Between 7.30 and 9.00 in the morning must be the noisiest time of day but most people have to filter out the noise, just to do what we have to. Young Abel often draws our attention to sirens, trains and loud machinery, but I did not need his advice this morning.
The Builder’s dog is with us and needed his morning walk. Today he was sniffling round a shrub when I heard a woodpecker drumming somewhere nearby. Not that I saw him, but it’s a pleasure to hear him. Trying to place him – somewhere in the treetops – without binoculars was futile, but it made me aware of the din around me, even though I was some yards from the nearest road. The school playing field was being mown with a tractor and a mower; the main roads and inner ring road were still very busy, but a motorbike and ambulance stood out. There were trains and planes, and children winding down to go indoors for the morning.
But I could still hear the woodpecker. And the chaffinch and the blackcap … and the herring gulls and rooks overhead.
Sometimes we must dive into whatever silence is around, even if no-one else can hear it, even if only for a moment.
As we crossed the cloister at Luther King House in Manchester we heard a chuckle from the top of a leafless tree. A pair of magpies were building their nest in a fork of the upper branches. The structure was at an early stage, just a few twigs, but if they decide to finish the next it will have a dome and provide good shelter for the young ‘pies as they grow quickly into adulthood.
It was Mrs T who made the connection that it was Valentine’s Day, the day the birds are said to marry.
In nearby Whitworth Park we saw parakeets who clearly considered themselves wild members of the local fauna. We’re used to them in Kent but did not expect to spot them so far North!
This building was new to me: photo by Chris Dyczek at Agnellusmirror.
I’m not sure why this posting has taken three months to get published!
A fine day, a trusty Brompton, an appointment in Ealing, a detraining at St Pancras: why not ride a London bike along London’s canal? The towpath goes almost all the way and will surely be in better nick than when last I rode it in 1980.
Yes, and no. At the very start of the ride, behind King’s Cross station, it was good to see a terrace stepping down to the water from street level and people enjoying the sun between trains (judging by the luggage they had put down). I, however, was on a pontoon floating on the water, as the path itself was a building site.
A little further West there were more residential moorings than I remember, two or three abreast where the canal was wide enough. If I hadn’t met Mrs T when I did, I might well have gone for that way of living in London. But she and Kent beckoned; I see more big ships in the Channel these days than narrow boats on the cut. The zoo – I’d forgotten that the bird house is cantilevered almost over the water – it has lasted well for such a delicate looking structure.
After Regents Park there was a stretch where I lost the canal, then miles of railway on one side and cemeteries or buildings across the water. Even the industrial buildings were not as I remembered them, but I got to my destination ready for an afternoon’s research,having lungs full of as fresh air as Central London has to offer. Maybe next time I could try another part of the Thames path I followed to Richmond at the beginning of September.
Litter-picking is one of those fatigues that children in school resent. One thing to pick up your own litter, another when it comes to other people’s. I try not to be resentful when I do my turn – turning scraps of paper, drinks bottles and coffee cups instead of stones on the beach. But it’s more difficult when it comes to cigarette ends and packets. (GRRRR!)
I tell myself the parable about the son who didn’t want to do what his father asked, while the other just made promises – which one did his father’s will?
But a little reward came my way today. Shining in a ray of winter sun, a very early snowdrop.
And surely better to do the job with a degree of anger than not at all?