31 December 2016

Two days, two walks (near water)

(1) Queensway to Mile End linear walk

Thursday, 29 December 2016
Start time: 10:15
Moderate 7 miles / 11.3 km
Group West Essex
Meet Queensway Tube Station. A walk along the Prince Regent Canal passing through Camden Town and Islington finishing at Mile End Underground Station. Commentary on route, drop out points along the way. Please bring lunch to avoid queuing.

In Leinster Gardens, on the way to Paddington to pick up the route along the canal, this facade has a disquieting detail, if you look closely -
The windows on the right are blocked up - because there's nothing behind the facade. It's a venting point for the Metropolitan line, built in the 1860s. The facade has helped maintain property values! More about it, including photos of the rear, is here.

In one of the many mews we passed, the old "cobbles" remained underfoot (actually they are granite setts). Looks great, and these aren't too bad to walk on, but often they are uneven and unpleasant underfoot, not to mention being slippery for horses -
 Road, rail and water go their separate ways near Paddington -
This sculpture under the Westway is Walking Man by Sean Henry - he's walking towards Standing Man  -
 Some of the boats moored at Little Venice had their woodstoves going -
 Regent's Canal was fully opened in 1820; approaching Regents Park, the grand houses from John Nash's time were reflected in the frosty stillness -
... and some princely inhabitants played on a sloping lawn -
The iron columns of the splendid bridge show grooves made by ropes, as horses pulled the barges along -
This is Macclesfield Bridge, known since an explosion of gunpowder on a barge in 1874 as "Blow Up Bridge".

Passing through ZSL, London Zoo ... what are these - African hunting dogs, perhaps? -
 ... and these, in the Snowdon Aviary - ibis? -
 Graffiti, graffiti - some is less disturbing than others (I'm partial to flamingoes) -
 Near Camden Town, the new buildings are very, very close to the water -
 ... and there are lots of them -
 At the King's Cross redevelopment, one of the old gas holders has been made into a park and the other two are converted to residential use -
 More construction -
 When the canal goes into a tunnel, walkers go overground - this old building is just off Chapel Market -
Early in the walk we saw blue plaques marking the residences of a 19th-century gardening-writing couple (Jane and John Loudon) and a couple of actors, Arthur Low of Dad's Army and ... oh dear, who?? Here, heading east in Islington, the green "Islington People's" plaque commemorates Crystal Hale, 1915-1999, saviour of the City Basin; without her efforts, the large stretch of water would be packed with yet more flats.
 More gasholders, near Broadway Market -
 Narrowboats are double moored where possible -
 Nearing Mile End and the end of the walk; low sun is caught in reeds -
The towers of Docklands are visible as we cross the Green Bridge (aka the Banana Bridge) and then descend to street level, and it's back to busy reality -

(2) Linear - London Bridge to Greenwich

Friday, 30 December 2016
Start time: 10:10
Moderate 7.5 miles / 12.1 km
Group Croydon
.Starting point: London Bridge Station by M and S at platform level
Very different Very different weather conditions for this walk - fog and mist - the top of the Shard not visible -
Landmarks (watermarks?) along the central London riverside -
HMS Belfast
Tower Bridge

 The old warehouses on Shad Thames, Bermondsey -
... and more warehouses, converted to flats; this is New Concordia Wharf -
Sculpture by Peter Randall-Page
St Saviour's Dock, outlet of the "lost" River Neckinger, features in Dickens, in Oliver Twist (Sykes dies in the mud near here) -
 More sculpture -
Part of Dr Salter's Daydream, unveiled in 1991, 2011, and 2014
(with recognition for Ada Salter here)
Medieval ruins -
The river came up to the walls of King Edward III's manor house, built in the 14th century
 More warehouses, along Bermondsey Wall East -
The south tower (pedestrian entrance) of the Rotherhithe Tunnel, built in 1908; the staircase was damaged by a bomb and pedestrians must now approach through the car ramp, though apparently few pedestrians use it now -
The Pageant Crescent obelisk is "mysterious", and so is the name of the street and, earlier, the nearby stairs to the foreshore -
The bascule bridge (Tower of London is another such) at the entrance to Surrey Docks was painted red so ships could see it even in smog -

 Fog didn't deter the speedboat trips -
 Surrey Docks Farm has wonderful gates -

 A relic from the age of the docks, the Odessa Street crane is threatened with demolition -
 More sculpture  -  Curlicue by William Pye, on Greenland Dock -
 ... and what is this, out in the water ...
Plenty of signposts as we approach Greenwich -
 The visually complex statue of Peter the Great (a gift from the people of Russia) is set against a visually confusing background -
 Out stopping point - the Cutty Sark, Greenwich, reached at 13.10 -
A brilliant three hours of walking, fog notwithstanding. 

