Stalking The Starling

Queuing to get on the blog this morning were:

Rose - pink climberThis pink rambler that has come through the recent rains somewhat scathed;

Clematis Marie Boisselot

the clematis Marie Boisselot;

Allium and spider

more alliums, one with a sentinel spider, less than usually reluctant to be noticed. Click to spot it.

By popular request I have returned to the Streets of London Series. I scanned another dozen from April 2004, of which I offer:Streets of London 4. 04 022

Firstly Church Path, NW10, in the London Borough of Brent. St Mary’s Church, dating from 938, has featured in a number of posts, such as that of 15th February 2013, when I found its grounds ‘Surprisingly Picturesque’.

Streets of London 4. 04 027

A younger, rather more splendid, church is Saint Pancras Parish Church on Euston Road, NW1. Its website describes what I have photographed, thus:

‘The church is a prominent landmark. Built by public subscription in 1818-22, it replaced the derelict Old St Pancras as Parish Church. Old St Pancras was rebuilt in Victorian times as one of the 17 subdivisions of the Ancient Parish of St Pancras. St Pancras Euston Road is Grade 1listed as a fine example of the Greek Revival style. Its external features, based on temples in ancient Athens, include an octagonal spire and an impressive front portico with 6 huge columns. On either side at the rear are our famous caryatids – statues of Greek women supporting the porches over the two entrances to the crypt. Traditional iron railings enclose the churchyard, where the annual parish picnic and other celebrations are held on the lawns.’

Streets of London 4. 04 030

Midland Road NW1, was still closed at the time of the London bombings of 7th July 2005, my 63rd birthday. The whole of Euston Road, and many of the side streets around were cordoned off, and people were pouring out of the underground system, as I took my normal walk from Beauchamp Lodge in Little Venice to North Road, a mile or so behind Kings Cross station. Midland Road is now incorporated into the development area around that station. On the morning of the bombs, oblivious of what was happening, on a forced pedestrian diversion, I came across an assembled swarm of many hundreds of men in the yellow hard hats shown in this picture.

Streets of London 4. 04 023

The building against which the construction workers are leaning is the British Library, at 96 Euston Road. Opened in June 1998, its Brutalist architecture, designed by Colin St John Wilson, can be seen to better effect from Ossulston Street, NW1.

Streets of London 4. 04 026

The proprietors of M.S.Tyres on the corner of Roundwood Road NW10 find it necessary to batten down the hatches against the ubiquitous graffiti that decorates this area of North London. At least the windows are protected.

Streets of London 4. 04 033

It doesn’t matter where you are in our capital city, it is very risky to leave your bicycle unattended. Virtually outside Baker Street tube station leans an example of the skeletal remains that litter many of our streets.

Either from familiarity with my presence, or from a desperation to feed its brood, I was able this afternoon successfully to stalk the parent starling squatting behind our kitchen facia board.. The bird, carrying sustenance, now lands on our roof, a speculative distance from the hidden nest; gingerly makes its way along the eaves; stands on the corner fidgeting and uttering sharp cries, either of warning or encouragement; then drops down and makes a dash for safety.

Starling 1Starling 2Starling 3Starling 4Starling 5Starling 6

Watching the poor creature dithering, popping its head down, lifting it up for a quick shufti, and eventually taking the plunge, was fascinating.

The skies were overcast today, but, it seeming to be the season for awards, the sun popped into my e-mails. I have now been nominated for:


Thank you very much, rameshwarir at for nominating me.

You have asked me these rather profound questions, which I answer as follows:

  1. Do you believe that there is someone watching over you, someone you can just feel & not see? I do
  2. What is the purpose of life? As best I can to make other people as happy as I would hope to be
  3. What is the one thing that you would go to or do to relieve your heartaches? I have found it and have no more
  4. What makes you happy? Refer to my answer at 2 above
  5. What do dreams mean to you? Those we experience through sleep are a way of working through timeless issues. In another sense, dreams are what we wish for
  6. What about Nature do you adore? Its constant variety
  7. What is the one element, off the 5, that you would associate yourself with and why? Earth because I like to think I am pretty well grounded
  8. What is your take on birth & death? Birth is an opportunity to begin a good life. Death is a time of reckoning
  9. What have you learnt from Nature? That it is there to be admired; and that we can control none of it
  10. What part of the tree would you associate yourself with? The trunk

In no particular order, my nominees for the award are:

Weave a Web


Poesie visuelle

Slice of London Life

In Noir Velvet

Fox And Finch Antiques

The Contented Crafter

MaxReynolds: Sunrise, Sunset And Other Visions

I will not set you specific questions, but simply invite you to tell us something about yourself as you wish.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious chicken jalfrezi with pilau rice topped off by an omelette. Kingfisher was our chosen beverage.

