New motherhood is like a trip to a foreign country: Flatlands

Here’s a recent visual experiment that I made in the stolen moments of Beano’s naps. The setting is the 3-room rental flat we used to stay in, a very mundane 3-room “New Generation” (slab block) default template HDB flat built back in the 70s and 80s. And I think I’ve finally found a way to explain this thing that I’ve tried to explain many times before (but struggle to explain, similar to how its hard to explain my experience of taste-shape and mirror-touch synthesthesia).

For me, at any one time I always feel other superimpositions or juxtapositions of other places that feel a bit like memory palaces where I can store facts, thoughts, and memories of another time. Its hard to explain, but it is like when you have a work phone call, you might start doodling nonsense on a piece of paper. But in my case, when I start to daydream or let the mind wander (also: this happens when I am extremely focused on an urgent task and everything else zones out), I always end up recalling a visual memory of a place I’ve visited in the past. I am imagining tracing out its contours, I am imagining what the details must be like, what the lighting must be like. Honestly, I can’t really explain why certain views for me just keep popping up as the ‘memory palace’, as some of the locations are pretty inconsequential and emotionally insignificant to me. Yet! My mind returns to them for further rumination. To what end? I do not know.

I began writing the following some time back when Beano was a much smaller baby. But now that we are all locked down at home for the corona, and I haven’t left the house and its vicinity in days, fleeting memories of parks I’ve walked in come to mind. I found myself scrubbing through these albums trying to find the name of a particular memory that may as well be a dream. There was something oddly compelling about these images I had taken of my walks and frustratingly I COULD NOT FIND THAT ONE IMAGE OF THAT ONE WALK IN MY MIND. And turns out some of these images are pretty weird. Why are there no people in them?

It was always in the back of my mind to do something with this huge lot of photographs, so…. now they have ended up in this visual experiment. I actually think it looks better than I expected it; so I think I might even make more of them soon…


New motherhood is like a trip to a foreign country. Firstly, the middle of the night feedings are conducted in near-darkness, with the endless droning of the white noise machine in the background, and some random show on Netflix playing to sustain your consciousness beyond all normal hours lest you fall asleep on the sofa and baby accidentally rolls off; not unlike when one takes a plane and night-time is arbitrarily enforced upon you, the sound of the engines whirring is ubiquitous, and all you’ve got to watch are some random blockbusters or episodes of Big Bang Theory on the inflight.

When Beano was very very small, I found myself trying to claw back a sense of mobility through a series of ever increasingly longer walks with Beano strapped to me. In some ways, this strategy reminds of me of the Capital Ring walk I did in 2017. Living in Greater London makes one feel crushed by one’s own insignificance in a big city that is too vast to know by foot, so I thought I’d try to complete a ring around the city.

Once upon a time I was going to do a detailed expository blog post for each leg but AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT so here are quite simply the photo albums for each leg of the walk…

Debbie’s 2017 Capital Ring Walk!

The source material for “Flatlands”

“I decided to walk the supposedly 78 mile Capital Ring over 6 consecutive days. I say “supposedly”, for Debbie does not go “as the crow flies” but rather haphazardly in a squiggly line all over the map, and according to other mapping devices it seems I may have walked more than 150 miles in total. Rather than starting with the traditional route as listed in TFL’s maps and David Sharp’s guide book to the Capital Ring, I decided to start and end my journey at Stoke Newington’s Rochester Castle.”

14 March 2017: CAPITAL RING Stoke Newington to Woolwich

Day 1: Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick
Day 1: Hackney Wick to Beckton District Park
Day 1: Beckton District Park to Woolwich Foot Tunnel

15 March: CAPITAL RING

Day 2: Woolwich Foot Tunnel to Falconwood
Day 2: Falconwood to Grove Park

16 March 2017: CAPITAL RING

Day 3: Grove Park to Crystal Palace
Day 3: Crystal Palace to Streatham Common

17 March 2017: CAPITAL RING

Day 4: Streatham Common to Wimbledon Park
Day 4: Wimbledon Park to Richmond

18 March 2017: Capital Ring

Day 5: Richmond to Osterley Lock
Day 5: Osterley Lock to Greenford
Day 5: Greenford to South Kenton

