Ordnance Survey number: Explorer 181
Distance: 5 miles approx
Time: 2 and a half hours (I was feeling lazy, ok?)
Rating: Moderate Walk - map reading and stile climbing required.
This is posting a bit late today, but I've been in a pickle because The Chap has been running a temperature for the past 24 hours, and I have been stuck playing Human Mattress because he refused to be put down.
St Mary The Virgin's Church, Ivinghoe was originally built at some point in the 13th Century, and at the time of writing is currently covered in some very modern scaffolding. There was originally some hope of the work being done by Christmas, but sadly it seems that it won't be finished until February.
Turn your back on the church (how very Dawkins of you), and follow the High Street down the mild decline. Shortly after passing the library and post office, take the second left down Green Lane. This rapidly becomes unsuitable for cars and leads you through a gate and onto the footpath that takes you across the field past the Pitstone Windmill. Cross straight across this field and follow the path straight across the next one - you will pop out, via a metal kissing gate, onto Vicarage Road.
Turn right down Vicarage Road, and follow until you reach the roundabout shortly after passing Pitstone Memorial Hall. Go straight across the roundabout along Cheddington Road.
Just as you leave the village of Pitstone, and slightly before the National Speed Limit sign, cross the road and turn right through a metal kissing gate to head towards the Grand Union Canal.
|Unidentified fungus #1|
This is the sort of slightly woody path that I like best - the sort of place Freudians look at in fairy stories and nod and suck their teeth at. I just like it because it feels atmospheric.
Speaking of the atmosphere, there must be something in the air at the moment, because almost everyone I talk to appears to be doing some form of exercise or dieting or both. There's been a rash of exercise/weight loss status updates. There are two reasons for this, I think. 1) Christmas, that annual Excuse For Gluttony is coming, and 2) The Godmother is getting married the week on December 17th, leading to a frenzy of dress choosing and posing to be done.
There's something about weddings - particularly in the age of digital photography, where you know the first pictures will be plastered across Facebook within 24 hours, and then following in dribs and drabs for the rest of the week - that makes us all behave like we're going to walk the Red Carpet at the Oscars. I know I do it; the year before I had The Chap, I marked weight-loss by the three weddings I had to attend.
I remember The Godmother getting engaged distinctly, because her fellow proposed when The Chap was 5 days old. She texted everyone in excitement - it had been 10 years in coming - and I, in my heightened emotional state, burst into tears in the back of the car as the ChapDad was driving us to hospital for the 5 day check. "When are you getting married?" I asked her. "Will I have enough time to lose the baby weight?". When she announced that it would be in December, I laughed. Of course I'd have lost the weight by then! Easy.
Of course I haven't. I am also still plugging away at Fat is a Feminist Issue, but I once heard Jo Brand announce that she got halfway through it and then ate it, which is sort of how I feel about it too, except it's on my Kindle and that would be expensive. It's just a bit ... worthy. The Female Eunuch is funny and filthy, but this is just a lot of handwringing. According to Orbach, I am fat allegedly because I am choosing to be so because it is doing something for me psychologically - probably something to do with me wanting to avoid sexual attention. I'm not convinced. In fact, it makes me go 'ppfffft' and reach for a chocolate brownie.
Because surely, to say that one gets fat in order to avoid sexual attraction suggests that no-one fancies fat girls (lest we forget, they're 'more grateful' and so 'make more of an effort'. The number of times some arsehat has announced that to me in a pub. To my face. ). I can plainly see the evidence for this, having never been kissed, or had a boyfriend, or been proposed to or got married. No no. Nothing to see here, I've just sat at home at pondered my navel. Which certainly isn't pierced. Fat girls don't do that. We're too busy feeling melancholy.
house by my own rage, I go and buy some form of trashy magazine. I bought one this week, and we shall call it - to pluck a name from the air - Nearer. It purports to contain information on such diverse subjects as fashion, celebrity and real life (albeit the type of real life that exists around the more extreme fringes and almost always seems to contain one story of rape a week. Why, one wonders...?). I know I shouldn't buy these magazines; my sister-in-law refers to them as 'A roll-call of social care referrals', which I think is pretty accurate.
This particular publication is especially poisonous, in my opinion. Because this one is endlessly mentioning somebody's weight, and, most worryingly, slyly implying that when they were thinner, they were happier. So there they are, printing their lead story about two examples of standard self-destructive tabloid fodder 'ballooning' from drinking too much. Here's a picture of one in a tiny blue dress at some awards bash, with the caption 'looked a lot slimmer attending a launch party in May'. On the next page, here's some reality-show wazzock who 'looked slim and healthy before', whereas in the next picture 'The star looked a lot bigger at a party last week'. The implication is that if they're fatter, it's an indication of their internal misery. I'm not denying comfort eating, what I'm disliking is the broad, brush-stroke implication that if you're thin, you're happy.
|Unidentified fungus #2|
|Potentially identified fungus|
I finally passed a fungus that I think I recognise. I'm pretty sure that this is a field mushroom. Had it had more friends, I would have picked them and taken them home for a spot of mushrooms on toast, but seeing as this one was there all on its lonesome, I left it where it was.
Shortly after the possible field mushroom, I reached the point where you have to leave the canal path. At bridge 123, take the path up to the left onto the road.
I was briefly concerned that this choice of path was deeply foolish, as it takes you across a single lane bridge with no footpath. That being said, it is quite easily done as long as you use your common sense with it and follow the traffic when the traffic light is green.
|The traffic light is not green.|
Continue along the right hand side of the road for a few hundred metres until you see a green footpath sign on the other side of the road. This leads you into Farm, and for a moment I thought I was going to have to turn around and go back the way I'd come, as there were large 'Disease Control' signs on the gate. I remember going for a walk with my father at the height of the 2001 Foot & Mouth Crisis, and having to phone to get my mum to pick us up from the middle of nowhere because we suddenly found that the paths we were supposed to go on had all been closed. However, as I approached the stile, I saw a large blue box on the other side, which upon further inspection, read:
All fine - feet dipped (easier said than done when you have a baby on your front and a knapsack on your back). Follow the path up the side of the field boundary until, just beyond the top right corner, you will find a gate and a bridge over a stream. I was really glad I was wearing boots here, because the mud was so churned up on the other side of the bridge that my trainers would have been ruined.Turn right and follow the field boundary again along the side of the Grove Farm pick-your-own patch. The strawberries were looking particularly sad.
|The sun sets over the |
|Is it me, or does this sheep have a really small head |
compared to the size of its body?
Is it the inverse Brian-from-Westlife of the sheep world?
His head is massive. Just have a look.
When this path ends, turn right for a few hundred metres, and then left along a clearly signposted path before you wander into the farm.Walk down Maud Jane's Close, and when you reach Station Road, turn left and you will shortly find yourself back at the church where you began.
By which time, I am pleased to say, my internal monologue which had at certain points sounded reminiscent of an episode of The Thick of It, had quietened. I know the easiest thing for me would be to stop reading these magazines, but I know they're there. They look at me, with an expression of poorly disguised loathing, the way they look at all women. And I read them every now and again in the hope that I can find something to approve of, or if it's just going to be another guilty frisson of vicarious bullying as we all crow at how terrible some overpaid, undertalented miseryguts looks in a tacky dress. And that's the greatest problem of all, because you know that guilty frisson of vicarious bullying? I like it.
Things I learnt
- The sun is going down a lot earlier. By the time I got home, it was dark and I felt like a dirty stop-out.
- The warm weather means mushrooms and other fungal fellows are out later this year.
- Certain types of magazines make me swear like a Billingsgate porter.