Friday, 23 December 2011

Aldbury to the Bridgewater Monument (Circular Walk)

In which I have a leisurely wander from the village of Aldbury up to the Bridgewater Monument and back, don't stop for a cup of tea because the Chap was a-napping, and wish you a festive furry fu-fu.

Ordnance Survey Map: 181 (Chiltern Hills North)

Distance: Approx 3 miles
Time: 1 hour
Rating: Easy-Moderate Walk (hills & maps & mud - oh my!)

On my previous walks around Aldbury I had seen signs to the Bridgewater Monument, so I have been quite keen to join the dots of The Aldbury Circuit Part I & Part II and the Ashridge Estate. Also, The Chap has been running yet another mild temperature (the average child has 12 colds a year, I think I read in the NHS Birth to Five book), and so a trot in the fresh air is always good.

This time I did not abuse the good nature of the Greyhound pub car park, but instead parked 100 or so metres beyond that in the recreation ground car park, where a few other people were starting off on their own walks - although they seemed to be heading more towards the Ridgeway than in the direction I was going.

Come out of the car park and turn left, walking down the road for about half a kilometre. It's quite a narrow road, but it's quiet with it. In due course, after passing a natty wrought iron gate on the right and seeing a large white country house hotel through the trees on the left, you follow the public bridleway signs and turn right through Stocks Farm and head gently upwards.

This bit through the farm was pretty muddy, so it was a case squelching for quite a long way. I reckon with a bit of tenacity of upper body strength you could do this walk in the summer with a pram, but in the winter  it would have been pretty dire. As it was, I still had to go pretty carefully as I'm always a bit concerned about slipping over and squishing the Chap on landing. He was oblivious, of course - by this point he had nodded off.

It being Christmas and the season of eating, I had thought a lot about weaning this week. Particularly as we had a pre-Christmas family dinner in which the Chap kicked off in a particularly impressive way (we later discovered it was probably because he was ill). He's not a big eater - we've had the health visitor in who announced him fine, and to keep doing what we're doing and he'll pick up on the food eventually. But yes, the way he can ruin a dinner is pretty stressful when you tend to use the preparing and eating of meals as a stress-relieving activity. I wrote a whole post about how, when your relationship with food is pretty messed up at the best of times, weaning can be pretty trying. However, I want to be enjoying Christmas dinner without all of my family-in-law peering at my extra helping of turkey and thinking 'hmmm', so it's not going on the blog yet. Maybe in the new year.

What has pleased me greatly this week, however, has been pubic hair. No, really. This is the sort of thing that pleases me. To my shame, I have finally been sucked into one of those weird half-reality half-soap opera shows, set in Liverpool and tastefully titled Desperate Scousewives. It's worth a look for nothing if not the eyebrows - they look like they've been drawn on with a ruler and a biro. Anyway, a couple of the girls on that were discussing how one of them had had laser hair removal on her - ahem - 'bikini area'. "Imagine being an old woman with a bald Minnie." the other commented. Quite. Why would you want such a thing? Let me nail my colours to the mast as being from the Caitlin Moran school of pubic hair;

"I now believe that there are only four things a grown, modern woman should have: a pair of yellow shoes (they unexpectedly go with everything), a friend who will come and post bail at 4am, a failsafe pie recipe, and a proper muff. A big, hairy minge. A lovely furry moof that looks – when she sits, naked – as if she has a marmoset sitting in her lap. A tame marmoset, that she can send off to pickpocket things, should she so need it – like that trained monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark"
How to Be A Woman, 2011

There is no dignity in being a grown woman with a la-la like an eight year old. And there certainly will be no dignity in it when you're eighty.

And before I continue on with my walk, let me continue publicising my shameless fangirl crush on Caitlin Moran by suggesting you  watch her opine in the attempt to flog her book:

I love her. I just need to say that. I love her.


The Bridgewater Monument at the Winter Solstice.
The path really was quite muddy, and as you head up into the tree-line it also gets a little steep. It's not too bad, but it took me longer than necessary while toting nearly 2 stone of baby up a muddy incline. As this incline begins to flatten out, you shortly come to a point where the path divides. Take the left hand hand fork (marked no horses) and head through the woods until you pop out onto a wide mobility trail which shows you are now clearly on the Ashridge Estate. Well, that at the Bridgewater Monument peering through the trees at you.