19 March 2017: CAPITAL RING

Day 6: South Kenton to Hendon Park
Day 6: Hendon Park to Highgate
Day 6: Highgate to Stoke Newington

Hidden in the Heath: The Hill Garden and Pergola of Hampstead

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Resuming my documentation of London adventures! Tucked away in a corner near to Hampstead Heath is the strangely picturesque Hill Garden and Pergola. I have visited Hampstead Heath on many an occasion but honestly this isn’t likely to be a part that one is likely to stumble over on a walk on the heath, as it is completely separated from the main grassy verge (that everyone gravitates to) by two roads. Technically speaking it is adjacent to Golders Hill Park and its easiest approach is via a pedestrian footpath on Inverforth Close (via N End Way) [Buses 210, 268, and N5 also ply N End Way]

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The Pergola is a Grade II listed Edwardian structure built by Lord Leverhulme, together with his dream of having a hill garden. At the time in 1905 as it was being constructed, the nearby Hampstead extension to the Northern Line was also being constructed, so Leverhulme was able to acquire the soil dug up from those tunnels at a nominal cost and used that to build the rolling hills you see in the Hill Garden today.

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You have to walk towards the houses and take the right turn into the Hill Garden.

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It leads onto a beautiful garden with a pond, with the Pergola beyond…

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It can be a real trek but it is definitely worth the effort to walk from Hampstead Heath to see the Pergola. Whilst I was there I didn’t see a single soul except at the front, where there was a lady who seemed to be part of the garden staff and she came up to me to ask “are you the girl who is coming down to do the shoot?” (No…) and that was it. How strange it is on a summer’s day when all the parks are teeming with people intent on baking themselves in the sun – yet this hidden corner of the heath with all of its structures remained completely devoid of people – which I suppose must also deviate from Leverhulme’s original vision of summer garden parties on the Pergola. Perhaps it is just a bit hard to get to, as compared to the other part of Hampstead Heath.

(Now that I’ve told you about the secret of the garden, I will have to kill you…) (KIDDING!)

The Difficulties of Walking

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Mysterious Fevers

It is funny that once upon a time I complained that it was the cold that stopped me from walking in London. Now that I’ve managed to get over the cold of the UK, it is the heat and other environmental factors that are stopping me from walking in Singapore!

The first problem is the weather in Singapore. The unbearable heat! The sweat running into one’s eyes! The tissues one must carry to stop one’s glasses from fogging up during a walk. The sudden rain, or even passing thunderstorm that is sure to follow after a spell of intense hot weather. But the heat and unpredictable weather, to be honest, is but a trifling matter. The second and more pressing issue is… unexplained fever!

Upon my return to Singapore I had heartily jumped back into walking all over the place, poking around for snails and termites, observing waterfowl and early morning joggers, encircling all of Bedok Reservoir and merrily trotting all up and around Fort Canning. And then I was unexpectedly felled by a high fever that lasted for a ridiculous seven days…

The primary symptoms were debilitating joint and body pains and a high fever that kept returning even after panadol or ibuprofen. The body aches reminded me of the time I had contracted dengue around 2005 (wherein there was a dengue cluster at the block of the uni hall I was staying at), and I really didn’t want to jump to conclusions just because I was misdiagnosed repeatedly the last time I had dengue – BUT THEN DATA.GOV.SG SAID WE LIVED IN BEDOK NORTH #1 DENGUE HOTSPOT OF SINGAPORE, and then all manner of wild conclusions were instantly jumped to.

“But I had only been in Singapore for 5 DAYS!” I whined, looking at my mildly bug-bitten legs. “How could I have contracted dengue so quickly??”

Fortunately as it turned out, after a trip to the A&E it was confirmed I did not have any of the three particular strains of dengue which are currently trending on this island. Which was great but still very mysterious. My final diagnosis was suspected ‘tonsillitis’, but I could not see any reason to begin a protracted 7-day course of antibiotics for an extremely mild (and basically non-existent) sore throat. As mysteriously as the high fever had come, it slipped away quietly a week later…

Well. And there went an entire week of my life. Without any reason or explanation…


The “Obscure Disease”, Beri Beri

See: British India and the “Beriberi Problem”, 1798–1942

Whilst holed up in bed it seemed apt to begin reading up on the disease of beri-beri, the vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency which has retained its oddly exotic name through the ages. Every account of life in the early 1900s as well as WWII and the Battle of Singapore will invariably mention the problem of beri-beri, a disease which had great socio-economic and political impact, incapacitating and killing citizens, soldiers, workers, everyone alike in the rice-eating countries throughout Southeast Asia.

