To celebrate the 256th anniversary of William Blake’s birth. Curiocity – the map magazine –organized a Blake themed walk around Soho, Covent Garden and Piccadilly.
Often its an image, or sense, of the physical presence of a place that draws me to it, but in the case of One Tree Hill, it was the name that attracted me.
A name that seemed so impossibly resonant that I had to see for myself whether the actual hill could ever live up to it.
Some places just sound better than others. Whatever they may actually be like on the ground, there are places with names that seem to possess an inherent resonance and romance.
Others however, just sound a bit crap.
Yesterday, the St Jude storm sent me on something of a dérive within a small area of Lambeth. There were no trains due to the winds, so instead of standing on Tulse Hill’s platform 1, I made for Brixton, but wanting to avoid the main roads, headed up a road I’d never walked along before.
The pervading spirit of some places hangs quite obviously in the air. Even if you’re only passing through and not looking very hard, the distinctive atmosphere will soon make itself apparent.
West Norwood isn’t one of those places.
Islington is not exactly blessed with parks and green space. This makes one of the borough’s great unexpected treasures all the more delightful.
From the top deck of a bus on Moorgate, on the facade of a bank, I once saw a lighthouse sculpted into the corner of the building. It seemed strikingly beautiful and strangely out of place. I couldn’t help wondering who put it there and why…
In every city I’ve lived in, I try finding alternative routes through them that avoid streets where possible and move through parks and other green spaces instead. Here’s a short, but worthwhile one for Nottingham.
Between the back gardens and traffic jammed streets of North London runs an extraordinary green path: Parkland Walk, once a rail line to the suburbs, now a tree-lined escape from the city, in the middle of a city.
A new way to go behind the scenes of some of Bristol’s most historic buildings.
In a park near Ely Cathedral is a strange, tree-covered little bump in the landscape. For a long time I had no idea what it was.
A little beyond Highbury Corner, just off the traffic jams and restless hustle of Holloway Road, are some silent giants. The giants in question are trees – any mental association with Arsenal, The Emirates and hushed crowds, or the sylvan stiffness of certain Germanic central defenders, is entirely in your own imagination. Trees, on the…
Every area of urban green space has it’s own particular history. However, in a general sense, it’s probably true to say that the reason for a specific site’s continued existence will be one of three: it’s a cherished survivor, it’s hung on by chance, or it’s been deliberately created in a spot that was previously home to something else.
Far more than Judge Dredd – old stone face himself – it was Mega City 1 itself that caught my imagination as a child reading 2000AD.
There’s something both thrilling and terrifying in the idea of this vast, anarchic, dirty, urban sprawl, that’s the size of a state.
Grand plans and remodelling on a citywide scale never seem to have worked in London. It doesn’t possess the triumphant avenues, boulevards and grid layouts of other major world cities.
This means that some of its most interesting spaces: old churches, museums, wonderful little shops, pubs, statues, gardens and even whole streets sometimes take a little finding.
In the last half century, visions of Dalston have been refracted in many different ways, from cult 1950s novels, 90s Yardie tales, angst-ridden millennial films to the clean windows of hip coffee shops. But for me, as an ex-resident, its pulsing, vital heart remains the stalls and sounds and crush of Ridley Road Market.
I’ve always found bus drivers to be rather surly to say the least. But conductors were always a little different. There was a fascinating Arena documentary on TV the other night, all about five different, famous – in their way – conductors on the much missed London Routemasters. One of them – Duke Bassie –…
Grrr vs Ahhh during the London Olympics.
Imagine a map that grew and shrank, advanced and retreated as we lived out our lives. This map wouldn’t simply chart every building, street and pavement encountered, this map would change according to the weight and resonance an individual gave to a place.
Landscapes, places and routes that meant more to you personally would be given greater prominence.
Equally places you had never visited, or didn’t care, for would shrink in relative size, or disappear altogether. This would be an emotional map, a map of the inner world as much the external one.
Granville Road Spinney is a short walk from Finsbury Park tube. Just minutes from busy, grimy, North London is a place where bats, hedgehogs, frogs and foxes and more can be found.