Tuesday 30 June 2015

Heading west

Temperatures are  rising today, with 33 degrees forecast for tomorrow, so it was clearly time to leave London. There have already been regular announcements on the Tube that people feeling unwell should seek attention before getting on the train “because we can look after you better in the station” – and, incidentally, of course, save the possibility of delays dealing with slumps and collapses inside the carriages.

There’s also the matter of English men feeling empowered to wear shorts, which is dazzling, and not in a good way. So today we headed out of London into the Home Counties, escaping via Waterloo where it was already so stifling that pigeons flapping overhead provided a welcome breeze.

Have you ever considered exploring Guildford? You should. It’s such a pretty town, with a pedestrian-only cobbled High Street leading up the hill from the river, lined with brick and half-timbered buildings, an ornate gilded clock hanging over the roadway. There are inviting side alleys, nice shops, lots of historic edifices, good pubs and plenty of local civic pride.

And out in the country, along narrow country roads between hayfields and wooded hills, there are little villages with neat greens, herringbone-brick half-timbered pubs, manor houses with elaborate brick chimneys, and individual features like the clock at Abinger Hammer where a clockwork blacksmith strikes the hour on a bell, across the road from the green where today children were playing in the River Tillingbourne (more of a stream, really) to cool off after school.

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