A weekend in Wallingford and a spot of parkrun tourism

Good morning. As always, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. My weekend was a little different. Most of you know that I like to travel back home on a Friday. When I discovered that Oxford station would be closed due to engineering works, I decided to spend the weekend in Wallingford.

After arranging to meet up with a couple of colleagues on Saturday, I escaped from the office, walked back to my shared house, had a nap and researched my weekend running options.

My preferred option was to get up early enough to make it to Didcot for a spot of parkrun tourism. Unfortunately, thanks to the incredibly unreliable bus service between Wallingford and Didcot, this wasn’t guaranteed.  A Sunday morning run with the Run Wallingford group was another ‘safer’ option.

So what happened? Did I pop my parkrun tourism cherry? Did I join up with Run Wallingford for a longer Sunday run?

On Saturday, one of my house mates woke everyone up at 06:30. I’ve no idea what he was doing in the kitchen, but he was incredibly noisy. I wasn’t too fussed as I’d got 8 hours’ sleep. I’d set my alarm for 07:00 so could live with the loss of 30 minutes sleep.

I’m pleased to report that the 07:50 bus towards Oxford got me to Didcot in plenty of time for parkrun. We had to swap buses in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell – what an awesome name – but still reached Didcot at 08:30. I successfully navigated my way to the rather low key start area, took a terrible parkrun selfie, and got chatting to some local runners. I also met a few people who were collecting their ‘D’ as part of the parkrun alphabet challenge.

Didcot parkrun start

Didcot parkrun selfie

I was a good parkrun tourist and attended the pre-run briefing where we were informed we had to complete three laps around a small park and then a longer straight section to the finish. We were also asked to get into a group for a sensible group photo.

Didcot parkrun group 1

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

We were then asked to strike a pose for a second group photo…

Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

It seems it was a case of different parkrun, same old Emma. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace and started to struggle with stitch during the first lap of the park. I slowed down and started to feel a bit better during the second lap of the park, and by the final lap, I finally started to enjoy myself. Three laps of the park complete, I left the park and headed into the unknown.

Didcot parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

I thought we’d run a short distance along the perimeter of the housing estate and then finish. After what felt like several minutes heading in the wrong direction and away from the start, I started to feel a little concerned. Although by this stage it was incredibly warm, I could see goosebumps on my arms and felt cold. I knew I needed to stop running ASAP and to get myself in some shade. Let’s just say I was incredibly relieved when we finally turned right and started to head back towards where I assumed the finish was.

We were directed onto some energy sapping grass and I finally spotted the finish area. I’d like to say I put on an impressive sprint finish but I simply staggered across the line, collected a token, had my barcode and token scanned, and then found some shade. Most people didn’t appear to be hanging around – I’d timed my tourism with the one week the local football club wasn’t available for post-run drinks – so I found someone who knew where they were going, and walked with them back to Didcot station.

I made it back to Wallingford at 11:00, got back to my shared house, had a quick shower and then headed back to bed for a powernap as I didn’t feel quite right. Fortunately, a lengthy powernap seemed to do the trick, and I felt much better when I woke up.

I spent a couple of hours chilling out in my room and then walked into Wallingford to meet up with a work colleague. After a quick discussion, we decided to walk the shortish distance to the Waterfront Cafe located on the banks of the River Thames in Benson. The walk to Benson introduced me to what would be an amazing run through Wallingford Castle Gardens towards Benson Lock. I’m a little frustrated I was so busy talking I forgot to take any photos as the area around Benson Lock was stunning.

We reached the Waterfront Cafe and found a table outside close to the Thames. We ordered a couple of pints of draught beer and then spent ages checking out the menu. After debating the pros and cons of various options, I decided to order the rather grand sounding Waterfront Caesar salad and my colleague ordered the prawn and smoked salmon salad.

The Caesar salad looked amazing when it arrived but contained a little too much lettuce for my liking. It was very much a case of I wish that I’d ordered something else! We finished our salads, ordered a couple more pints of beer and waited for another work colleague to arrive.

Saturday evening

I think it’s safe to say we were both a little tipsy by this stage, so we were relieved when our colleague arrived and we could check out the dessert menu. The menu was a little limited so I decided to play it safe and ordered the luxury ice cream – the choice was either vanilla or vanilla ice cream – with strawberry sauce, and a fourth pint of beer. Our colleague unfortunately couldn’t stay for long so we chatted some more, drank some more, paid the bill and then walked back into Wallingford.

I’m not sure who suggested we stopped off at the Boathouse pub for pint number five but I didn’t say no. By the time I got back to my shared house it was almost midnight. I knew there was little chance of me feeling well enough or getting up in time to join up with Run Wallingford for a training run.

I think I’d describe Sunday as quiet and steady. When I woke up at 08:00 I felt far better than I probably deserved to. The hot weather had made an unwelcome reappearance so I decided not to join up with the Run Wallingford group. After a quick food shop in Wallingford, I spent most of the day inside reading and catching up on some blogmin. A slight waste of a Sunday but I needed some time to myself and to chill out.

So all things considered, I had a great second weekend in Wallingford.

Did you have a good weekend?

Do you think the heat wave is ever going to end?

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5 thoughts on “A weekend in Wallingford and a spot of parkrun tourism

  1. Maria @ Maria Runs says:

    NIce work on the parkrun tourism! I need a D still, and Didcot was one of the courses I was looking at- there’s nowhere near enough for a day trip really so I need one near something interesting for a weekend!
    It was so hot again at the weekend- hopefully it will end soon- probably this Friday when we break up from school (that’s the usual anyway!).

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    • Emma says:

      Thanks Maria; two letters down…quite a few to go.
      I think the general consensus was that Didcot definitely isn’t the sort of place you’d visit just to complete a parkrun. If you love trains, Didcot parkrun is awesome as it’s next to the mainline route into London, there’s some sort of rail museum and also Didcot Parkway station. Everyone I spoke to was just passing through on the way to somewhere far more interesting. One couple were actually on the way to Daventry but didn’t think they’d make it to the parkrun there on time.
      It’s a bit cooler this morning but there doesn’t seem to be any signs of it getting much cooler this month. As a hydrologist, I’m now seriosuly worried about the lack of rain. I have a feeling my job is about to get stressful just as loads of people go on leave.

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  2. Anna Smith-James (@AnnaTheApple88) says:

    I was going to do Didcot for my D until I did Daventry. I love that the Alphabet Challenge is so popular!
    I also love how you said your salad had too many leaves in it haha. I generally find salads quite lacking in the UK. Not many toppings and also disappointingly small. I like my salads HUGE.
    I also find nothing more dull than vanilla ice cream… needs excessive toppings and add-ins to make it worth while for me 😉

    Like

    • Emma says:

      I think you did well to avoid Didcot. It was a great parkrun, but Didcot itself isn’t the sort of place you’d go out of your way to visit unless you love trains.
      I could just eat that salad again now. After three pints of beer I needed more chicken and less lettuce. You’re right about salads being quite lacking in the UK. I still dream about the salad I had when I was in the US, it was amazing and I didn’t manage to finish it. Most unlike me.
      I had to be careful because I have to avoid eating nuts as much as I can. Most of the more interesting puddings contained nuts which was slightly disappointing.

      Like

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