No photos for this one because, quaint as it may be, I could not bring myself to take piccies of Wokingham.
It is very strange coming back to your childhood home and going for a run. Everything seems so much smaller and closer together than I had in my mind. Also, my mental map of the area was all based from my house which I had mapped as a southerly point… But it isn’t at all. It’s over on the eastern side of town. Weird.
There have been so many changes since I last lived here in 1991. Lots of new building developments are going up and the once charming small town is now being engulfed by housing estates.
I headed out towards my junior school and past the houses of my friends, then out to the Cantley Recreation ground. For a long time this was the furthest point I went on my bike as it felt so far from home… Turns out it was just a mile and a half.
Through the rec. and then onwards to run by Emmbrook school. Several of my friends at senior school came from this school and I think I’d only ever been past it one other time in my life.
After this I cut through to the main road and started back towards the town centre. I darted down another side street to pass another friends old house near the railway station and then headed out of town and cut through an industrial estate. This is now less industrial and more business focused.
Past the spot where one of my best friends was hit by two cars while crossing the road; it still makes my skin crawl to think of that. Needless to say I was REALLY careful crossing this road.
Back into town to see the town hall and fire station then out down another cut through and out of town again.
All of a sudden I found myself on my old St. Crispin’s senior school cross-country running route! Wow – that’s a blast from the past. I really detested running when I was in school but the fact that the route left the school grounds and ran you through some of the neighbourhoods (without ever crossing a main road) was a nice thing. Once out of sight of the teachers you could walk some of the route ;-).
I took another side street and ran past my best friend through college’s house; he was the guitarist in my band so we spent many years hanging out together.
Past an old girlfriends house and then down an alleyway. This is the alley that I had a terrible rollerskating accident when I was 14 or 15. I was bombing through the alley and the trucks of my skates got caught up in some weeds at the side. Boom. I was down and skidding along the Tarmac using my face as a brake. Ouch. Long ago now. I gave some weeds at the side a swift kick as I ran past. Just for old times sake.
Once out of the alley, I was shortly on the main London Road and heading out of town. Past another new housing development and then turning back towards my parents house.
Running around the outside of my parents housing estate I hit the narrow and winding Binfield Road. For the first time in my run I had to hit the road for a short time as there are still no pavements out here which was always a ridiculous safety issue.
Once back on the pathway, I ran past another ex-girlfriend’s house (it still looks like her parents are there judging by the registration plate on the Jag in the driveway). Back in towards my parents house and running past the shops, then the run was done.
Only 7.4 miles. Bugger. That’s not really enough. I was hoping it would be closer to ten miles. At least my pace was good at 7:38 and I am (sort of) on a holiday.
One of the best parts of the run was seeing so many other people out running and cycling. What a noticeable change, England! Women running in pairs and men running alone seemed to be the order of the day but there were many people out; probably over twenty.
And so ends my entry on my ‘ghost’ tour of Wokingham. I ran past the houses of many old school friends, pubs, schools and incidents from my past. The town is busy reinventing itself and I hope that it manages to cling on to some of the simple charm that it had before.