise as I need to complete and get back to the Liberty Stadium for the Ospreys-Blues match that evening.

Euan now has his first book out, with an foreword by Andrew Mcafee no less so it would be shameful for me to call him an extra, but odd is OK I think! I’m going to write a review next week which will be positive and I recommend buying it. I have some negative book reviews to write for Management 3.0 (Oh those numbers) and a few Complexity made simple type articles and books. Those generally rebadge old ideas in new partially understood language. Euan’s book is refreshing in that it relates his experience, but reflectively and my blurb just makes it to the front page of the long list of endorsements!

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