We found the Acton & Ealing Whistler's Football Club online. We live in south Ealing and the club practices in north Ealing, perhaps 4-5 miles away. The online travel planner for the London tube and bus systems did poor a job of finding a bus stop near the park where they practice on Saturdays, so Benedict and I went looking for the park on Thursday. Though the map on the club's web site was fairly clear, we are unable to print it out as there is no printer in the house despite its having an excellent router for the internet.
We found the park, which took some doing as we tramped through one of Ealing's finest neighborhoods. The park is on Hillcrest Road, and as the name suggests its on the crest of a hill. As is often the case, the wealthiest families live on such hills. The homes are larger; the cars are shinier, newer, and German (and we're not talking VWs here); and a few driveways even had locked gates. Two private--meaning they charge tuition--Catholic schools were in the general neighborhood: St. Benedict's for boys and St. Augustine's for girls.
We found a bus stop convenient to the field. A bus drove us down a hill on a traffic-snarled road--due to bridge repair-work over the tube tracks--to downtown Ealing where we boarded another bus that dropped us off near our home. Only two buses required and the trip takes about 30 or so minutes, depending on traffic. Not too bad.
The Whistler's football practice starts at 9:30am on Saturday. Because of Benedict's birth date he is eligible to play for the under 13 team. So that's team he practiced with. In Georgetown he plays on an under 12 team; the eligibility dates in each country are different. Some of the boys on this team are bigger and stronger than he's used to playing with. This is also his first extended contact with English children since we moved here 3 weeks ago.
|And he ran.|
There are a couple of sources of concern. One is that we expect to be out of London for at least 3 weekends in the next few months. In that case is it worthwhile for Benedict to be on the team or for the team to have a sometime-absent member? Another is that Whistler practices are only once a week the day before the weekly games. Aside from walking miles at a time in the last few months, Benedict has had relatively little strenuous cardiac or strength-building exercises. He was very, very sore for a couple of days. He was unfit to play football the day after practice. Had there been a game it would have been difficult for him to participate.
Getting around town to play games at other locations is only a minor concern as other boys live in our general area and their parents could give him a lift to the games. But this may not be the best fit. We'll keep our eyes open for other football playing opportunities.
After consuming a large plate of chips (fries to us Yanks) at the Whistler FC snack bar, we headed for the bus stop. Glancing north I saw something that had to be part of some kind a structure in the distance. Walking a few more feet revealed what must have been the top of the shrine of English football sitting like a crown atop the green trees. From studying city maps I knew that Wembley Stadium was nearby. Apparently it sits upon another hill no more than a few miles distant. It appeared that early afternoon like a mystical apparition, startling in size and dramatic in visage. Had I been a more devoted aficionado of the English game I might have been struck with emotion by Wembley's magical suspension in the heavens.
Of course the best thing that happened on Saturday is that Erika came back that evening from her conference in Bath. It was a very good conference. The conference brought people from all over the world to share and discuss how to integrate concerns about changes in the environment with literature. The paper she presented went very well, as did the panel she moderated. I hope I can persuade her to write about it.
Unfortunately the lard, as it were, was empty and we were forced to take dinner off the premises. There are many restaurants within walking distance Northfield Avenue, so we strolled down the street looking for a Thai restaurant. There is a Thai cooking school that in which Erika has unsuccessfully tried to coerce me to enroll, but no restaraunt is attached to it. At the end of the neighborhood business district a block off Northfield Avenue we found a Thai restaurant in a place where we would never have guessed to look if we hadn't seen the menu outside: the Forrester, an Edwardian pub. One would never have guessed from looking at the
|Both photos from Pubs Galore web site.|
A group of people were enjoying a boisterous wake in the pub area. Some unfortunate's funeral occurred that day, and her friends gathered at the pub to celebrate what must have been a very full life. Because celebrate they did with full-throated singing, enthusiastically belting
Brentford Festival. Boston Manor Park serves as the venue for this event and is is in an area called Brentford in Hounslow borough just over the border from Ealing. Boston Manor anchors the park at its northeaster corner, a house built in the 17th century and occupied by an ancestor of the late Princess of Wales, Diana. We were unable to tour the house, unfortunately, because of damages requiring repairs which will keep the house closed to the public for at least 14 months.
its league games and resolved to investigate its suitability for Benedict's participation. Numerous local artisans, non-profits, businesses, environmental advocacy groups, and political parties manned booths to sell and inform. A stage in the main meadow featured some pretty good rock bands, and behind the wall of the Secret Garden acoustic musicians performed. Many local ethnic restaurants provided the food, even German sausages (overpriced, BTW). At one tent the proprietors sold beer. A dog show gave dog owners the chance to compete in categories such as the dog who looks most like his owner and the dog with the waggiest tail. The local kayak club gave demonstrations and rides in their kayaks. The younger kids played on various air-pumped slides and the like.
We wandered around for more than two hours, examining every booth, choosing what to eat for lunch, dodging raindrops, watching the dogs. By the time we left the rain had stopped for the day and the festival really got under way as more and more people arrived. The park became pretty packed. We were within walking distance of home, but we decided to get on a bus on Boston Manor Road for the short ride to Boston Manor Underground Station. From there we walked less than 10 minutes to our house.