Surprisingly Picturesque

Although I have been unable to confirm the nationality of a gang of childhood friends from the early 1950s, my recollection is that it was ‘the Czechs’ we did battle with in those days.  For some reason Jackie and I got talking about this over coffee this morning.  Refugee families had been housed in a large Victorian terrace in Worple Road.  Somewhere nearby was a bomb site.  My gang and a similar group of the incomers engaged in mock warfare.  There were strict rules and no-one was ever hurt.  On this patch of weed-covered rubble and debris each nationality built a den out of corrugated iron, wooden beams, old sinks, cisterns, and whatever else was available.  We then hurled bricks and bits of concrete at each other’s structures until one collapsed, after which the winners crowed a bit, then we all shook hands and went home.  It was absolutely forbidden to throw a missile at another boy.  Language was a bit of a problem, but we managed to communicate rules and intent.  There had not been enough postwar time for these sites to have been fully cleared, and they were most attractive playgrounds, no doubt full of enough hazards to have horrified today’s parents.

Four days ago, when Lydie was driving me to Bergerac airport, she described the beauty of morning mist rising from the local frosty fields on clear sunny days.  In particular she had seen a scene where the tops of trees seemed to be emerging from a sea of water.  As Jackie drove me to Southampton Parkway railway station for my London lunch date with Norman, we saw a similar phenomenon beside the M27.

On the train I was amused to hear a most original ring tone on the mobile phone of the man opposite.  It was, in his little girl’s voice, ‘Dad, Dad, come on Dad, your phone’s ringing’.  Yesterday Jackie had explained the significance of Charlie and Carlos in a TV auction programme, as being a jocular distinction between two men named Charles.  So when the steward on board announced that there were two at-seat trollies in service, Peter being in charge of the rear five coaches, and Pedro of the front five, I had an idea what might be going on.  When Peter arrived at my seat I asked him if this were so.  He laughed and said he ‘couldn’t remember his name so [he] made something up’.

From Waterloo I walked my usual route to Green Park, where I boarded a Jubilee Line train to Neasden. Love hearts and London Eye 2.13 Helium-filled love hearts hanging from the avenue of naked trees approaching the London Eye were juxtaposed with that wheel’s capsules, just one of which seemed to reflect their colour.

Westminster Pier 2.13Cruise vessels were filling with passengers at Westminster Pier where, for Norman’s 70th birthday celebrations I had boarded one with Jessica, and last year, for his 80th, with Jackie.

Boadicea 2.13This year’s tourists are now becoming difficult to negotiate in this iconic area of London.

Goose basking 2.13In St James’s Park a slumbering goose had claimed a soporific shaft of sunlight.

On the tube a standing young man, plugged into one mobile device, peered down at that of a seated young woman who appeared to be scanning her messages.  The rest of us were treated to a high volume African telephone conversation, the slightly robotic voice emanating from the mobile being even louder than that of our softer-spoken fellow traveller.  On the return journey this effort was completely outbellowed by two Chinese men sitting on opposite sides of the carriage and several seats apart.  Another African was loudly engaged in a telephone conversation, but at least he hadn’t got his device on hands-free mode.

St Mary's church Willesden graveyard 2.13Having some time to spare I attempted to visit St Mary’s church, Willesden.  Unfortunately, as is almost invariably the case in London churches now, the doors were all locked.  I walked around the graveyard which was tidied up a few years ago.  A stone tablet by a gathered-up collection of gravestones proclaims this fact.  Although there are a very few memorials to more recent interments, most of those there are Victorian.  The land is virtually an open-air museum of a long-gone section of nineteenth century London.  With the church itself, which is rather older, a surprisingly picturesque scene greets anyone venturing off the High Road at Church End.  From Neasden station one walks past a very gritty area dominated on each side by scrap metal dealers and waste skip depots; sorry-looking terraces of rented accommodation; a busy garage whose customers often cause hold-ups as they queue to enter; then ugly 60s office buildings and slightly more recent council estates; rubbish everywhere, including the front of the graveyard; rusted benches surrounded by dog-ends; cracked, broken, and sunken paving stones; parking meters; and the often nose-to-tail queues of London traffic belching out exhaust fumes.  It is all very sordid and I usually walk past the church feeling sorry for it. St Mary's church Willesden 2.13 Today I was rewarded for taking a closer look.

Norman provided a lunch of boiled bacon followed by jam roly-poly, accompanied by Carta Roja gran reserva 2006.

At Neasden station on the way back to Waterloo, a young woman was attaching a small black fascinator to one of her companions’ hair.  The headdress was blown out of her hand and made its way like a speedy spider scampering across the platform to be retrieved just before it descended onto the lines.  With much gaiety it was finally firmly fixed in place.

I arrived back at Southampton Parkway in time for Jackie to collect and drive me back to the lodge.