Two of my favourite activities in one blog post. We’ll get to talking at a place called the Hive in Dalston later, but first a Sunday walk. Let’s go.Having spent the Saturday of this weekend when the clocks went back working in London, I was glad to get out walking with Sarah on the Sunday, making the best of the now dwindling hours of daylight.
We drove over to Thurstaston to our favourite, meditative and much repeated short walk ‘The Shining Shore.’ Not in fact a much repeated walk lately as we’ve been without a car since Sarah was run into by a 40 ton truck back at the beginning of June. But Sarah’s now decided to have a car again, principally for her work as a funeral celebrant, and so we celebrated its arrival this week by driving over to the Dee Estuary.
When we got to St Bartholomew’s church it was busy with cars outside and we could hear the organ from within. Showing us that we’d never done this walk on a Sunday morning before.
The yew, you see, is a gymnosperm and bears its seeds on the outside. Only partly concealed in these red fleshy coverings called arils. Lovely as they look don’t ever be tempted to eat these though because the seeds you can see there are highly toxic and, Sarah tells me, will cause death in a few hours. “It’s why you never see sheep grazing in churchyards where there are yews.” So now you know.
Next we came across that rare thing, a horticultural joke.
Well no, some wit has clearly plucked these sloe from a nearby blackthorn and pinned them to the gorse’s thorns. Stopped us in our tracks for a few seconds though!
Then after walking downhill at the side of the marshy Dungeon ravine, Sarah stopped.
Afterwards, walking down towards the beach, we heard a familiar autumn sound approaching in the sky.
Possibly come from Northern Russia this lot, Sarah suspects. As she tells two other walkers about how they swap leaders and side formations as they travel, so no one gets too tired. Good idea.
Though Sarah and I hadn’t been here together since early this year, I”d come over on the bus with a friend a couple of weeks ago, so knew what I was about to show Sarah.
We’ve watched and photographed the erosion of these for some years and they’re going quickly now, grassing over as they crumble and flatten.
I used to unthinkingly blame this on ‘global warming’ but I think that’s probably too glib on its own. Equally responsible is likely to be the shortage of trees on the Wirral uplands now to drink up the excessively heavy rainfalls we’ve been getting in recent years. The hillside pictured above is only one narrow wooded ravine in what’s largely an upland given over to open farmland. Resulting in Heswall Fields, just behind these former cliffs being often spongy and sodden with water from the uplands now, water that drains out through the cliffs and has largely brought them to the ground.
A good day.
And what of the Saturday in London? Well I’d been asked by an organisation called the Hive in Dalston to come and speak at this.Lisa from the Hive met me at Old Street and we walked through Hackney into Dalston. Having been to Granby, Lisa knows I’m a big fan of street markets.
As we walked we talked about the creeping gentrification of Hoxton and how you might go about stopping that so places stay real enough for all sorts of people to still be able to afford to live in them.
So they’re not forced out by expensively trendy bars and hipster’s cereal shops the next time their leases come up for renewal.
Hive Dalston is ‘meanwhile space.’ Where the developer who owns the building is allowing it to be used by the local community until, well, it’s used for something else. While I was there I met the owner, a friendly man called Michael Gerrard. He’s from generations of Dalston people and I suspect would love nothing more than to find a way of making this place work permanently as a community resource. And who knows? It’s certainly bursting with life and creativity now the Hive are in there.
They’re using it for art, dancing, yoga, other gatherings and of course a place for thinking and talking about how real people can survive and continue in the over-heated property vortex that is London now.
Where I spoke about Granby 4 Streets, as I guess you’d know I would. But also about how our do it yourself, break it down, work collaboratively and take some ownership approach might just be the beginning of something that might work for lots of other people and their places. A frighteningly enquiring audience, who gave all the other speakers a hard time by the way, enthusiastically agreed with me.
So thanks for that. It’s always a joy when people think you’re doing the right things!
Then it was the train back to Lime Street and when we got up this morning the clocks had gone back.
A good day. Two good days.