Category Archives: London Places

Coal Drops Yard – An Update

The roof at Coal Drops Yard, designed by Thomas Heatherwick

Dear Readers, you might remember that I’ve been keeping an eye on the Piet Oudolf-inspired planting around Coal Drops Yard at Kings Cross, to see how it’s maturing and whether it has as much pollinator-attractiveness as it promised. Well, clearly there are no longer any gaps: have a look at this positive bank of Rudbeckia, which was attracting many hoverflies (none of which I managed to photograph, but they were there! I promise).What strikes me most, though, are the textures: this style of prairie-planting features many grasses and seedheads, and I think it works very well in this urban context. And if anyone can identify any of these plants, I would be most appreciative!

What struck me most, though was the sun shining low through these grasses. They really are stunning.

I only wish that when I planted things in the garden I was so conscious of how they would look at different times of the year. Or is this a happy accident? The sun was also lighting up these deep magenta asters, which were attracting a few of the last queen bumblebees before they settle down for the winter.

But what struck me  most was not the planting here, but a much more modest planting just around the corner, close to the Waitrose supermarket and the Ruby Violet ice cream shop (highly recommended). There was a little family of young sparrows in the hedge – sparrows always love a hedge, for shelter and  food and everything else that they need, and these birds were taking full advantage. It was lovely to hear them chirruping away, especially as they are now so much rarer in London than they used to be.

And a few metres away there was some lovely soft soil, just perfect for a dust bath.

Meanwhile, a robin sang from a low branch and occasionally cocked its head to listen to another robin before responding.

With a little thought, it’s very possible to create habitats and niches for all kinds of wildlife in the city, and they aren’t always where you might think. More power to the designers here for making space for the birds and the bees.

You can read more about Coal Drops Yard below, and see how the wildlife changes through the year.

First visit in February 2020

Revisit in October 2020

Revisit in July 2021

Post Retirement Day One!

Dear Readers, it felt very strange to wake up this morning and realise that I had actually managed to get everything done that I wanted to get done yesterday, but I didn’t have long to cogitate as we had an organised Geology walk in Coldfall Wood today. It was on the subject of geology, which for me is the unheralded crux of ecology – what underlies the soil determines so many things, from the soil organisms that will thrive to the plants that will grow, as anyone who has tried growing chalk-loving flowers in a London clay garden will tell you. The walk was led by Diana Clements, who is currently revising her book ‘Geology of London’, which is well worth a look for anyone even vaguely interested in the deep history of our area.

We looked at the main rock types in the area – London clay, Dollis Hill gravel and glacial till. Diana’s walk rather cleverly takes us through the three stages of the history of the wood as reflected in their geological history, and I for one will never look at the them in quite the same way again.

The rather unprepossessing bit of the stream above shows that the banks are London clay, and Diana had a box full of fossils found in clay, from North London molluscs, shark’s teeth, palm seeds and magnolia seeds. The clay was first laid down about 50 million years ago, when the climate was probably tropical (though the magnolia seeds may suggest at least some seasonality). Magnolias are ancient flowering plants that are pollinated by beetles, as there were no specialist pollinators about at the time.

Next it was off to the wet woodland for a look at the Dollis Hill gravel. The Thames used to run to the north of London, through the Vale of St Albans and then into the North Sea at Clacton, until it was diverted by the glaciers of the Ice Age. Some of its tributaries flowed through what’s now Coldfall Wood, depositing gravel as it went. You can find all sorts of interesting things in gravel, including quartz and the flinty Lower Greensand Chert.

The bed of the stream into the wetland area is full of gravel.

And finally, there’s the glacial till. One finger of the last glacier of the Ice Age (which retreated about 400,000 years ago) reached as far south as Coldfall Wood (and also Hornchurch in Essex for anyone who lives in those parts). As it retreated it ‘dropped’ all the rock fragments that it was carrying (to a depth of 14 metres in Finchley), and simultaneously excised deep gullies as the water in the ice sheet melted, while the surrounding soil rebounded after being compressed by the ice. No wonder the woods are so undulating, although they’re probably less so than they used to be, as the London Clay is a very soft material, easily eroded.

So, it was a fascinating walk, and I seem to have retained rather more of it than I thought I had at the time. I will certainly look at the woods in a new light!

