Wednesday 2 December 2015

Urban Diary

An Africa-shaped puddle greets me as soon as I pull into the car park. A remnant of last night’s heavy rainfall, this is a reminder that we still have some (wet) autumn to hang on to, even if this year one of my two favourite seasons (the other one is spring) has faded away faster than before. This time I have chosen Tottenham Marshes as the location for this section.

Because of the “urban” in the title of this regular column, I have made the mistake of writing more about metropolitan, inner-city London than the green one. Yet, the British capital has some of the most breath-taking outdoor areas, not just in Europe, but also in the world. Tottenham Marshes is an excellent example.

The low wetlands sit on either side of the River Lee Navigation which runs from Hertfordshire, in the north and outside London, to the Thames in the heart of the city.  There is a wealth of wildlife to find here, including voles and kestrels, the latter usually hunting the former.

The nostalgia-tinted landscape owes more to a rural setting until the sound of the nearby fast-moving traffic reminds me that Watermead Way, a busy thoroughfare, is only twenty or thirty yards away. I spot the dipped headlights of passing cars through a gossamer curtain of trees on which a few yellow, auburn and orange leaves stubbornly remain. My drive up here turns out to be longer than my walk. I have, naively, gone out today wearing just a jumper and a hooded top. The temperature already feels winter-like and the wind picks up as I head for Tottenham Hale. I give up after a dozen steps. As I make my way back to the car park, I turn around and take a last, envious look at the surviving reddish-brown leaves that defy the near-arrival of December. Autumn’s gone; winter’s here.

© 2015

Photo taken by the blog author

Next Post: “Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On”, to be published on Saturday 5th December at 6pm (GMT)


  1. I love the photo! I also wanted to say that I absolutely love your header! :)

  2. Do hope you return one day with your thermal undies on - the green spaces of London are lovely!

  3. The green spaces of London are incredible. And indeed, in this mostly brown land, the green of the UK more generally blows me away.

  4. Winter can sure make enjoying nature a pain. Had to look up voles and kestrels at my sea, bird and rodent, now I know

  5. La lluvia enriquece la tierra, así son los bonitos espacios verdes para los buenos paseos.
    Un abrazo.

  6. Beautiful at the docks!
    Nice to have a good cup of tea there:)))

  7. I've been to London a few times but I'd benefit greatly from tagging along with you on your explorations of the city.

  8. How lovely. It is all too easy to forget that London has a lot of greenery too!

  9. Hi ACIL ... the area sounds wonderful and was I think part of the refurbishment for the Olympic Park and River Lea project. When I was looking for tiles depicting names of London Underground stations ...the Tottenham Hale one came up ... it's on my 5th July 2013 post. It explains too - how the stations used these tile pictures to show people who couldn't read, where they were 150 years ago ...

    So I hope you return and tell us more ... interesting to see the canal boats there ... cheers Hilary

    1. It was indeed part of the Olympics refurbishment work. My plan is pretty soon cylce from Lewisham in southeast London up the A102, across the Thames and follow the River Lea trail all the way to Broxbourne in Hertforshire. I have no idea how many miles that will be but I can't wait! :-)

      Greetings from London.

  10. For someone who lives many miles away from our Capital City it is difficult to think that lovely open spaces can be found. Images of buildings and more buildings tend to dominate the mind. Thanks for reminding me.

  11. I love how England has preserved green spaces in the cities and public access to foot trails in the country and by the shore. Thanks for including such places on your tour.

  12. I live vicariously through your tours and love reading them!

  13. I love green spaces in cities. I enjoyed this brisk walk along with you. Thanks.

  14. I hope you go back when the weather is a little more hospitable, so you can take some pictures to share with us. I can't resist beautiful outdoor spaces, especially when there's a lot of wildlife to be seen. (In addition to my husband, that is,,,) Have a super weekend!

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