I had intended to stop at the cafe here for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, but the Chap was asleep and I didn't want to wake him, so I decided to save the calories for later and continue on my way.

Cross the field in front of the Bridgewater Monumnet as if you are heading to the cafe, then turn right down the mobility trail. In a few hundred metre this also diverges, so take the right hand fork downwards to head back towards Aldbury. This really is quite a steep incline, so watch your feet!

So yes, the reason why pubic hair has pleased me this week is that - apparently - it is coming back into fashion. Or so Eva Wiseman told me (me personally, of course) on Twitter, and she has striking hair, so it must be true. There's a pleasing article on that you can read by clicking this link. If you don't want to see any (tastefully done) muff shots, then don't.

I am heartened at the thought of a festive furry backlash. I was also heartened by a recent report on BBC's Woman's Hour that touched upon recent 'Muff Marches' held by the campaign group UK Feminista regarding the rise of 'designer vaginas'. Now, waving my 'I have birth vaginally and had a third degree perineal tear' flag (handed out in theatre, sometime in between the start of the suturing and the point at which they start talking about you as if you're not there. If you really want one, I'm sure you can pick them up on Ebay very easily. Amazon have probably started selling them, to be honest), I would like to look this allegedly rising trend firmly in the eye, poke its pigeon chest with my bony finger and advise it most strongly to leave be my cha-cha-cha. There will be some women who do need labioplasty - if they find bits of their anatomy interfering with sex and making it uncomfortable, for example - but the vast majority do not. This sort of behaviour, and the normalising of it, just plays on fears, to steal a phrase from Germaine Greer, that "No woman wants to find out that she has a twat like a horse collar". There is enough censuring about the female body from the outside - we don't need it to get internal as well. I'm not tying bows on my bloody kidneys for fear someone may want to have a little look. There will be no cravat upon my pancreas. My cervix does not need a hat. Back off, Harley Street. Back the hell off.

Anyway, hurrah for a festive muff, I say. Maybe I should have hallooed that as I once again entered the village of Aldbury. I didn't, sadly. I merely turned right, towards the centre of the village, then right again past the duck pond, the Greyhound pub and down the road again to the car park.

Things I Learnt
  • Gosh, it's dark this time of year.
  • And muddy. Don't look at the rain on your path as you leave and think 'oh,  my jeans'll be fiiiine', because  I was coated in mud to my mid shins.
  • Pubic hair pleases me. It really does. And the word 'merkin' is always welcome in Scrabble.


  1. I'm very pro-pubic hair for grown up ladies... because you know what, there is a thing called puberty and one of it's markings is we get lady fluff. It would worry me greatly if a lover was offended that I was old enough to have been through puberty. I'm not against a little trim if it's all getting a bit out of hand (or pants) but out and out deforestation is not my thing.

    Having a baby come out of one's delicates will probably make some slight structural refurbishments. However, if it really was all that terrible and meant there was no pleasure to be had by either party when tripping the light fantastic post baby, there would be no second babies.

  2. Well, quite. I'm not anti trimming, or people enjoying a spot of pubic topiary or dying it comedy colours just for the roflment of it, but this whole militant wing of Thou Shalt Have A Front Bottom Like A Cue Ball that appears to be lurking out there can go hang, I'm afraid.

    I did once consider a waxing when I was due to give birth, as my mum has a charming story of being shaved with a blunt razor while in labour with me. I was going to go and get myself seen to if that was on the cards, but I checked beforehand with my midwife and she said no, so I didn't. She said most people do like to have a bit of a tidy up beforehand, but frankly, I can't see why - in one's career as a midwife you end up being pooed on and hearing some colourful language, so it's not like you're going to get judgemental about the state of someone's pubic hair.

    In the interests of balance, is there anyone out there who reads this who is currently sporting a Kojak? I ask not because I wish to point and you shriek, but I am genuinely curious as to the reasons behind it?