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Is it a patch on the old cabbage?

In recent years, the Cabbage Patch 10 Mile race has been organised by that one-woman force of nature which manifests in mortal guise as Caitlin Limmer: but she has other fish to fry, or brassicas to braise, or something, so the Stragglers have taken it on again. What will this mean?

Well let me start by reassuring you all of the most important single thing by far: Fullers are still sponsoring it and beer is still in the goody bag!

Phew, with that out of the way we can look at the changes without fear. They're not huge, but the main one is starting an hour earlier, at 9 instead of 10. That makes quite a lot of sense, as the race starts on main roads which can get seriously busy later in the day. Traffic is briefly stopped, but none of the roads are actually closed for the event. Of course, you may be aware that the race began in 1982, before Sunday shopping was a thing (Sunday Trading Act 1994), so the only people around would be those on their way to church and heathens prepared to run on the Sabbath (cue Vangelis music...). I mean, were there even motor cars in those days? Yes, there must have been. I'm getting confused.

Err... yes... anyway... We were expecting to see Amanda's cousin Hugo again, as we have at both the previous CP's Amanda has run, but at the last moment he's had to pull out with injury. Claire's up for it, though, and we haven't seen her for a little while, so that's good.

And so here we are at the pub.

But what's this? It's a Claire lookalike! But she hasn't got the hair quite right, so I'm not fooled. We haven't seen the real Claire yet.

So this is Andrew and his son Tom, neither of whom look even remotely like Claire, but now that Amanda's a Straggler herself, she's starting to get to know some of them. I think she's promised Andrew I'll take some photos.

Ok, getting on for race time, I'm off down the road a bit for the start.

Three lead bikes?! That seems very generous, but perhaps it's an old Cabbage Patch tradition. Checking back, there were three of them in 2017 too. (I don't have any relevant photos for 2014, which was the other time Amanda ran this race.)

And here comes the pack!

"I found Claire, she's just behind me!"

No picture of her though: she's in a slightly tighter bunch and taking more of an inside line, and while I do see her, it's just a few brief glimpses behind other runners.

A mile or so further on I catch her at Ferry Road. To get a decent view, I've climbed up on the road sign on the corner, which is why this shot is looking downwards. I'm probably setting a very bad example to young people, climbing on the street furniture like that. Good, they need more bad examples. [Although when I say 'bad example', I do mean it in a very middle-class way: walking the streets selling my body to fund my crack cocaine habit is not the kind of thing I have in mind. [And please don't say that I wouldn't earn enough selling my body to fund a crack cocaine habit: the truth can hurt!]]

They'll now run down to Kingston Bridge and then back up the towpath. I could follow them, but there aren't a lot of photogenic spots until they leave Kingston, so I'll just take the footbridge over the river and head them off before the Hawker Centre.

And I only just get to the Hawker Centre before the first runners do. I'm too late to get any pictures of the leaders from my intended spot a little further on. The lead bike trio have separated into these two still at the front and the third just visible to the rear.

There's a bit of a gap in the field, but these swans suddenly glide across in formation to land in the river a moment later.

It's Andrew the Boat-Beater! I'm looking out for Amanda and don't see him until he shouts, "Hi Steve!".

And blimey, if it isn't Ceara too!

Clearly I'm not hiding well enough.

It's not really as busy as the telephoto lens makes it look.

Right, that's Claire on her way, time to move on.

One of the changes to the route is minor, but still a bit disappointing, in that the runners come up the long driveway from Ham House towards the Petersham gatehouse, but then turn off rather than running through it. But that's my next stop, anyway.

Aha! Got you before you were ready!

Thank goodness normality is resumed.

So as I say, they come up the long drive...

...and then have to turn off just before the gatehouse. That's a pity, and maybe it can be reinstated in future.

Hold on a minute: let me show you something.

This is the stonework above the gatehouse. You will, of course, recognise the arms of the Tollemache family (Argent a fret Sable) quartered with Murray (Azure an imperial crown Or between three estoiles Argent within a double tressure flory counter-flory of the second), although I accept that you'd really need to zoom in more to resolve the latter clearly.

What does that mean?

Well, it would be a bit more obvious on a shield, but basically top left and bottom right are a plain silver background (Argent) with a black (Sable) latticework pattern (fret) while top right and bottom left have a blue background (Azure) with a gold (Or) crown surrounded by three silver (Argent) stars (estoiles) with a double-line border (double tressure) with little flowery decorations on both sides (flory counter-flory) in gold (of the second, meaning the second colour previously mentioned).

