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2017-02-28 :: Richard Shepherd // Country Diary
Dollis Day

22 Feb. Finchley–Woodside Park. With a storm promised for Thursday (Doris Day) I felt I was sneaking a walk in early. Which is odd because I almost always walk on Wednesdays anyway.

dollis-snowdrops

Note to self: I’m at a critical point in this country diary. I don’t want to write it. I’ve nothing to say. On the other hand, one of the key things about it, like dried prunes, is regularity. If you want to look back and track the changes you want to know what happened in February, week 8, even if what happened was you were particularly uninspired and … more ...

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2017-02-17 :: Richard Shepherd // Country Diary
Pageant of Winter

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 ...

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2017-02-10 :: Richard Shepherd // r.cade'sproject
B for Brent

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 ...

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2017-02-03 :: Richard Shepherd // Country Diary
Up the Junction

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 ...

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2017-01-27 :: Richard Shepherd // Route 66
Route 66-Lakeside-Tilbury-Chadwell

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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2017-01-19 :: Richard Shepherd // Country Diary
Finchley

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 ...

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2017-01-12 :: Richard Shepherd // Country Diary
Edgwarebury

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 ...

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2016-04-13 :: Richard Shepherd // Kentish Town + London + Olde Kentishe Towne
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 ...

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2015-12-15 :: Richard Shepherd // Geology + London + Walking
Proto-Thames

Wisdom, as many another priceless thing, must be dug from the very bowels of the earth.” Girolamo Cardano

puddingstone

The plan is to walk each of the itineraries in Geologist’s Association Guide No. 68 (The Geology of London). Not slavishly but in the spirit, after a fashion.

Walk 1. Harefield, 13 November 2015

Bad news on the train out of Marylebone: “passengers are reminded there is nothing in this mortal life except inanity, emptiness, and dream-shadows.” As if I needed reminding. I just wanted to find something – anything not wholly shit. Which is not setting … more ...

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