4 miles, 6 plaques

Do you remember that running thing I mentioned a few times when I last wrote? Well, it’s going quite well. So well that, in a fit of confidence, I signed up to 10k which is happening next Sunday (!) on Wimbledon Common… and maybe also a half marathon in March…. wooooOOOooops!
And then, because I work for English Heritage, I thought about running from one English Heritage property to another, as a little training challenge. Then I realised that there aren’t that many properties within reach so I would run out of running fun in a few weeks. THEN (brain ticking over) I remembered that English Heritage take care of the all Blue Plaques in London….
Bingo! Challenge set!
(Heads-up to any non-Londoners, Blue Plaques are put on buildings to indicate that someone important is associated with that place.)
As I was in work at the time, I found myself a book called The London Blue Plaque Guide and started looking through it. There are over 800 so I don’t imagine I’ll get to all of them, or if I do, it’ll take me ages. But what the hell? I’ll give it a shot.
Never one to wait around, I got stuck straight in and on my run to work this morning (yes, I run to work these days, hilarious!) I diverted around to as many as I could take in.
Here’s what happened.
This one indicates that Sir Edwin Chadwick lived here. Chadwick lived during the 1800s and wrote Survey into the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Classes in Great Britain which led to laws that implemented public health reform. This is very exciting as almost dying three years ago has led me to appreciate in the extreme the value of the NHS. Thank you, Mr Chadwick. Thank you indeed.
Next stop, the house where Dame Celia Johnson was born. She mainly did stage acting but was also in Noel Coward’s In Which We Serve and, more importantly for me, she played Laura in Brief Encounter, a film I loooove. Randomly, she was also married to James Bond creator, Ian Fleming’s, brother.
Third stop, Bernardo O’Higgins, liberator and, effectively, dictator of Chile in the early 1800s. He was instrumental in freeing Chile from Spanish rule and organising the country’s new government.
Fourth stop, the house where writers Leonard and Virginia Woolf lived for nine years and set up the Hogarth Press, which published their own works and also those of Katherine Mansfield and T.S. Eliot.
At this point in the run, I’d only gone a mile or so and was thinking that this Blue Plaque Run malarky was quite good fun and not too hard. Then came the Kew section.
Number five was a stop at Richmond Royal Hospital to see a plaque for James Thomson, poet during the 1700s and, most significantly, author of Rule Britannia. I stood for a moment humming the tune and feeling patriotic, before realising I had a bit of a trek ahead.
As I had a bag containing my clothes for work on my back, my upper body started feeling a little slouchy and tired but it was all mental. I pulled my shoulders up, kept pushing my feet forward and checked my mileage, which didn’t help cause I wasn’t even half way.
There was a looooong road to the last stop, the whole way past Kew Gardens (you’ll have to trust me that Kew Gardens is big!) and past the road that my workplace is on. Everyone who runs knows that running is a mental thing. I ran six miles on Monday so I know full well that I can cover the distance but the mental challenge of wanting to nip down the road to work and miss off the last stop was tough. It was freezing and, although I warm up loads when I run, for some reason, just a few parts of my body stay ice cold. The last stop felt like miiiiles away.
But I plodded on and arrived at what I now realise was a different blue plaque than the one I was looking for! This was where Camille Pisarro lived, a French Impressionist of the Monet era, who painted Kew Green during his stay here.
With running being a mental thing, I went from lethargic to grinning like an idiot in seconds and realised that it had been fun. It was definitely a more interesting way to get to work. It was nice to think about the significance of the people and things that have happened within a few miles of each other.
Watch this space for more Blue Plaque runs. I’m going to try and do a few a week.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rambler5319 on January 23, 2015 at 22:39

    No fingers (or thumbs) in last photo!!
    Wonder why??


  2. Great idea for a challenge! Nourishing body and mind at the same time 🙂


  3. […] « 4 miles, 6 plaques […]


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