And for those of you who read my piece on Crape Myrtle last week, I stopped to check out the bark on the tree and it is indeed both rather attractive and very smooth. What amused me no end is that having noticed one small tree, I completely failed to notice that there was another Crape Myrtle next to it. It just goes to show how distracted I’ve been, but no longer!

Crape Myrtle bark

A Close Shave?

Dear Readers, as you might remember I was in Coldfall Wood yesterday for our spider walk, and a lot of fun it was too. Well, between midday on Saturday and first thing this morning, one of the dead standing trees alongside the boardwalk has toppled over and smashed part of the bridge.

For once, it’s very unlikely that this was caused by vandalism – it’s too far from the boardwalk for someone to pull, and it’s completely surrounded by stinging nettles so it’s unlikely that someone would have waded through them to give it a push. Standing deadwood is normally pretty stable, so what could have caused the problem? I have a  theory, so here goes.

First up, the area here in Coldfall is a habitat known as wet woodland, which is extremely rare, especially in urban areas. Water runs down into the area from a variety of culverted streams, and also seeps in from the higher ground that surrounds it. In the winter the area has, in the past, been flooded to a depth higher than the handrails, and the photos below give an idea of what it’s often like in a normal and exceptionally wet winter.

A normal winter

An exceptional winter (Photo courtesy of Neville Young from 2020)

However. In recent years, there have been some attempts to improve drainage – for one thing, one of the pipes that took excess water away was forever getting blocked, so the water backed up. This was then cleared.  But I am now a little concerned that the ‘wetlands’ is getting too dry – where there used to be water mint and water bistort, there’s now a sea of stinging nettles. Clearly, you can have too much of a good thing  where drainage is concerned, because the last thing  we need is for the wet woodland area to dry up altogether.

Naturally, the amount of water in the wet woodland is to a certain extent weather-dependent (and it has been a pretty dry summer), but I have never seen it this dry in late summer.

Water mint and water plantain in the wet woodland from 2014

Water Plantain, amphibious bistort and bulrushes from 2020

Now, of course a dead tree can topple over at any old time. However, I suspect that the  the weather (hotter than usual for this time of year) and the dryness (as evidenced by the changing vegetation) are contributing and helping to destabilise the soil.  We really do need to sort out the drainage issue here, before we lose this precious and unusual habitat for good.

You can read a bit more about the different kinds of wet woodland, and its value to wildlife, here.

At The Whittington Hospital

Dear Readers, this morning it rained and rained, after nearly a month of tinder-dry weather and so, as I headed off to Whittington Hospital in North London for a routine thyroid check, I wasn’t surprised to see a whole host of snails enjoying themselves in the damp conditions along by the main hospital wall.  I have always had a soft spot for these molluscs, and I love the way that they glide along.

It’s fair to say that the many, many people walking down from the hospital were a little confused about what I might be doing, but most of them simply glanced and then gave me a very wide berth. After all, there is a wide variety of people in Archway, not all of them 100% benign, and so eccentricity of any kind tends to be a bit of a red flag. One small girl did stop and gaze at me, wide-eyed, before being ushered along by her mother. To think that she could have been another mollusc-fan, and we didn’t get a chance to swap notes! What a shame.

Anyhow, I went up to the imaging department, and was handed a pager (who knew that they still existed?) and told to go to Room 12 when it buzzed, which of course it did as soon as I had my reading glasses on. My appointment was for a thyroid ultrasound – the CT scan that I had a while back to try to find the reason for my cough found all sorts of strange anomalies, one of which was a slightly enlarged thyroid. I wasn’t worried because my thyroid function blood tests had all come back with normal readings, but I do love an interesting (and non-invasive) medical procedure. Fortunately there was also a young medical student in attendance so, as I lay there with my throat exposed like some sacrificial lamb, the doctor talked through everything she was finding – nodules, cysts, colloid and even (get this) some comet-tail artefacts – these happen in an ultrasound when it finds something reflective, usually just some kind of protein. Comet-tails are perfectly normal, and apparently a good sign.

I do have a couple of tiny nodules that are too small for the ultrasound to investigate, apparently, so what the doctor is recommending is that I return for another ultrasound in about six months, and if there’s no change (which is what she expects) I’ll be signed off on the thyroid front.

And so I head off home, passing some more snails en route. What calming animals they are (apologies to anyone trying to grow vegetables; you probably take a rather less sanguine view)!

