On the EU Referendum

Sorry for a political post! But this is a pretty big deal to me. The main point being:

I don't get why people would vote to leave the EU.

Leaving will have an adverse effect on our already struggling economy and finances. Every single report, commissioned by the government, or not, says so. If you think we can just negotiate similar trade deals quickly, you'd be wrong. Norway's model would be worse than we currently have, as they need to pay into the EU, implement all the regulations, allow for free movement, but at the same time, there is no representation of them in the EU institutions. The Canadian trade deal is not nearly having the same access to the EU single market. Every deal made with the EU, would very muck likely require us to sign up to the free movement deals. Likely at worse conditions than now, because why would they have a non-EU country on the same deals as EU countries. There is no incentive for them. The same with negotiating other trade deals. The bargaining power of a block with half a billion people is surely going to be higher than that of a small island nation.

Leaving will do little to immigration. I have seen nothing substantially fact checked document that says it will stop people from wanting to go here. Even if it did have some effect, it's likely an adverse effect. It would put up a barrier for lots of professions that we have a shortage of (say, for example, nurses). And at the same time, make it harder for educated people to contribute to the economy, as likely there will be barriers for bringing spouse + children. Queue the £35k earning requirement for non-EU citizens.

Leaving the EU will have an adverse effect on security and border controls. The French are already saying they would put an end to the UK border checks on French soil (to prevent people without authorisation even making it to the UK). A deal currently stopping the migrants in Dunkirk and Calais from boarding Eurostar trains and ferries. Besides that, in the current climate of higher security risks due to terrorism, more integration of the police and border forces is going to be needed. Leaving the EU would make this harder than it currently is, or at least, not easier as would be beneficial.

Certainly, the EU institutions have flaws, and absolutely should be addressed. Britain, as a bit of an outsider, will be much better be able to reform the EU when they're actually part of that. Making the whole block, including the UK, more competitive globally.

But perhaps the most curious thing is why people think leaving is a good thing, is that they think the UK can be better off alone. It's such a selfish and arrogant point of view.

A single country has less clout than a group internationally. A single country needs to do more on its own, taking up more resources, because the burden can't be shared or distributed. A single country would find it harder to fill shortages on the labour market, due to hindrance of people moving around. A single country will find it harder to have access to common markets. A single country will find it harder to be an entry point (for say financial markets) into a group of countries it's not part of.

Instead of being so selfish, work together!

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Walking the Capital Ring - Section 8 and 9

Another nice weekend for a walk. Again, it was a little chilly, but nice weather. The tube ride to Boston Manor was uneventful. After a quick walk to the start of the section, we started our walk.

Section 8

Just as we ended the last walk wandering along the Grand Union canal, this walk started with a little bit of the same. After passing by Osterley Lock we soon however left the canal, just before getting to the triple locks of Hanwell Lock. Instead of the canal, we started following the river Brent through a meadow. Near Uxbridge road, the original Ring went under the bridge, but it has now been diverted. The incredible amount of stinking mud under the bridge was probably the reason. Good thing that I can't smell really. After figuring out the diversion, we ended up on a grassy field with a Heathrow Express train going over the Wharncliffe Viaduct.

Passing underneath the Victorian structure brought us to Brent Lodge Park, also called "Bunny Park". I think I prefer the latter name. We followed the river through the park for a bit, and spotted some parakeets. Literally every single park we have come through seem to be full of them. Apparently they thrive well in the London parks! The park also features the Millennium Maze, but that is something for another time. After leaving the bunnies, we cross over the Brent Valley Public Golf Course, and were nearly hit by a flying golf ball (not really).

From there on we continued past Bittern Field (a format garbage dump). Crossing Ruislip Road brought us to Perivale Park with its open spaces and playing fields. From there on we crossed the busy Western Avenue (A40) over the footbridge and past the tube railway to end up at Greenford. The end of section 8.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

1h 31m 50s

Distance

8.08 km

Average Heart Rate

110 bpm

Calories Burned

798 cal

Section 9

Right at the start of section 9 is the Westway Cross Retail Park, with some shops and fast food outlets. Not knowing what would come, we decided we wanted some proper food, like an upcoming café. We left the retail park behind and crossed through the Paradise Fields nature reserve to end up at the Grand Union Canal_ again, but this time the Paddington Branch. Technically, we can follow this all the way home, near Little Venice. Instead we left it behind at Ballot Box Bridge to get some well deserved tea and cake at the Horsenden Hill Visitors' Centre. Unfortunately, it was closed. Or rather, there was hardly any sign that there is normally a visitors centre. The loos were locked too.