Most narratives of diseases in the early 20th century tend to read as a narrative of man’s discovery and victory over disease – but arguably the story of beri-beri in these parts reads more as a story of a disease introduced by colonial technologies – unnecessarily prolonged by complex commercial interests and colonial shortsightedness. Somehow what annoys me is that to retain the exotic sounding name seems to suggest that the tropics or far east was the dangerous place or climate manufacturing the ‘beri-beri’, justifying the intervention of western medicine.

Its frustrating to read that the affliction of beri-beri was necessarily prolonged by complex commercial interests (rice exports!) and such shortsightedness, as seen through the continued misconceptions of beri-beri being a ‘tropical disease’ or ‘place disease’ and refusal to believe it was nutritional, exacerbated by logistical problems during the war years. What seems tragic is that by 1911 the cause of beri-beri is already established as a diet of overmilled white rice, yet helplessly little is done to dissuade or stop people from subsisting entirely on overmilled white rice and other foods which are deficient in vit B1 or worse, thiaminases that leech thiamine from one’s diet…


Opisthotonic death pose / Star-gazing

Studies on beri-beri were often done on birds and I realised that pictures of the symptom of beri beri in animals were… rather alarming. As a human, you’ll be glad to know that humans don’t exhibit this symptom, but as for my pigeon and avian readers, the following pictures may be quite disturbing. In certain animals like birds especially, thiamine deficiency tends to produce a star gazing effect – a retraction of the head known as opisthotonus.

Source: David A Bender’s page notes that in Peters RA’s Biochemical lesions and lethal synthesis (Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1963), pigeons “show a characteristic head retraction when they are fed on a high carbohydrate diet with no thiamin, and restoration of the vitamin leads to rapid normalisation.”

The internet also has no lack of stargazing chickens, pigeons, and other unfortunate poultry:

The opisthotonus caused by thiamine deficiency extends also to other livestocks. The following book on animal nutrition has a table listing the different symptoms of thiamine deficiency in different animals.

“Sheep with thiamin deficiency. characteristics of condition are head bent backwards (opisthotonos), cramp-like muscular contractions, disturbance of balance, and aggressiveness.” Source: Vitamins in Animal Nutrition: Comparative Aspects to Human Nutrition By Lee Russell McDowell

Interestingly, you’ll notice this ‘star-gazing’ pose is quite like the pose in which most dinosaurs are found. An article in NewScientist (“Watery secret of the dinosaur death pose”) mentions studies in which a lot of quails and dead birds were dipped in cold water to see if they too would adopt the dramatic dinosaur death pose. Results were mixed but it was believed it was the water that did it…

Either way, a head pointed perpetually skywards would make movement and walking very difficult…


Casadastraphobia / fear of falling into the sky

…which brings me to a new bizarre symptom that has been mildly impeding my enjoyment of long distance walking, which also has something to do with looking up into the sky…

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been unable to lie down on the ground outdoors and look up into the sky for the fear of falling into the sky. As irrational as it might sound, I always refused to do situps during PE class because the teacher would ask us to do it in the school field (such that we would be forced to face the sky!) and god forbid the gravity should turn off and we’d all fall into the sky! Even the school hall was no better. School camps in the school hall and having to sleep facing the high ceiling? Forget about it!

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A new troubling symptom emerged as I was warming up for my Capital Ring walk. Whilst walking alone on a disused, empty path near the Angel Road Superstores, hearing the distant roar of the North Circular, I was genuinely enjoying a delightful walk in what felt almost like wilderness when I suddenly realised I was in a big open area with nothing else to hold on to! I blame the pylons for leading me to look upwards into the sky, alerting me to the desertedness of the spot, a true attack of the triffids horror moment!

