Posted in The Fragments on Sunday 20th November 2022 at 1:11pm
There is far less excuse for this fragment lying incomplete, dating as it does from the tail end of Summer 2019. Looking back, that feels like a strangely gentle time in the world - though it was already a bubbling pot of future horror: looming and contentious US elections, the last desperate flaps of the dead Brexit fish, and interminable local politics. I remember little of the motivation given the time which has elapsed since I struck out from Liverpool Street that morning, but I clearly wanted a walk in the northeastern corner of the city and was looking for an excuse to visit Waltham Abbey. Despite my incomprehensible notes which indicated a plan to write around the link between the last resting place of King Harold Godwinson to our excursion to the statue of Edith and Harold at St.Leonards, I'd written nothing - and all that is here are some rather drab pictures of a slog into London from the fringes.
The walk out to Waltham Abbey was long and hot as I recall, and I thought I'd maybe extended myself too far until the abbey appeared squat and ancient in the middle of the small town. After a visit to Harold's grave site, I returned to the larger centre of Waltham Cross, turning south onto the pedestrianised precinct which eventually became the A1010 - the former route of the mighty A10, and of course historically, of Roman Ermine Street.. The M25 enters Holmesdale Tunnel here, with a long linear park filling the tell-tale gap between Waltham Abbey and Enfield, on land which was formerly market garden territory.
Once into Enfield, the road assumes the rather forlorn appearance of a once mighty artery now reduced to secondary importance. It becomes a string of localities, with little to distinguish them: Turkey Street, Enfield Highway, Freezywater - aside from the effort which the Borough has gone to in supporting each little commercial zone with maps, signage and 'welcome' signs. I dread to think how many of these tiny concerns managed to ride out the pandemic - though perhaps our collective 'staying local' helped some of them. The route crossed a good deal of familiar territory too - the valleys of the Turkey Brook, Salmon's Brook and Moselle, and the unnatural chasm of the North Circular. I stumbled through Edmonton Green and Stamford Hill, arriving at the gates of Abney Park Cemetery - its usual freight of local walkers and goth denizens in evidence.
The remainder of the route was the familiar and much-trodden road into London - Dalston Junction, Kingsland Road, Norton Folgate - from desolation to gentrification, from market stalls to artisan street food. As I arrived under the towers of Bishopsgate and took a familiar snap of Christ Church Spitalfields at the end of Brushfield Street, a wedding party was setting off indigo-coloured smoke bombs across the street. The church was solid, reliable, and sinister. Seemingly more robust than the surrounding steel towers and glass-fronted bank headquarters. My walks into London via ancient thoroughfares always manage to explain the topography - they are often the paths of least resistance. Straight and flat. Complicated only by human interventions.
I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.
I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.