Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA

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

It's becoming more and more difficult to keep track of what month it is,let alone what day of the week. Having spent most of last year and the first part of this embroiled in meeting deadlines for two books I was writing simultaneously, while doing the groundwork for the next, I didn't have time for group social walks, so once everything was submitted to the powers-that-be I mapped out a glorious 2020 of walking targets, starting with the Capital Challenge in April. I would know it was May because I would be taking part in the Ridgeway 40, and June would leap up and say Hi with Pete Colley's Stratford to Greenwich evening midweeker and Ron Williamson's Danbury Ridge - perfect training for the Herts Hobble at the end of June.  Now, with nothing to aim for, everything just seems a timeless mess. I am looking forward to the next London Group committee meeting when one of the items under discussion will be whether or not it will be feasible to go ahead with plans for our Founders Challenge later this year. I really hope we can find a way. As the title of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Bridie detective novel puts it, When Will There Be Good News?


ian gavin barry surrey

The story of our walking summer told in one photo. Ian, Gavin and Barry took a non-LDWA walk around the depths of Surrey that included Gravelly Hill, Happy Valley and Kenley Aerodrome. Even their drink in the park at the finish complied with government guidelines.  
PHOTO Ian Fairweather




The Virtual Sir Fynway 100 organised by Julie Cribb and Julian White was a resounding success. More than 150 people participated, with at least 13  independently walking 100 miles within 48 hours on the weekend, including our own Rod Smith and honorary London Group-er Julian Pursey, whose route consisted of a succession of 2-mile 'laps' of Exmouth sea-front. Here's his report: 


jadd twenrty four hours

The Exmouth Seafront 100 - just add 24 hours!


Julian writes: 'The highlight - seeing two foxes playing together on the beach. I made a note of birds I spotted or heard during the walk and got up to 60 species. Nothing out of the ordinary for these parts though the last two were perhaps a bit questionable as I visited a supermarket to make up the numbers. Co-op chicken and Co-op duck in the refrigerated section - hardly on the Red List!

'Stopping for a breather at 83 miles my sister remarked, "'is there something wrong with your back?" Oh no! The dreaded lean with 17 miles to go... Progress slowed, a walking pole was borrowed, night time fell, as I tip-tapped my way Blind Pew like, back and forth along Exmouth seafront, seemingly countless times past the parked up boy racers and courting couples.

'I completed my personal 100 miles just before 2am on Monday morning. Peering at my phone at the end, I momentarily thought I had used over 240,000 calories only to realise that was my number of footsteps. But my recently downloaded walking app was struggling. It took a couple of days to display the route I had taken. Even now, if I press on details I still get the revolving disc of doom with the ominous looking 'loading stats' message. It was probably never designed with LDWA-ers in mind as, after completing 24 hours, the timer reset to zero.

'Julie Cribb and Julian White deserve the heartiest of congratulations and thanks for putting this on, raising the spirits and raising much needed cash towards the new website.

'Let's hope normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.'




While we're on the subject of virtual events, London Group member Thomas Moll writes:


'The Comrades Marathon (the oldest and biggest ultra) has been cancelled this year. But on 14 June, there will be a global Virtual Comrades. The idea is that no matter where you are in the world, you run or walk 90km over 24 hours, have it recorded on your Fitbit or Garmin or whatever, download the results ... and get a genuine Comrades Medal! 

The Virtual Comrades Marathon

'This is of great interest to somebody like me who always wanted to do the Comrades and get the medal, but can't because my knees wouldn't cope with running 90km on roads.  I plan to string together two or three routes around London that day.

Perhaps other LDWA members would be keen?'


If you fancy something nearer home (!), the virtual West Highland Way Race takes place between the 12th and 29th of June. 670 individuals and teams have entered so far either to run, walk or shuffle the 95 miles of the West Highland Way. All the miles without the midges! All the details on Virtual West Highland Way Race 2020




My two main interests are long distance walking and supporting Spurs, not normally mutually compatible activities, but once once in a while separate strands in life join up in an intriguing way. While de-cluttering my office, I unearthed a now very dusty working script of Those Glory Glory Days -  to paraphrase Ernie Wise, a film wot I wrote. It is a fictionalised version of my life as a Spurs-supporting 12-year-old, and was first shown in 1984. Every now and then it surfaces on Film 4, most recently last month as balm to the football-deprived among us.

