Fat Hands

she used to sit in this cafe, and just face the wall. And it wasn’t coffee she was drinking

Bow Back Rivers

Posted by Alix on 18 June 2007

Inspired by Diamond Geezer (who I have nabbed some of the following links from, ta!) we went for a wander around the soon to be olympigged Bow Back Rivers on Sunday. The weather was just right for walking and we managed to cover a decent amount of ground (you can see our route here and a map of the area here). The first section we went down was familiar territory, down Old Ford and past what I am sure is the old Big Breakfast house, but Steve thought that it was somewhere else. Personally I can’t see why it would be, it looks almost identical, and is in the right place (hmm). I didn’t want to offer a firm opinion; my family were not the breakfast TV types, more the mad dash for the school bus type, so I can’t really remember the architectural specifics, but still. Next we went up the Old River Lea which I thought was the nicest of the sections- very quiet and still, baby moorhens peeppeeppeeppeep and not much else going on save the occasional plane overhead. Next we bent back on our route to go down City Mill River. This section I found the least appealing; I can’t see myself being overly sad when it gets developed. It’s a wide open stretch of water with industrial buildings on the other side and not a whole lot else. Next, we came onto the Greenway near Stratford High Street and entered the bit I was most excited about – Waterworks River. I knew it was overgrown, but I hadn’t quite reckoned on just how overgrown. It felt very private, very much like we’d strayed off the map. Obviously we hadn’t, but when you’re shoulder deep in what is essentially a loose hedge of brambles and nettles you feel very isolated (see above). I quite enjoyed it; it was a kind of loneliness I rarely feel these days – that sense of being stranded with nothing but your own wits to get you back to civilisation. I think the last time I felt that was the time we canoed from Islip to Oxford and back, and realised on the way back that it was pretty dark and we had a long way to go yet before we’d be back home. Funny, that involved a river too. I really wasn’t sure that we’d be able to get all the way up the Waterworks River path, but turning back was unthinkable, so we forged ahead into the unknown. After a decent amount of time, during which I confessed that this was one of my less brilliant ideas, we emerged onto the road and tried to seem nonchalant as we ‘d come out at the same time as a large group of people taking photos. I assumed they were the Newham Council walk the olympic park people, and I like to think they’d just been told that where we’d come from was inaccessible, or at least only attempted by the mentally deranged. I had a selection of twigs in my hair, which could also have accounted for the odd looks.

We had a roast in the Royal Standard on Victoria Park Road afterwards, which was the low point of the day. It’s definitely a pub for the locals – we got the distinct sense that anyone else could fuck off. We ordered some pudding, waited 40 minutes for it, were fobbed off when we enquired as to its progress, then asked for our money back, which we got, but without so much as eye contact, let alone an apology. I don’t recommend the place. Also, seeing as I am ranting, the waitress knew nothing about food, and was asking if I wanted mint sauce with beef. I didn’t, funnily enough, but she brought it anyway. Disappointing.

Saturday was also pretty good – sheltering from the rain under the bandstand in Greenwich Park for a friend’s birthday picnic, reading choice passages from Ulysses aloud, and listening to The Pines and other musical delights.


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