Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA

Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA
Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA

Earlier this month, our own Adam Dawson (National Executive Committee Website & Internet Officer, Rtd.) told us about the new walks database and general zizzing-up of local group websites that has occupied the last eighteen months of his time. Well, it's just launched and I have to say the new-look LDWA London website (thank you, webmaster Gavin Fuller) is most definitely a joy to behold. Apart from all the other delights, the home page includes a photo (taken by Gavin) of a particularly memorable London Group social walk. Led by Ron Williamson in September 2018, The People's Palaces was a 24-mile traverse of the capital from south to north, linking Crystal and Alexandra Palaces. Gavin's photo records the moment that we reassembled after escaping (with some mirth-filled difficulty) from the Maze at Crystal Palace Park. It was a wonderful route that included the Brixton Windmill, Little Ben - the Brockwell Park clock tower - and Chelsea Old Church where guests were spilling out from a wedding ceremony that had just taken place. I remember being briefly amused by the very British way these people in their wedding finery politely ignored the slightly dishevelled horde of backpack-y types that had inadvertently started mingling with them. It was one of the nicest walks I've ever been on. Apologies for striking a plangent tone in a newsletter that is meant to be sinew-stiffening and full of cheer, but the one drawback in looking at this lovely picture is that it makes one yearn desperately for the time when we can all walk together again. 


the peoples palaces september

The People's Palaces 




As usual I have been combing my stash of old London Group newsletters for interesting snippets, and this week's trawl brought forth an item, by two London Group members, headed 'Walking and Talking'. I quote:


'Who says we always talk about the weather? It wasn't even discussed. Neither was dear Ken Livingstone, which was surprising, but I can only assume that the inhabitants of London were too angry and upset to allow thoughts of the London Mayor to spoil their day.

Now to the positive, what was discussed... the excitement of camping in Morocco, the lack of Rumanian infrastructure, the fascination of trekking in India, along with the merits of Buddhism; the plight of migrants from Nazi Germany; the moral dilemma of Conscientious Objectors; a day in the life of a "Bevan Boy"; the consmetic and antiseptic properties of mud from the Neyharting Moors in Austria; the improvement of treadmills in gyms - Lancing has a machine with a 25 degree incline; corned beef hash, bagels for Marshals on the "100" and last but not least, with much wit and humour - men and their sexuality and women and their sexual needs!'


Golly. I think I need to up my game. The best I can do is Harry Kane: will he stay at Spurs or go to United for £200,000?




I follow an account on Twitter called Faces In Things. The name is pretty much self-explanatory - photos of, for example, light switches, backpacks and buildings which appear to bear some sort of recognisably human expression. Now I learn that there actually is a condition known as pareidolia, which causes people not only to see faces and images in nature - clouds and tree bark, for instance, and the Man in the Moon -  but also everyday objects such as floorboards and electrical apparatus. Apparently it's a common phenomenon. Houses lend themselves particularly well to these fancies..I loved this photo, taken ten days or so ago by Ian Watson on a walk around Therfield and Sandon, of a house sporting windows like downcast eyes and  a meticulously clipped hedge like a pouting lower lip. This house, I felt, definitely looked a bit upset about something.. 


house that looks pissed off

PHOTO Ian Watson


In a glorious coincidence, just as I was putting together the above item, Susanne Waldschmidt emailed me the picture below, with the comment: 'As you can see, I have plenty of time on my hands. My hair will soon be down to my boots.':


susanne a bogside walk

A Bogside Walk
Photo Susanne Waldschmidt




Perhaps the neurological processes that result in seeing faces in things also account for the hallucinations that are a common experience on the later stages of an LDWA Hundred. I had great fun writing about them in Out on Your Feet, which included, of course, an interview with Ann Sayer. I asked her whether she had ever hallucinated. She said no, but on the 120-mile Tan Hill to Cat & Fiddle walk in North Yorkshire one of her fellow walkers, Chris Dodd, who held the record for the Coast to Coast, thought he saw her in a white ballgown, walking upon a terrain of broken loo pans. . 

I included this anecdote in the obituary of Ann that appeared in last week's Guardian, but it was cut from the copy. Perhaps they thought Ann, had she somehow been able to see it (she was, after all, a Guardian reader) would have found it insufficiently sombre and reverent. Clearly, they didn't know Ann.

Still on the topic of Ann Sayer, esteemed London LDWA  member Bill Thompson emailed to remind me  that she was not the sole founder of our group, but one of several: "The magnificent 8 who must take credit for getting the group off the ground were: Ann Sayer (Chair of the LDWA), Steve Clarke and local members Colin Saunders, Paul Lawrence, Ken Fancett, Sylvia Nagarkar, Don Bolton plus one other whose name has been lost."  

Coincidentally, again, I first met Bill and Ann on the first walk I ever led. It was some twenty years back, and the object of the walk was an article I was writing for the Guardian about walking the London Marathon route. I had no idea at the time who Ann was. Most of us have a few memories which in retrospect make us cringe and one of mine is that halfway through the walk I actually asked her if the pace was too fast for her.





London LDWA - http://www.ldwa.org.uk/London