My way home was via Canary Wharf -

30 December 2016

Walk in the park

It takes just a little longer, going to the South Ken museums (V&A etc) to get off the bus at Notting Hill Gate and walk across Kensington Gardens. Or, from the museums to Notting Hill Gate (though walking the rest of the way home does take rather longer than the bus ride, and is not so pleasant as the park).

I love the huge trees, especially their winter skeletons, and especially at dusk. Here and there, small trees have been planted, with hopes for the future. Dog walkers abound, as do bicyclists on No Cycling paths (tsk, tsk). The traffic is a good distance away, and you kid yourself that the air is a bit cleaner in the park. Sometimes you hear birds, even (on a summer day) a twittering tree full of starlings, what an amazing sound.
 In the northwest corner is the Round Pond, with Kensington Palace behind -
The swans take it all in their stride -

29 December 2016

Poetry Thursday - two triolets by Thomas Hardy

by Emmanuel Ologeanu (via)

Birds at Winter Nightfall 

Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly!--faster
Shutting indoors that crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone!

(via; first heard on the Midwinter episode of Poetry Please)
The poem is a triolet - a poem of eight lines, typically of eight syllables each, rhyming abaaabab and so structured that the first line recurs as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth. Its appearance is deceptively simple. Hardy recognized the form's possibilities for melancholy and seriousness, using the repetition skillfully to mark a shift in the meaning of repeated lines, for instance, in How Great my Grief:
    How great my grief, my joys how few,
     Since first it was my fate to know thee!
     —Have the slow years not brought to view
     How great my grief, my joys how few,
     Not memory shaped old times anew,
        Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
     How great my grief, my joys how few,
        Since first it was my fate to know thee?

28 December 2016

Thinking ahead to 2017 JQs

The 2016 journal quilts are finished, and I'm thinking ahead to next year.
Kettle Express - graphite, fused plastic, fabric, on paper; machine stitch, couching, running stitch
Windstorm - fabric, stamped colour catcher on monoprint; running stitch
Card O'Buttons - graphite (frottage), fabric, stamped colour catcher; machine stitch, running stitch
Steamin' Kettles - french knots and fabric on monoprint 
And their backs
(The first four 2016 JQs are here, the second lot here.)

Committing and colluding
First of all, will I commit to doing them again? As part of downsizing, I'm moving away from fabric, apart from the fabric "chimney pots" that will be dipped in porcelain slip and the fluid fabric transformed into rigid ceramic. But it will be impossible to discard my entire stash, so there will be "bits" for JQs (and other odd bits of "fabric collage"). And backings, There may even be a year or two's wadding available.

I'm sporadic about doing this monthly project - sometimes three in a month, sometimes nothing till the deadline. Over the years they've been made ever more quickly, and I fear with less thought - sometimes to the point where it takes a lot of thought to rescue the piece. Fortunately, not every JQ needs to be a masterpiece - the "dogs" are instructive, more so than the ones that slip together effortlessly.

One of the fun things about JQs is setting yourself additional challenges. Faced with the need to use a bit of a certain colour or an added element (button, text, etc) for the first four, a different colour/element for the second lot, and different again for the rest, I find myself going a bit over the top
and using each of the requirements in all the pieces... Or if that "hmmph, I'll show them" option isn't available, you have to add the challenge yourself. The important thing is to stick to the size; going beyond the minimum requirements is optional,

Looking ahead
I find it helpful to have a theme of some sort - eg in 2016 it was to use paper. Instantly you are "developing a series". Next year I'd like to tie in with a theme I want to develop in non-textile work, and have been thinking about my photos of feet on tiled floors. While on a train I mused on the word "Underfoot" and wrote a list of possibilities on a scrap of paper:
"Walking through shadows ... layers of history ... pathways ... footprints ...
animal feet ... trip hazards ... change of surface ... tyre tracks ... shoe soles ..."
It's an unfinished list ... another possibility is geology ... and here's one I was preparing earlier, about 10 years ago  -
A landscape about 24" high from a workshop with Ineke Berlyn, which I enjoyed very much at the time, and had great plans to finish by adding quilting ... but that never happened. Now, sections would be good for an "underfoot" theme, the unseen geology. (Much of my fascination with feet-on-floors is due to the invisibility, or the unregarded nature, of the surface being walked on.)

More WIPs are sure to turn up as I continue sorting through boxes and bags. It'll be interesting to see how they can be "bent" to fit in with "Underfoot".

(The first four 2016 JQs are here, the second lot here.)