Struck by sudden and urgent panic, I felt like taking off my shoes and even looked for any grass to hold on to but was forced to run back and take cover under a nearby bridge. Unfortunately, the rest of my walk home involved walking several miles along the River Lea towpath completely exposed without any cover, which felt quite traumatising at the time. Now, snug and safe in a house with a solid roof, we can sit back clutching the solid furniture laughing about it. But it is almost the definition of madness I tell you! Even a momentary glance skywards that lasts a moment too long is enough to provoke terror, although I know it’s physically impossible to fall into the sky! AH!

Fortunately (or unfortunately), most of urban London and Singapore do not have open landscapes which trigger this irrational fear so I have rarely had to deal with it before…

Back in the Loop

I’m alive!

This blog is alive!!

I’ve quite enjoyed being completely out of the loop for the last few months, but I’ve finally come back into orbit now. Over the next few weeks I’m going to try to push out a huge backlog of old notes and documentation of various journeys in London and Singapore – the first draft of my working notes for what I hope will develop into a more cohesive documentation of my long-distance walking adventures. As I write them, I will link them up to this ‘catch-up’ page…

Capital Ring

I decided to walk the supposedly 78 mile Capital Ring over 6 consecutive days. I say “supposedly”, for Debbie does not go “as the crow flies” but rather haphazardly in a squiggly line all over the map, and according to other mapping devices it seems I may have walked more than 150 miles in total. Rather than starting with the traditional route as listed in TFL’s maps and David Sharp’s guide book to the Capital Ring, I decided to start and end my journey at Stoke Newington’s Rochester Castle.

Day 1: Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick
Day 1: Hackney Wick to Beckton District Park
Day 1: Beckton District Park to Woolwich Foot Tunnel
Day 2: Woolwich Foot Tunnel to Falconwood
Day 2: Falconwood to Grove Park
Day 3: Grove Park to Crystal Palace
Day 3: Crystal Palace to Streatham Common
Day 4: Streatham Common to Wimbledon Park
Day 4: Wimbledon Park to Richmond
Day 5: Richmond to Osterley Lock
Day 5: Osterley Lock to Greenford
Day 5: Greenford to South Kenton
Day 6: South Kenton to Hendon Park
Day 6: Hendon Park to Highgate
Day 6: Highgate to Stoke Newington

Hertford Loop

I’ve been living next to one of the Hertford Loop Line stations which run from Moorgate to Stevenage and other parts of Hertfordshire. Having been used to sitting on so many new trains in Singapore (where a new train line with completely brand new trains seem to roll out every other year) I was initially shocked by the advanced and worn state of the Herts Loop trains. The windows are warped with age, the cabins are stained with mud, and there are no additional passenger facilities or station announcements on board this train – so at night, you end up fitfully peering out of the dirt streaked and heavily scratched windows to see if you can see any signs on the deserted platform. In fact, the trains used on this line (British Rail Class 313) are supposed to be some of the very oldest still in regular use in Britain and would have been built somewhere between 1976 and 1977 (over 40 years old!).

Finsbury Park, Gillespie, and Highbury Fields
Arnos Grove, Groveland Park, and Winchmore Hill
Enfield Town, Enfield Chase, World’s End, Cockfosters
Gordon Hill, Lavender Hill Cemetery, Strayfield Road Cemetery, Hillyfields Park
Pymmes Brook, Oakleigh Park, Oak Hill Park, Brunswick Park, New Southgate
Hadley Wood, Salmon Brook, Stagg Hill
New Southgate, Hidden River, Alexandra Palace
Welwyn Garden City
Letchworth Garden City
A Special Note about Drayton Park

Assorted London Journeys

I devised a foolhardy plan to visit many historical Wetherspoons in one day, visited the “doppelganger” of my North London street (N4) in South London (SE25), re-discovered that I actually have a devastating phobia of falling into the sky when in an open field (which I must confess is quite bizarre), and found the plaque which marks where Raffles is buried. And other walks…

An All Day Spoons Tour!!!
Burgoyne Road (North London) to Burgoyne Road (South London)
Angel Road Superstores, Lea Valley, Tottenham Marshes, Blackhorse Lane
Dollis Valley during Storm Doris, St Mary Hendon and Raffles’ Burial site
Gospel Oak, Lismore Circus, Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park
Willesden Junction, Camden, Primrose Hill
Wanstead Flats and Epping Forest
Woodberry Wetlands, New River Path
Pubs in Harringay
Hampstead’s Hill Garden and Pergola
Notes on footwear, footcare, and sun protection for long-distance walking

Outside of London

Margate to Ramsgate
Eastbourne to Beachy Head
Sicily


AND MORE CURRENT SINGAPORE NOTES COMING UP WHEN I AM DONE WITH THE ABOVE LOT…??

