Julie's Jabber - A cautious welcome to 2021

Julie's Jabber - A cautious welcome to 2021
Julie's Jabber - A cautious welcome to 2021


Shirley Hughes poem

'Out and About', by Shirley Hughes


In spite of the fact that I haven't been a child for several decades, I've loved the stories and artwork of Shirley Hughes since my boys were old enough to be read to. Now ninety-seven years old, Hughes has twice won the Kate Greenaway Medal for the best illustrations of a children's book, and an incidental item of trivia is that one of her nephews is Mark Ellen, the founding editor of the recently discontinued but much-mourned Q magazine - one for you 1980s music buffs out there, 

Among her many books, my favourite is Dogger (the tale of a lost and found cuddly toy), but this poem from Out and About seems particularly appropriate right now. Full marks to everyone who got out and about in this Arctic weather. Call me a wimp, but I'm actually writing this with my coat on. 




While we're on a literary theme, the former Poet Laureate and novelist Cecil Day Lewis (1904-1972) was also the author of a series of detective thrillers  written under the pseudonym Nicholas Blake. About halfway through the series his sleuth, Nigel Strangeways, moves to Greenwich along with Day-Lewis himself and the result is that a grisly crime wave appears to have struck SE10 and its stretches of the Thames Path throughout the 1960s. SE10 has been significantly gentrified since then but some of the locations featured in the book survive, as has Day-Lewis's place of residence. I realised belatedly I had been walking past it nearly every day since 1983, when I moved into the borough - there's a plaque on the wall of one of the posh old houses at the bottom of Crooms Hill, opposite Greenwich Theatre. Once the vaccination programme is up and running and the Thames Path is less full of walking biohazards I'm planning a walk based around the books. What else can I call it but A Strangeways Stroll?

PS Sorry about the blurred nature of the photo but I didn't want to break Tier4 regulations/get arrested for trespass so it was the best I could do while standing behind a hedge on tiptoe with my phone in the air.


cecil day lewis plaque

Cecil Day-Lewis woz 'ere




Saturday morning's Times had an intriguing item about walkers in their Feedback column. After Christopher Somerville, their walking editor, had published his guide to 20 winter walks,  emails and letters poured in from residents of some of the locations mentioned, on the lines of 'You just try living here and see how you like people walking across your gardens and your tiny village clogged up with cars.' 

It's a good point, of course. If you drive to walk, you have to leave the car somewhere, and if it's a popular location then Much-Piddling-in-the-Marsh is soon looking like a municipal car park. I appreciate that other LDWA groups don't have access to a convenient rail network, and that our members are in any case always considerate and aware of residents' needs and rights. Even so, the introductory blurb on our website, which says, 'You will not need a car to join us as all our social walks start and finish at a public transport facility, normally a railway station,' has left me feeling rather smug on behalf of London Group.




Following on from Gavin's stunning photo, in last week's Jabber, of the wolf moon rising over Shoeburyness, here are two more moonshots to delight and inspire. The first is by London Group member Sara Fabien, taken on a December 30th walk, and the second was taken by the Australia-based landscape photographer Andrew Sharpe during a trip to Cambridgeshire. A strawberry moon, by the way, is the month of June's full moon and said to appear around the time the wild strawberries start to ripen.


moon walk sara fabien

December moonwalk
PHOTO Sara Fabien



strawberry moon over ely

Strawberry moon rising behind Ely Cathedral

PHOTO Andrew Sharpe



And finally...

I'm usually lights off and asleep by 11.00pm  but on New Year's Eve I resolutely stayed up till 00.01 to make sure 2020 had really gone. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy January when, as the well-known song goes, 'Things can only get better' - we hope!

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