Well Readers, here we are, advancing across Tooting Bec Common. There’s a lake hidden away behind the woods, and it seems to have been mostly taken over by black-headed gulls, who got very excited at the sight of someone with some crusts for the ducks.
There was an optimistic cormorant watching from the top of a tree too, though these birds seem very unimpressed by our human offerings.
And maybe it’s just the angle, but these guys look rather like rooks (or at least one of them does), a most unusual bird for inner London.
The lake is the source for the Falcon Brook, one of those hidden rivers of London. It’s completely underground now, but according to Paul Talling (whose ‘Lost Rivers of London” book and website are real gems) it burst up through the pavement in 2007 and flooded most of Falcon Road near Clapham Junction. What’s with all these Falcons, though? They were probably named for the Lords of Battersea Manor, the St Johns, whose family crest was a falcon.
Tooting Bec itself was probably named for its granting to the abbey of St Mary de Bec in Normandy in the 12th Century. The Common is a rather damp spot, with some very interesting trees – have a look at this willow, presumably vigorously coppiced and then left to burst out.
There is some gorse here too, and some bumblebees happily foraging on it.
But what’s with the blue spray paint everywhere? It seems pretty random, but it could maybe be marking something up.
And I only learned this week that when a dead tree is allowed to remain standing but has most of its limbs removed, it’s known as ‘monolithing’. At least it retains the rotting wood as habitat for everything from woodpeckers to stag beetles.
And after my post on bollards last week, I bring you this rather particular South London version.
The tree below is a Railway Poplar (Populus x canadensis), so named because of its usual location alongside the railway lines. I imagine the shape means that it doesn’t need as much maintenance as some trees.
And then we’re back into the land of some magnificent houses.
I love how the shingles on this one are mimicked in the concrete tiles on the one below.
But honestly, Balham has definitely come up in the world. Just look at all these cracking architectural details.
All topped off with this splendid tree.
And then we’re on Balham High Street, opposite Du Cane Court. This is an Art Deco building, and very splendid it looks too. Comedian Tommy Trinder used to live here, and during the Second World War the rumour went around that Nazi Officers planned to live here when they invaded, and that the building was shaped like a swastika. And we think that conspiracy theories are a new thing….
It’s a shame that this building doesn’t crop up on Open City, as I’d love a peek at a flat, but for now, here’s a photo of the lobby…
And what do we find for lunch but a branch of Taro, the Japanese restaurant? Many a bowl of noodles has been slurped down at the restaurant’s Soho branch, and so we had to stop and finish off our walk here. And how nice to go home via the Northern Line from Balham without having to change! And I can also report that my feet have held up nicely, so it’s a win all round.