I’ve never understood the point of orienteering. All those bits of paper and the funny stamp with different spikes attached to a tree truck. As for actually reading the maps, even if the sun was out telling East from West was never straight-forward. So, I was not surprised when I got lost in the middle of London yesterday, a city I have lived in for most of my life.
One of the aims for next year is to knock off all the landmarks that I can see from our loft window. The two most prominent of which are The Shard and The Gherkin. According to Map My Run the round trip would be about 12 miles, a nice little earner before a walloping good lunch that had been promised courtesy of Mrs H’s mum.
Getting to the river was easy, but the moment that I stumbled down a side street, having momentarily lost The Gherkin, I was lost. Not only is it built on a surprisingly small bit of land – no bigger than our local McDonalds drive-thru – but it is perfectly spherical. It’s just the sort of place that you need Ariadne’s thread to get out of. Or a map. The wind suggested that I was going the wrong way, but signs for White Chapel, Aldgate East were too familiar not to follow, and it was only when I asked at the local market that I was pointed back the way I came. And that was only to find the river.
12 became 13 and then quickly 14 miles, but like the narrator is the sublime observational ramble through W12, I realised that it was just what I needed. Since the boy’s birth I had retreated to a familiar routine that kept me as close to home as possible. I needed to get out and explore. To get lost again. The highlight of the morning came when I overtook the Floating Duck down the Thames.
And I was grateful for the miles too. I have just signed up for my first ultra of the year – 45 miles from Bucks to Little Venice in the middle of January. Call it an aperitif, if you like, but it is really a test to see what’s in the bank before the big one down the Canal du Midi in the Spring.
As for the lunch, you couldn’t have asked for more, except that I did and there wasn’t any, so I tucked into some of the boy’s instead.