Birding By Train: Conyer, The Swale

The Swale ahead: meadow pipit here and skylark
The Swale ahead. Meadow pipit here and skylark

Train journey: Catford to Teynham, via Bromley South

Journey time: Leave 9.03am, arrive 10.17am

To The Swale, that once-was river and now slip of sea between mainland Kent and the Isle of Sheppey. My first time.

It was James Massey that had me heading to these flatlands. Tweeting as @ConyerBirdman he’d posted photos of shore lark and snow bunting, which I’d never seen, and yellowhammer, which I’d liked to have seen more of. Continue reading “Birding By Train: Conyer, The Swale”

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Birding By Train: Conyer, The Swale

Amalfi: Higher Than The Sun

Towards Capri
Towards Capri

It is the evening of October 4, the feast day of St Francis, and Bomerano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is celebrating.

Fireworks send thunderclaps echoing around the valley and down to the sea, silencing the barking dogs and an unknown caged bird just below us whose call sounds like a turkey doing a bad impression of itself.

Continue reading “Amalfi: Higher Than The Sun”

Amalfi: Higher Than The Sun

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