One of the great benefits of working at St Mary's is that we're in the most beautiful part of Greater London. Waterloo is barely half an hour's train ride away, and yet we're surrounded by wonderful parks and the river which as Peter Ackroyd so accurately describes is liquid history.
This weekend the sun shone and the banks of the Thames were filled with dog walkers, strollers, and picnickers. On Saturday we took our bikes up to Waterloo and then cycled five miles east, out through the old wharves, past Tower Bridge and on to Rotherhite, Surrey Docks and Deptford. Everywhere new homes have been built, gleaming glass centric flats jostling with reconfigured warehouses and stores. All looking out across the sparkling glutenous river to the solid impenetrable capitalist fortress of canary wharf.
There are lots of hidden treasures on this part of the river. Edward III's manor house, Brunel's first tunnel, The Mayflower pub, the ancient entry gates to the long defunct dockyards at Deptford - all before the baroque glories of Greenwich.
Sunday we went the other way and spent the afternoon heading towards Windsor. It's a great ride out through Kingston, round Hampton Court, through Hurst Park on on to Walton, Staines and Runnymede. Again the towpath was crowded, but the cycle paths are clearly marked and we made good progress, stopping for late lunch by Chertsy Bridge.
The final ride into Windsor is made difficult by the Crown Estates keeping so much of the land bordering the river private, which means having to drag your bike up a load of steep steps to cross into Datchett and then share a single file path with the Thames Pathers in slow formation for about a mile. Still the arrival at the foot of the castle is a huge reward. We had an ice cream, pottered about looking at royal wedding tat, took in a brief sweep of Eton, before catching the train back to Richmond. Sunburnt and happy.