Recent outings and activities...

EFOG members vist the 2011 Edinburgh Festival

Train-wise Efoggies met at Kings Cross Station for our trip to Edinburgh to sample the delights of the annual festival. Canny Ken Kennedy had arranged 1st Class tickets to Edinburgh with breakfast included both ways for £50 each; to say we all enjoyed this level of service was an understatement...

Upon arrival we made our way to university student accommodation which included a kitchen and common room. We spent Friday exploring the city and checking out what was on offer. There was a great deal as it turned out - the choice of shows comedy, theatre, and music was bewildering. The city was packed with revellers and our evening meal - a curry - took some finding: all restaurants were full.

A bright sunny Saturday saw the gang delving into the National Museum of Scotland, followed by an impressive Shakespeare (sort of) production which we all enjoyed. More comedy shows followed, both on the free fringe - which were a trifle bizarre - and paid-for shows which were on a professional level.

Lovely day on Sunday and we climbed to Arthurs' Seat and listened to a flute-player at the summit. After an excellent brunch we hit the free fringe again for more comedy followed by “NewsRevue”, a show depicting the news from this year in the form of comic sketch's, dancing, and amusing songs. My favourite was the “World of One”, with the Queen giving dearest Kate a bit of a drubbing! Din-dins was a Weatherspoon pub with the rudest waitress on the planet (ask Ken, who had the temerity to ask her to order some food!) Nevertheless, we enjoyed some tasty pub-grub before we became night owls and proceeded to a nearby comedy club to be entertained by Paul Sinha, an ex-junior doctor and lately – a stand-up comedian. His material was drawn heavily on his sexuality, ethnicity, and much-bullied school days. Ho hum.

Another fine day on Monday (I couldn't believe it was Scotland!) saw us boarding the train back to London to be plied with endless refreshments including wine for a restful return home.

As Arnie would say, "I'll be back".

Dave T.




Visit to the Markfield Beam Engine

Sunday 24th July saw intrepid Efoggies making their way in brilliant sunshine to the Markfield Recreation Ground to view the Markfield Beam Engine in operation. In its day, the beam engine pumped away most of the human waste from the Tottenham area, quite an achievement in Victorian times.

This was a combined cycling/walking event, and I met with Sue B, Jim, Ian, and Chris at the ROVSCO Hall for a pleasant ride through old Walthamstow, across the Walthamstow Marsh along the tow path to the recreation ground.

The walkers joined us at the cafe for well earned tasty treats before we all viewed the impressive beam engine and spoke at length to the volunteers attempting to fire it up!

Unfortunately, due to technical reasons, they were not able to start the engine so after viewing the various stalls on site (Sue got some useful maintenance carried out to her bike by the London Cycling Campaign!) we set off to Stonebridge Lock for further refreshments. After lunch the cycling group returned to the Prince of Wales pub on the banks of the River Lea for a well earned pint.  Special thanks to Sue B for suggesting alternative routes to and from our destination.
Another great EFOG day out.

Dave T

Cycling/walking/camping weekend 16/17th July 2011

Well, weather was forecast and weather we got! The first contingent of 5 walkers & cyclists arriving at the Brighthouse Farm campsite on the Friday enjoyed  a very pleasant afternoon and evening . Val even demonstrated her newly acquired cycle maintenance skills by mending several punctures on her bike. Then overnight the rain arrived.

We were ready to leave home early on the Saturday morning when disaster struck. I closed the front door then realised the bunch of keys I was clutching was not my house & car keys as I thought but a bunch of Copped Hall keys. Major panic! A frantic phone call to Parviz and he nobly drove up with his Yellow Pages and after several phone calls we located a locksmith who could come out at short notice. Parviz departed and we sat and waited. Eventually the guy turned up and opened our front door with alarming ease, leaving us £85 poorer. So eventually we were on our way to pick up Parviz plus bike and get to the campsite 2 hours late.

Here we pitched our tents in the rain and found everyone else in Bill & Inger’s large tent and showing a definite reluctance to emerge. Several cups of tea later we summoned some efog spirit and decided we would do a shorter route than intended and cycle to Lavenham. Taking advantage of a slight lull in the downpour the cyclists set off, the slight lull then immediately ceased. Once on the road though, cycling in the rain is not too bad. We arrived in Lavenham and made for the National Trust tearoom at the famous Guild Hall. Here they gave us a space to pile our wet gear and let us in for some lunch. The walkers met up with us here (by car!).

