Sunday 7 November 2004

Rambling with the Old Folks

This weekend we went on another ramble, but with a different group since the Metropolitan walkers weren't doing anything this weekend. We didn't do much research on the group itself, just on the area they had listed. So we arrived at the train station to discover that we had joined in with the oldest walking club in London, the Inner London Area Rambler's Club, this one has a long history; in fact, they claim to have been founded in 1935; also, rather than being composed of 20-30 year olds, they are composed mostly of people above the age of 50. Apparently their numbers are dwindling as more of the new Ramblers join other, more specialized groups. There was also one man who joined the Club in 1936. He was over 90 years old, and still going strong. No teeth, though. Well, three visible teeth, two of which were blackened and one of which was a half-broken stump. Fascinating character: he became a environmentalist after some fifty years in engineering work. Quite passionate about it, too. The best part was that on the way back, he started telling the requisite stories from his misspent youth, which included fascinating accounts of drinking Thames water (he's over ninety, remember, so maybe there's something to it) and sleeping in barns which rambling agross Surrey. We also met many people who had traveled around the world, and everyone seemed quite excited to see young people on the walk, which was quite a relief, given that when we joined them on the train we were afraid we had crashed the local septuagenarians' day out.

In general, all of them looked quite young for their age, had relatively few mobility problems, and had absolutely terrible teeth. I wonder if that's a tradeoff the English make. Longevity and youth are an acceptable trade-off, or so Stephen seems to think. The actual ramble itself was quite nice too. We went through some beautiful old wooded country side that mostly belonged to the High Mill House and Moor Park wetland reserve. Though with this group, the highlight of every walk is lunch at the pub, in fact the entire walk seemed centered around getting to and walking off the meal from the Pub. Pu in question was the Barley Mow pub, which along with the cricket green and a few houses, seemed to be the only thing in the little village of Tilford Green. That and a great big oak tree (that is evidently over 200 years old) under which those of us who packed lunches ate. Best part of the day? NO RAIN! A huge thing for this time of year in a country known for it's soggy climate. It did drizzle for just a few minutes after lunch, but only enough to make the air feel clean and give it the "clean dirt" smell that accompanies rain in the forest. So a lovely day indeed. In fact, I came home and fell asleep around 8:30 and still managed to sleep until 11:00am this morning. Craziness, but hey that's what weekends are for right?

Today was spent walking round London, where we found a fantastic old maps shop near by the Foyle's, the London equivilant of Book People. We also learned that Covent Garden should be avoided like the plague on a Sunday. Dancing Saints was it crowded!! But it's always a lovely place to sit down, have a cup of tea or pint of brew and people watch. There's also some amazing street performers in the area that draw huge crowds, which are also a good deal of fun to watch. So that's our weekend in a nutshell. Hope everyone else had just a refreshing time!