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Below Bill Ayling shares with you some of the things that come to mind as he walks his dog Fudge around Purley on Thames

March 2018

A Wet Fudge

February, cold and wet Eileen has just retuned from a brisk walk with Fudge, I’m not sure which is of them is the wetter. As least with Fudge I can dry her back, ears, legs and tummy, but I think I would have an odd look from my wife if I tried to do the same to her.  As I had a nasty cold it was suggested that I remain indoors, it didn’t take a lot of persuading.


Yesterday I did have a fairly long (for me) walk along the river bank up to Mapledurham Lock. The geese were out in abundance. There were about a hundred grey lagged geese, about half that number of Canada geese, two Egyptian Geese and for good measure a pair of pure white geese. The geese were all congregated in an area of the Thames at the far tip of the first island. It was interesting that, apart from the two white geese and the Egyptian variety, the other geese did not intermingle, although there was a considerable amount of splashing from the white geese. I wondered whether geese just don’t mix.


On Sunday, which was another wet and cold day, the number and variety of river birds was incredible. There were several ducks and drakes, a colourful mandarin drake and his dull plumaged mate, two herons, seagulls by the  score, the inevitable black necked Canada Geese, two swans  and, spreading their wings like the “Angel of the North,” three or four cormorants.


The cormorants roost in the same tree on the far side of the river, opposite the end of the island. They really are quite extraordinary. Every day they select the highest branches of the same tree, which, as Eileen pointed out, is the tallest tree in the group. They then spread their wings out wide, I assume to dry their feathers off after their plunge into the water for fish. They remain standing in this manner for long minutes at a time, usually facing into the wind, their beaks agape. It is really fascinating to watch them.

Birds there are a plenty. But not so many boats.

Mud, mud Inglorious Mud

Depending on the weather there are usually quite a few walkers with an assortment of dogs, children, push chairs and the occasional pram. The reason for shortage of prams I feel could be the thick clinging mud which stretches from the end of Mapledurham Drive to the lock. This makes it very difficult for young mums to push a pram through it. It is very unfortunate for this precludes young mothers from visiting this part of the Thames.

It is equally difficult for mothers with prams or pushchairs to gain access to Blount’s Meadow from River Gardens. A Kissing Gate has replaced the old wooden style, and is, at least, manageable, but once through that there is a steep dip with tree roots.

On the other side of the entrance are precipitous steps which are much too high for normal walking. More than once I have taken a spill down those concrete stages and finished up lying flat on my back!

Lock Café

It is unfortunate that the lock café is not open until Easter. For it is so popular with many people. I can only say “Roll on Easter”!


Purley Players usually put on an excellent pantomime and this year’s outstanding spectacle, held at the Barn, was no exception. The show was fun from the very beginning. It was a brilliant presentation of colour, merriment, laughter and music – all the ingredients which together make pantomime a magical and enjoyable occasion.

The young dancers were first-rate, a credit to the producer, and had obviously learnt their movements well in advance. The dual/duet between the Good Fairy and the Evil Fairy was inspired, and Friday night’s performance even had the Brownies enthusiastically joining in the chorus.

Congratulations to Jean Chudleigh on producing such an excellent show. The imaginative use of colour accompanied by some outstanding piano-playing from Barry made the evening one which will be remembered for a long, long time.


Bill Ayling