I have a great fondness for the Whittington – I credit it with saving my mother’s life when she came down with sepsis and complications back in 2015, and I have been here for numerous blood tests and X-rays and CT scans over the last six months. I have always found the people who work here to be helpful, kind and knowledgeable, from the volunteers who direct visitors around this maze of a building to the consultants and radiographers and nurses. Strangely enough, the place is starting to feel like home, much as it did when I was visiting Mum during her long stay eight years ago. I would rather not have any health problems (clearly) but as I do, I am so glad that this is my hospital.

A Quick Run Around the County Roads

Dear Readers, I am still in the throes of year end but am determined to get out for a quick walk at lunchtime – there’s always something to see, and even old familiar sights, like All Saints here on Durham Road, look all the lovelier against a colour-washed blue sky. I dragged my husband across the road to examine the bulbs, and some of the daffodils are almost in flower already.

And then there’s the fact that all the bollards are upright, as opposed to reclining drunkenly to the horizontal having been backed into by a passing van.

And I rather think that this tree is an alder, though it isn’t marked as such on the London Tree Map. I could of course be wrong though – I’ll have to have a closer look next time I whizz past.

In sad news, the tree that was walloped and damaged when a skip was being loaded a year or so back has finally been cut down. It sustained a huge wound and as it wasn’t treated, the trunk started to rot.

The crab apple originally

Following the encounter with the skip


It’s always a shame when a mature tree is cut down, especially when I suspect that if it had not been damaged, the crab apple would have survived for many more years. But accidents happen, our road is narrow and tricky to manoeuvre around, and everyone is under such pressure these days. And clearly you can’t have branches descending onto the noggins of innocent passersby. Plus, the street has received half a dozen new trees this year – although they’re just saplings at the moment, hopefully they’ll have a chance to mature and grow into fine specimens.

But, to end on a more cheerful note, I cannot pass this row of houses on Lincoln Road without smiling.

Each one has a presiding spirit above the doorway. There’s a very sad Poseidon…

..a chap with a very fine moustache…

and this lady, whose rather serious demeanour is offset by that splendid lipstick. I can just imagine someone standing on a stepladder, determined to give her a suitable starlet makeover.

And then, finally, I loved these rowan berries against the moss. It looks like game of bowls played by some mice.

And now, suitably buoyed up, it’s back to the spreadsheets. And goodness, it’s almost February! Soon year end will be over, and I’ll be able to get back to some sort of normality.

On Islington Green

Dear Readers, some of the most magnificent London Plane trees in the Capital line the central avenue on Islington Green. This isn’t a village green, but is instead part of the common land that used to exist here, where tenants and ‘commoners’ had the right to graze their sheep and cattle. Latterly, it was a place where dung was dumped,  it’sThese days it’s completely hemmed in by roads, with Upper Street on one side and Essex Road on the other, but it still serves as an oasis of (relative) calm in this lively area.

In 1885 it was described by one Henry Vigar-Harries as a spot where

” the young love to skip in buoyant glee when the summer sun gladdens the air“.

He also describes how “within a mile and a half from this spot there are 1,030 public houses and beer shops” and if you included restaurants, cafés and coffee shops in that number you wouldn’t be far wrong now.

According to the Hidden London blog, the trees here were planted in 1808. They are mostly plane trees, but along the edge opposite where Waterstones is now (and where Collins Music Hall stood until it burned down in 1897) there’s a row of very fine lime trees. Grey squirrels and parakeets seem to enjoy them immensely, as does the enormous flock of pigeons that lives here.

Islington Green pigeons

The War Memorial, created by John Maine, was designed to resemble a twisted wreath and was inaugurated in 2007. Six years later the foundations needed to be dug again because they were inadequate for the weight of the stone, all eight tonnes of it – the memorial is made from stone quarried in Fujian, China, which is also where the carving took place.

There are no names on the memorial itself, but there are plaques commemorating those who received the Victoria Cross, the highest medal for gallantry awarded in the UK. Frederick Parslow was serving on a merchant ship carrying over a thousand horses for the war effort when it was attacked by a U-Boat. Parslow gave the order to abandon ship, but then received a message from a Royal Navy destroyer to hang on as long as possible. He remained on the bridge, completely unprotected, while the U-Boat concentrated fire on the section, and he was killed. His son, also called Frederick Parslow, was the Chief Officer, and managed to hold out until the destroyer arrived. 20 men were killed, but the horses were saved.

Frederick Booth was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing an injured soldier alone, under heavy fire from the Germans, in what is now Tanzania.