So without the cake and tea, we had to climb Horsenden Hill. The view wasn't spectacular, and we were getting a little bit grumpy due to no food. Luckily at the bottom of the bill would be a pub, the Ballot Box. After descending through a path of mud (we got more grumpier), we finally ended up at the pub, only to find it closed as it was being refurbished/changed into a Hungry Horse. The parade across the road wasn't particularly useful either for food. More grumps. The next possibility to get some food would be in Sudburry Hill, but that required another climb. It's called Sudburry Hill for a reason. Sadly, when getting there we found nothing to our taste.

Our last chance for lunch would be Harrow-on-the-Hill. As the name suggests again, it was up a hill. But here we finally found a lunch place to our liking. The little creperie/art gallery Battels does wonderful crêpes, albeit with a little wait. Service wasn't great, and slow, but the food was good, and frankly we really deserved it after all these hills!

From here on, it would be only another two miles hike to the end of section 9. The first bit was through the grounds of Harrow School, and the last bit past the Northwick Park Hospital and the Northwick Park golf course. Arriving at South Kenton, it was only a short tube ride back home for a well deserved pint.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

1h 59m 23s

Distance

9.37 km

Average Heart Rate

118 bpm

Calories Burned

1600 cal

For the full photo series, see my Flickr set.

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Walking the Capital Ring - Section 6 and 7

New weekend, same drill. The weather was forecasted to be a little chilly, but sunny. After our tube rides to Wimbledon Park, we could begin our walk.

Section 6

Wimbledon Park, as the name suggests is close to the Wimbledon Tennis Club. Although they officially want you to go through Southfields station, the walk from Wimbledon Park station would go through Wimbledon Park (the park, not the station). And that's where our first bit of the walk passed through. It was a little bit busy in the park and after walking by the lake with swans, we soon left it towards the tennis fields. We never quite made it there though, and instead, we entered Wimbledon Common. After a few "rough tracks" with a little bit of mud, we encountered its main attraction: the Wimbledon Windmill (or perhaps the accompanying tea rooms?). After crossing the Wimbledon Common Golf Club we had to wait ages to cross the A3 to get to the Robin Hood Gate and Richmond Park. It had a funny Pegasus crossing too.

Richmond Park is the largest of London's Royal Parks. After finding our way around the car park, we started the walk up a hill: Spankers Hill, and then back down again to pass in between the two Pen Ponds. After going up another hill, and "avoiding" a short cut, we spotted one of the UK's oldest trees. At apparently more than 750 years old, the Richmond Royal Oak is quite a sight.

From here on it was mostly downhill into Richmond. After going around St Peter's and its church yard, and crossing a farm and a field, we ended up at the river Thames. We broke for lunch at the end of section 6, at the White Cross, for a pint and some fish and chips.

Section 6 is so far my favourite. With the beautiful weather helping, the views at Richmond Park where a definite pleasure to look at. We didn't spot deer, or Fenton though.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

2h 10m 18s

Distance

10.9 km

Average Heart Rate

106 bpm

Calories Burned

1106 cal

Section 7

With the weather being so perfect, we continued our hike along the river. After a short while we crossed it on the Richmond Lock footbridge to continue on the North side. We had to leave the river to get around a new development for a bit, to come back, but only for a short time. After about a kilometer we left the river to walk through Syon Park, with its manor house and garden centre.

After leaving the park, we found ourselves at Brentford, where the river Brent meets the Thames. The Grand Union Canal and the river Brent share a few stretches of water here too. We set off along the canal along the tow path. There was a nice contrast between the locks, colourful canal boats, and GSK's modern HQ. It was quite nice going on the tow path, but the sound of the M4 was a little distracting. We passed two sets of locks, crossed the canal/river on Gallow's Bridge, and ended our walk near Boston Manor just before getting to Osterley Lock.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

1h 12m 54s

Distance

6.28 km

Average Heart Rate

110 bpm

Calories Burned

728 cal

For the full photo series, see my Flickr set.

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Walking the Capital Ring - Section 4 and 5

We found ourselves walking another few sections of the Capital Ring last weekend. We picked up some lunch to eat on the train at Victoria and traveled to Crystal Palace to start. The weather looked reasonable, but some light rain was forecasted for later in the day.

Section 4

The first kilometer of the section was nearly fully up hill. Luckily, that meant that there were some pretty good views towards the West from Westow Park. Although we were pretty sweaty by this point. You can also see the results of this exertion back in the higher average heart rate for this section.

