Category Archives: Further afield

Exploration beyond London

The Kingdom by the Sea

“England, of course, resembles a pig, with something on its back. Look at it. It is a hurrying pig; its snout is the south-west in Wales, and its reaching trotters are Cornwall, and its rump is East Anglia. The whole of Britain looks like a witch riding on a pig, and these contours – rump and snout and bonnet, and the scowling face of Western Scotland – were my route.”

Paul Theroux The Kingdom by the Sea 1983.

Bedraggled ten-year-old t-shirt

In 1999, MM and I attempted the most clichéd journey in Britain – the End-to-End. We started at the ‘wrong’ end, John O’ Groats, planning to cycle to Cornwall in time for the Total Eclipse on August 11.

I say ‘planning’, but in reality, our plans were rather poor. I injured my knee on the first day, but we stupidly continued, making it worse day-by-day, until we had to bail out and take the train for large chunks of the route. We did get to see the Eclipse – well, as far as that was possible through the thick black clouds – but have always planned to go back and do the trip ‘properly’.

Carn Brea, Cornwall, England. August 1999.

So ten years on, we’re giving it another bash – starting at Land’s End this time. We haven’t got a date yet, and we’re yet to figure out routes, distances, time-frames etc, but it’ll almost certainly be soon after the end of MM’s summer term.

One thing is certain, we both need to get fit and make some proper weekend cycle trips before then.


Elmley Marshes

Yesterday, we went to Elmley Marshes to look at birds, which involved about 17 miles cycling and a fair amount of walking.

The last leg of the ride to the reserve was down a semi-made-up track, and required quite a lot of care. So it wasn’t particularly energy-sapping, but it was tough on the hands and arms, and by the end of it, my backside felt like an endangered species, although there appears to be plenty of it.

It was a beautiful day, and we saw all sorts of birds, but the highlight was a short-eared owl, hunting among the long grasses and reeds, just before twilight. Then it settled on a post, and one of the other birders trained a spotting scope on it, and gave us a look. It was really a splendid bird, and so clear and easy to see with the scope. It made me hanker after a spotting scope, but I guess it’s too early to start making up this year’s Christmas wishlist already.


View from one of the hides at Elmley

So an enjoyable, if tiring day, but marred at the end by my neighbours’ decision to throw a party, in a terraced house, with a DJ and bass cranked up until it caused the pictures on my wall to vibrate, even in the rear wing of my house that has no party wall with their house. The music went on until about 4:30 this morning, and pretty much wiped out today for both Molecule Man and myself. Bastards.

The Dook

Originally uploaded by Yersinia

I may be mad to consider entering the triathlon, but not mad enough to go for a “dook” in the Tay on New Year’s Day.

This was a another test post to figure out how to post flickr images.