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


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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.

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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


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Ford ‘Mad Dogs‘ Brown used to walk out to the mighty Dollis to paint – and walk back to Kentish Town. To be fair I took the tube one way. I was in a gloomy apathetic mood which seemed to be shared by the people in my carriage who were mostly asleep. It may have been the unnecessary heating of course and their dreams may have been as sunny as the glossy magazines I later photographed where they had been carefully ripped and placed like votive offerings in the river echoing the colours of the  Himalayan balsam and Virginia creeper on the bank.

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Another temperature traverse of the Lea Valley. I’m reading Iain Sinclair’s Lights Out For The Territory, W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, and Richard Holmes’s Footsteps. But reading them with the mindset of a carpenter looking at trees: Terry Pratchett’s advice to aspiring fantasy authors (or author-fantasists) in 2010’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.
All I can see at the moment though is hornbeam, tears and broken jigsaws.
But I loved the hop hedges on the  bank and remembered how the Enfield malt men, who plied their trade by road,  set fire to the locks at Waltham when transport on the improved river threatened their business in 1581.

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Woodsmoke and  limes. A strange thing to note down considering the lower Lea valley has changed beyond recognition since I last walked this way in the first weeks of the New Thatcher experiment. Now the ODC has turned the river, like an olympic gymnast, on its head. The grave is at the bottom. Apartments and studio flats spread out along the tow path from Limehouse like colonising triffids. Each property boasts 2.4 Moorhens, 10 cubic centimetres of  abbatoir greased polyethylene and a view over a cordon sanitaire into a pre-abandoned  future.… More