Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA

Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA
Julie's Jabber - This week with London LDWA

The unnatural conditions in which we're living include, for me, getting used to communicating via Zoom. No doubt I'll be an old hand at it by the time normality returns in 2099, but currently it's an unnerving experience. Last week I had to record a tribute to Ann Sayer on BBC Radio 4's obituary programme The Last Word.  Usually appearing on radio involves a jolly little trip to Broadcasting House (always a boost for one's self-importance). This time I had to talk out loud in my empty office into a blank computer screen. Apparently the video function is turned off during recording to increase sound quality. So odd did it seem that I worried that I had wittered even more than usual, and haven't been able to bring myself to listen to the broadcast. 

Ken Falconer, former LDWA Chair and Strider editor,  kindly emailed to say it had gone well - at least, he described it as 'seamless', which may just have meant that the wittering had been expertly edited out. Anyway, he also sent me this photo (below) of Ann receiving her MBE from the Queen, in 2005, for services to sport. I love this image of two women I have always fervently admired, though I wish I'd asked Ann, who was six feet tall, whether a comparatively dimunitve Her Majesty had had to stand on something in order to pin the medal in the appropriate position.


ann sayer mbe queen

Ann Sayer receives her MBE from Her Majesty the Queen




Last week a theatre company asked me to 'do a turn' about what it's like to be a Spurs supporter in lockdown, which entailed something else I have had to do for the first time - video myself performing on my iPhone. The process took several takes, involved a stepladder to get the right angle and forced me to wear my glasses. Normally I leave them off out of vanity but I couldn't read the script without them.  Apparently, the result was acceptable, although the public now know that I am no longer a bright young thing but a short-sighted old lady with bad hair.

I spoke about how I missed the dread - not the current dread we all have to live with, of contracting the virus and passing it on to loved ones, but the normal dread that comes with the territory if you support Spurs. It's the apprehension that sets in midway through the week when it's Liverpool away on Sunday, the terror when Harry Kane is brought down and doesn't get up - how many weeks is he going to be out this time? - and the nerve-wracking ordeal of five minutes added time when they're only 2-1 up against Arsenal and Hugo Lloris is having one of his flaky days.

It's the kind of dread that feels like a luxury now, and makes me think about how I miss all the things I don't like about long distance walking. Blisters - what would I give right now to have the chance to get some. Oh, how I long to be standing again in the rain in the middle of the night peering at a soggy route description in order to find the way out of a field full of sheep. What would I give to be getting lost and having to walk back a mile to get back on route? Mud - you can't beat the stuff! Midges - bring 'em on! 

The topics of missing both Spurs and walking were touched on in an email from London Group's Don Newman. It was about one of the photos that appeared in last week's Jabber. The photo in question was taken outside a lovely Tottenham community pub, the Antwerp Arms, at the end of The Spurs Way, a walk I co-led with Rob White, son of the late John White, a member of the famous Spurs Double-winning side of 1960-61. Don writes: ''No caption on the photo, but I remember it well - sitting opposite the Antwerp Arms in July 2018, at the end of your interesting Spurs walk, with John White's offspring as guest. Strange the things we remember; everybody else reached for their phones at the finish, except me - I just wanted that pint!'

Don hasn't been back to the Antwerp Arms since, nor yet to the new Spurs stadium, but  as he says, 'It's good to have things to look forward to.' Even the 'luxury' of dread,




On the topic of learning new skills, Julian Pursey, London Group's Exmouth Correspondent, emailed to say that he has ordered a clarinet on eBay and will shortly be serenading his lockdown companions - his sister Sue and her husband - with renderings of Scarborough Fair. Good luck with that, my friend.

Julian also talked of the recent walk he took up the Exe Estuary towards Lympstone: 

'The wild garlic was in abundance on the shaded banks of the Wotton Brook. Far enough away from traffic fumes and high enough away from dogs (I hoped)...


wotton brook wild garlic

Wotton Brook


'An idyllic hour of foraging whilst splashing through the dribble of a stream in the diffused sunshine produced about two carrier bags full. I tried to pick only the leaves but inevitably some of the flowers and stalks ended up in the bag. No problem. I thought the resulting soup I made from those pickings was really good with a wonderful taste of freshness. I'm usually of the chuck it and chance it school of cookery for this sort of stuff but here is my recipe for Wild Garlic Soup with not only quantities but metricated at that!'

If you fancy trying the recipe below, here's a link to show where you can find wild garlic in London  Wild garlic in London



Cookery Nook


Mr Pursey's Wild Garlic Soup




200g (about four big handfuls) of well washed, shredded wild garlic leaves

275g of peeled potatoes, cut into about 2cm chunks

150g chopped onion

1 litre of stock (chicken or vegetable)

25g butter or a good splash of olive oil

100g of double cream, creme fraiche or natural yoghurt

salt and black pepper




To the melted butter or heated oil stir in the potato and onion. Cook over low heat without browning for about 10 minutes. Add stock and bring to the boil.Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft to a knife point (about 10 - 15 minutes) Bring back to the boil, then add the wild garlic leaves and continue cooking until leaves have wilted. Remove from heat. Blitz in a liquidizer or with a hand blender until smooth. Return to gentle heat. Stir in cream or alternative. Adjust seasoning.Serve with a few wild garlic flowers as a garnish and perhaps a swirl of cream or alternative. 



wild garlic soup julian






dejeuner sur lherbe lannon

Dejeuner sur l'herbe, socially distanced-style
A touch of Monet in this view over the city by Steve Lannon at HIghgate Ponds




And finally...

'Hope we can all meet again soon,' was Neil Cook's poignant recent post on LDWA London Facebook. As a reminder of what we're missing, here's a photo from 'Oh Captain, my Captain,' a Bobby Moore-themed walk in November 2017 I thought up hoping it would appeal to London Group's West Ham fans (Dave Williams, I'm looking at you). I rather under-estimated the distance from what used to be Upton Park and by the time we reached Fulham, the club at which Bobby ended his career in England, only Neil, Julian Pursey and I were left to enjoy a walk in the dark through Bishop's Park, alongside a Thames wonderfully illuminated by displays of fireworks on the other side of the river. 


of captain my captain

Oh Captain, my Captain



London LDWA - http://www.ldwa.org.uk/London