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Eric Hepburn

HM Consul General and Counsellor for Corporate Services

Part of UK in USA

23rd April 2012 Washington DC, USA

New boy in Washington

I’m just three weeks into the Corporate Services role here and spent last week flying solo after a great handover from my predecessor, Alison, who is now destined for Uganda in the summer.

It’s a busy agenda as expected, but made easier by a remarkable and supportive team from the very top downwards.

But my first ever blog isn’t about work, but about the American angle on exercise.

In London, perhaps once or twice a week, I’d escape from the back of Downing Street and run in the Royal Parks: the loop that takes in St James, Green and Hyde Park is about 5.5 miles and can be done in about 45 minutes on a good day, followed by a quick shower. (Not sure that the afternoon meeting attendees appreciated the run, but I’m fairly certainly they appreciated the shower.)

I was therefore pretty excited at my posting to Washington – a great city for runners – until I got injured. It was my second son who suggested I take my bike. Did you know that the airlines allow one piece of sports equipment in addition to your normal allowance if it weighs below 23Kg?

This is where Washington feels different: there’s a cycle/running path some 13 miles long that passes to within about a mile of the Embassy.

Grabbing the opportunity not to drive, on day two I cycled. It can’t have been hard to spot the new boy…

Setting out at 06:30 in shorts, t-shirt and fingerless gloves it looked like a fine spring day. Actually it was freezing cold and all the other cyclists were wrapped up warmly, and although they gave a cheerful “good morning” I suspect they probably (rightly) thought I was crazy. It’s hard to explain to non-Foreign Office folk that that the rest of your bike gear is in your luggage and awaiting State Department clearance. At work it took my body a few minutes to acknowledge that my hands were an integral part of me and that they really did need to grip the keys that fitted my bike lock.

But back to the paths: they are all marked with a dotted orange line that denotes which side you Cycle/ run/jog/roller blade/stroll on. Unlike in London, everyone follows the rules, and wow is it busy: last weekend I followed the path in a different direction and there was serious congestion – it looked like the whole of the area was out for their weekend constitutional. I can now understand why the rule is that all cyclists must have a bell. My favourite was a lady out running with a very upmarket pram, two children and three dogs tied to the front. I immediately thought of husky racing—but then I am told I need to be careful with British humour over here!

Welcome to the USA.

3 comments on “New boy in Washington

  1. Great to see you settling in over the pond Eric. We had a brilliant 5 days in Washington in April – such an interesting and clean city with friendly people.
    Good luck to you and Debs.

  2. The path along the canal in Georgetown is great as well, can be crowded when the weather is fine, but it’s a great run/ride.

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About Eric Hepburn

Eric was appointed HM Consul General and Counsellor for Corporate Services in April 2012. He has been a Civil Servant for ten years. Prior to arriving in Washington, Eric was…

Eric was appointed HM Consul General and Counsellor for Corporate Services in April 2012. He has been a Civil Servant for ten years. Prior to arriving in Washington, Eric was Chief Operating Officer at 10 Downing Street, during which time he was responsible for the complete refurbishment of the grade 1 list building and living accommodation. Eric has held a number of diverse roles, including: Infrastructure Director at the Cabinet Office, international CIO for a US based multinational, and Head of Business Systems for a UK City Regulatory Organisation. Eric is a both a Chartered Management Accountant and Chartered Banking and Finance Professional, and holds a MBA from Henley Management College

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