South of the River and East

Last week, over the bank holiday weekend my good friend and I cycled from Southampton Way in London to Greenwich and along the Thames Path, all the way east to the Thames Barrier. It was a thoroughly good ride and having not been there in a while was surprised to see how much development has taken place and how much is going on – the place will be unrecognisable in the next ten to fifteen years. It is though, still one of my favourite places to go – does feel quite wild being so close to London but still so far.

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Hole in the Box

Box Freestone Mine is located on the outskirts of Box village, just off junction 17 of the M4. Again like so many of our trips, this one was conceived in the pub with emails going out the very next day. Several weeks later here we were, getting ready to enter these vast underground tunnels.

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This limestone quarry has been mined since Roman times though this came to halt during the very early 70s. Now its visited by intrepid explorers and the curious – buying maps from the local pub, the very good Quarrymans Arms (who looked after us once we’d finished our adventures) and is also the place where you can pick up the key to gain access to the mines.

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The tunnels are vast and if I remember correctly, are broken up in to three distinct areas Northern, Southern and one other area which I can’t remember!

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We had a great time, the mine is very impressive – there were discarded tools, old wooden cranes, graffiti going back to when the mines were mined and areas of tunnel that were collapsed.

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We were underground for a good few hours before finishing up at a place called the Cathedral, natural light teeming in from the hole above – its only whilst you have someone stood there that you get a sense of how large this space is.

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We exited the mine into someones garden (a seriously impressive garden it was too) and headed straight to the pub – not more than 100m from where we came above ground.

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A great session in the pub was the perfect end to the day with most of us opting for the very quaffable mole beer!

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Sleaford Mods – Donkey

Recently found this Nottingham based band and been completely blown away – the music is raw, aggressive and unlike anything else out there. I missed Punk first time around and feel that this very much has that DIY feel – compared to everything xfactor and music in general, this really hits the spot.

I’ve not stopped playing them and can’t wait to see them live in the next couple of months – enjoy!

St. Georges Day – Lamb Tavern

With Bombardier Beer being sold at £2 a pint, I decided to join some friends at the Lamb Tavern pub located in the Leadenhall Market which is in the heart of the City of London. I’m not really one to celebrate our national day but did have quite a good time, though think this was more to do with the band, the £2 beer and some Elvis lookalikes – they were having a great time!

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Tuesday – Shoreditch

A very good friend of mine, Camilla, has been in London for the last 24 hours and being in Shoreditch fancied checking out the street art scene for an article she’s writing for a newspaper back home. We had a great day bagging lots of photos, catching the Oasis exhibition, ate some amazing ceviche, drank cocktails in a private members bar atop a building with great views of London which was followed by an amazing meal at 8 Hoxton, Hoxton Square – just the best day.

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Visiting the Seaside

Hearing some of my good friends were visiting other good friends(!) I decided to jump in the car and gatecrash the party and pleased I did. We had great food and many laughs, catching up on each of our lives – it was good to see everyone.

Earlier today we decided to go for a walk along Brighton Pier – typically, it being a bank holiday weekend, it was teeming with rain!

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Turning Right

Having had a great evening with friends in the Somerset Village of Box, I set off bright and early the following day to return home to London. Twenty minutes in and already the electronic signs on the M4 were saying ‘Severe Delays’ at the next junction…

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Not being in any great rush to get back to London I opted to turn off the M4 and pretty much ‘follow the sun’ back to London – not looking at the map, just following my instincts and the road ahead. What should’ve been a couple of hours journey time ended up being about five hours – a thoroughly awesome five hours, which lifted my spirits greatly – it was much-needed and made me wonder more about sometimes just doing something with no end goal and seeing happens.

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I actually ended up in the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, spending a couple of hours enjoying the early morning sunshine amongst (I’ve since found out) the largest stone circle in the whole of Europe. It was really special and having been known to hug trees in the past, couldn’t resist touching these ancient monuments and wondering about all that has gone before these great monuments.

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Not being much of a religious person, I ended up visiting the church in Avebury, taking pictures of the church and its gravestones very near this monument built by our ancient ancestors.

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This morning really brought home how amazing we all are and how lucky we all are to have these reminders of previous lives. It also made me think of a walk I’d done with the boys a couple of years back – Op Rafter, where we also came across an ancient stone circle…