29 April 2014


"The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March."
From Two Tramps in Mud Time, Robert Frost

April. You leave home wrapped in a tweed coat in brisk wind with showers forecast and half an hour later there is steam coming out of your collar. One minute you are beaming, the next piqued.

Take Sunday.  We visited my friend whose new baby was curled up and lost in the stupor of learning how to feed just a week ago, and this week had lengthened perceptively, eyes trying to focus, placid, and just as quickly on the brink of a yowl. Amazing. 

Still on a high, we rushed to Somerset House, only to find the Boro quilts we were hoping to see (again for me) dismantled. A cup of coffee gave us a boost, but a few minutes later we were cast down again to find Temple station closed just as we needed to get home quickly. Then, taking a different route, we discovered St Clement Danes ringing out the hour with a peal of Oranges and Lemons.  All these years, and never heard those bells until yesterday. Very jolly, cheered us up. 

Unlike St Saviour in the Marshes for whom the bell tolled this evening. Quite the emotional rollercoaster.

20 April 2014

ooh, er...

They don't look very happy, do they? Perhaps we should have stuck to chocolate.

But my internet connection seems to have been restored, which is good news. And even if the rain is threatening the canopies of spider webs spanning the gutters, this is not altogether unwelcome.

Have a Happy Easter day.

02 April 2014

making space

It was warm yesterday - bare-leg warm by the afternoon. It had been a busy morning, the last of a series of weekly workshops I'd been running with some women in Whitechapel, bittersweet to say goodbye and good luck. I'll miss them. There was a lot to do back home, but that British summer time lost hour takes some getting used to, so in the end I thought the best thing was to get to the plot and do nothing, absolutely nothing. No sowing, no sewing, no reading, just a bit of space and quiet.

I cycled along the back streets, cut across the Bow roundabout and nipped onto the River Lea path to Three Mills for the last leg of the journey. It's a ride I enjoy because you're below the main roads and it's quite spacious. For now. A pair of swans were nesting, quite possibly the foolish pair who normally make their nest on the tidal part of the river further round by Three Mills, only to have their nest flooded and their eggs scattered on the mud.

Hopefully they'll pull it off, this year at least. Behind them a new red fence has gone up, and behind that the remaining industrial buildings have all but disappeared. This time next year the view will be completely different as the building work proceeds. It's no good whining about any of this, not for too long anyway. The pace of change around here is taxing, it always has been in London, but just now it seems to have accelerated.  People probably felt the same when this pretty as a picture collection of industrial buildings were erected. All the more reason to find a bit of space now, however small it might be.
Three Mills - view from river path exit by Tesco overflow car park
When I reached the allotment, I pulled out the old comfy chair and sat on our tiny bit of lawn to enjoy the space and the warmth. It wasn't quiet exactly. Huge peacock butterflies did that fighty thing in the air, and when they'd finished with each other, chased off the orange tips.  Hoverflies and solitary bees flitted through the overgrown rocket and the yellow flowers of gone-to-seed mizuna. There was the sound of building work near the new pumping station;, a very slight drone from the main road; an intermittent drilling which was, I think, a woodpecker; a blackbird starting that late afternoon singing; and could that possibly have been the sound of rooster nearby - really? 

Where the Prescott Channel runs at the back of the plot opposite, some swans flew across a couple of times, quite low down, following the water and just in view, then some wildfowl and a few gulls. At one point there were even three ducks in a row using the sky and trees as their wallpaper. Great tits flew around making that repetitive tweeting and the silhouette of a wretched magpie was just about visible in a tree. 

Such bliss. Inside my head I may have heard those Numskulls responsible for vitamin and endorphin distribution  calling out "More, more!".

(Map here.)