|Following Whinchats, Rainham Marshes, December, 2012|
"Our winters were long and dark, and we would start to feel like people under house arrest long before spring came- so when the thermometer rose to twenty or thirty degrees with gentian and jablom, it became almost impossible for us to stay indoors, even at night. Sometimes, the outdoors seemed so vast and illumined, and the memory of the winter darkness was so strong, that we had to go out and walk on the shore, or wander about the meadows, filling our heads with light." (John Burnside, A Summer of Drowning, 2011, p105, Vintage Books, London)
We had a most brilliant day of sunshine on Tuesday, a day when, after a brief journey in a mist that was unusually thick for London, I had to stay in and bake for the first of our cake stalls this year. Normally, baking is a restful activity for me, but that day I kept on popping out in the garden to snatch a patch of blue sky because it was too cold to have the doors open. Fortunately, nobody complained that the cakes tasted bitter the following day, but I wondered whether my resentment at staying indoors might somehow make its way into the batter. Because, you see, I am desperate for light and I can entirely understand why in Burnside's "Summer of Drowning" he recognises this greed for light after a long Arctic winter.
|Wennington Green, Tuesday morning|
The end of winter, I find, can be particularly demanding. Grey days interspersed with a couple of days of sunshine hinting at spring simply tantalise without satisfying. It's not the cold or looking out of the window at the same view or being confined to the same walks or rides that's the problem. No, it's definitely about the light.
|River Quaggy, Loampit Vale, Lewisham|
There are a few urban spots that seem to capture the light more than others. The intersection at Mile End, ugly as it is, always seems to capture a little more light than you might expect, or anywhere near water - the river, the canal, the ponds in the park, or if you are really lucky, a trip to the seaside.
|Shelter, Margate, without TS Eliot|
Ostensibly, our trip to Margate last week was to go to the art gallery. But just like Puggy Booth, I think it was really about the light.