Thursday, 1 May 2008

A Walk In The Park

You might remember that when we first moved to the United Kingdon we lived for a few nights in a town named Cheshunt, first in a Bed & Breakfast and then in the Youth Hostel here. In a nice piece of symmetry, when we found a home to live in Turnford we ended up only a few minutes drive away from both of those places. On Sunday we took a short walk into Cheshunt to the Lea Valley Regional Park. This is a 26 mile (42 klm) long area running from the north-east of London all the way up to Ware (a few miles to the north of us). The park follows the course of the River Lea (Lee) along the Lee Valley. It is made up of a mix of countryside areas, urban green spaces, heritage sites, country parks, nature reserves and lake and riverside trails, as well as sports and recreation centres covering an area of over 10,000 acres (40 km²). As we have headed in towards London, whether in a car or by train we have always been amazed at how far South the park extends. When we got to the park we looked at a map which showed it travelling all the way into Tottenham and within a relatively short distance of Liverpool Street Station.

The weather over the previous 24 hours had been absolutely glorious. Temperatures had only got up to 17 on Saturday, but the beautiful sunshine, and the fact that it had been so much colder since we arrived in January made it feel like a Brisbane day in the mid 20’s. Meg, Wayne and Quinn had all got outside during Saturday and been up to the Library in Hoddesdon, but Brock had spent the entire day inside, preferring to play on the computer and watch television so we felt it was important to get out and walk. Unfortunately, just as we left the house that feature of English weather which we had been told to expect, misty almost-rain, started to fill the air. However, because it wasn’t really heavy enough to cause any sort of issue we pressed on.

As you can see from the pictures, the park was beautiful and leafy and green. Everywhere we looked there were flowers and the birdsong was very very loud. We walked through the first section of the park and saw some very extensive playing fields over to our right, however, the railway line wasn’t far away in front of us so there was a little concern as to how extensive the park might be (we hadn’t done all our research at that stage). However, as we crested the bridge we could see it extending for miles both North and South. It was at about this time that Quinn received the first of what were to be multiple phone calls from his girlfriend. She had also called a number of times the night before so he came in for a little bit of comment (some might call it teasing, but we prefer to think of it as comment!).

One of the things we have read about Lea Valley Park is that the rowing and rafting events are going to be held there during the 2012 Olympics (just in time for our 4 year Work Permit to expire lol). Imagine our surprise when we got to the other side of the railway bridge and the first water we saw was a stream that we would have had trouble getting wet in. Some jokes were made about the rainwater channels that we had seen on our way across and whether they would be in some way involved and then we found ourselves, as we walked around the bend, on the edge of a lake. Little Grebes and other waterfowl were everywhere, out on an island we could see Canada Geese (and we looked for them because we could hear them ‘honking’ away quite loudly). By now we had completely lost Quinn; we are not sure if this is because he hasn’t quite worked out how to walk and talk at the same time or whether he was trying to avoid us hearing his conversation (probably the latter) so we doubled back to try and find him.

Once we had been reunited we continued to walk around the edge of the lake, along what was called the ‘Circle’ walk. We had naively assumed that this would take us in a nice leisurely circle and ring us back to where we had been. As it turns out this is actually the case, the only issue is the significant number of miles you have to walk in order to achieve it. After walking south for a number of miles without any sign of turning at all, and with the rain starting to get heavier, we decided that this was a place worth revisiting and that we would head home.

Walking back through the park we encountered butterflies, robins, blue tits and more birdlife (Wayne might have to buy a book so that he is able to identify them). Most exciting though was something that we saw which wasn’t a bird. Just as we passed over the railway bridge once more on our way home, Brock spotted something moving across the grass and drew everyones attention to it. It looked like a squirrel, but there seemed to be something wrong with it’s head. We speculated as to whether it might have got caught in something, or be some sort of mutant, but when we got up closer, as it went on to the trunk of a nearby tree, we saw that what was on it’s head was actually a baby. The baby squirrel didn’t look thrilled to have to ride on mum’s head, and it struggled and moved as mum tried to climb up the tree. To be honest mum didn’t look too thrilled either, so we moved on quickly to try and relieve the stress that they might have been feeling in our presence.
By now the rain was getting quite heavy, so we headed back through Cheshunt, pausing only to take some photos of the beautiful pink blossoms on a local tree. Since we have arrived Brock has consistently called Cheshunt, ‘Chesnut’, however the town name comes from the Roman name for the area, Cestrehunt. Cheshunt is famous in several ways. Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, died here in 1712. The town's Bury Green neighbourhood was once the home of singer Cliff Richard, and to commemorate that fact that have built a block of apartments called Cliff Richard Gardens on the spot. Lotus Cars as well as the nationally famous Debenhams were also founded in Cheshunt, and the headquarters of Tesco, the UK's largest and most profitable supermarket chain, is also located here.

You can also put comments at the end of the letters, so there is yet another way to keep in contact with us. Once again we would like to thank all those people who have taken the opportunity to do that already. This weekend we are looking forward to heading down to Penzance in the County of Cornwall (as well as journeying to Land’s End, the westernmost part of England) so we hope to have lots more things to post photos of and tell you about next time.

Hope all is going well where you are!

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