You see, this is the kind of thing everyone's missing because of the alteration!

It's important too. We will shortly be restoring the full glory of mediaeval England and it'll be pretty bad if you don't recognise the arms of your liege lord on the battlefield. (Obviously the supporters and the crest are significant as well, but they won't be on your lord's shield or banner, so you've got a bit more time to research those.)

And note the Latin motto, "CONFIDO CONQUIESCO" - "I trust and am content". Do you think anyone has ever said that to Boris Johnson? "Confido non ultra quam possum iacere" is more the sort of thing, perhaps.

Back to the race...

Claire's not far behind. Looks like she's pleased with her pace.

So after she passes, I turn back to my bike to start putting my camera away. As I'm doing so, a voice calls out behind me: "Steve! You didn't take my picture!"

Lindsay! Sorry, didn't know you were there!

Ok, now I'll jump back on the bike.

I just manage to get to the Buccleugh Gardens entrance before Lindsay, which means I'd better not hang about if I'm going to get ahead of Amanda by Richmond Bridge. I didn't think I'd be quite so slow relative to the runners at this point, even allowing for the fact that I've got a slightly longer distance and a bit of a hill in the way. I manage to get to the bridge first, but only just, so instead of taking the picture I'd planned, down from the bridge onto the path, I carry on straight across to the Twickenham side.

Round the listed telephone box. The Richmond society is keen to preserve these classic British design icons, but unlike old buildings, it's hard to find much to do with them. An article from May last year at says,

[...] the future of others, such as the listed kiosk [...] on Richmond Bridge [...] remains unclear

I fear that being a landmark for runners to run around is not going to be a long-term solution.

After this, the route has changed again a bit, and instead of meandering through the backstreets, they're going to run back along the river almost to the finish line. I'm not sure quite how long they'll take, and as I was pretty marginal getting here ahead of Amanda, I decide not to wait for Claire or Lindsay and head straight back.

It will turn out that I would have had loads of time, but that's water under the bridge, so to speak.

And here she is, about to turn into the grounds of York House where the race finishes. It's all a bit of a bunfight in there, and unless I lock up my bike it really would be a bit awkard, so I don't follow but stay here to wait for Claire.

And I wait for Claire.

And I wait for Claire.

And Amanda comes out and says, "Have you seen Claire?"

Have I missed her? But Amanda didn't see her after the finish line either. We hope she's ok...

Eventually we know she can't be this far back unless she's had a problem, so in case we have somehow crossed and she's gone to the pub, Amanda heads that way while I get back on the bike and ride the race route in reverse. Amanda phones: "No, she's not here". I continue, and eventually I'm back at the bridge and there are no more runners, or even walkers. I turn round and ride back towards the pub myself.

And just as I'm coming back into the centre, Amanda rings again: "Claire is here!" She's fine, we did miss her somehow. The pub is heaving, and unlike previously the weather isn't nice enough to stand outside, so I meet them at the bike rack and we go to a nearby cafe instead.

Well it turns out Claire was just a minute or two behind Amanda and apparently I stared right through her without seeing her as she finished! Oops! She was too knackered to shout out to me, and then she got into a bit of a barney with the T-shirt wallah who'd run out of XS sizes which is why she didn't see Amanda there. Amanda didn't even know XS was supposed to be on offer, and has an S size. 'S' in this case may not stand for 'Small' but for 'Steve', because when she holds it up, I honestly don't think it would be ridiculously tight on me! It's definitely a large men's small, so the putative XS might not be all that much better a fit.

But a bit of Kaffee und Kuchen out of the damp and the cold (and a good bitch about T-shirt sizing and suchlike) and all is well again.


Now you may recall that both my previous Cabbage Patch reports featured actual cabbage pictures, from the Hampton Court Palace kitchen garden as it happens. Not this time, though. No Hampton Court Palace for us, we have to go to John Lewis to order lounge curtains! I may pride myself on creatively random associations, but I am stumped at how to make the Kingston John Lewis Soft Furnishings department relevant to a race report, or even of vague interest to anyone. Best quit there, I think.

At the end of the day then, I trust we can agree the Cabbage has been well Patched.

Love to all,


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