Saturday, 5 April 2014

Day of Bloke-ish things

cycle path on course of old railway As Jof had left us again, we decided on a day of being blokes. While I can go to the pub, it just doesn't hold the same level of interest for me as the pool tables are too tall. Thus, we decided to invent a bike ride.
Previously on "Mungleton - My Life", I have cycled a 12-mile circuit using the Hayling Ferry, the old abandoned Hayling Billy railway line (now footpath and cycle way) and a train to get home. This has been very good for me, because I get to have a pub lunch, visit new and interesting parks and not always wear a shirt. So this time we thought we'd try something completely different and get a train somewhere, cycle down an abandoned railway line, check out a few parks and get a ferry home.
From Fratton, we got the Cardiff Sprinter. This short train has only 3 carriages and the tannoy man insisted in a west-country accent that it would become very busy later so take your seats now (or simply add more than the 3 existing carriages, perhaps).
old railway cutting now used as a cycle and bus routeSoon, we were at FAREHAM. It drizzled coldly on us as we struggled to get the bikes up the stairs, calmly ignoring the lifts at the other end of the platform. The railway used to go from Fareham to Gosport dockyard with a branch line to Stokes Bay, but it's been discontinued. As soon as we got onto the old embankment expecting a dirt path, we saw the BRT. The Bus Rapid Transit has (very recently) taken over the old line and is spanking new, lovely smooth asphalt, fenced surround with reflectors and spotless kerbstones and brand new bus stops and an aura of professionalism in this run-down district. Of course, being on the course of an old railway, it's flat, wide, straight and goes directly do not pass go, and there's only buses and bikes, not even pedestrians are allowed to mar its clean edges.
old railway line iron rails in bushesSo you can see for miles. I cannot overstate how wonderful it is to ride a bike on. I mean, you could land a Cessna on it. You should try it. It's called Henry Cort Way after some bloke that made iron and helped trigger the industrial revolution. We made our way south-east passing through such fine neighbourhoods as Bridgemary, Forton, Rowner and Brockhurst, delightful places to leave.
In meedle of no time we'd missed the first swingpark we were due to stop at (Jof has taken all the maps in the car) and missed Fort Rowner, when we were distracted by a very thin house that has platforms in its garden, clearly the old station at Brockhurst. You go past lots of railway-related things - roads called Station Road, a pub called the Junction, the original level-crossing lift-up gates preserved for posterity, a house with platforms in the garden, etc. Where the cycle path diverts slightly, you can see the old line drowned in a pond with trees growing through it. In a place called Brownfield just to the south, you can still see (on Google Earth) strange shapes in the grassland. These are training trenches used by the old Regimental Sergeant Majors to give fresh troops a taste of life on the front line in good old World War 1, how we don't miss those horrible halcyon days. So the troops in question may have arrived on this line, on their way to rather bad places.
leesland road play park gosprt Gosport Leisure Centre had a swingpark so we swung it. It is newly built and nice, but small. Leesland park has a massive pyramid of ropes, some wooden hill forts and big holes in the ground. I fell over one and kissed the hallowed sod of Gosport. The swings are missing, the zipline is noisy and the rocks are sorta lonely but if you had that much space in downtown Pompey, someone would just build flats on it.
Determined to find the fort we'd missed, we doubled back and failed again, but found St Faiths' micro-swingpark where we met some boys my own age that can't afford baths and found yet another park near where the PuddleDaddies drink at beer festivals but like the others, it was quite broken and the floor was not always present. The Gosportian parks are generally very poor, ours are a LOT better. We continued to the city centre. I chose lunch which was jumbo sausage and chips from the Fish'n'Chip emporium opposite the ferryport and on the ferry itself we met Ellis, to whom I sold my old cotbed a couple of years ago.
damaged floor covering in recreation ground gosportStopping only to buy a Lego Star Wars X-wing fighter in Palmerston Road, we rode home.
Time out of house: 4 1/2 hours. Distance cycled: 11 3/4 miles. The next time we perform this circuit, we will do better: that is why we do a preliminary investigation circuit. Later, Lego. I have to make an Egyptian artefact for holiday homework so I need all the white blocks. Even later, Arnie film night was True Lies, with Meat Feast Mega-Pizza. Blokes need to drink beer and watch an Arnie movie and laugh at each others' farts so I have chosen a comedy classic with guns and bombs and a horse in a lift and bad guys and a nuclear explosion. Of course we told Jof it was Spanking Nuns get a Special Delivery and College Girl Sleepover IV but it wasn't really. I totally demanded to rewind and see again the bits where Arnie blew away the 20th floor of the Miami tower block using a stolen Harrier Jump Jet and said "You're fired" to Art Malik before shooting him into a helicopter. Bed kinda elevenish, honest.

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