Day 5 of the #185milewaffle – Shepperton to Windsor accompanied by Zeppo.
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Today’s dogpanion was Zeppo – a young and energetic Cocker Spaniel.
I picked him up rather later than intended from the charming Fran and her daughter Freya around 10. However, a combination of traffic and roadworks meant it was gone 11:30 before we set off from Shepperton Lock. At least we got one of the few parking spaces. Now that we’re outside the London transport network, finding a parking space close to the river is crucial.
As ever, the Thames on an almost-Autumn-Summer-day is lovely. However, a lot of the stretch through Laleham (don’t think I’d ever heard of it as a place) has a road which runs right beside the tow bath necessitating the use of a lead – somewhat irritating for both Zeppo and I.
By the time I got to Staines, 4 and a half days were beginning to tell and I found a tightening left calf/tendon which meant I was starting to limp.
Given no shops proximate to the river, I decided to avail myself of a chicken, bacon and cheese sandwich at the Slug and Lettuce beside Staines Bridge and see how it felt. However, setting gingerly off in a different pair of shoes, it did not feel great.
I was made to feel even more grumpy by some truly c**p signage that failed to indicate the crossing of the bridge required. This resulted in a three quarters of a mile unnecessary diversion up the wrong bank and then back to the bridge again.
It seems minor in the grand scheme of things but somehow, when you’re pacing yourself to do 14 miles, the imposition of an unnecessary extra chunk seems particularly cruel.
Having found my way back to the towpath, I encountered another splendid stretch of down at heel boats and a boat yard that looked straight out of an episode of the Sweeney. I love these little ghettos of dodginess. Following that, given that the leg was no better but didn’t appear to be on the point of crippling me, I reverted to fallback plan A – of which I’m slightly ashamed but slightly not.
I avail myself of the iPod I have brought and listen to a chapter of Max Hastings’ Warriors – a fascinating account of Captain Müller’s exploits in the Emden during the First World War: both running rings round the superior allied fleets and behaving like the perfect gentleman in an era when chivalry was nearly dead.
Whatever, it worked and I trudged the miles separating me from Windsor thinking more of his exploits than the leg
Finally, two lovely anecdotes to conclude:
- As I wait for the taxi to take me back from Windsor to Shepperton, two walkers whom I’ve passed fall into conversation. Inevitably my story of 15 dogs in 15 days comes out, and they enquire about the cause for which I am doing it. Extraordinarily the lady in question is a medic, even more extraordinarily has heard of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and knows of a patient at one remove who is desperate for help and information. I have one MCA card in my wallet which is handed over – I hope a connection will be made.
- Beyond that, I had a tricky time finding a taxi who will take me and Zeppo back to Shepperton. Finally, one agrees and Mr B S Gill arrives listening to my story of what I’m doing and why. Halfway back to Shepperton he simply hands over a £10 note and says “Give that to the charity”. He then protests about me giving him the quoted fair and a tip. A completely generous gentleman – it was I who was grateful to him for turning out and taking man plus dog in his taxi on a Sunday.
So that’s the end of Day Five.
I enjoyed James May during one of his programmes on the putting together of a simple machine – a lawnmower I think – “I feel that this may be like a tree falling in the forest – nobody is watching so it isn’t really happening…” I feel rather like that about this blog.
However, with time off for good behaviour at the end of my first stint of five day long walks, I will now enjoy a previously booked holiday and (metaphorically) lick my wounds.
Upwards and onwards
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