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Pi-ning for the olden days

In 2019, we had date clashes for both Apple and MInce Pi runs, and in 2020, well, they simply haven't happened.

But when Matthew asked on Facebook if the Mince Pi would be happening, and I remarked that it would be well suited to a DIY virtual, ah... it kind of escalated...

So it turns out that Amanda, Merilyn, Matthew and another Pi-philic friend of his, Deena, are going to run the Pi loop, with me along as chief photographic officer, purveyor of mince pies, and general beast of burden on my bike. Then Matthew does a recce and finds that the classic route is blocked at the top of the Sandcastle (aka, St Catherine's Hill) by works to stabilise the sides of the railway cutting below. We modify the plan rather more substantially when Deena shows a route of her own that meshes nicely with the Pi for an extended edition. It will, we gather, include some hills to make up for the one we have to forego.

Naturally, by the time we've all committed ourselves to this endeavour, the weather has turned horrible, but we're British, dammit! Well, I'm half Irish and a bit Burmese, but I can be British, dammit! too if I want to be, so there!

So close your eyes and let your imagination transport you to the car park at Shalford Park...

Now don't go getting all jealous just 'cos your fancy foreign holiday has been cancelled but we can still travel a bit south of Guildford!

Amanda, Merilyn and I don't actually know Deena, but somehow we have no difficulty recognising her even though she arrives before Matthew.

The start!

If you use your imagination, I'm sure you can see the crowds, the banners, the throngs of eager spectators (ok, maybe not that last bit).

It's dull and damp, but not actually raining. This will turn out to be the good weather for today.

The last Mince Pi Amanda ran was 2018, the year the nearby sluice gates were opened and this wasn't a path but a lake. It's not dry today by any stretch of the imagination, but a few muddy puddles are nothing by comparison.

Off along the Wey Navigation they go.

Although the sandcastle is blocked at the top, an ascent is still required. Perhaps surprisingly, the leaves aren't particularly slippery and the wet sand is relatively solid underfoot. The climb is therefore probably about as easy as it gets. Which isn't particularly easy, of course.

Merilyn pulls herself up with the aid of the railings.

Matthew stops to pose!

And this is where we all have to stop.

There's a man stealing my bicycle!

Now although St Catherine's Chapel was inaccessible by the normal Pi route, we'll head up the hill on the other side, which would normally be the descent, and see what we can see.

Yep, there it is.

Oh look, guess what none of them saw!

Just after turnaround at the Guildford end of the loop.

And I hereby declare that football pitch line marks the finish!

Right, so that's the Pi loop done, now to follow Deena into the unknown...

On a nice day, this would be very pretty, I'm sure.

Despite being blasted by the elements, we all make it to St Martha's.

We can't quite remember now why Matthew has decided he needs to wear his mask at this point.

It's about time you all had a flash of my Pi!

Oh dear. I appear to have soiled myself in front of Merilyn again!

Come on everybody, look cheerful now!

That's better.

It's very exposed here, and the wind and rain are quite nasty. This is not a long photo stop.

But there's one more distraction before continuing. These railings are decorated with loads of soft toys, and one section is dedicated to the 12 Days of Christmas.

We certainly weren't expecting a partridge in a pear tree today!

A final lap around the car park and 3.14 miles have become 13.14.

Pi plus ten equals a half? That's not what I remember from school, but hey, these people are runners: logic need not apply.

Full circle, colder and wetter, but now with mince pies. What more could anyone ask?

Now before we say goodbye, I realise I have not yet regaled you with the thrilling mathematical tales you have come to expect from my Pi blogs. Following on from my previous explanation of the difference between countable and uncountable infinity, it seems appropriate somehow to tell you of the Hilbert Hotel, and add a timely coda to the traditional version.

The Hilbert Hotel is not just big, it has an infinite number of rooms. And business is good: they're all occupied.

Then wouldn't you know it, a charabanc turns up with an infinite number of new guests all looking for a night's accommodation.

Well, normally being full up would be a problem, but not at the Hilbert!

The manager simply announces on the tannoy: "Terribly sorry to disturb you, but would all guests please move to the room with the number exactly twice the one you're in now."

So the guest in room 1 moves to room 2, which is fine because the guest in room 2 has gone to room 4, where the guest has left for room 8, and so forth.

But every guest has now moved to an even-numbered room, meaning the odd-numbered ones are empty. There are, of course, an infinite number of odd rooms, so now the manager has all the rooms they need to satisfy the expectant guests. Result!

And the modern twist? One day, new government rules require social distancing to be enacted, so no two adjacent rooms may be occupied. Well the manager does exactly as before, but with no new guests today, all the odd-numbered rooms are now empty and the pandemic is kept under control.

There you go, isn't infinity a useful thing!

Love to all,


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