Cold Case 2 – Down By the Jetty

Southend Pier
Southend Pier

Of all the places I habitually walk, the Thames Estuary has the biggest claim on my affections. I don’t think I’ve ever had a disappointing walk there. Elation doesn’t always last. But that’s not the fault of the place. Just the fact that whatever chased you out of the house will still be there when you get back.

For years I only did one route, first discovered in the pages of Timeout. I would get the train to Benfleet, about fifty minutes journey from Fenchurch Street, and walk along the creek to Leigh-on-Sea.… More

Spoke 149 – Stranded!

South Bank

A pleasant ramble today, through a ghost town. I avoided main roads except, briefly, the Euston Road, where HS2 protesters had set up camp in the small park in front of Euston Station.

By coincidence, the spoke took me past The Savoy (on The Strand, near Charing X) which didn’t look very barracksy, although was guarded by a gold caped crusader. I enjoyed taking the time to mooch en route, around Old St Pancras Churchyard, for example, and then later, the little lanes to the south of Denmark Street.… More

Spoke Zero – Coldfall

Highgate Wood

I threw zero, which would have taken me a little to the east of Tesco Colney Hatch. With only a little bit of artistic declination, my route took me through a park and three areas of ancient woodland. The furthest point I reached was Coldfall Wood, named by the first hunter-gatherers when the ice sheet, like most people, observed Muswell Hill and turned back.

Now, of course, I realise that my dice are loaded.… More

Spoke 136 – Building of the Month

l to r: 186 Fleet St., Holborn Library from Jockey’s Fields, Dolphin Tavern, Red Lion St., Camley St rail bridge: 10 Foot, 4.1 Metres

It comes back to this: you have to write for yourself. At least, I do. I write to check I still have a pulse. I write to make connections – any connections, if I’m honest – because I find it hard to make narrative connections that most people take for granted. The bits of your brain that fire up with thoughts of your children or grandchildren or dogs mean absolutely zip to me.… More

Spoke 67 – Freightliners Blues

Old Coroners Court, Islington

I walked around St Mary Magdalen Gardens on the Holloway Road today, past the sociable huddles of street drinkers. I wasn’t exactly in the mood for collecting headstones – or ordering one, but in the south-east corner of the park, I noticed the Old Coroners Court. In one way, the juxtaposition was entirely understandable. The church could provide solace for the grieving, could frame their search for answers – or at least answer a different question if they didn’t like any of the answers available.… More

Spoke 207 – Last Number Redial

I got chatting to an old boy on a bench next to the Serpentine. He had been in the Navy: submarines, mostly. By way of conversation, I said I’d just been reading that a quarter of the army could be robots in ten years time. He told me that the regular army had been robots since 1906. He said that when contractors went into Knightsbridge Barracks a few years ago, they were amazed to find that none of the services had ever been used.… More

Spoke 219 – Speke

Tuesday 03 November 2020 (2 min read)

I enjoyed the colours of the leaves along the Regents Canal. And the colours of the African Hunting Dogs which remind me of cave art. No two of them have the same markings, apparently. My photos were blurry sadly, but they were pacing around. They knew something was up: which is more than I did. They mostly eat ‘antelope and wildebeest but often warthogs, zebra and even lizards’. I’m sure they wouldn’t turn down an ambassador if he happened, somehow, to fall into the enclosure:)

I took a slightly better pic of canal-workers (fried breakfasts, doorstep sandwiches, roasts, pies, beers).… More

Spoke 307 – Chalk Farm Mystery

Friday 16th October 2020 (3 min read)

I didn’t know it before I set out, but today I would be mostly linking up farms. I can’t point you to a historical ‘Chalk Farm’, but the name suggests the rural vibe of the area before London swallowed it in the nineteenth century. Here cockneys came to ruralise, and slighted gentlemen might seek redress beyond the gaze of the law.

Later, I was excited by an article titled ‘Chalk Farm Mystery’ in the South London Press, 1899.… More

Spoke 317 – Gloriously Dead

Hendon, Wed 7 October 2020

I wanted to go for long walks without taking public transport. I didn’t want to walk myself into the ground or bore myself rigid linking up the same green corridors in my dog-eared, much-loved in its day, OS Explorer Map 173, which lost its cover many years ago. In fact, before the visitation, I had managed to convince myself – not without some justification – that I had walked every single footpath near the Northern Line.… More

Paper, Scissors, Gone Again

Grand Union Canal near Berkhamsted, Nash Mills, Sheppeys Lane, Bedmond, field near Shenley
Grand Union Canal near Berkhamsted, Nash Mills, Sheppeys Lane, Bedmond, field near Shenley

This mp3 is a walk I used to do every year at midsummer in the early 2010s. The walk, from Berkhamsted to Kentish Town was 36 miles and used most of the daylight on the longest day of the year. A text version is available on the excellent Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.

Mon 22 Jun 2020: Introduction. (2 min read, 350 words)

I am proud of it – the writing, not the walk, although I can see its faults.… More