Is it a sin to take great pleasure in walks taken by others and about which you can only dream? I hope not, because for the next two or three months the Tuesday Walks in Kalkan, Turkey, will only be dreams for us as we hunker down in our Richmond home for the winter. And winter it is. As I write this blog today, the view out of the window is across frozen lawns sprinkled with snow. Turn up the heating!!
The email on Monday from the “Organiser in Chief of Tuesday Walks” – or “Chief Tormentor” as I think of him – announced that this week’s walk (or dream for those of us in far away places), would be from the D400 highway at La Vanta to the Roman Aqueduct at Delikemer. This is a walk I know well. It is part of the Lycian Way and was described in my blog on Walking the Lycian Aqueducts. Judging from the photographs produced by my good friend the local natural historian, a good time was had by all.
Our Tuesday Walk, in wintery Richmond, was a walk with a purpose – to get our flu jabs. These are the annual inoculations against the flu virus given to people over a certain age and we definitely qualify. The GP’s practice is about 2km from our place. There is a bus that runs more or less door-to-door, but that wasn’t for us. We want the exercise of a brisk walk. Just before 9 o’clock we set out down Queens Road, the main road that runs from the top of Richmond Hill and passes our flats. It was busy with commuter traffic and kids being taken to school. Two large dust carts were making their stop-start way down the hill blocking the traffic at every opportunity. What a good choice of time to start the rubbish collection on a main thoroughfare. If only they were to wait till one minute after 9 then the kids would be in school and the bulk of the traffic would have gone. But that would smack of forward planning.
Within a space of about 500m we pass three schools. Two are primaries and one secondary. There are kids of all ages running in all directions as it is now perilously close to school bell time. Unlike Kalkan where a surprisingly large number of young children – they look to be no more than 12 years old – turn up on motorised scooters, in Richmond it’s the very young – under 7 – who clutter up the pavement with their foot-powered scooters. I’m not sure which are the greater hazard to us poor pedestrians.
Towards the end of the walk we have to cross the suburban railway and underground tracks. The bridge is a rather elderly concrete construction with a worrying number of metal plates holding bits of the concrete together. No doubt it is safe but that’s not the impression you get.
As we cross the bridge there is a glimpse of the Pagoda in Kew Gardens. This is a magnificent, if surreal, structure standing nearly 50 metres high (163 feet) and is a Grade 1 Listed Building. It is normally obscured by trees but is visible from the bridge for a few short months in winter. It’s a reminder that our next walk should be to Kew Gardens.
We’re soon at the surgery and ready to bare our arms for the needle. The nurse, who neither of us has seen before, has a bedside manner which could be politely described as “disinterested”. How apposite to find when we get home that the day’s news headlines are on that very subject. To quote from The Guardian :
“Nurses are being urged to focus on compassionate care, amid concerns that some patients are not receiving the level of treatment to which they are entitled. Under a new three-year strategy, Compassion in Practice, recruitment, appraisal and training of staff will be based on values as well as technical skill.”
We know what they mean. Do we have to wait three years for anything to change?
Now suitably protected against any germs that are floating about, we head back by the same route to home. It’s 9.30 and, forgetting about the two hour time difference, exactly the time that the walkers will be setting out in Kalkan. Our conversation turns to the Tuesday Walks, how much we miss them for the exercise, the wonderful scenery, the natural history, the sun and, possibly most importantly, how we miss the most excellent company of fellow walkers. If any of you are reading this, please keep a place warm for us, we’ll be back as soon as possible. Meanwhile we’ll keep dreaming.