Long overdue documentation of work process in 2016

Shelter at Singapore Biennale
Emotional Departure
soft/wall/shroom
Here the River lies 2.0
A Blender workshop I conducted at Fabcafe
A computational poetry workshop I conducted at Sch of Uncommon Knowledge

WWII Sites in Singapore

Changi Museum
Former Ford Factory
Fort Canning Battlebox
Reflections at Bukit Chandu
National Museum Singapore – Surviving Syonan
National Gallery Singapore – Supreme Court Wing

Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne

Australian War Memorial – Last Post
National Museum of Australia
National Capital Exhibition
Questacon, Powerhouse, Scienceworks, CSIRO Discovery, Mt Stromlo Observatory
Changi Chapel in Duntroon
Remembrance Driveway

Writing out this list alone took so long that I’m going to have to take a rest before I embark on all of this…

Capital Ring #1: Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick

Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick
Distance: 4 miles / 6.4 km
Feels like: a breeze through the marshes
Date: 14 March 2017

 

A Return to the Rochester Castle – Springfield Park – Wilsons Hill – Avroplane crash landing site – Hackney Henge – Wick Woodland – Giant dogs with headphones and hoodies – Approaching Olympic territory

This is the start of 15 posts about how I did the Capital Ring in 6 days…

THIS IS HOW IT ENDED:

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AND THIS IS HOW IT BEGAN:

The walk usually begins in Woolwich, but I decided to start my loop in Stoke Newington. The first time that I came to the UK, the first area that I landed in happened to be Stoke Newington, and the first establishment I went to was also the splendid Rochester Castle which has the distinct honour of being the oldest Spoon, with its skylights, carpets, strange paintings, and wooden box seating. The familiar red-wine-and-pepper stained carpets of the humble Spoon! The extremely reasonable prices! So it seemed only fitting to begin my walk here with a hearty hot (kid-sized!) breakfast…

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THE START! THE START! Why do I always make this unfortunate face on camera.

Most of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill is already intimately familiar to me, having lived around those parts over the years. These parts of Hackney are scattered with these large rocks embedded into the pavement at junctions, and lots of community scribblings engraved into the pavement. At certain hours one also sees a lot of the Hasidic Jews with their distinctive hats (and secretive lives) quietly crossing from building to building.

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Ducks of Springfield Park

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The first significant stop on this walk is Springfield Park, which I personally always seem to forget the name of, until I am there, because its name sounds so generic. Springfield is one of those words like Sunnyvale (SEE ALSO: TRAILER PARK BOYS, HOUSOS). I’m not sure if the name Stamford Hill refers to any particular hill really, but if it were to be a hill this is the point at which Upper Clapton riseth-upper to a peak, thus it involves what some would say is an open slope down into the valley of River Lea. But of course in Debbie’s world this hill is a potentially vertiginous tumble that reminds me of that one time I got on a bike in this park, instantly almost fell off it, and concluded that combination of said bicycle and hill was most certainly a DEATH TRAP.

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The most prominent part of the hill, also known as Wilsons Hill, has existed here for at least 200 years in this singularly sloped form.

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From the northern end of Springfield Park, there’s a gate and footbridge leads out into the Lea Valley’s Walthamstow Marshes. Variously spelt LEY, LEE and LEA, its original name was Ley, but it was more commonly written as Lea on maps, whilst Acts of Parliament referred to it as Lee. Ultimately it was decided that natural elements of the river would be spelt as LEA and man-made features would be spelt as LEE. As the natural river winds through here, it is spelt as LEA.

As there is very little to hold on to, this part of the Lea Valley, as with other parts of the Lea Valley I’ve walked along is vertigo territory for me. But I’ll get back to that later.