Both men came originally from the Islington area, Booth from Holloway and Parslow from the Balls Pond Road.

There is another memorial here too, and I always visit it if I have time when I’m in Islington. This is in memory of Bob the Street Cat, who was the long-time companion of James Bowen, a Big Issue seller who used have a pitch outside Angel Station. Bowen found Bob as an injured young cat, and the two soon became inseparable. Bob passed away a few years ago, but fans of James and Bob (immortalised not only in bronze by sculptor Tanya Russell but in a book by Bowen called ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ and in a film) raised money for the seat. I love that Bob is always dressed according to the season, and for autumn he is wearing a very natty scarf.

I was lucky to find the benches empty – there are normally people sitting here, under the trees, enjoying the bird song and some early morning sunshine. But today, for a few brief minutes, the messages on the two adjoining benches are clear as day. We are, indeed, stronger together, and there is no doubt that so many people deserve a second chance.

The Capital Ring – Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick

The view along Casenove Road

Dear Readers, our 3.7 mile long walk today started at Stoke Newington Station. Typically we had decided to get there with a combination of bus (102), tube (Piccadilly Line to Wood Green) and bus (67 to Stoke Newington), which was a bit long-winded but gave us a chance to sit on the top deck and admire the splendid houses along the route. When we eventually arrived, our first stop was Cazenove Road, with its magnificent avenue of London plane trees, planted shortly after 1900. These giants make such a difference to the temperature – this was to be quite a hot, exposed walk, and in retrospect I should have bathed in this cool, shady spot for a bit longer. Alas, not all the plane trees have made it to 2022, and I did wonder how much they shaded the front gardens of the houses. A small price to pay for all this lush greenery I’d imagine.

This one didn’t make it, clearly….

This borderland between Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill is home to many different communities – members of the Orthodox Jewish community were walking home after prayers, there are lots of Turkish and Caribbean cafes and shops, and we passed a mosque which had been cleverly created from three of the terraced houses. It reminds me of how many people have made their homes in the capital, and how much they have enriched all of our lives.

We pass Jubilee Primary school, and I fell in love with the pavement art outside. The children’s drawings have been turned into plaques, along with their descriptions of what living in Hackney was like. This one says “When I’m in Hackney I hear birds tweeting like happy families”.


This one says (rather less optimistically’ “When I’m in Hackney I smell fumes flowing like fire in the air”.

And it looks as if the words of this youngster have been cut off, because all that remains is “When I’m in Hackney”, but I think I can identify a space theme going on, and it is 100% adorable as far as I’m concerned.

Further down Filey Avenue there is the most splendid lilac-blue hibiscus.

And then we turn left into Springfield Park, but before we do I am much taken by these flats. The towers (which I assume house a fire escape or other staircase) are most striking. I haven’t been able to find out anything about the estate, but with a pleasant view over Springfield Park I imagine that it’s a nice place to live.

By now we’ve been walking for oh, about twenty minutes and so our thoughts are turning to lunch. And what better place than Springfield Park? The park was originally the grounds of Springfield House (built in the 19th century) but it was taken over by London City Council in 1909. And if it’s a nice day, and you fancy sitting peacefully, watching the crows imitate that bit in ‘The Birds’ where they congregate before tearing chunks out of Tippi Hedren you could do much worse. I had the most splendid avocado, hummus and halloumi on ciabatta bread and considered myself very lucky.

View from the Springfield Park Cafe

Crows menacing the invertebrates in the grass.

Some very handsome Egyptian geese

Springfield Park also apparently has a community orchard, but I missed it – what a shame. It would have been interesting to compare it to Barnwood in East Finchley.

We walk down through the park, and discover that the geology of the area is actually rather special – it has been designated as one of Greater London’s Regionally Important Geological Sites (which makes me curious as to where the others are – I feel yet another blogpost coming on!) Apparently the park contains not only ‘Hackney Gravel’ deposited by the River Lea a quarter of a million years ago, but on top of this it has fine ‘brick earth’, a wind-blown loess known as rock flour. The two components together make the site perfect for making bricks, and these two components are laid on top of the more typical London clay that forms the basis of the geology of most of London. Roman sarcophagi and a Saxon boat were found during excavations in the park, and it’s thought that the lake is probably the result of gravel extraction over the years.

