Closing Time, Thames Barrier

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The gates of the Thames Barrier are called Alpha to Foxtrot. This is Alpha, on the south side, which closes first with Echo and Foxtrot on the north side. The bigger ones in the middle then close one at a time

UPDATED with new new pictures, taken by Deon. It’s easy to tell which are his. There’s more of his stuff here

Because they only carry out a routine closure of the Thames Barrier six times a year, it is treated, in a small-scale, very English kind of way, as something of an event.

There are already a handful of spectators when we arrive at just after half eight on a Sunday morning – middle-aged couples in the main and some young families, cameras ready. Continue reading “Closing Time, Thames Barrier”

Closing Time, Thames Barrier

The Prophet Of West Wycombe Hill – the most cheerful man alive

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The Dashwood Mausoleum, West Wycombe Hill

Let’s call him Bill Franklin. We meet him on West Wycombe Hill, by the huge, walled mausoleum to Sir Francis Dashwood (1708-1781), who founded the Hellfire Club and hosted its meetings in chalk caves he had excavated some 100m below our feet.

Continue reading “The Prophet Of West Wycombe Hill – the most cheerful man alive”

The Prophet Of West Wycombe Hill – the most cheerful man alive

Glad and ruins on the Thames

Me and The Goff walked the Thames from Woolwich to Rotherhithe on a sunny Sunday. It’s a stretch of the river neither of us have much cause to visit and it’s fascinating, not least because so unlike the London of our everyday lives.

There’s still industry here from an age of rust and clank sitting besides new flats that by comparison seem more modern than they already are.

It’s a place of dead and ruin, of abiding and of the future. Perhaps appropriately it crosses the Meridian Line.

And the river is wide, spanned at the east by the Thames Barrier, which shines beautiful in the sun, keeping greater ruin at bay.

Continue reading “Glad and ruins on the Thames”

Glad and ruins on the Thames

All Change – Hastings To Rye

Clifftop grass and bracken
Clifftop grass and bracken

I’M not known for taking my time over a drink but even by my standards that pint of cider barely touched the sides.

As with many things, John Steinbeck’s Doc had it best in Cannery Row – the first for thirst, the second for taste. He was talking about beer but I wouldn’t bet against him developing a taste for cider if it had been readily available in hot Monterey. Continue reading “All Change – Hastings To Rye”

All Change – Hastings To Rye

Parkland Walk With Steinbeck

Platforms at the old Crouch Hill station
Platforms at the old Crouch Hill station

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck is an account of a road trip the author undertakes across the US with his pet poodle, whose name informs the title.

It begins with a description of the restless spirit – the want for wandering we feel from youth and suffer into middle age and maturity. The need to be a bum sometimes.

Having decided to hit the road, Steinbeck says the bum must settle on three things. A reason for going; the route to be taken; and the means by which it will be covered.

I like this description: the bum within us wants to leave; our higher aspect seeks the reason.

Continue reading “Parkland Walk With Steinbeck”

Parkland Walk With Steinbeck