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the countryside

The train departs in a sunny interval and slides between the upper levels of terraces and warehouses, their east faces lit up.
Then quickly expanding and wide, the overgrown stinky greenness of hackney’s marshes begins the pattern of outer London: the green, the remnants, the disused railway bridges, the rusted gas holders, the allotments, then warehouses. This is the Lea Valley. Industry melts into ditches of grease, geese, swans, a hundred dusty white vans.
On my left are the backs of  terraces, with their washing on the line and their lace curtains in the windows. To the right are so many trees, the saplings suffocating the old, undergrowth creeping into the canopy, weeds towering over ponds and stinky crevices. And then a power station. This valley will be one of the cradles of the post-apocalyptic world.
And then I am into the gently sloping pastures. If you have an empty heart, a positive side of this is that even small amounts of sunshine, a scrap of blue sky, a brief message, a short story, quick journey, glances, flickers, glimmers… all make it completely weightless.

Is this what it feels like to be Norwegian? So many things to make me smile in a single day:


^The memory of Victoria Plum, my saviour on that harrowing day 18th january 1987, when I was taken landscape painting in the 40degree Clare Valley heat, and when a fatty tiger snake crossed my dusty path.


^From nowhere, a heavy downpour for 5 minutes. Or maybe it was more prolonged but localised in this small patch of nowhere. Don’t be fooled by the sign, Cambridge City Centre is an hour ride away. Imagine me sheltering in the woods, building this quick shelter on Grug’s prototype. The sun came out instantly, just like the moral of this story.


^ Thatch is lovely, so thick and spongy. Again Grug’s hair.


^ And then, amongst all the thatch and winding roads, immediately after the rain and unpleasant wind, there it was: An Australian landscape. By some trick of the crop the land looked parched, and the sky was wide, opening up toward the A14.

And a cacophony of animal. Cows on the cycle path, cats in the lanes, ducklings in the river, bunnies in the golf course, two turtle doves, and a foil sealed baby frog for the journey home, gross. I savour the journey home, as the train goes through Ponders End which is my spiritual home and where I hope one day to settle.


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