The view from the hill in Springfield Park

And then it’s downhill to the Lea/Lee Valley Navigation. This waterway used to mark the boundary between Essex and Middlesex, and now delineates the line between the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest and Hackney. The spelling of the name of the area has more or less settled down now, with ‘Lea’ referring to the river Lea and its natural manifestations, and ‘Lee’ referring to anything man-made. The river Lea itself runs for about 50 miles, from Luton to Bow Creek, and the Capital Ring follows it east for about three miles.

First up is the Springfield Marina. There are river boats moored along the whole length of the walk, some of them in fine fettle and some of them on what looks like the verge of disintegration. It’s also a walk that lacks shade, and I was very glad that I’d brought my Factor 50 suncream.

To start with, the path is broad, and we walk along the edge of Walthamstow Marshes, just slightly south of the Walthamstow Wetlands reserve that I visit on a regular basis. The ditch by the side of the path is full of bulrushes, purple loosestrife and other water plants, and I get a brief view of a reed bunting before it disappears back into cover.

Common Reed Bunting (Photo One)


I love that the skies are so big here. Also, the path is relatively wide, which means that the cyclists who zoom past have plenty of room. In the later part of the walk, the path is much narrower and encounters can be a bit more fraught.

There is a delightful pub on the other side of the river, but as my Capital Ring book points out, the little ferry that used to take you across ceased in the 1950s. Alas, for we have been walking now for forty minutes and surely we’re due another sit down?

The Anchor and Hope – so near, and yet so far.

There is, however, a railway viaduct which goes to Clapton and takes people off to Stansted Airport. Apparently an aviator, A.V.Roe, used to create his early airplane prototypes in the arches of the viaduct, and the marshes used to cushion his inevitable crash landings.

Looking along the river, we catch a glimpse of a family of swans and a lone oarsman. The swan on the right looks a wee bit defensive to me. In situations like this, my money is always on the swan, but we didn’t hear any splashing or screaming so presumably all was well.

Looking into the distance I noticed some cows. They were most uncooperative as far as getting a nice photo goes, but they have been reintroduced to the marshes to help with the habitat. We underestimate the role that grazing animals play in biodiversity, I think.

Cows’ backs.

Cows’ backsides

And at this point, the River Lea and the Lee Navigation separate for a while, and our way ahead is blocked by some building work on the new Ice Skating Centre, which will enable people to do their double axels and pirouettes all year round. We are leaving the wide open spaces next to Walthamstow Marshes, and are heading into something altogether more urban. But for that, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow….



A Trip to Tate Modern

Dear Readers, it will come as no surprise to regular followers that I love London – I was born and bred in this city, and yet even after 62 years my heart still races when I walk its streets. It’s the sudden and unexpected views that always get me, such as spotting the new Tate Modern extension appearing alongside the old power station tower as I turn a corner. Today I was even helped by one of the top-hatted concierges outside the Bankside Hilton, who pointed me in the direction of this unexpected view of the Shard. The Shard seems to have replaced the Post Office Tower as the building that pops up everywhere, though it looks rather like some evil triangular god peering over his realm and deciding what to blast with a thunderbolt next.

I am going to Tate Modern to see their ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders’ exhibition, which closes at the end of the week. Time was I tried to see everything at both Tate galleries, but now that I’m working it’s a bit trickier. I will write more about the exhibition tomorrow, as I think it deserves a post of its own, but to be honest it was a treat just to catch a tube ‘south of the river’, wander around with the camera and then catch the 17 bus back to Archway.

I have gotten a bit ahead of myself, though, because I arrived at Southwark station on the Jubilee line, which is up there with my favourite stations. It always reminds me of a cruise ship, for some reason (though I have never been on a cruise ship so who knows?)

It’s certainly got that brutal concrete thing going on, but I love it nonetheless. The blue glass wall shown below was apparently influenced by the work of 19th century Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and I can certainly see where the idea might have come from. When you take the escalator up from the platforms you are suddenly surrounded by this amazing blue dome, as if you have ascended into some kind of transport heaven.

Ascending to the blue wall (Photo by Di Chap at

The blue wall at Southwark Station (Photo by Diamond Geezer at

Schinkel’s stage set for Mozart’s The Magic Flute (1815) (Public Domain)

Anyhow, back to Tate Modern. I was a bit alarmed to see that there’s some renovation going on at the top of the power station tower.

