Posts Tagged ‘swans’

Another ride

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020
Former pub – The Swan, Moor Lane, Staines

Rain began just as I walked out of the door to go on a cycle ride on Tuesday. I’d looked at the weather forecast a few minutes earlier and it had looked as if I might manage my ten miles of exercise before it started, but it had come earlier. I could ride in the rain, but as it was forecast to set in for several hours and get heavier I turned around and came back inside. Perhaps, I thought, it would be better to ride in the afternoon.

Signs used for target practice

It’s a while since I wrote about my cycle rides, perhaps because they are not very exciting. I’ve settled into a pattern, riding – weather and other commitments permitting – five days a week, Monday to Friday, along nine different routes in turn, all around ten miles. Saturdays I rest and Sundays usually walk with my wife for an hour or two. There is some overlap between the routes, with only a choice of two ways I leave home and relatively few ways to escape the immediate area, but the routes provide some variety.

Wraysbury River – a distributary of the Colne

Working out and riding these routes has taken me to a few parts of the local area I’ve never visited before, or at least not for many years. I’ve lived most of my life around here, and in my young days when not at school lived most of the time on a bike, either with friends or on my own. Things have of course changed a little since the 1950s, particularly around Heathrow and with the building of the M25, M3 and M4 in the area.

Wraysbury River, M25 and Wraysbury Reservoir

When I started riding for exercise back in March it was rather more like the old days so far as traffic was concerned, with few cars and lorries on most streets. Now traffic has returned to pre-virus levels and although most of my routes are mainly along minor roads, cycling has become rather less pleasant, though fortunately most of the routes involve some traffic-free sections. But if we want more people to take to bikes we need more and better cycle routes and a considerable driver education programme about safe passing distances.

Another ‘The Swan’ in Stanwell

I’m finding cycling ten miles has become less exhausting over the months, mainly I think because my breathing has improved. I still have a bit of a problem with hills, but last time I got up the only long hill on all these routes with only one stop to wait until I stopped gasping – and that quite close to the top. I’m no longer finding railway and motorway bridges – the main hills on most of my routes – so much of a challenge.

Duke of Northumberland’s River and Heathrow Perimeter road

The pictures with this post are all from a ride I made on 5th June, going north from Staines and a little along the south side of Heathrow before returning. Part of it is along one of the country lanes I often rode around 60 years ago, but is now a series of dead ends and short sections with some heavy traffic. It used to be a quiet route from Bedfont to Datchet and Windsor. In earlier years my father would ride along it before turning north through the orchards to the pleasant hamlet of Heathrow, now the site of Terminals 1,2 and 3.

Swans on nest, Longford River, Stanwell

Both rivers have been diverted for the airport, but here the Longford River (aka Queen’s or Cardinal’s River) still follows its original course, while the Duke of Northumberland’s River used to run around 600 metres to the north. Both are artificial streams cut to take water from the Colne, the Longford in 1638/39 to supply water to Bushy Park and Hampton Court and the Duke of Northumberland’s river around 1530 to provide a consistent power supply for the flour mill at Isleworth.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Windsor & Eton

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

I suppose this isn’t everybody’s idea of a picture of Windsor Castle, but it does rather amuse me, and I was rather brought up with Noddy, who I now realise was at times terribly racist. Noddy was created by Enid Blyton when I was only four, and her last book about him was published in the year I went to university, though since then he has been kept more or less alive on TV and through what is still a best-selling franchise. Mr Golly, who serviced Noddy’s little car seems to have disappeared in the 1990s, and the Gollies who stole Noddy’s car and the song book strongly featuring the n-word are no longer mentioned. It was in the mid 1960s that the racist, classist and xenophobic nature of her books first came under attack. And Windsor Castle is a little less prominent than that Pisan tower.

Eton is of course at the very heart of our English class system, and was appropriated by the wealthy from the school founded by Guliemus De Wayneflete for the education of poor boys – as the plaque records.

Much of Eton revolves around the school, and perhaps the most obvious signs of that, other than the school buildings themselves are the tailors shops, though it’s hard to imagine anyone actually buying anything in them.

Eton is a ridiculously wealthy and privileged place, though the school does offer some scholarships to gifted poor children, and we were once encouraged by his primary headmaster to put our elder son forward for one. I don’t think he would have survived, either the preparatory school that scholarship boys start at to repair some of the ravages of the state system and certainly not the school itself.

As you walk back towards Windsor, sanity does start to return and there is at least one decent pub where we lunched before returning over the pedestrianised bridge to Windsor, itself a curious place under the shadow of royalty and the military, and also a town full of tourists.

The swans were massing where tourists feed them, across the Thames from the Eton College boat house. I walked to the bus stop to return to the real world.


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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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