From there on, after a steep(er) hill down into Biggin Wood we quickly came up to Norwood Grove with its stately home. We admired the gardens, a blue plaque, and got slightly lost due to confusing signs. Apparently dogs are not allowed near the house. From Norwood Grove, we gently descended again around The Rookery, a formal garden, where we had a quick stop, before continuing across Streatham Common. After half a mile, we already found ourselves at the end of the hilliest section near Streatham Common station.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

1h 19m 47s

Distance

6.70 km

Average Heart Rate

115 bpm

Calories Burned

794 cal

Section 5

We didn't stop for a break, but continued our walk by going under some railway tracks and found ourselves staring at the pretty Streatham Pumping Station. We had a snack, and continued along to get to Tooting Bec Common. There were plenty of other walkers and runners about, and many people seemed to be playing some sportsbal on the pitches. We made a slight "detour" to checkout the Balham Boxing Club (really we went the wrong way) and came out of the Common to walk among the residential areas of Tooting and Balham.

Only a short while later we came to another common: Wandsworth Common. Perhaps not as large as Tooting Bec Common, but certainly as pleasant. Less pleasant were the few drops of rain failing on our heads. The rain didn't set in properly just yet, and we continued past Wandsworth Prison and the massive Wandsworth Cemetery. At the end of the cemetery lies Earlsfield. Unfortunately, the rain became more intense here, and we were happy to have our rain coats with us. Then again, walking in the UK without one is rather silly.

After Earlsfield town centre we walked along Mount Road, where I stayed with a classmate at a guest family for a few days all the way when I was in high school. We found that the official route got blocked by a (new) private playground at Durnsford Road Recreation Ground and took a (tiny) detour. After a short walk up the hill, we arrived at Wimbledon Park station to conclude section 5.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

1h 48m 28s

Distance

9.47 km

Average Heart Rate

110 bpm

Calories Burned

1018 cal

For the full photo series, see my Flickr set.

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Walking the Capital Ring - Section 2 and 3

Another weekend, another walk. As we did not have anything else to do, and the weather forecast looked promising, we decided to do two sections. A whopping 20km. We got up early, so that we could start the walk early as well. At least, that was the plan. However, there were no trains to Falconwood and the start of the section due to weekend engineering work. Two tubes, and Overground, and a 45 minute bus ride later we found ourselves on the route—but a mile too far down. As we wanted to walk the whole Ring, we started of towards the start of the section, even though we had to double back on ourselves to redo that extra mile.

Section 2

We started at the pleasant Eltham Park, with lots of dogs. Not surprising as it was a gorgeous Sunday morning. After coming down the hill, we passed through the Southern part of Eltham itself, avoiding the High Street nicely. A loop around a roundabout brought us to North Park, with plenty of 1 million+ houses (we checked on Zoopla). We then crossed into Tilt Yard Approach, named after a Tiltyard, a traditional place for jousting. The name signalled that we were close to a palace. And we were: Eltham Palace.

After we quick peek through the fence, and making a note that they had a café, we continued through the former estate along King John's Walk. Its surroundings mostly involved horses. Big and small.

We passed by Eltham College's playing fields to come to the end of Section 2 at Grove Park. This was one of the shorter sections, at only 6km.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

1h 17m 16s

Distance

6.36 km

Average Heart Rate

107 bpm

Calories Burned

643 cal

Section 3

Continuing with section 3, the first thing we did was crossing the railways near the station. And a massive cemetery. Through the green and leafy residential streets, and through the Downham Woodland Walk we made our way further along to the large Beckenham Place Park. Instead of taken the quickest route to the associated golf club's clubhouse, we wandered around it a little bit, by going over another railway, up the hill, down the hill, and up a hill again to finally make it to the club house.

We were definitely ready for a break. Keeping the walks booze free, we opted for tea, with sweet potato fries. After this break enjoying the tea, sun, and view over the golf course, we continued our walk. The first thing we hit was the sprawling grounds of the Kent County Cricket Club in Beckenham.

With the Crystal Palace transmitting station to lead us, we spend several twists going through parks. First Cator Park and then the Alexandra Park. After crossing over the railway at Penge East, and passing the closed down Hollywood East pub, we saw the antenna getting closer and closer. After a little stretch along the busy Penge High Street we finally made it to Crystal Palace, were we had to make a choice: either following the route through the Dinosaur Park, or the longer route along the outside of Crystal Palace Park. We opted to go for the walk through the Dinosaur Park, as signage indicated that that was the official route, and the other one the alternative one in case the Dinosaur Park was closed.

The Dinosaur Park is a Victorian oddity, with statues of how they thought that several types of dinosaurs would look like. But they did mix some species up, and one only shows it's bottom as they hadn't found the skulls yet. It's worth a visit if you're in the neighbourhood. As we gad previously visited it, we did not spend a lot of time there, but instead headed to the end of section 3 at Crystal Palace station.

From there we went home, stopping at several pubs (The Rake and the new Waterloo Tap) before collapsing at home from the slightly over 20km that we walked that day.

Route (with GPX)

Waymarked Trails

Time

2h 20m 38s

Distance

11.66 km

Average Heart Rate

114 bpm

Calories Burned

1515 cal

For the full photo series, see my Flickr set.

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