Thinking it would be fun for the Spurs faithful, I suggested to a fellow Spur, the writer and producer Martin Murphy,  that we make photocopies of the script and bring people together on Zoom for a spoken re-enactment. Result! Among the cast, which includes professional actors along with Spurs supporters, is the actress Annabel Cleare who - guess what - is one of us. LDWA member Annabel (she's Annabel Wood in real life) has completed several Hundreds, and we've walked together numerous times over the last few years. Now she will be playing the part of the 12-year-old me. Even in these dismal times, things can happen that are just lovely.


annabel cleare at wittersham

Annabel Cleare at Wittersham CP on the Cinque Ports 100



London Group walk weekend

Unsurprisingly and regretfully we have decided to cancel the London Group Walk Weekend planned for the 20th/21st June.  We will not be setting another date for it until we know the restrictions will allow the intended ‘social’ aspect of it can occur – and who knows when that will happen! – as well as the public transport situation becomes easier. 






LDWA Walks Database


Calling all walk leaders past and present. The new LDWA Walks Database has a facility for storing the historical walks GPX files for display and for members to download them. London Group webmaster Gavin has made a start and would like to load up more if possible. The files need to be sent to him for a past walk (ideally if you know the date / name of the walk it will be easy to match it up) and it will then be matched with the old walk profile and loaded up.


leafy track in autumn







Talking points


During the all-too-brief spell of hot weather last week, our garden was treated to a splendiferous early-morning fly-past by the Lewisham Parrakeets. Yes, I do know that these exotic specimens are also to be found in other parts of London and indeed the UK in genera, but around here in South London, they are one of the natural world's few opportunities to show that late spring and early summer have arrived. In a similar vein, Julian Pursey reports:


'A lovely day up on Dartmoor last weekend. I heard my first cuckoo of the year. Now they are definitely on the Red List. Growing up on the fringes of Bristol - with the city on one side and looking out to farmland at the back -  a cuckoo's call was part of the soundtrack of spring and summer. In recent years I've rarely heard one, and the farmland is now a ring road and housing.Indeed, old age means I can truly say like no doubt many others, "II remember when this was all fields."'.


Still on the topic of the natural world, Judith Griffiths would like to put in a word for llamas: 'Do you know they use the same corner of their field as a toilet - how hygienic is that?!'




My moan about crowded parks in last week's Jabber and how they turned me into the archetypal Grumpy Old Woman brought forth various snippets of advice. Judith Griffiths reminded me that I could extend my walk to Shooters Hill and thence to Oxleas Wood, where I could find ancient woodland... as well as that lovely cafe at the top of the climb from the main road. If it's still operating. I went to have a look on its website to see whether it was open for business in some form or other, only to find the dread message 'Account suspended.' Has COVID closed it for good? I will have to walk up there just to see what has happened to it.

Meanwhile, Susanne Waldschmidt commented: 'Try walking at 5am in the morning.  The sprawlers and the waddlers are nowhere to be seen.  Just a few joggers and dog walkers.  Instead of feeling grumpy you can return home feeling virtuous and reward yourself with a hearty breakfast.'

Excellent advice, of course, except that if anything is likely to make me grumpy it is being awake at five o'clock in the morning...




And finally...



garden centre bare sign

Spotted at Plants Galore, Topsham
PHOTO Julian Pursey


Which leads me to another response from Judith Griffiths: 'I remember after the foot and mouth disease we needed secateurs (or a scythe!) on walks to hack down the undergrowth/overgrowth.'

In an excellent moment of synchronicity (see below), my Twitter timeline flashed up for me this image. It's came from an account called 70s Sci-Fi Art and is Boris Vallejo's 1977 cover for The Secrets of Synchronicity, by Jonathan Fast. 

If we think we've got problems with undergrowth, at least we're not this (bare) chap. As ever, captions welcome!


weird picture of snakes




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