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The open sandy track goes under a railway arch under which Aliot Verdon-Roe rented in 1909 to build his “Avroplane”, the first all-british tri-plane. He used the soft marshes of Walthamstow for his flight and crash landings. If you’ve ever seen one of these early experimental airplanes up close, it consists of wooden sticks and control cables and flaps and its one of my favourite eras of airplane building since it was so much so a prototype in progress and its an absolute marvel these precarious contraptions ever flew…

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Kings Head bridge
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Middlesex Filter Beds
Continuing on via the heavy black “Kings Head” footbridge to the canalised section of the Lee Navigation, one eventually passes the Middlesex Filter Beds on the left, more commonly known as the Hackneyhenge because huge blocks of granite formerly used as the foundations of the engine house have been converted into a mini Stonehenge.

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The canalway follows on for quite some distance, passing quite a lot of plane trees (including a giant dead plane tree cracked into two).

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As recent as 1995 all of these woodlands did not exist; beyond the trees, the Hackney Marsh once were the site of WWII gun emplacements and bunkers. After the war its vast open space were used as football pitches, until the 90s when it was decided that part of the space would be converted back to woodland. The success of the woodland has been due to planting programmes as well an episode of accidental flooding in 1997 (water mains burst!) which attracted ducks and other waterfowl to move in on their own accord.

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Wick Woodland

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Further down there is Wick Woodland – from a distance I saw some splotches of bright pink and could not resist walking towards it until I found the magic spot where one could see the message…

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This segment of the walk ends at White Post Lane, just after a well-graffitied bridge and several giant murals of urban dogs, and we’re entering into Stratford Olympic territory proper…

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The visible change in the landscape says we’re entering Stratford!

Looking for the gravestone of Raffles: A walk through Dollis Valley Greenway, Dollis Brook Viaduct, and St Mary’s Hendon

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One dreary winter morning I decided to walk from Totteridge & Whetstone to Hendon, following the Dollis Brook southwards. The Dollis Valley Greenwalk is actualy a linkway between the Capital Ring and the London Loop, and goes all the way from Hampstead Heath up to Barnet. The area surrounding it is a leafy and very residential suburban neighbourhood with lots of hills and obviously as its name suggests the Greenwalk is at the bottom of the valley itself. As for the totter of the ridge, Totteridge is supposed to be the ridge or high point in that valley formation, possibly having been named after someone called Tata.

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A recurrent theme that I always see on my walks in London are balls. So many balls. Balls in water. Balls under trees. Balls balls balls. I myself do not know how to play with balls. First you throw them, then you have to go and get them back. It is so much work. Sometimes you can’t get the balls back. Its very difficult to play ball with yourself. The last time I brought a ball to the beach, I spent more time worrying that my ball was going to be permanently swept out to sea, so I had to forbid the throwing of balls. Maybe I am playing with balls completely wrongly. But look here! It looks like many people and their balls have been wilfully parted!

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There were reports just that morning (23 Feb) of gale force winds as a result of Storm Doris with people being apparently killed by trees being blown over. As it was to be expected, the Greenway was largely devoid of casual walkers beyond the odd dog walker, and I must say I did not like the loud CRACK sounds I kept hearing from overhead. I was compelled to sprint through parts of the Greenway due to a fear of being flattened by falling trees.

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See what I mean about balls? They are just everywhere.

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More sacrificial balls.

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Fursby Allotment is along this route.

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This greenway is even well-paved at points.

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And full of mushrooms, real and fake.

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The real highlight of this walk is the very magnificent Dollis Brook Viaduct.

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The Dollis Brook Viaduct is used by the Northern Line to carry trains going to and from Mill Hill East and Finchley Central. So the burning question in your mind (or at least mine) is: what is the difference between a bridge and a viaduct? Well I suppose that it is said that a viaduct is a special type of bridge which has many many little spans or arches underneath it, and which can go on for long distances over land (not just water). And all of these spans are also equal in size, forming a formidable sight through the valley. For me I think of the viaducts as a particularly ‘London’ sort of thing – it is so common to see urban rail lines constructed on top of these viaducts and often in more built-up areas the space underneath the railway arches are also turned into car repair shops, nightclubs, eateries, or put to other kinds of commercial or industrial uses.

Not long after this point, I decided to deviate off the Greenway, largely because the greenway has no rest stops or toilet facilities along the way (ARGH!!!), and if there were any, they were not visible to walkers following the path. However, I was saved – walkers may want to note that there are restrooms to the left side of the Hendon Cemetery and Crematorium.

