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Cabbages and Kings; and Queens; and Democratically Elected Leaders; and, err, Whoever...

Today the Walrus would be inclusive and non-sexist and non-elitist. We can be sure of that because he showed acute awareness of the moral issues involved in eating oysters at a time when the average tradesperson such as the Carpenter showed no concern beyond the thickness of the butter.

And what has this to do with running ten miles around Twickenham, Kingston and Richmond? Well, nothing really, but I take Chaucer as my model, and he could digress like nobody's business.

If Brer Rabbit had been channeling the spirit of Roadrunner, he might well have cried, "Pleeease don't throw me in dat cabbage patch!" We will throw Amanda in dat Cabbage Patch very shortly now.

Sorry, I'm rambling again.

Don't try and find her in the picture, she's not yet joined the melée. To take this shot, I have climbed on a large civic plant pot, hoping I'm not doing too much damage to the contained civic plants.

The race begins. We've doubtless got some big names from the world of athletics that I won't recognise, because quite frankly I start to struggle after Mo Farah, Usain Bolt and Paula Radcliffe. Oh, and Haile Gebreselassie, because he's almost got the same name as the Emperor of Ethiopia who accidentally founded Rastafarianism, but to be fair, I don't think I'd actually recognise either of them.

At least I recognise Amanda :-)

Somewhere behind her in the pack, we believe that Cousin Hugo and his friend Anne-Lucie are also running, but we haven't seen them before the start and I haven't spotted either of them ahead of Amanda..

Some of the elites get photogenic boats in the background. This is Emma Pallant, second lady at this roughly halfway point. The first lady, going by the splendid name of Dorcas Jepchumba Kimeli, doesn't get a picture because she didn't have any boats. Interestingly, the gold, silver and bronze positions don't change by the finish.

And by the time hoi polloi come through, all the boats are gone :-(

The Ham House gatehouse path isn't normally open to the public, and Amanda's previous Cabbage Patch was the first time she'd seen it. Being completely unaware of its existence, I wasn't there on that occasion, but this time I know better.

Looking down across Petersham Meadow to the runners on the towpath along the Thames. Amanda isn't in this shot even if you zoom in, but she can't be far out of it, because a few minutes later, I'm faffing with trying to park my bike in Buccleuch (pronounced "baclue", although it looks exactly like a more uncouth runner's expectoral sound effect) Gardens and Amanda comes shooting by before I'm ready.

Oops! Better take it to the bridge!

That's better. Looking down from Richmond Bridge, here she is. Just a couple of miles or so now.

There's a marshal with a megaphone standing next to me, cheering everyone on at the finish. I tell her to shout, "Well done Amanda" to the lady in green and she does :-)

Not quite as she crosses the line, but from the position I took, this is the best shot I can get. It's a PW (out of two), but she was expecting that, being a bit below par after a nasty cold. Under the circumstances, it's all gone well :-)

Beer and banana! What could be better? [This is primarily a rhetorical question, but interesting suggestions are nevertheless welcomed.]

Aha! We didn't see Hugo finish (we're standing beside him now after making post-race contact) but here's Anne-Lucie just past the timing mats.

At last! The triumphant trio together!

And we retire to the Cabbage Patch pub, which we've never been to before. The bar is absolutely heaving, so it's far too much trouble to actually buy anything and we just stand outside and chat. I'll pretend to be enjoying the goodie-bag beer, although I'm sure I'll do it for real in the not-too-distant future!

In the pub there's an explanation of the whole "Cabbage Patch" thing: seems the Rugby Football Union (the governing body of the proper game, not that silly thing the Northeners play) had no fixed venue for international games, and in 1906 they asked a chap named Billy Williams to find a suitable place to become the official home of English rugby. He bought a former market garden that critics disparaged as "Billy Williams' Cabbage Patch".  We, of course, now know it as Twickenham Stadium!

Still, it would seem that the cabbages had at least one final fling: during WW I, when there wasn't really any great demand for an international Rugby stadium, one of the car parks was turned into allotments for growing vegetables!

And so home, via a real cabbage patch! Hampton Court Palace's kitchen garden in fact.

And as you can see, they have suffered damage from (presumably) slugs and the like. It's enough to warm any domestic gardener's heart that even the professionals aren't immune :-)

I would like to close on another barely relevant literary reference, "but answer came there none", because it's dinner time and I must dash!

Love to all,


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