Woodside Park-Mill Hill East-101209

If it wasn’t so easy to post I would have given up this week. My mind is exploding in a hissy fit of petulance and self disgust. My pram is soiled and there are toys strewn everywhere. My office looks like Parliament Square or the inside of the Royal Daimler after a day of student protests or a night on the piss. I’ve started writing three books in the last * years (I’m too embarrassed to write the figure) and none of them so much as hint at being workable.… More


Another twighlight expedition on Wednesday. Travel chaos to the south and east but the London Overground was circling the icy abyss from the high ground and we made Richmond in half an hour from Gospel Oak. Surprised to find little in the way of snow but it was cold enough to put most sensible people off the Thames towpath which we had more or less to ourselves and a couple of cold-looking herons. Big congregation of rooks on the Old Deer Park and a long line of them at the tide’s edge foraging for the Christmas menu, a starter of mussels tout simple followed by worm-in-the-hole.… More

Highgate-Alexandra Palace-101124

Submerged Forests

To Highgate library at the start of the cold snap on Wednesday to pick up Submerged Forests (1913) by Clement Reid, the Godfather of North Sea archaeology. (See last week’s blog.)

The weather was brighter than I was: an Edward Thomas kind of a day – clean and clear and sweet and cold – but I had just been to K-Town police station to report our car having been bashed. It was parked and the driver drove off without leaving his details but not without being seen by a witness who took down his reg details and left her phone number under the windscreen wiper.… More


This picture of sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) was taken on the dunes at Traeth Cymyran right by the perimeter fence of RAF Valley which was in the news the following day for reasons of no concern to this blog’s vegetable republic. The tuber roots of sea holly were once eaten (they’re now protected) regarded as an aphrodisiac and  mentioned by Falstaff  in Shakespeare’s romcom, The Merry Wives of Windsor. ‘Nuff said. To be fair my republican sympathies probably wouldn’t survive being stuck on an ice sheet up Snowdon or being swept out into Cymran Bay as the tide rips round Holy Island/Ynys Gybi  sending unwary grockles (and mardy bloggers) into the Irish Sea.… More

K-Town Circular-101110

This week I have mostly been reading: From Russia With Love. I was not sure that I had read any Bond  so it was fascinating to go back to the original text for the world’s most famous spy bar none. Literary antecedents, Bulldog Drummond and John Buchan’s Richard Hannay,obviously, but also Graham Greene’s Third Man (which gets a name check) and Stamboul Train and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. The train on which 007 fights for his life (and that of the free world) in an alpine tunnel is as much a literary salon as  a heritage transport experience.… More

K-Town Circular-101103

My copy of Lights Out For The Territory is now so well pawed that it’s shedding leaves like autumn trees. Which is perhaps why, walking up Dartmouth Park Hill past the Whittington, with the great dome of St Joe’s looming, I suddenly thought I was walking up a collapsed pillar of gold. It had been standing in Tufnell Park but a hurricane had blown it down, the slope of the northern heights had cradled its fall, and now it provided a royal carpet for truants and loafers, dowsers and dreamers – and people with more sensible reasons for ascending to the lip of the basin in the milky autumn light and looking back to the pillars of mammon in the city’s sclerotic heart.


Blistering Barnacles. I nearly got away with it. A clean escape from the fog of guilt and grief and doubt that is the writer’s daily bread, this one at any rate. I could breathe at last, before me the estuary spread out at my feet  – a clear corridor through twin banks of cloud over Kent and Essex. Above cirrus rippling like a stone dropped into a pond. My unchained mind following the ripples out across the salt marsh and creek and tiny craft and slow gliding ships and power station chimneys.… More


Tall Stories

“Sweet Chestnut is used for the basic treatment of desperation, mental anguish, extreme depression, acute hopelessness, extreme spiritual suffering, and mental or physical breakdown …”

… at least according to that other kind of chestnut (hoary,old) and esoteric money spinner, the Bach Flower Therapy, but that wasn’t the reason I set out for Greenwich Park in yesterday’s autumn sunshine. Although I had come to join in a harvest of sorts.

I was not the only pilgrim in the park.… More

NW 3-Peaks-101010

My Dear Friedrich,
So much for the Mother Shiptons who thought that it was all going to kick off today. In fact it was the most beautiful Autumn weather I can remember and the Northern Heights were heaving especially on the Heath where we had so many fantastic picnics back in the day. Oh, the chicken and roast veal and the leisurely Sunday papers and the setting the world to rights while the the children played hide and seek among the heather.

Bushey Circular-101006


Dear  Harry & Elinor,
crossed the border today & visited the Rose Garden. Do you remember the cloisters? It’s fantastic – and the locals are still friendly (providing you dress down & don’t stare at them). In the afternoon I did a circuit via Aldenham etc. Took photos rather than sketched. Plus ça change. Long hedgerow of hawthorne caught low Autumn sun and the haws lit up like landing lights. Then I realized they were landing lights.… More