The fog was still clinging to the park near my house when I left Cambridge. It lifted to reveal a glorious morning.
I arrived at Uxbridge 15 minutes early and settled on a bench in the sun with a large tea. Once the others had all turned up, we headed off to the first part of the loop, which followed the Grand Union Canal.
You can just make out yoyoangel and palmer1984 in the lower left of the top image.
Lots of teenage swans and ducks were flapping about the canal, setting the theme for the day as Birds.
This parrot attracted our attention by wolf-whistling us. It then proceeded to do a number of machinery imitations, including a very convincing “engine ignition on a canal barge”.
This peacock lives at a house about 100 metres from the parrot.
If I were a whimsical billionaire, this house would now be mine.
We stopped at The Coy Carp for lunch. The food was plentiful, the ale frothy and we ate our meal surrounded by attentive ducks. As a result of these distractions, we failed to notice the clouds rolling in. Above, R is watching the antics of the ducks as they scrambled to get to the bread some passersby tossed off the bridge to the pub garden. (The wonky crop on the second photo is entirely due to the photographer giggling about the duck getting stuck in the fence.)
The persistent drizzle that slowly drenched us as we resumed our trek to Moor Park forced me to stow my camera soon after this picturesque dead tree.
Our reward for slogging about a mile up a slippery, horse-poop-dotted bridleway were these Amanita muscaria, otherwise known as fly agaric. Pretty and psychoactive!
None of us were in the mood at the time, but if you ever are, Exotic Dancers can be viewed at the Prince of Wales in Rickmansworth from 2:30 to 11 PM. But only if you’re over 21. License plates have been blocked out, just in case anyone wasn’t supposed to be enjoying the company of Exotic Dancers.
We finished the Loop section at about 5 PM and scrambled onto a fast Metropolitan line train to central London. I ate a pasty at Kings Cross. There’s nothing so divine as hot food when you’re hungry and cold.
The bloke picked me up from Cambridge station. Hot baths, pizza and silly films were the order of the evening.
Strangely, we woke rather early on Sunday. We needed to pick up my birthday painting from the exhibition where he’d bought it. It happened to be near the Ickworth estate, a National Trust property that we hadn’t visited previously, so we hopped in the car to go for a long walk.
The last photo was taken from the far end of the estate from the rotunda. That’s a couple of miles away. I was pretty tired of walking by Sunday night.
We bought some fudge at the shop and hopped back in the car. At the exhibition, we were told to come back at 3 PM to pick up the painting. After several miles of walking, we were pretty hungry so we got directions to a pub that served us massive portions of roast (him) and chili (me). We admired the produce from the local onion-growing competition that had been fetchingly arranged at a table across from us. Just as we were paying the bill, the awards ceremony got underway, so we were further entertained while two ample-framed gentlemen shared all but one of the prizes. Categories included Best Novelty Onion and Best Presentation of Three White Onions. We were on the edges of our seats, I tell you.