Going Overground

The section of the London Overground from Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate has opened. And from May 23rd there’ll be a direct line from Dalston Junction to West Croydon. In the early 90s I used to go to Croydon regularly because there was a great second-hand record shop called Beanos there, and a branch of Forbidden Planet for comics. But I stopped collecting records and comics years ago. So this new train link comes about 15 years too late for me.
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London Marathon

I didn’t participate. I was only a passing spectator. Even so, I could still get the atmosphere of the event at the Victoria Embankment and at the finish line in the Mall and St James’s Park. I’ve never had the perseverance to run or walk the full 42.195km so I’ve nothing but admiration for people who do, especially those who do several marathons a year and for whom marathon running is part of their lives.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

So goes that song by Andy Williams. Only that song is about Christmas. And most of my blog entries in December reflect my gloomy state of mind in winter. The blog entries I’ve been posting these past few weeks have been the polar opposite of that, and that’s because I’ve been living through springtime in England. This is my favourite time of year in my favourite country!

St George’s Day

Happy St George’s Day! Every English man and woman should celebrate this day. Goodness knows, we’ve got the weather for it – a glorious spring day and hardly a cloud in sight! As an Irishman I shouldn’t care a bean about this, but I was born in England and I’ve lived half my life here. So I’m going to celebrate everything I love about England and proudly fly the banner of St George!

Harlow

I’ve seen it for myself. It’s every inch the dump people tell me it is. The residential districts surrounding Harlow aren’t so bad and there’s plenty to be said for Harlow old town. But the centre of Harlow is a hotch-potch of the ugliest, most featureless concrete boxes to be built in the 1960s. When I cycle into towns I usually have classical music or happy, upbeat rock running through my head. Here I was haunted by the sounds of Depeche Mode and Gary Numan. So you can understand why I hastily whizzed back to Waltham Abbey.

All flights are grounded

Everyone has heard that all flights over the British Isles have been grounded because of volcanic ash in the atmosphere. I visited London City Airport out of curiosity. It was like Waiting for Godot. Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful. By contrast the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras is having a field day and so are the ferries to the continent. To think this strange situation has come about because of volcanic activity hundreds of kilometres away.

Chilterns in the sunshine

No, there wouldn’t be a repeat of last November’s washout the last time I visited the Chilterns. The clouds were doing well at blotting out the sun but then at 2.30pm they began to falter. Now their resistance has completely collapsed. And for the first time in months I can see at first hand the beauty of the Chilterns in spring! It reminds me of why I love this place so much and why I keep coming back.