This has been our Our 6th (or maybe 7th... but who’s counting?) Choir Walk since I took over Brighton Vox in 2013.
We like to get outside and sing to the birds, have a few pints and lunch along the way and spread the joy of communal singing. Past excursions have mostly been local; these include routes along the Downs; through small Sussex Villages; up the Adur and Cuckmere River valleys .
However, this time we were venturing all the way to London Town, on an Autumnal and chilly Saturday. Wet weather gear packed, dogs in tow and starting bright and early we set off by train from Brighton Station.
Arriving at Kew in West London by mid-morning, our first stop #bellandcrownchiswick pub at The Strand on the Green, felt a bit early for the first pints (even for us!) so we had a coffee to prepare ourselves.
Next after a short hop we found ourselves at the #Citybargepub, which was used as a location in the Beatles' film Help! Hardly pausing for breath, we marched on towards Hammersmith passing Oliver’s Island, Barnes Railway Bridge and then finding ourselves a few moments to explore the graveyard and interior of #stnicholaschurchchiswick burial place of the English painter, Hogarth.
On past the #mawsonarms pub, once home of the poet Alexander Pope, along the road we spied the chimneys of the old Fuller’s Brewery, #fullersbeerco. This being the catalyst for certain singers (who shall remain anonymous) to hotfoot it down to the next pub to test whether the London Pride is better for not having travelled far.
Whilst the sun was still vaguely shining we enjoyed the peaceful sights of rowing boats speeding along the River. We warmed up our voices with a couple of quick rounds (songs not beer this time) under a bandstand: a Taize chant and a Spiritual, much to the amusement of local joggers and dog walkers passing by.
As the darkening sky threatened rain, we made it to the lunch venue #BlackLionPubChiswick just in time to find a cosy burning fire and welcoming table ready for us. Even better was the fact that the staff were very happy to take our drinks order and serve us at the tables, to save our aching feet from multiple trips to the bar.
After a delicious lunch and ample liquids, we returned to the riverside path to continue along eastwards. Now, with the sky very definitely drizzling, we sang a few more songs which helped to lift our spirits. Americana part songs, a protest round (whilst Billie the dog protested loudly at any passing post-delivery-person) and some other choir favorites.
A few more miles and, as we arrived outside William Morris’ House and Museum, our reliable walk leader informed us that the novel A dream of John Ball, had been written here. So without further ado, we burst into our 3 part harmony version of #SINGJOHNBALL; in the gloom it was difficult to discern the expressions of the faces peering out of the windows, but as there was no invitation to step inside and continue singing, so we continued on our way.
With increasingly wet feet and distinctly damp dogs we marched on, pausing under an 'echo-ey' bridge to sing again and entertain the London people (or perhaps just ourselves) for a moment. Then onward, past various bridges and into @the_dove_hammersmith Britain’s smallest bar from the 17th century #lovethedove.
At this point the light was fading rapidly, and the rain definitely wasn’t. So we didn’t hang around as we trooped past Craven Cottage football ground, @fulhamfc thankfully playing an away match, and to our left loomed the towers of Fulham Palace which was home to the ancient Bishop of London. Our guide assured us that this is a place well worth visiting, probably best done in daylight when you might actually be able to see it.
Luckily the spires of Putney church were lit up and as we crossed the bridge, our final pub hove into view; The Bricklayers Arms @brickybecky voted Britain’s 3rd best @Camraoffical pub many years in a row. We decided to sample a range of their #realales and attempt to dry off a bit before catching our train back to Brighton.
Thanks to everyone that made this such a memorable and enjoyable walk, and of course to Dave for brilliantly organising it.