Apart from the fact that the structure looks a bit on the flimsy side, my additional worry was for the peregrine falcons who have nested here for many years. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds used to have telescopes outside so that you could watch the birds, and they were famous for hunting at night because of the floodlights on the building. Many a local pigeon met a spectacular end at the talons of the birds, but sadly this renovation, which has taken more time than expected and more money than budgeted, has rendered the birds homeless. There are at least twenty pairs of peregrines in London, and apparently the Tate Modern birds had a quick look at St Pauls as an alternative home, but decided it didn’t quite meet their demanding criteria. I hope they found somewhere else to raise their young.

After the exhibition I took a leisurely walk back over the Millenium Bridge, which always provides plenty of photo opportunities…

St Pauls….

A whole range of skyscrapers….

View towards the Globe Theatre with pigeons who are delighted that the peregrines have moved on….

The Shard glowering under a storm cloud….

A contented gull….

Canary Wharf and Tower Bridge

And then I catch a number 17 bus almost immediately, which is a minor miracle as I usually have to wait for at least twenty minutes. Clearly, the Bus Fairy must be keeping an eye on me.

On arrival in Archway, I saw this.

It’s an old-fashioned phone box, and someone has planted it with a jasmine which is doing very nicely, thank you! It did cheer me up. Someone is obviously taking the time to water it and look after it.

And finally, here’s a random cat, sitting in a sunny spot on the High Road and refusing to respond to my entreaties. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

With the Barnwood Silver Birches

Male Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)

Dear Readers, yesterday I was lucky enough to meet with the Silver Birches groups for the over-55s that are held in Barnwood Community Forest here in East Finchley. What a lovely day it was! We had sessions on pollinators and on the folklore of plants, and the afternoon group learned how to make moss hanging baskets with Ursula from The Flower Bank, an amazing enterprise that recycles and reuses the flowers that would otherwise go to waste at corporate events, supermarkets, weddings and fashion shoots.

Of course, being Bugwoman it was very important to get people up close and personal with the amazing variety of insects that live in Barnwood. Here are just a few…

Comma Butterfly

Tree Bumblebee

Marmalade Hoverfly

Side view of the Comma, showing the ‘comma’ mark on its underwings

Speckled Wood underside

What impressed me so much with the Silver Birches was how much fun they were, how welcoming, and how patient they were when chasing some very flittery insects from one place to another with their camera phones so that we could get a snapshot of what was around on this sunny Midsummer day. It has been a long, long time since I’ve had the chance to do something like this and I had a wonderful time. So thank you to Leo and Linda who organise the sessions and to everyone who attended, it was a day that I’ll remember for a long, long time.

An Easter Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolaria)

Dear Readers, after a few weeks of having a break from the cemetery, it was such a pleasure to be back on a sunny spring day with not a cloud overhead. I was pleased to see the garlic mustard coming into flower, and was keeping a keen eye open for orange-tip butterflies, who lay their eggs on the plant. Well, I didn’t see any, but I did see several citrus-coloured brimstone butterflies, whose caterpillars  feed on buckthorn. There is a view that the name ‘butterfly’ came from these  bright yellow beauties.

Photo One by Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Male brimstone butterfly in flight (Photo One)

I seemed to be scaring up butterflies at every step, like this peacock: red admirals, peacocks and the odd speckled wood were all warming themselves up on the paths. It wasn’t quite the swarms of lepidoptera that I remember from our walks in the Austrian Alps, but it wasn’t bad for East Finchley.

The Tibetan cherry tree is coming into flower, and very fine it is too.

This jay was a little less shy than usual…

But this green woodpecker was rather more reticent than of late…

And we saw the Official Cemetery Cat, who is very splendid…

And an unofficial cemetery visitor, who we’ve seen before, and who looks like a little panther.

But loveliest of all, against that clear blue sky, was the buzzard, peacefully riding the thermals and unharried by the crows for once. Maybe they’re all off on holiday.

Mustn’t it be lovely to fly like that! The closest thing that I can think of is swimming, which is something I haven’t done for way too long. Maybe I’ll find somewhere over the summer.

Oh, and the lesser celandine is still in flower….


….and there was this patch of pink sorrel close to the North Circular Road boundary. I hadn’t noticed it before, but no doubt it will soon be everywhere. All sorts of mysterious things grow in this rather ‘weedy’ area, including the mysterious salsify that I was so astonished by a few years ago. Although you can hardly hear yourself think for traffic noise, it is always full of surprises.