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Thursday Afterworker Ride Report

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  • Jane Davis
    Well, only Natasha at the Needle. The massive drenching showers of earlier in the afternoon had completely disappeared and if you had planned to come, but
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2013
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      Well, only Natasha at the Needle. The massive drenching showers of earlier in the afternoon had completely disappeared and if you had planned to come, but changed your mind due to that earlier weather,myself you missed a treat. Over the bridge, through the mad mayhem that is rush hour Thames crossing traffic, for maybe a minute, down to the riverside and peace, calm, sun peeping through the clouds. A real theme of this ride, Far from the Madding Crowd, you might say.
      The ornamental canal was dotted with the nests of water birds. One fine swan stretched up to reveal one fine, huge, blue egg. We oohed and aaaahed at the coot chicks, bobbing up and down. Earlier, I had seen what looked to be a wagtail, but a yellow one, trying to drink. I have never seen a yellow one here before, anyone else?
      On through the two basins to the Regent Canal. Natasha was a West Londoner, so was keen to know through just what parts of London we were weaving our way. The canal was quieter than at the weekend, and sometimes we were even able to ride alongside each other. We headed up the steep slope at the Islington canal and found our way through the useful and quiet network of cycle lanes here back to the canal. Soon we became aware that we were in the Kings Cross/St Pancras area because of the massive amount of building work alongside the canal. We headed up the steps leading to the new St Martins Fashion School. After pootling around a bit, ending up at dead ends due to the massive building site that this part of London is, I eventually gave up trying to find a back street way to our destination and headed up the main road for a short stretch, then down a cycle route which took us straight to StPancras Churchyard. Through the gates, and into another world. The setting sun through the trees gave the small area an atmospheric warm, green glow. There were not many graves, but a few famous ones. Sir John Soane is buried here, and his mausoleum apparently inspired the design of London's iconic red telephone boxes, as are Mary Woolstonecraft, author of Vindication of the Rights of Women, and her husband William Godwin. Her daughter Mary, author of Frankenstein is supposed to have planned her elopement with poet Percy Bysse Shelley at her mother's grave in the churchyard. Bach is buried here, too. When the London Midland Railway needed the land for its huge railway development in the area, Thomas Hardy, a young architect student at the time, was given the job of exhuming the graves which had to be moved, and recording these. The gravestones are piled up in one corner of the churchyard, and an ash tree has grown up through them, its trunk almost absorbing and enfolding many.
      By now, it was getting dark. We had taken longer than I expected to make this part of the journey and so we decided to leave the second part of our journey to another evening and headed back down to Waterloo, past the award winning Brunswick development then back to the Madding Crowd down Kingsway. Natasha enjoyed the swoop around the one way system at Aldwych to Waterloo Bridge and there we parted, her to head back to West London and me to head south in the gathering gloom.
      Next week, a river, Rotherhithe, Deptford and Bermondsey trip. Maybe with a bit of Blackheath and Greenwich thrown in. Watch this space.

      Best Wishes, Jane
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