Maz & Peter left for home while, replenished, we started the return journey via several garage sales in the town where Inger purchased things for her schools and Duncan bought a sort of red parrot (don’t ask!).

Back at the campsite later, the rain actually stopped and most of us cooked outside, while Ian & Susan took the footpath to the pub, and we were able to appreciate the beautiful view from the site.

Next day, we packed up camp and the walkers departed to walk. The cycle ride from the campsite began & finished in sunshine. However, in between, the rain varied between light & deluge which meant many sprints to find trees to shelter under. This, plus a puncture (Val’s bike) which had to be mended twice because the patch didn’t stick, meant we didn’t quite reach our destination of Ickworth House and so stopped at Chevington for lunch where most of us ate our sandwiches in a bus shelter while Val treated herself to a slap up lunch in the pub. We finally gave in and joined her for some hot soup. The return ride via many pretty lanes was more of the same weatherwise but by now we were immune to wetness. At least it was dry at the finish to load up the bikes.

Despite all, I think everyone enjoyed the weekend. Something to do with ‘triumphing over adversity', I think!


Quick March! - The Herts Hobble

Every now and then, we in EFOG like to prove to ourselves (at least some of us do) that we can still do the longer distances – it is, after all one of the things the club was originally set up for.  Since the retirement of the Tanners Marathon after its 50th run last year, we have to look a little further afield for events, and this year’s chosen path for the summer was the ‘Herts Hobble’, around Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire.

It's a serious walk, 26 miles for the full distance and 16 even for the shorter one, all to be done inside of 9 hours.  Because we don’t do this very often, unlike a lot of people in the LDWA (Long Distance Walking Association), we thought we had better practice.  Chairman Jim devised three separate routes – one for hill practice, one for cross-country and one for distance, then he promptly went to America to visit his dad!  A postponement of the first walk by a week on his return also led to a change in schedule, which confused most people.   We started with the hill walk, a relatively easy 7 mile trot from Loughton station back to Wanstead using Trapp’s Hill as a practice run.  Big Chris was the only taker and we set off past Sainsburys where we came across Susan and Ian trying to find somewhere to park, so had a small pause.  Then another small pause as walk leader Jim then promptly tripped over a kerbstone, narrowly missed a road sign with his forehead, but took a nice lump out of his right knee – both flesh and trousers.  Not a good omen!  Thoroughly embarrassed though he was, Jim led us on bravely to the top of the hill and round to South Woodford where we paused to visit Jan at Gifford’s bakery for a tea and bun stop.  The journey through the South Woodford area was a brief life history of Susan, - all the various roads she had lived in and so on, being a local girl.  We finally reached Snaresbrook and into the home strait, Wanstead High Street where the walkers split up for lunch.  End of round one!

A couple of weeks later, practice resumed, for the more pastoral walk along the banks of the River Roding from Buckhurst Hill back to Wanstead.  A slightly larger group blundered around a little looking for the approach to the river for a short while till we spotted a gap in the edge of a field, then we were off like hares.  The river was very pleasant to follow and there were quite a few wildlife spots – lots of sightings of an Egret.  All very attractive till we circumnavigated the Redbridge recycling centre, which was somewhat less so, as was the sprawl of Charlie’s Brown’s roundabout.  It wasn’t much more attractive coming off the river onto the eastern avenue but a short trek through he back of Wanstead into the old village saw us pull up, journey’s end, at the Nightingale Pub, a relatively new spot for most of the walkers, where we had a very nice lunch.  Sense a theme here?

Sometimes, we have to undertake linear rather than circular walks, and the distance walk was one of those – along the Lea Navigation from Walthamstow to Enfield and back – a distance we estimated of about 16 miles, but not hard walking.  The troops gathered for the last training walk the week before the big event at the golf course for a cuppa before the start, then a quick march down the road saw a much larger group hit the towpath.  Highlights en route included the Markfield Beam Engine park – more of which on a different page, - various other parks, lots of boats, lots of people and dogs, a curiously high number of cats all white with multi-coloured markings, lots of swans and herons and a dead rat.  Luckily for us, it also included picking up Jenny at Stonebridge Lock.  This being her stamping ground, Jenny was able to guide us around the detour through the Lea Valley Trading estate, as the towpath at this point was undergoing some reconstruction work.  We also lost Prue, lured, we think but forgivably so as she had done a long walk the previous day, by the charms of IKEA.

