Lost Towns & Secret Rivers

Saturday (7th) did Merry Lundow’s The Glass Sea. 9 mile circuit from Gordon Hill Station (Enfield) – across Clay Hill and golf club on King’s Oak Plain, down rather unpleasant Cattlegate Road – although there was a grass verge to perch on all of the way so not suicidal just unpleasantly busy with fast cars – across Turkey Brook & under M25 then through Cattlegate Farm views to Cuffley ahead, then bending right under Soper’s Viaduct – saw guilty looking couple with dog at edge of nursery plantation: what they were up to is anybody’s guess.… More

Canvey Island – 22 May 2011

I overheard a conversation on the train up between a woman from Ilford and a couple of fellow passengers. I didn’t catch a glimpse of her but imagined her to look not altogether unlike Dot Cotton. “I don’t go voting,” she told her new friends in the tone of voice of someone saying “I don’t sleep around.” Her polling station was in the Moslem Centre.”What were they thinking of?” You can imagine the rest. “Nobody listens to us ordinary people … and they all have such big families … my Dad would think he’d come back to a different country … when I was a child we had a garden the size of a postage stamp.… More

Bedford – 8 May 2011

15-mile round trip from Bedford yesterday in cloudy sunshine along the Ouse, past the backwater where John Bunyon was baptized, Viking long boats, marinas for argee bargees and noddy boats (with sheds), canoe slalom, business park. Then, having lost my reading glasses – it’s a long, & tedious, story – under a motorway past an 18C cross and over a Victorian bridge to the village of Cardington. We had a look at  graveyard where there is a  memorial to 48 people killed when the R101 airship crashed in France.… More

A Ballad to the Brightening Moon – 110227

In the spring of 1910 Sir Edward Grey and Theodore Roosevelt set out along the River Itchen in Hampshire to listen to birdsong. Last week we followed them. We didn’t set out on a pilgrimage – just a mixture of historical curiosity and the waking and scratchful urge of all hibernating animals to check the progress of the flowers after a cold winter. But the day became spiritualised, the walk became a wake. Perhaps all walks are pilgrimages of a sort.… More

Primrose Hill-110201

I was in an appropriately grim mood on my last ditch or to be more accurate ditches as I navigated both the Dollis and the Brent and the headwaters of the Fleet in the misty hills of Kenwood. I felt caged, irritable, locked down, like a zoo animal vainly seeking reassurance on a well-beaten path, a Tourette’s trail of muzzled prayer and self-flagellation. I knew I wouldn’t see a kingfisher catch fire – might as well tickle for trout in a puddle or look for otter spraint in an abandoned dog shit bag hanging in an osier thicket on the newly clipped bank.… More

On Southwold Quay

Nazis im Weltraum

Steigen sie nicht auf den felsen deckwerke
Ich sprang von fels zu fels
Wie ein Weihnachtsbaum fee
Bis die dame aus dem tee hütte
Kam vorbei und beschuldigte mich,
Von der rückkehr nicht meine Tasse

Ein lokaler dummkopf
Setzen sie in seinen zwei Euro wert ist:
“Ich sah ihn werfen den becher in die
Deutsch Ozean.”
Wir werden natürlich alle Kosten bezahlen
Sagte meine Frau
Er ist unter großem druck gestanden
Und PD James zurückgekehrt sein manuskript

(WC Kobold)

On Southwold Quay

Do not climb on the rock revetments
I leapt from rock to rock
Like a Tyrolean shepherd
Until the lady from the tea hut
Came over and accused me
Of not returning my mug

A coastguard officer
Joined in:
“I saw him throw the mug into the
River Blyth.”… More

K-Town Circular-110126

Yesterday strolled out to Islington for mineral water and syllabub. Caught the very moment the digger on the opposite bank crunched through a lead lined grave.

“Geezer, come and look at this!” It was a blow up Queen Boudica. “I’ll be damned if she ain’t just where Wm Stukeley said she would be.”

I put away my monocular, zipped my little man back into my Paramo whose unique nikwax analogy fabric mimics mammal fur to keep me comfortable in all weathers and thought of  69 Things to do with a Dead Princess.More


Enjoyed Julian Temple’s film about Ray Davies yesterday. Every shot was both illuminating of its subject and  a sort of hymn to North London. I kept thinking we could have filmed it ourselves – it was like our own biography (and of course n million others). We’ve got a couple of years on the Muswell Hillbilly boy though – that is if you take his claim to have been born in 1964  – the year You Really Got Me propelled the Kinks to the pop top table – seriously.… More


Another dull crime scene photo this week from Friday morning, the first day of the second cold snap. And not exactly what you would call a walk either unless you count the slither up to Tufnell Park station (and back from K-Town) after brief stops at Highgate and Archway libraries.

When I say crime scene I’m not talking about non-payment of library fines, no, Sir. Nor f*ing shunting accidents on Lady Somerset Road. I’m talking about the serial killer who dumped a stiffy here in the woods next to Highgate tube  – but not without being seen: middle-aged, tall, greying hair.… More