I was so frazzled from Kentish Town Road that I ducked down back streets: Greenland Place – named after a person rather than a country – and Bayham Street. Here I heard a bang and, looking up, saw a man on a bike spinning away from a car. It was my second accident of the week. London is a madhouse of cov-psychotic driving at the moment. The only safe roads are ones where traffic has come to a standstill, which luckily means all the main routes into and out of central London.… More
Thu 30 Apr 2020: Eleanor Farjeon’s house, N.W.3., July 2015 (2 min read)
Today I revisit a walk from 2015. It involves a lost garden not unconnected to Edward Thomas and feels sort of zeitgeisty: we all seem to enjoy peeping into celebrities’ homes at the moment. The fact that I could revisit the walk without stretching government exercise guidelines is irrelevant. I don’t want to know what it’s like today. It’s hard to find a house in Hampstead that doesn’t have a blue plaque.… More
Thu 9 Apr 2020: Two unbirthday walks for Edward Thomas (7 min read)
So the first time we had got it together to go on the birthday walk organized by the Edward Thomas Fellowship and … it was cancelled: not because of coronavirus but because of the wettest February on record. The ground was waterlogged and there was storm damage in the hangers – the densely wooded hills above the village of Steep, Hampshire, which were home to the poet and his family in the decade before World War I, and the locus of inspiration for much his late-flowering poetry.… More
On Sunday I met up with Ben Mackay, who is writing a book following in the footsteps (and cycle tracks) of Edward Thomas’s In Pursuit of Spring, and Saeko Yoshikawa, who has translated, and published, Thomas’s poems in Japan.
We walked a circuit around Box Hill and Mickleham in the hottest August Bank Holiday on record: not typical Edward Thomas weather, but there was plenty of shade in the chalk woodlands, in Mickleham church and in The Running Horses, which Thomas mentions in the text.… More
26 July 2019: My book has become a ball & chain. I can’t even look at it. I’m accepting defeat, for now. Thing is: I have problems organising a sentence. I sometimes forget to write in paragraphs. A book? What was I thinking of?
For the moment I am happy being a consumer of words. 25,000 words
of evidence from Smith vs Brownlow, for starters. This court case
(1866-70), and the events leading up to it, are one of the foundation
stories of both the Open Spaces Society (then called The Commons
Preservation Society) and the National Trust.… More
I’m not going back to the forest without a paper map and an old fashioned compass. I’d put a route on my phone to the Thomases’ isolated house in the heart of Epping Forest – the poet’s last address in England before he was killed in France a hundred years ago. I had intended to just reverse it when I finished and retrace my steps to the station. I found the place alright.… More
20 Jan. The day the 45th and possibly final nail was hammered into the coffin of American democracy seemed like a good day to kick start a road trip along some of my homeland’s most iconic routes. This one, operated by EOS, and the first of many, I hoped, turned out to be a circular from Waltham Cross, the south-easternmost town in Hertfordshire.
The route, echoing the thirteenth century funeral procession that gave the town its name, crosses the River Lea and the Greenwich meridian into Essex where it speeds through Epping Forest, slowing to a crawl at the Wake Arms roundabout, before looping through Loughton and Debden, and returning to do the whole thing again.… More
I’d been here before. Nearly fifty years ago. It was raining then, too.
I didn’t see much – it was night and we dipped below the clouds for a second or two and that was that.
We had been flying at 1500 feet most of the way from Birmingham. 24nm north of Bovingdon on the 160 radial: asked Luton for radar cover but there was too much rain. Hence 1500-1000 feet. Trying to keep one eye on the ground.… More