It was probably a good idea on her part, as the stretch of the waterway afterwards was particularly fragrant – not!  A slightly bleak landscape past the ponies and sheep grazing in the sides of the reservoirs cheered up at the turnaround point of Enfield Lock, mainly because we took the lunch break early and stopped at a pub for a drink.  The lock also proved interesting on the way back as a narrow boat was making its way into the Lock, always worth watching.  Gallant gentlemen that they are, Trevor and Ken also rushed to the aid of the boat lady who was having some trouble pushing the lock gate closed – chivalry is not dead yet!  After that interlude, the march resumed, and we all concluded that the lunch stop we had chosen was far more attractive than at Pickett’s lock (no pub).  A further tea stop was made at the café by Stonebridge Lock, where we said goodbye to Jenny, before a brisk march back to Lea Bridge road and for some of us an exploration of the finer parts of Walthamstow’s recycling area on the bus back home.

Finally, the big event dawned, and with it the hottest Sunday of the year.  Even at 9 am, when the long distance walkers set off, it was getting pretty warm and soon the sun beat down relentlessly.  The good thing about the LDWA is that they do catering very well – each stop had lots of nibbles and lots of drinks, which was vital on such a hot day.  The route took us through some very attractive villages, and just behind the National Trust owned house of George Bernard Shaw, past a field entirely full of red, swaying poppies as far as the eye could see.  Being country people they also had their own interpretation of distances and so there was a bit of discussion before we reached Heartwood Forest, where some helpful locals pointed up in the same direction as ‘other people with bits of white paper’.  At the last stop, Symondhyde farm, we were also offered the use of the horse shower – it is a working horse stable! – and were told that some of the runners had taken up the offer.  Perhaps they knew something we didn’t – it was by this time extremely hot!  With some irony, the last 4 ½ mile stretch included a section along the upper reaches of the Lea Valley (one day we’ll do the bits between so we can say we have walked the whole thing) and by this time, with our noses to the wind we could smell the home barn (WI hall) and the end of the trail.  All three long distancers made it in just over 8 hours and were greeted by the shorter distance people who had started later but and therefore hadn’t finished much earlier.  The tea ladies were still there at the end with refreshments and a big thank you to them and the organisers for all of their hard work.  Whether we’ll see you next year though might just depend on how hot it is!!

Sue Ullersperger, August 2011


The Clean Up Squad

It’s a well-known fact that EFOG members like to get down and dirty.

This year we have already helped to dredge the Eagle Pond at Snaresbrook with the City of London, chipped away at the iceberg of rubbish thrown into Aldersbrook Wood with Redbridge Council and dug out ditches for the Chigwell Riding Trust for the Disabled.

A project much closer to home though is the ROVSCO Scout hut wherein we hold our weekly meetings.  Owned by the Rover Scouts, it is now used by quite a number of groups, so EFOG campaigned to get the yard area of the hut cleaned up, with a view to painting the outside at a future date.  We made it a joint effort with our fellow hut-users, not only so that we could get to see them at long last, but also to make sure we did not throw anything away that belonged to them!  Both the Scouts and the Girl Guides came armed with tools and gloves and we all set too.

The particular area of concern was the left hand side of the hut – a den of mystery, usually covered in brambles that we hack back on a yearly basis.

An old stove was fairly obvious to see, but there also turned out to be a number of items of sporting equipment, various bags of part used food items and a whole variety of other ‘stuff’!   Don Stevens, the hut caretaker brought down his tow trailer and the workers soon began filling it with bags of mystery trash for the first of several trips to the local recycling centre.  When the main bulk of the rubbish was cleared away, the hardier members also dug out the roots of the brambles and the area was prepped for turf, fingers crossed that the brambles would not re-invade.

While all this was going on, the Guides set too and cleaned the kitchen area thoroughly.  They also made the tea for the workers (thank you!) then cleaned the inside of the hall – an end to many a dead long-legger and cobweb!  The Scouts mended the fence and cleaned up the main gate area and the spare Efoggers turned to with those pesky brambles again, trimming and tidying not only the garden area but the pit at the right hand side of the hut where much of the previous bramble bash’s remains had now rotted down to manageable proportions.

Chairman Jim called a halt to works at lunchtime.  A stack was made of the larger items, that were to be collected by a Guides representative with a much larger truck, and the workers all adjourned for a wash and brush up and lunch.