Up the Junction

01 Feb. On 1st February 1760 in East Hoathly, Sussex, Thomas Turner, a shopkeeper, “supped on some roast chicken, a cold ham, a hot boiled green tongue, a boiled leg of mutton, fried chaps, tarts, cold fine baked puddings etc. … ”


I had to look at The Country Diaries, 2009, ed. Alan Taylor, to get inspiration to write up yesterday’s walk home along the Grand Union Canal from Willesden Junction.

I have been thinking how little expertise I bring to the country diary. For instance: last week I read up how to tell the difference between coots and moorhens. Yesterday I had already forgotten it. There were some green leaves at the foot of the railway embankment: what plants were they?

Would I have enjoyed the walk more with more knowledge or would it have sidelined the steam billowing out of the recycling plant, the Maersk containers rattling under the bridge, the man who pointed out the way to the canal, the bustle around the cafe whose name I thought I’d remember?

The walk was as much about railways as catkins. Two spokes, the West Coast and the Great Western, almost touch here. It’s the railways rather than the birds, I decide, that feed the migratory instinct inside me and put a spring in tired feet.

For the second time in two trips someone was being escorted out of the supermarket by security guards as I was going in.

Supped on omega 3 f/fingers (£1) and savers baked beans (24p), very happy not to have to eat fried chaps again.


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