Old Stomping Grounds 

I am a week into my trip now, and am still struggling somewhat to be awake at either end of the day here in England. On the other hand, there has only been one day so far when I had anything to get up for, which was the morning of teaching with the Wimbledon group on Saturday. 
This feels like familiar territory now, and it was nice to reconnect with the regulars, to sit together and then to talk about the Bodhisattva Vows. I was happiest at the end when we had a lively discussion about intention and impact, which continued over lunch, and afterwards I also got to hear from Alan some of his future plans, which sounded exciting, and which I will be happy to help with.

I find that my usual cure for jetlag for the first couple of days in London is to walk outside; it has been warm and at least half sunny while I have been here, and I had an enjoyable afternoon in Hyde Park the day after arriving. The next day I set out for the first of what I hope will be many runs: I took the train to Paddington from Ealing where I was staying, walked out of the station to the canal basin, and then ran all the way back. 

When I was a kid, my family took several canal holidays, so I am fond of the whole scene, and always marvelled at how the waterways offered a very distinct view of any city. The Grand Union runs by many housing estates, and alongside the railway lines for a while, with light industry eventually giving way to quiet greenery. There were many swans, and a couple of herons.

I took the train up to my mother in Hereford on Sunday – despite several cancellations – and got to relive my nostalgia for the landscape on different sections of the journey. There were roads I frequented, on a bike or running, in my youth, in my college years, and in early adulthood along the way. I find something deeply comforting about the solid green and brown countryside, and the familiar trappings of middle class life that I could never quite settle with for myself.

In Hereford I ran again the familiar loop I have been doing for almost thirty years, though I did it in the less usual direction this time (which makes it a clockwise loop, but with the slight sense of unease from running upstream along the placid Wye). The county is famous for its cider apples, and the trees were full of them.

And, since I had a rental car for a couple of days to help my mother with some errands, on Tuesday we drove through a morning of light drizzle and low cloud to Malvern. She stayed in town while I ran up to the top of a couple of the amazing hills, with views for miles in every direction, the rain having moved off to the south and east. I haven’t been up there for almost thirty years, when a group of us drove over from the nearby BBC training centre one winter weekend when the wind was fearfully strong. I have pictures somewhere of us leaning into the wind to stay upright. I probably won’t get to run the Cornish cliffs this time around, but climbing on springy turf to the top of North Hill will suffice for this time.

Pitshanger Park in Ealing, with wildflowers and blue skies a great antidote to jetlag.

Christo’s mastaba in the Serpentine in London. Having seen his wrapped Pont Neuf in Paris more than thirty years ago, it was nice to encounter this.

Attendees of the morning at Wimbledon on Saturday.

North Hill, the last of the Malvern hills I ran up on Tuesday.

After publishing the post, I was walking the same route along the river with my camera, so I thought I would add this picture of some apple trees.

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