Arnos Vale Cemetery

Lying on the slope between the Bath and Wells roads, Arnos Vale is in the process of being restored. (More information: Friends of Arnos Vale, Arnos Vale Centery Trust.) Currently much of it is overgrown, the gravestones competing with trees for space on its slopes. This makes it an atmospheric place to take a walk.

[Gravestones, brambles and trees]

Many of the stones have vanished completely under swathes of ivy, leaving just rows of green shapes ranked beneath the trees. Others are only partially subsumed, and you can still just about make out the names of the dead in between the leaves and shoots.

[Two gravestones partially covered in ivy]

The cemetery contains a few large tombs and interesting monuments, some of which are listed. One of the most ornate and unusual is the tomb of Raja Rammohun Roy Bahadoor, a Hindu reformer and thinker who died in Bristol in 1833 (Wikipedia entry, Banglapedia entry). His mausoleum reminds me of the tombs of the Rajput Maharajahs in Jaipur, although Rammohan Roy was from Bengal on the far side of the country.

[The Bengali-style tomb of Rammohun Roy]

There are plenty more buildings and monuments scattered around the grounds. Some are in the process of being restored and are hidden under scaffolding and tarpaulin, others stand untouched among the trees. A great place for a stroll on a Sunday.

Photo – Clifton Suspension Bridge

Polly and I went for a walk last weekend in Leigh Woods, on the far side of the River Avon. On the way back, I took this photo of the suspension bridge from the approaching road.

[Clifton Suspension Bridge from the approaching road]

I like it because it’s just an everyday view of the bridge, the kind you get when you’re using it, rather than admiring it from afar. Also, although you can see that it’s a bridge, you get no sense of what it spans – the far side almost looks like a continuation of the near.

A year goes by

A year (and two days) ago: “Today is my last day, and there still seems to be a load of stuff to sort out. I don’t know how much I’ll be posting over the next few days either, as everything is getting hectic – boxing stuff up, getting ready to move, throwing out all the crap you accumulate when you stop in one place for too long…”

I was just looking through my archives here and came across this post from a year and two days ago marking my last day in my Researcher’s post at UCL. Time flies, and I’m convinced that the older you get the faster it slips past.

Kill your television

[Turn it OFF!]Not so long ago, Polly and I acquired our first TV for something like five years. Our primary motivation in this was annoyance at watching movies on the computer, which at the time was living under the stairs: whenever we felt like renting a DVD we ended up sat on the floor in our corridor watching on a 15-inch panel monitor.

Now I dunno about you, but I don’t think that there’s actually a great deal worth watching on TV these days. We certainly never really missed having one during the last few years – between the internet, BBC Radio 4 and the papers we got plenty of mass culture and current affairs. But since the one-eyed god returned I’ve noticed a distinct tendency in myself to sit and drool over anything vaguely watchable that happens to be on. You can take “vaguely watchable” to be a sadly all too inclusive category.

I have been trying to be discriminating about what I sit down to watch but TV becomes a habit, and I’m prone to those. Earlier this evening I picked up the TV guide and desperately scanned it for something “vaguely watchable”. Not instantly finding anything, I even started to consider watching a Manchester United football match before catching myself.

I’m reminded of one of our main reasons for not getting one sooner: it’s too easy to find yourself getting up after four hours in front of the damn thing when you only intended to watch a single half-hour show. It’s also easy to get so used to it that the concept of relaxing without turning on and tuning out becomes an alien one. Ach, dammit, I’m no good at self control.

Anyone got any cigarettes?

Beasts and balloons

In a comment to a recent post my Dad asked about pictures, so here are some from Bristol. First, some little fellows with whom we share our garden. I spotted this spider waiting patiently for her lunch to mature:

[A spider and her silk-entombed prey]

This chap paused for a breather in our hedge one afternoon:

[A dragonfly]

A couple-three weeks back was Bristol’s famous balloon fiesta. It was heaving up at Ashton Court and all the roads were gridlocked, but being new to the city we thought we should go along anyway. They take off in the evening on mass, and it was pretty cool.

[Several hot air balloons being inflated]

They all look good up in the sky, too.

[Several ballons in the sky over Bristol]

At the time, we all felt the fiesta was a bit of a nightmare – too many people and too much aggravation getting there and back. Looking back I’m glad we went, but I think that next year we’ll just sit at a pub by the harbour and watch the balloons float over the city.

Last Day

Lack of posting here down to being busy tying up loose ends at work. Today is my last day, and there still seems to be a load of stuff to sort out. I don’t know how much I’ll be posting over the next few days either, as everything is getting hectic – boxing stuff up, getting ready to move, throwing out all the crap you accumulate when you stop in one place for too long…

Thought I’d take a few minutes out to scribble something down, though. It seemed like it had to be done – very possibly the last time I’ll post anything from this machine. It hasn’t quite struck home yet, that I’m leaving this place. Here I sit surrounded by my colleagues from the last two and a half years, and there’s a good chance that I won’t see some of them again. Ever. Strange feeling.

Walthamstow Marsh

This is very much a lazy Sunday afternoon sort of post. Since we’re leaving town next week, we’re trying to visit a few of our favourite haunts at the same time as pack and clean up and organise all those things that need to be organised before a move.

[Bullrushes on Walthamstow Marsh]

One of those places is Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes, an area criss-crossed by paths, canals and the River Lee. Not to mention the sewage works, railway lines and pylons – this is London, after all – but the intrusion of the city proper into the marshes doesn’t detract from their value as a place to come and get away from busy roads and litter filled streets.

[An old boat at the Marina]

The river and the canals are always filled with geese, ducks and swans swimming between the narrowboats and clustering around the occasional canal-side cafe or pub in the hope of scraps. The paths across the marsh and alongside the waterways are well maintained and good for cycling or walking, wide enough for all to enjoy without feeling you have to keep a constant look out for other people.

[Geese and Narrowboats on the canal]

There’s a marina filled with boats of all descriptions, many of which are scrupulously cared for narrowboats that people appear to live in. There are places to stop with picnic benches. Recently a small group of cows were introduced onto part of Walthamstow Marsh, so there’s plenty to look at and you almost feel as though you’re not in the city any more.

[Some of the newly introduced cows on Wlathmstow Marsh]

Back in London

Got back to London yesterday after a great two weeks in Italy. Sad to be back, but it won’t be long until I’m off again!

Here’s a little snap I took out of the window on the flight out as we flew over France from the Channel.

[View of the French Coast from about 30,000 feet]


I’m off to Italy for the next couple of weeks, and I’ve no idea what ‘net access will be available where we are staying, so posting may be a little thin on the ground. I do want to try and do a bit of travel blogging, though – get the practice in for New Zealand!

(I tell you, after yesterday’s farcical fuckup, I’m not sorry to be seeing the back of London for a while. Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen this evening. Touch wood. (Hang on, I’m not supposed to be superstitious…))