When I got back to London this week from Sunningdale with my heavy case of books, I took a taxi home from Waterloo and although I was feeling pretty tired from my week away, I was cheered up by my journey home. The route the cabbie took (always interesting, that) avoided the main roads and followed the railway line and ended up where Union Street meets London Bridge. He was not to know it, but I'm rather fond of that route. I used to work nearby and I like the railway arches, the buddleia growing out of the brickwork, the bits of scrap land, the pot plants put on display by the people living in the flats along the way. People were buzzing around Borough Market and across London Bridge, livened up by the warm, sunny evening. Around Aldgate, the clock on St Botolph's church was competing with the siren from a police car. Kids hung around on bikes outside Stepney Green station, waiting for something to happen. And at home, my favourite garlicky homecoming meal was waiting for me. A bit different from Sunningdale, then.
I won't bore you with all the learny, learny stuff from the week away. But we were told about the importance of getting into the habit of working every day on our research and having a special place to write and think. So I decided I needed a new study spot and moved my writing table into a room downstairs in the company of strange drinks leftover from Christmas (will I be tempted by that half bottle of advocaat?) and Perseus, an inspiration for perseverance in the face of this study thing.
I now sit facing a window looking down the alley which runs at the side of our kitchen. It's where we store our bikes, plant pots, ladders, not the the most photogenic part of the garden. Or at least that's what I thought until I decided I needed some air and took a closer look. Along the soot-blackened garden wall, I found ferny croziers beginning to unfurl.
A lovely little maidenhair spleenwort tucked in along the bottom of the wall.
New soft spiky ivy making its way up the loose brickwork.
A hart's tongue fern creeping above the furnace slag,
And further along, where we have never managed to find a piece of york stone the right size to fill the gap, a scupture garden of sorts...
...in a space less than half a square metre.
It's all a matter of scale, a matter of taste, a matter of what makes you smile.