I have started a second blog

Friday 23 August 2013 – London.

As I have stopped travelling for a while and my sight seeing of London and the UK is a bit sporadic I have decided to start a second blog that I can use to document my interest in street art and the other bits and pieces of modern London that I see that are really outside the original purpose of Wheres Phil.

The blog is called Photos By Phil and its address is photosbyphilplatt.wordpress.com. Someone else has the photosbyphil address but disappointingly has not done anything with it !  It is linked off somewhere to your right.

So, from now on this blog will focus back on all my sight seeing and travelling and that sort of thing.

Cheers

Phil

A quick trip to Cambridge.

Wednesday 14 August 2013 – Cambridge.

One of the good things about not working is that I do get to go and visit place like Cambridge during the week, and while it was still busy it was not stupid busy. For me this is a very good thing. Seeing as I have touched on the subject of employment I may as well provide a status update. No change. Still no job….

Back to more interesting things. I had arranged to meet up with Sanjeev in his new home town of Cambridge for a wee tour before catching up with another Africa trip colleague, Jackie later in the afternoon.

I took the direct train from Kings Cross and it was only a 45 minute trip, fast, smooth and very on time.

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Sanjeev met me at the station and we walked into the centre of Cambridge, as Sanjeev had a bike I decided I would rent one as well and we could ride out of town and visit Madingley Hall, just because it looked nice !

The bike I rented was the smoothest riding push bike I have ever rented, it rode like a dream. Madingley Hall is about five miles out of town and it was a nice country ride on roads that were not too busy.

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The hall is now owned by the Universities of Cambridge and there was a function inside so we could not go in which was a shame, the oldest part of the building was started in 1543. It was pretty cool.

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Weirdly there was a Buddha figure outside, cool.

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Along with this grotesque- which I thought was quite cool too.

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It was a lovely spot, very peaceful and calm, one of the pleasures of not being in London !

We rode back into town and down the far side of the River Cam to the town, past the ‘backs’, which is the name given to the backs of the famous colleges on the other side of the river. There were of course a bunch of punts out on the river.

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St Johns College (I think, stupidly I did not write the names down!)

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Kings College

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The Mathematical Bridge

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We had a bit of time to kill before we met up with Jackie so we visited the Round Church.

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We met Jackie and had a bit of walk around the main streets, we were going to visit Kings College Chapel but there was a 7pound fee and we didn’t have the time to make it worthwhile.

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So we did what all true English people do and went to the pub! The Eagle is one of the oldest pubs in Cambridge, dating back to the 1300’s. In far more modern time Watson and Crick used to drink here while unravelling the mysteries of DNA. I guess most places in the old part of Cambridge have an interesting history.

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I had to leave after a pint and did not get to catch up with Vaishali who arrived just after I left. It was great to catch up with Sanjeev and Jackie again and I am really looking forward to a bigger Africa reunion in October.

I caught the train back to London and had a panicked time preparing my first tapas for dinner with El in front of the England V Scotland football match.

It was a good day and I am really looking forward to exploring Cambridge again soon.

Columbia Rd flower market.

Sunday 11 August 2013 – Columbia Rd Market.

Sunday was another good walking day and as El had never walked the Lee Navigation tow path that I ran on Wednesday night we decided that today was a good day to do it. El also wanted to visit a market so we decided to add to the walk and start in Shoreditch and visit Columbia Rd flower market on the way.

We up and out fairly early and discovered that the train we were on was not stopping at Bethnal Green station as it cruised on through and kept going all the way to Liverpool St. This made for a slightly longer walk than planned, and I managed to resist any urges to disappear up side streets to snap any street art on the way.

Columbia Rd flower market is incredibly popular and gets really crowded, with both locals buyin flowers and plants and tourists there to see the flowers, stalls and shops and to listen to the rival stall holders with their Cockney accented voices calling “Come on love – 2 for a fiver, lovely peonies “. It is definitely worth experiencing.

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Of course as this is the east end and in between Shoreditch and Hackney Rd, there is a wee bit of street art that is just unavoidable ! I did like this sign.

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An Alo right next to the market.

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After one of the best coffees I have had in London we started the walk up Hackney Rd to the Regents Canal towpath and on back to Walthamstow. Another lovely piece by C215 on Hackney Rd.

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It was a long walk and we stopped off for a pint at one of the few canal side pubs on the way. We thought about lunch but food was really expensive, more so than in Highgate yesterday. I am sure the food was delicious, but 6:50 pounds for a burger in a pub on Lea Bridge Rd is a bit steep, even if it was riverside !

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Getting up after the pint was a painful experience as both of us suffered from seized up knees and it took a wee while to loosen up again as we walked. Though we did stop for a pretty good roast lunch at The Chequers; a recently renovated pub in Walthamstow market. Apparently Reggie and Ronnie Cray hung out here while they were in hiding from the police back in the 60s.

It was another good, though tiring, day out, a four walk and a couple of pints with El. I definitely cannot complain at that.

No Future – a visit to Highgate Cemetery.

Saturday 10 August 2013 – Ham and High.

The gorgeous weather from earlier in the week continued into the weekend, with mixed cloudy and clear skies and a nice early autumn cool temperature providing the perfect excuse to go outside and do stuff. We have had Highgate Cemetery on the list of things to do for ages and today was the day we finally went and did it.

We took the train to Gospel Oak station and walked up from there, the further north west we ventured from Gospel Oak the posher the surrounding houses became and we were soon walking through the small village near the cemetery entrance and I was eyeing up places to visit for lunch later on… It was all jolly nice as the English would say.

The entrance to the cemetery is up a surprisingly long hill, and I only mean this by London standards, definitely not Auckland standards ! London is just so damn flat any hill is exciting. I may have found a new place to go and run as I really do miss hills, especially a long slow climb. Yes, it is weird…

Highgate Cemetery has two sides, east and west wing, the west wing is only accessible via a 12 pound guided tour so we decided to skip that and just view the east wing which was 4 pound and had the Karl Marx grave – which was its key attraction I guess. I will do a visit to the west wing another day, maybe when it is covered in snow.

The cemetery was initially started in 1839 and expanded over to the east side in 1860. Unlike the majority of cemeteries that are religious based this was purely a commercial entity – and open to all. It was closed in the 1970s when it was no longer profitable and lay in decay for many for years. It is now run by a trust, hence the fee. It is still open for people to be buried there, but there is not much space so I imagine it is not easy. Though there are some well known people here there are also a lot of ‘new’ gravestones of names I do not recognise at all. Some of the more interesting new residents are;

The wonderful author Douglas Adam, who passed away so young in 2001.

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And Malcolm McLaren.

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The artist Patrick Caufield had the best modern gravestone I have seen.

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As I mentioned earlier one of the big ‘attractions’ of Highgate is the grave site of Karl Marx, who has a large memorial on one of the big paths near the entrance.

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This is actually a new plot for Karl as further into the cemetery there is an old grave stone and I do wonder why he was moved ? Perhaps to allow for some of his family to be interred with him ? I really hope it wasn’t because the first site was not a big enough memorial.

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In the main the cemetery is very overgrown, some areas have been tidied and others are just buried in a tangled mass of weed, ivy and trees. This is one of the key reasons people come here and I would love to revisit in the snow for another look.

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We walked back down the hill, past some of the old houses here and then stopped for lunch in the village. The food was not cheap, but it was very very nice !

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We decided to walk go home via Hampstead Heath station so popped into the park near Parliament Hill, I definitely will try for a run here sometime soon, a very nice little hill and I can run on the grass as well ! It has a great view of the city of London and there were a lot of people on the top of the hill taking photos and picnicking, we stopped and I took a couple of photos as well.

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We carried on down through a small section of the heath, past the ponds and their background of large homes.

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Eventually we were out in Hampstead itself, we walked past St Johns Church, finally heading home after a wine in one of the local pubs.

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It was another really good day out 🙂

A run too far?

Wednesday 07 August 2013 – London

With Saturdays reasonably successful run in the back of my mind when the weather took a turn for the cooler this week I decided I would check out if I could run from my place in London Bridge up to El’s place in Walthamstow, and meet her when she got home from work.

While we walking around Hackney Wick on Sunday I had looked at some of the maps and found that the canal and River Lee Navigation towpaths (not the River Lea !) were more extensive than I thought and it looked like it was possible to travel from Shoreditch all the way to Walthamstow via the towpaths. I consulted the oracle for all things Google Maps and realised that though it looks an awful long way it is actually only about fifteen kilometres. It was on !

While it seemed like a good idea at the time, looking back on it it was probably not the best idea to do two ‘long’* runs in four days after not having done any running at all for weeks. Conventional training wisdom advises to not increase a run distance or a week’s running total by more than ten percent. Meh – Convention shmention.

I loaded up my pack with a change of clothes, dumped some new music on the MP3 player and headed out the door late in the afternoon, with the intention of arriving at El’s place after an hour and half or so, I mean it was ‘only’ fifteen klicks.

I started off Ok, kept it slow across London Bridge and then up through the city and was in Shoreditch and heading up Bethnal Green Rd after twenty minutes or so and not feeling too bad at all. I had planned to take a few snaps on the way and discovered the one negative on my new bag so far, there is no external pocket for a cellphone – a definite design flaw in my book. When I saw this new Craniowhich was not there on Monday, I had to stop and take a quick shot 🙂

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At the end of Bethnall Green Rd I ran up Mares Rd until it hit the Regents Canal towpath, all territory I had roamed before. If you have to run on the seal, then the tow paths are a great place to run – no cars, not too many people – though lots of bikes and a few other runners.

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From the towpath I cut through Victoria Park and was into unknown territory, I had a quick consult of one of the many maps thoughtfully provided by the council and made a minor adjustment to the direction I was going (about 90 degrees : ) ) and was soon running on a dirt track beside the roadway in the park. A relief from the constant pounding on tarmac.

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Popping out the far side of the park I found the Hertford Union Canal towpath and was soon on my way towards Hackney Wick. This was about halfway and I was starting to struggle a bit, my left hip was playing up, which is not uncommon and I imagine I was limping a little bit as I carried on at a very slow jog.

The Hertford Union Canal makes up one side of Fish Island and the River Lee Navigation another side, I turned left here and was soon into uncharted territory. The river is bordered on one side by Hackney Marshes and on the other side by housing estates. I was tempted to nip off into the playing fields of the ‘marshes’ and run on a softer surface, but really did not want to get lost at this stage.

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At one stage the path crosses the river and was a little concerned as my pre-look on Google Maps didn’t show this and I didn’t want to end up on the wrong side of the river, though I did stop to take a photo of a barge moving slowly northwards. Not quite as slowly as I was moving at this stage though!

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I had no choice but to carry on and luckily path soon crossed back over the river again and then I was back to familiar territory and into Walthamstow marshes.

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My left ankle has long been a problem for me when I run after not running for a while and it started to join my hip in giving me some grief as I worked my way up the side of the canal through the marshes. Fortunately I knew there was only a couple of kilometres left once I left the marshes so I knew I could put up with the pain for a wee while. El and I had been here a few weeks before and I was happy I sort of knew the way, luckily it was actually more straight forward than I thought, though the kilometre or so of very gentle gradient up through the market was pretty bloody awful. I was glad when I finally arrived at my destination, red faced and sweaty – a real sight.

That fifteen km took me almost two hours. The slowest fifteen km on record. I was sore, hot and tired and sort of regretted making the over-eager decision to do it. However, after a shower, food and a couple of pints I was feeling as perky as normal and even better, I had no pain at all the following day. Something good I guess.

I will wait a week before doing it again !

Well maybe a shorter run wont hurt in between…

* OK, I know for some of you two hours is what you do on the way to a long run, but it has been a while !

Yep, Shoreditch again !

Tuesday 06 August 2013 – Shoreditch, London.

Another week, another street art walk in Shoreditch. With the ever changing nature of street art it is always worth checking out what is happening around the streets of Shoreditch. With the street art blogosphere full of stories of new works being painted over the weekend Darryl and I agreed to meet up at Liverpool St and take a lunch time stroll.

I was really keen to check out four new panels from Alex Senna that went up while I was away last week. However, I was already too late, with all four panels blanked out and a new commissioned advert was being painted in their place, damnit. I love street art for its temporariness, but hate it for the same reason!

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Darryl and I walked around for a couple of hour, checking out a few of the new pieces as I discovered a few works I had not seen before.

This new work from Vinie and ReaOne is really cool, I really liked the hair made out of their names.

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On Blackall St I found a rarely closed shutter with an old Dscreet owl and some Sweet Toof teeth.

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And a new mashup from phonebox artist D7606 collaborating with Ben Murphy.

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I was really looking forward to seeing this wonderful work from Otto Schade.

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Brazillian artist Cranio is back in town and has been pretty prolific, fixing up some old pieces as well as adding a few new ones.

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Shok-1 has done a couple of his ‘x-ray’ style pieces, this is definitely my favourite, I would really like to watch one if these being painted as I am intruiged as to how he does it.

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As you will know I am a big fan of the work of Jana and JS and had not seen these small stickers before, I have seen larger copies of both of these around Shoreditch and the kneeling Jana is one of my favourite pieces of all.

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The more I look around the alleys and doorways of Shoreditch the more work by French artist C215 I find, often these are small pieces tucked out of the way, but they are always worth stopping to look at.

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It was a good couple of hours out, I was bummed to have not see the Alex Senna panels, but I have read about some more of is work being completed over the past week so maybe I will get a chance to find some next time.

this was cool !

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I have uploaded a bunch more to my Flickr stream.

Street art – Southbank and Leake St

Monday 05 August 2013 – Waterloo.

The weekend just gone saw the Urban Culture Festival at the Southbank Centre, I had other plans so was unable to turn up on the Saturday and Sunday, though I did go for a quick peek on Friday afternoon, though nothing was happening then. Among other activities there was some street art going on so I arranged to meet fellow appreciator Darryl there today.

I got there a bit early and went to have a look at the skate park to see if there was anything happening, but it was dead. I did find a new painting though.

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Darryl and I started off at the Southbank Centre and a big new work by Stik. Part of the programme at the weekend was Stik giving a street art class, so after he had finished his painting a bunch of people coloured in the figures. It was pretty cool !

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There was some tape art by Ben Murphy.

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Around the back of the centre there was work by a few artists, sadly there was a whole load of work going on there when we arrived and it was really hard to get shots on most of the work and impossible for the large Dr Zadok and Spore mural as it was completely fenced off, with a large truck in front to add to the blockage. We did get to full see this 3Dom piece.

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But the mural by Captain Kris, Spzero76 and Si Mitchell was hard to photograph in its entirety with the Spzero76 section marred by a large open door.

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Dan Kitchener.

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Just like in the Dan Kitchener mural it started to rain as we headed over towards the Leake St tunnel by Waterloo station, thankfully it stopped as we got out onto the road side, though it hammered down later on and I was stuck at Southbank for 30 minutes as I waited for it stop enough to run for a bus.

Leake St tunnel was totally different to last time I was there, and the Lost Souls Crew of Captain Kris, Spzero76 and Si Mitchell had been busy there as well.

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Dr Zadok and Spore had a mural at the end of the tunnel.

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And I also liked these pieces by some artists unknown to me, I am assuming handles.

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Kaes

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It was good to catch up with Darryl and see some new work and we arranged to meet up again tomorrow to see a couple of new works up in Shoreditch – before they were gone…

A street art walk around Fish Island.

Sunday 04 August 2013 – Fish Island, Hackney Wick, London.

It was another fine day and El’s last day off before she heads back to work, so a walk followed by lunch and a glass of rose were definitely in order. It was also the day of the big London bike ride, with thousands expected to turn out at Olympic Park for the start of the ride. Naturally we decided to walk around the canal at Hackney Wick, right next door to the Olympic stadium was in order. Neither of us had been there before and the canal tow paths are always great to walk on, plus I knew there was a load of street art to look at!

We left home sort of early, definitely before lunch anyway and seemed to miss the crowds at Olympic Park. All credit to the designers of the area as it just absorbs loads and loads of people seemingly with out crowding. The Olympic stadium itself is still closed though.

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The canals at Hackney Wick are behind the stadium and the new Energy Centre, but away from where the bike ride was starting and it was fairly quite there, a nice place for a stroll.

