Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Lea Valley

Now that the blackberries are starting to bloom, all the hedgerows are coming to life. 

A path leads away from the Lea Bridge Road, winding through thickets that catch tin cans, crisp packets and pieces of paper, weaving its way like a gentle river into Hackney marshes. The traffic noise calms to a slow simmer, and it's as though a large animal has been tamed or grown tired. Magpies cackle in the trees, Blackbirds sing. Bindweed climbs across a bank of nettles throwing up white flowers like tiny porcelain bowls. Bright green parakeets dash between leaves. A tree sends out a covering of seeds that fall upon the footpath and the brambles beside it like a thick layer of cotton wool. If my googling is correct, this is the Black Poplar, or Water Poplar, and said to be the most endangered hardwood tree in the UK. Water Poplars can live up to 200 years. 100 Years ago there was the water works, the filter beds, and pump systems. 200 years ago there were the trees, the animals, and the Lea river moving slowly over the marshes. 

Though the path is concrete and fenced on either side by black iron rails, there is still a sense of civilisation unravelling into wilderness. This is a landscape of birds, and wind, and trees, and tall grass. Only this giant red metal bridge crossing the river, blocking almost all view of it reminds you that the landscape has been shaped by humans. Beyond the bridge wild flowers move in the breeze. The land opens out into a huge field with rows and rows of white goal posts.

The path turns behind a row of Silver Birch to avoid the football pitches. Now the view is small again and the birds return, calling to one another. In the longer grass and in the hedges there are spaces were animals have made their own paths.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Behind the Lea Valley Riding Centre

Following a path across Millfields park, behind the ice rink and on through the riding centre. The path crosses the Lea River before continuing over the train tracks and on towards Walthamstow.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sailors´ Village without sailors.

I would like to talk to you about these sailors.

Well, at least I like thinking they are sailors, although they're not close to a seashore, if they have ever been close to one.

Their houses made of wood and their facades painted in colours. Their roofs raise up to the stormy skies like the crest of waves, breaking against imaginary figureheads.

Every morning I cross their village.

The wind blows around its corners, and fills its alleys with brown leaves and blue carrier bags sailing against the whirlwinds.

The cables hit the mast of the antenas at a continuous metallic pace.

Never I have seen kids on the front yard decks, the swing in the playground only rocks its own shadow.

Every morning, alone.

I look for eyes behind the net curtains or whistles coming from the slot of an open window. Doors open behind my steps, and close instantly when I turn my head to them.

My eyes hang from a sudden camera zoom.

Nothing happens at the sailors' village without sailors, without boats.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Collecting Dandelions

In the summer of 1985 my Mum and I went for a walk through the country lanes close to our house.

It was warm and dry and we had an idea that if we collected flowers from the side of the road we could later press them into a notebook.

I say 'we' but it must have been her idea really. Perhaps it was something she had done as a child.

I would have been four years old.

I remember the fields being yellow.

In the banks of grass beside the roads we found dandelions, buttercups, and bright blue flowers that I don't know the name of.


We must have walked in a loop. Perhaps we cut across fields, although we would have a pushchair with us so that seems unlikely.

I think I remember the fields being quiet though I'm sure cars passed at intervals, becoming louder as they approached and then quickly dying away.

The idea of silent yellow fields and cars mixes in my mind with a kind of early summer morning smell and the sound of blackbirds.

But these must be from later summers. The smell of the shade behind the house with the sun baking down and cutting the garden in two. Blackbirds outside a bedroom window in the early evening.

Did I sellotape the flowers into the Transformers notebook? I think so; look at the way the tape has been torn.

Also, the flowers were fixed into position with the book upside down and back to front. I recognise my own work here.

Did we walk back together or did I sleep in the pushchair? Were the flowers carried in my mum's handbag or did I want to hold onto them?

We must have stuck them down after lunch, placing a heavy object on top of the book to press the flowers into position.

We would have shown them to my Dad that evening.