Easter 2009


Over the Easter bank holiday weekend in 2009, I went to stay with my parents and, from there, went on three walks.

Windsor to Staines

We're trying to walk the Thames Path, in chunks, and oddly one part we hadn't done yet was from Windsor to Staines (that's where my parents live, which is why it's odd). It's about seven miles. Mum and I went to do it on the Friday afternoon after I'd got down there.

We began from the 'riverside' station, the castle visible up the hill, and soon joined the riverside path.

A rain-spattered sign before a section of path, from a time before corporate logos.
1/45 at f4.5, 22mm, ISO200
And here's the Southern Railway Co Ltd's bridge across the Thames.
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Windsor is famous only for the castle, but there's a correspondingly large area of royal grounds (even where it's public land, more or less everything has 'royal' in the name). This very large hedge is around part of them.
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Nicely-shaped (and not-so-nicely-bricked-up) archway beneath a road bridge.
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Along the various stretches of river in this walk and the next, we encountered plenty of islands with (probably) extremely expensive houses on.

And just a few houses like this one. Which will also be extremely expensive just as soon as the recession ends and somebody gets planning permission to tear it down and erect a towering monstrosity in its place.
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Here's the rather fetching footbridge to one island.
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Eventually the walk reached familiar territory by Old Windsor, which is where one of my aunts lives (along with the corresponding uncle).

A very small door in Old Windsor church.
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We met Dad, who had set out on his bike to meet us, and briefly visited a small art gallery on Runnymede (which is famous for being where the Magna Carta probably wasn't signed, as well as featuring various memorials and a small chunk of America). Then back to Staines.

Shepperton to Twickenham

The next day Mum and I took a bus to Shepperton and set off downriver. We'd already walked Shepperton to Staines, so it was time for the next part.

Near the beginning of the walk we crossed Walton Bridge, described as 'the ugliest bridge anywhere on the Thames' in a book Mum had. It's a 'temporary' structure put up by the Army (to replace one that was bombed in the war) in 1953, and is great.

This was taken looking down into part of the bridge girders while standing on the footpath / cycleway, which used to be one of two roadways until it was closed to traffic presumably because it could no longer take the strain of cars and lorries. The bolted-on surface at the top of the picture is the previous footpath / cycleway, which has been fenced off presumably because it could no longer take the strain of walkers and bicycles. See what I mean? This bridge is awesome.
1/30 at f6.7, 10mm, ISO400
Part of the bridgework - I like all those bolts. The orange tube has a cable in for lighting, which probably doesn't work. (Actually, I have no idea whether it works or not since we weren't there at night, but I sort of feel it shouldn't.)
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And here's a picture from the riverbank after we crossed, showing some of the bridge's graceful lines.
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After that there were fewer exciting moments and a lot more reservoirs. Actually, to be fair, some of those were pretty interesting. Also, before that we passed a house where somebody had cut their hedges into shapes of (a) a child riding on a very large bird, probably an eagle or something (looked a bit like Nausicäa, if you're familiar with that), (b) a crouching bear, (c) a standing-up cute teddy bear, and (d) a rabbit. This wasn't some massive garden either, just a tiny riverside patch. And if you're wondering why I'm writing all this text about it, that's because although it was neat and funny, I didn't actually take any pictures of it. :)

Very large gates to a very large shed in a boatyard on an island near where we had lunch, approaching Hampton.
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Some traffic cones on Hampton Lock.
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Hampton Court is a really big stately home type thing. We walked past it without visiting the house or grounds this time.

Instead, we were treated to this impressive sight on a bend in the river. What on earth is it? It looks like ventilation for a tunnel, but we don't think there is one...
1/45 at f8, 10mm, ISO200
I think this was some kind of water board property across the river - anyhow, they had an archway in the water, which is obviously a cause for celebration or at least photographs.
1/90 at f5.6, 250mm, ISO400

After that we got to Kingston, had something to drink at a coffee shop, continued to Teddington Lock (the point where the river becomes tidal), crossed over the tall footbridge there, watched a very nice Dutch barge - with a nameplate cleverly designed so that the 'IJ' in its name were stuck together and looked exactly like a U - go under us, tried to estimate how many multiples of my parents' house it had probably cost, and walked along the road to Twickenham. (With a brief trip to a riverbank park to squelch through flooding from a high tide.)

We took the bus home from Twickenham - train would have been quicker but bus is cheaper, especially for mum who has her free pass. Also, the bus route was a little more educational (this is a pun - bear with me). It turned a corner only just before catching sight of one of my old 'alma maters', the ex-Spelthorne College, and did directly pass another one, Matthew Arnold School. Getting off the bus to walk back to the house then took us past yet another, Knowle Park primary school. (Just one [local] one left to complete the set!)

Chobham Common revisited

On Easter Sunday afternoon, together with dad we decided to repeat a walk that the two of us had done a year ago around Chobham Common.

Chobham Common looks pretty much like this.
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This is the old army base, which is being turned into a giant shopping centre - or was, back when our country's GDP wasn't negative infinity.
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Some modern sculpture outside the entrance to the base access road.
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A huge and very impressive tree on the southern part of the common.
1/250 at f8, 10mm, ISO200
Double-layer shed in a stud farm.
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Treetops when walking along a lane.
1/180 at f8, 10mm, ISO200
A lake where we stopped for a bit.
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More from that lake.
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Somebody sawed off the trees!
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Back to the common proper.
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Finally on Monday morning before I went back to sunny Milton Keynes, Mum and I went for a brief walk around Staines, cleverly choosing a route that passed the site of Kingston Road Middle School (which is now a rather ugly police station). We were heading for the Big Pipe, which may not be its official name, but...

Part of a building being demolished on the high street. They appear to have had ancient cave paintings or something.
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The Big Pipe! (I know, there are two big pipes, but the second one was added after we had already named the first.)
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Presumably this does something useful (like I don't know, stops it exploding or something).
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And finally

This is my parents' tub of cayenne pepper. It was apparently bought when they lived in Manchester, which makes it significantly older than me. The price was 5½, which we think means old pence, and it's from before they even had best-before dates... Dad put some on his soup and didn't appear to suffer ill-health as a result.
1/180 at f5.6, 163mm, ISO1600

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.