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We walked around Fish Island (which is not really an island at all !) for a while, watching this canal boat work its way through the locks up towards the Regents Canal. There are a huge number of boats on the canals at the moment, and I frequently see them moving around, but rarely through going the locks.

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Some of the locks do not look that welcoming though – I definitely would not swim here…

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I liked Fish Island, it is still a little rough, but you can see it is going to be all hipster posh and middle class sooner rather than later and there are loads of new apartments being built nearby. I could see myself living in a warehouse conversion like this though…

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It was a great stroll around a part of London new to both of us, followed by a very nice lunch and rose back at Stratford.

There was of course loads of street art to look at too.

This wonderful new piece by Ekta has been the cause of some controversy…

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Along with this new mural

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Run

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Sweet Toof
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Malarky

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I really liked this by Josh Jeavons, I haven’t seen any of his stuff before.

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Broken Fingaz

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Some unknown artists

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I liked this painting on two wooden panels behind bars

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I guess this sums it all up for some people 🙂

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I find a small patch of heaven on the Isle of Wight.

Saturday 03 August 2013 – Isle of Wight.

It was the last couple of days of El’s holiday and she had arranged to visit someone who lived in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. I have memories of visiting the island from when I was a child and was keen to go back and have a look around. This plan was sort of taken over by new found need to go for a run so I planned on running while El did her visiting, a turned out to be a good plan !

A few weeks ago I had bought a new casual use day pack, but being the brand snob that I am I bought an expensive Osprey pack, one that also seemed to be quite good for running with…. I loaded it up with my running gear and a towel and we headed off to Waterloo station to catch the train down to the coast at Portsmouth. This weekend there is a big cycling event in London with tens of thousands of people expected to attend, it was a good time to get out of town, and loads of people with bikes were arriving at the station as we left.

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It was also the first weekend of the new football season – except for the top ranked premier league which starts in two more weeks. Portsmouth were at home to Oxford United so we were aiming to time our travels to miss any potential rowdy supporters – and by rowdy I mean singing and shouting, not drunk and violent, though I definitely wanted to miss any of thosetoo, if they still existed.

I was a bit pensive on the way down as I planned on attempting a couple of hours of running, not something I have done in a good six months, and this only on the back of a forty minute jog last week, my first in over a month.

Once in Ryde I farewelled El, got changed in the public toilets and then went to seek advice from the tourist information office, where I met the most unpleasant tourist guide I have ever met, a rude little angry man. Luckily once he thrust some maps in my hand I was able to escape unlike the poor woman after me who actually needed advice…

However I was soon on my way, calmed down and ready to enjoy some fresh air, some fresh sights and some nice running. I decided to keep it simple and just jog out of Ryde in the direction of Seaview, go for an hour and turn around and come back, no need to worry about maps or having to find my glasses to be able to read them. Most of the run was along a sealed path alongside the sea front and I stopped to take pictures all the way along, sadly my camera had a big smear on the lens so the photos are not as sharp as I wanted… Apart from the concrete path it is a lovely spot for running and the conditions were near perfect.

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After about forty minutes the path ended at a set of steps up into…. heaven, I guess.

Starting at Horestone point was a lovely little bit of muddy, rooty single track that ran above Priory Bay, a lot of seemed to be private track and I had to skirt around some holiday homes a couple of times, but it was the sweetest bit of trail I have run in England, twisty and turny, short ups and downs and just like home.

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I loved it and had a smile on my face all the way to the end.

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And then all the way back again…

It was so cool to run in the dirt again, and the twisty muddy track suited my slow plod so much more than the road ever did. But it was soon over and I took a slow jog back along the water front to Ryde.

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I love this sign…

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When I got to Ryde I discovered the tide was about five hundred metres further out then when I started. I was planning on a cool swim at the end of the run, but ended up with a knee deep splash, just out of the hovercraft lane, it was not quite enough to refresh, but at least I could wash my feet 🙂

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Once I had cooled down enough I took a walk into Ryde and had lunch and a well earned pint in one of the local pubs where I met El and we made our way back down the long long wharf.

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And caught the ferry back to Portsmouth, and the train home.

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It was a nice wee run, I surprised myself by getting two hours done, slowly and with lots of stops to take photos, but then again I wasn’t racing anyone, and the pack was awesome to run with too 🙂