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After this point I decided to take the bus a short distance into West Hendon: I had heard about Sir Stamford Raffles being buried in Hendon but had never seen the stone for myself before, so…

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I have to say it always surprises me how you can just walk into churches. I did worry that someone might walk in and think I was up to no good, scouring their floor in search of a gravestone…

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Prior to arriving I had searched on Findagrave.com which suggested he had a stone in the ground, as in this picture by David Conway in 2001. I’ve got to admit that this threw me off, because it has changed since then, and if you were to just search randomly as I did through the church grounds, it will take ages and ages…

Source: Findagrave.com

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Cue about 20 min of searching on the floor below all the chairs to find Raffles’ stone.

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I was about to give up when I started looking at pillars and there it was!

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Raffles died suddenly of apoplexy in Mill Hill at Highwood House – but because he had been against slavery, the vicar Theodor Williams (whose family had made its fortunes through the Jamaican slave trade) refused to allow him burial within the local parish church at the time, which was St Mary’s Hendon, resulting in his burial location not being known for quite some time. Various sources mention that his remains were found in a vault in 1914, and that a brass plaque (1887) and floor tablet had been incorporated into the building itself (1920s), but it appears that today only a brass plaque from 1887 remains.

The Walk:

 

This Day Last Year: Highbury Fields, Arsenal Stadium, Gillespie Park, and Finsbury Park

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THIS DAY LAST YEAR: 20 FEB 2017 – I walked around Highbury Fields, Arsenal Stadium, Gillespie Park, and Finsbury Park.

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Highbury Fields is quite small; it is really not very impressive, just a small bit of clod inbetween densely packed houses.

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There were some beautifully painted walls along the way

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And a cute little gap between houses at a T-junction

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Emirates Stadium (Arsenal’s home ground) is something I always see on the train but never really bothered to walk into before.

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The main feature of this space is that it is incredibly windy.

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I don’t think I’ll want to be here on game days if this is any indication of the masses of crowds…

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Gillespie Park

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A very linear Park

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With corners you could get lost in

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History of the park

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Linear walk

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Gate

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It begins to look like parts of Finsbury Park along the tracks

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Tumbling right back into Finsbury Park across the road

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BONUS: a handsome little duck

Parks of Enfield: Grovelands Park, Arnos Park, and Broomfield Park

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One afternoon I decided to take a walk through several of Enfield’s parks…

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I walked from Winchmore Hill Station to a sunlit Grovelands Park.

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Grovelands Park has one of the loveliest woodland I’ve ever seen in a park – it is a Grade II park on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

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There are little streams in it…

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And there is something magical about the stillness of this park.

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I quite enjoyed the play area as well. No explanation required, just an intriguing tangle of tree trunks.

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More little streams throughout Grovelands Park…

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The Boating Lake was absolutely gorgeous as well…

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Most beautiful little waterfowl were paddling about in the waters…

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Mandarin duck!

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Next I decided to cross over to look for Arnos Park and Broomfield Park, through the endless commuter-belt suburbs of Arnos Grove…

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But during this walk through the suburbs of Arnos Grove I found what passes for one of the local attractions: The stocks! (The stocks??)

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I’ve never seen a set of stocks being elevated to local relic with its own fenced up plot and all. I must say they are a rather cruel and unusual punishment. The feet would have been placed into the stocks so that the victim would be locked in position and subjected to constant exposure to the elements and torture from the public passing by the stocks, who would also fling all sorts of rubbish at the ‘unruly artisan’. Apparently they never explicitly banned stocks, although it simply went out of fashion.

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Finally, I found Arnos Park.

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Pymmes Brook runs through it. It is not so much a picturesque brook as one that has been responsible for flooding so a lot of the literature on it is more about controlling the river from bursting its banks in these parts of North London.

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There is also an interesting hole feature which I almost wanted to crawl through but it was too wet and there were so many dogs running through it from time to time!

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Finally I got to Broomfield Park. This is the most ordinary of the parks to be honest.

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In Broomfield Park, I found a Hollow oak!

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A closeup of its hole!

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It had a pond but Broomfield Park is located right next to a very noisy road lined with shops and moderate traffic, so it has the feel of an urban park rather than the feeling of country woodland as in Grovelands Park and Arnos Grove.

The Walk: