The large frames created between the support struts, beneath the corrugated iron roof, seem like glassless windows, with ash and oak, horse chestnut, hazel, sycamore and brambles pressing themselves right up to the edges. Sometimes it feels as though passengers are being protected from the looming sylvan creatures beyond.
I must admit that when I first heard about the campaign to make London the world’s first National Park City, I thought it was a joke.
And yet the more I thought about it, the more interesting the concept became.
Alongside and beneath its hundreds of miles of railway tracks and arches, there exists another London.
A London of inner city edgelands – liminal spaces that create internal thresholds within the metropolis – including, in North London, a working farm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Landscapes, imagined and remembered, have always played a central role in literature.
The fascinating relationship between writers and the British landscape is currently explored in a new exhibition at The British Library: Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands. Here are some thoughts it inspired.
Nov 2022 Update. Now there’s a title I wouldn’t use anymore. But for me, most of the following still stands, ego maniac, conspiracy spouting billionaires not withstanding. One obvious caveat, I’m white, male and not at all famous, so attract bile and personal attacks rarely. So, I know my experience on the ‘hellsite’ will be different…