A wayside drink.
Up near Mushera Mountain
I can still smell it, sweet as toffee.
It’s something I’ve wanted to say all week but when?
Anyway, Women’s Mini Marathon is on today in Dublin and Elverys Sports has some great energising posters along the route – especially towards the end where they’re needed. Here are a few: Don’t give up when you’re tired – give up when you’re done….Pain is just a way of letting weakness escape…Challenges are often the things that define us…Tough times don’t go on forever but tough people do.
And then my favourite: I’m not at the finish but I’m a lot nearer than I was before.
There’ll be about 40.000 women taking part, all raising money for hospices, cancer research, Motor Neurone Disease and other causes too numerous to list.
They’re already massing near the start line, all getting ready to walk, jog or run the 10 k. The off is at 14:00 Greenwich Mean Time so good luck to them and all the support people especially those operating the water dispensers and the portaloo cabins. ( You can’t have one without the other.)
In case you’re wondering, I’ve just fallen in the door of the pub after completing the route which I walked. I’m not great with crowds so I did it solo early on.
What was my time? Well, if I’d gone any more slowly, the people who haven’t yet started would be overtaking me. But sure lookit…
The River Thames is 184 miles long but relax: you don’t have to do it all. Try the short walk from Oxford to Sandford Lock which is about 3 miles.
Start in the city at Folly Bridge and set off for Sandford. There’s a footpath that’s a bit rough in places and you have to share it with other walkers and occasionally with cyclists. None of these will spoil your pleasure though.
Be sure to bring a friend: there’s a kissing gate halfway along.
You can deviate to the right to check out the weir in which more than one person has drowned. It’s worth having a look, but with care.
When you get to the lock
don’t be put off by the notice.
The lock-keeper is friendly and doesn’t bite.
Cross over the lock to the King’s Arms for some sustenance. We had a terrific lunch there, al fresco.
The marvellous thing about the Thames is that it’s there for everyone:
And some people, of course, just want to mess about in boats.
If there’s one thing the people of the small town of Eynsham in Oxfordshire are pissed off about it’s the nearby lovely Swinford Toll Bridge. Everyday, some 10.000 vehicles cross and recross the Thames at this point and they all have to pay to get from one side to the other. That’s a lot of time – and a lot of money. About £200.000 a year, in fact.
The bridge – and it really is a lovely construction, graced by 8 arches – was opened in 1769, in the reign of George lll and has its own Act of Parliament.
This entitles the owner (originally the Earl of Abingdon) to levy a toll on anyone who crossed the bridge whether on foot or on horseback or in the many stage coaches that used this busy route between London and Wales. (It lay on the highway between London and the port of Fishguard where travellers transferred to ships for the journey on to Ireland.)
The Act also forbids the construction of a second crossing within three miles either side of the toll bridge.
We took the little Number 11 bus out of Oxford and got off on the Eynsham side of the bridge and then walked back past the cheerful toll keeper.
By the way, he goes home at nightfall so you can, in fact, get across free until the next morning.
The charges aren’t high
but it’s the long queues that annoy local people.
Eynsham Parish Council has invited people to sign a petition asking their local MP to see about ending the charges. Sadly for them, their MP is David Cameron about whom I will say no more. It would also mean changing an Act of Parliament which would entail a lot of lawyers and tax payers’ money.
We had a pleasant sandwich lunch in the nearby Talbot Inn
And then went to investigate the Thames Pathway.
Can you resist this?
It’s about 6 miles back to Oxford, walking along the river bank and ending at Osney and would make a pleasant 2/3 hour walk on a summer’s evening. Or a brisk walk in winter that’ll have you home by teatime. Try it.
The rain was torrential – as had been forecast – so we sought shelter in the doorway of the chimney at the top of the hill – after a pleasant if slippery climb.
I lived in Ballycorus for some years, in the little three-roomed dwelling that had once been the paymaster’s office of the lead mines. ( The mines ceased operating in 1913.)
There was no electricity, no running water and no telephone. We got our water from the well close by, our milk straight from the cow in the farmhouse across the fields where we also got our eggs, turnips, spuds and cooking apples.
Cooking was done on a primus stove and in the evenings, a candle would be lit though most evenings we sat around in the glow of the fire talking, playing cards, telling ghost stories and, of course, singing. The fire was kept going by fircones that we collected in sacks and carried down from the pine wood above us.
Warm evenings, we sat outside on the granite steps and talked or played games till t got dark . ( Saved on candles.)
No lavatory but we had an earth closet which was emptied once a week, the contents of the bucket tipped over the bank at the bottom of the garden which is why that part of the garden was greener than the rest of it.
Today, we climbed up to the chimney which had been built to take away the toxic fumes from the lead smelting plant down the hill. The fumes and smoke were funneled in a tunnel all the way up to the chimney.
The opening to the chimney is still there and we legged it up the last bit of the hill and in – to escape the driving rain. The Three Rock mountain opposite had already disappeared in the rain cloud. As we sheltered, we were joined by no less that nine other people and so we stayed there in cosy solidarity till the worst was over and then made a run for it, down the hill to the car, along the Bride’s Glen to the Silver Tassie pub and back on to the dual carriageway.
Ballycorus was almost the same as it’s always been, give or take….
It’s International Women’s Day so congratulations to Dublin City Council for organising a walking tour celebrating women and for all the tax-payers for footing the bill. It’s money well spent.
A grand group turned up at Stephen’s Green – the vast majority women. We were greeted by a genial and cheery, Pat Liddy, a man popular in Dublin for his walking tours of the city.
His opening remarks inviting his audience to approach: “Come in tight. Tighter,” were a bit of a surprise and not those,I suspect, he would use when addressing a group of men. But, sure, what’s the harm. He meant well. (They always do.)
The speaker had boned up specially for this talk so perhaps the good side was that he learned a little more about his fellow citizens than he had previously known. Trouble was, it was all new to him so he had constantly to refer to his copious notes. Still, for a first shot, it was quite good. No mention of James Barry,however,when the talk focussed on women and medicine though the fact that we were actually outside the Royal College of Surgeons offered an opportunity to look at other pioneering women in medicine one of whom, apparently, was a girl.
Now, I know that in Ireland girl is a favourite euphemism for women but on IWD and by a man, on a tour sponsored by Dublin City Council? Called to book, the speaker gallantly acknowledged the incorrectness of his remark, explaining that the person “was a girl when she came to study.”
It made me smile remembering that, way back in the previous century, I saw a sign in a shop window which read: “Mature girl seeks work.” Things have changed since then, haven’t they? No? Ah well, anyway.
Later, our walk leader confided to his audience: “You’re all girls to me.”Sweet.
Thing is, has Dublin City Council provided any gender awareness courses for its employees, I wonder.The speaker shared with us the nugget of information that he’s 64 but, you know, it’s never too late. I was in to my third grandchild before I took up the sax.
So how about, for IWD 2013, DCC finds a female guide to lead the walk for women about women? It won’t hurt – it’s only for the one day. After that, it’s back to the delicious Pat that Dubliners know and love so well, clad seductively in black and with a divine, wide-brimmed hat, doing what he does best: telling people about Dublin.