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Pageant of Winter

Friday 17 February 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

15 Feb.  Crocuses were pushing through in Alexandra Park when we walked through on Monday in the sunshine, snowdrops, too. It was still cold though. Today the wind had shifted round to the south south west. Now it is official. The pageant of winter has been authorized for removal and destruction. Few will mourn its passing.

Pageant of Winter, Birchen Grove, Wembley.

Pageant of Winter, Birchen Grove, Wembley.

But I was in a funny mood. In spite of a rainbow and a troop of parakeets the day was more inclined to gloom than glam. Headlights were on in Hendon at four o’clock. Sunny Hill Park was … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-02-17  ::  Richard Shepherd

B for Brent

Friday 10 February 2017 - Filed under r.cade'sproject

8 Feb. Eleven minutes to Hendon. Five minutes walk to Brent Cross past a barber-surgeon giving free hair cuts to street trees. The sign at the pedestrian gate at the end of Brent Park Road worried me: “ACCESS FOR SHOPPING AND BUSINESS PURPOSES ONLY NO PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY.” All in hectoring capital letters and no full stops anywhere. What if they stopped me?

brent-cross

It reminded me of another walk and another sign: “Constables and other Peace Officers to apprehend all Common Beggars Ballad Singers and other Vagrants for that they may be dealt with according to the Law.”

2003 … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-02-10  ::  Richard Shepherd

Up the Junction

Friday 3 February 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

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. … ”

willesden-junction

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 … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-02-03  ::  Richard Shepherd

Route 66-Lakeside-Tilbury-Chadwell

Friday 27 January 2017 - Filed under Route 66

25 Jan. Ensignbus, omnibus suppliers to the world since 1972, provided this week’s iconic road trip. Shorter than last week’s – I got off about half-way – but man did we make up for it in time. Ninety million years between shop and trolley on the ice of a former chalk quarry in Grays. Grays Gorge

I wasn’t as frisky mind you. Too angry to look at the news. Instead my eye glanced down to a story about a new GM apple. It grows partly segmented and when ripe only has to be tapped with the wrong end of a teaspoon … more ...

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-01-27  ::  Richard Shepherd

Route 66 – Waltham Cross – Waltham Abbey – Loughton – Debden (Circular Service)

Tuesday 24 January 2017 - Filed under Route 66

20 Jan. The day the 45th and possibly final nail was hammered into the coffin of American democracy seemed like a good day to kick start a road trip along some of my homeland’s most iconic routes. This one, operated by EOS, and the first of many, I hoped, turned out to be a circular from Waltham Cross, the south-easternmost town in Hertfordshire.

Route 66 - Waltham Cross

The route, echoing the thirteenth century funeral procession that gave the town its name, crosses the River Lea and the Greenwich meridian into Essex where it speeds through Epping Forest, slowing to a crawl at the Wake … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-01-24  ::  Richard Shepherd

Finchley

Thursday 19 January 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

18 Jan. Checked out of the Hotel Abyss, NW5, and headed north, to Finchley, to ruralize.

I was delighted by a kingfisher racing round a bend in the Dollis in a blink of blue and orange. I heard a woodpecker, too, but didn’t see it. It might after all have been an Enfield supporter, gagged and tied to the top of a hollow tree, who had managed to release an arm and was signalling for help the only way he could.

Followed the river by Fursby Avenue allotments (“best kept small allotment in Barnet 2015”) and playing fields to a … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-01-19  ::  Richard Shepherd

Edgwarebury

Thursday 12 January 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.”

11 Jan. I should have checked the weight of the book – The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin – before I set off. It was like carrying a small child on my shoulders through the Hertfordshire/Greater London borderlands. And I was already tired. I had the usual winter blues but harder, more gnarly, or so it seemed having forgotten the hard gnarly blues of last year or the year before that or …

Edgwarebury Lane

This is an easy time of year to be a writer. No fancy … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-01-12  ::  Richard Shepherd

Olde Kentishe Towne!

Wednesday 13 April 2016 - Filed under Kentish Town + London + Olde Kentishe Towne

Captains VideosDo you remember the Captain’s Videos near the Forum but the other side of Kentish Town Road – where it forks to go up to Tufnell Park? I do – I went in there once. I’m not sure why. Anyway, it wasn’t what you think – just a gnarly old boy sitting on a barrel, spinning yarns to whoever would listen (which was no one when I went in) about square riggers and the golden days of sail. He told me he’d been shipwrecked as a lad and spent time on an island where all the toilets dispensed gin right … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2016-04-13  ::  Richard Shepherd

‘ome & ‘aunt

Friday 19 February 2016 - Filed under Walking

I’d been here before. Nearly fifty years ago. It was raining then, too.
I didn’t see much – it was night and we dipped below the clouds for a second or two and that was that.

We had been flying at 1500 feet most of the way from Birmingham. 24nm north of Bovingdon on the 160 radial: asked Luton for radar cover but there was too much rain. Hence 1500-1000 feet. Trying to keep one eye on the ground.

I wasn’t the pilot and hindsight is a wonderful thing and we all live in glass houses &c. Now 800ft amsl … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2016-02-19  ::  Richard Shepherd

Down Among the Dead Men

Monday 4 January 2016 - Filed under Short Story

Found this whilst sorting out my diary for the new year. A short story from 2014. Not fantastic. Not rubbish either.

Out of the blue, the Mrs. mentioned she was psychic and had received a message telling me to go to the Sequoia in Whetstone where I would find something to my advantage.

pub

It seemed I was too late. Its namesake can live for 5,000 years in the Sierra Nevada. This one hadn’t reached double figures before giving up the ghost. My grandfather, Dennis, stayed there in the 1920’s when he was courting my grandmother. Back then it was … more ...

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2016-01-04  ::  Richard Shepherd