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APRIL London horizontal

April 25, 2011

My favourite thing to do of late is to lay flat out on my rooftop and glory in the hot air.  Viewed from this horizontal perspective, my plants look giant and I feel like I’m in a jungle of my own making.  April has been pretty amazing.  London is perfect in spring, especially one as summer-like as this one.  Much has happened this month that feels worth mentioning…

There was kite day on Streatham Common, where the sky was sliced all over with white strings and populated with a hundred bright, flying objects.  Then there was early evening in a friend’s wheelhouse, when we made the most of longer daylight hours and caught a last hour of sun before it faded into dusk.  The barge rocked with Thames’ tide and traffic, and we talked and talked, surrounded on all sides by river.

Last week there was a picnic that lasted all afternoon, the first of the year.  Our blanket was hidden in the long grass on Walthamstow Marshes, a boggy wilderness dried by the sun and edged with industry and train lines.  We made a meal amongst the dandelions and crows, and fell asleep inside the Sunday papers.

There’s been synthetic soft ice-cream nostalgia, millions of fat, hungry tadpoles and Virginia Woolf in Clissold Park.  And Regent’s Canal-side cider drinking, on an afternoon so hot we were compelled to dip our feet into the dubious water. 

I fell off my bike this month (not a highlight) and bruised and bloodied my knees.  Horrible – but it prompted me to find a new route into Angel.  I now swoop through sleepy Barnsbury every morning, where the houses cost millions and are covered in wisteria that’s currently in full blue bloom.

I’ve become the writer-in-residence for a new project that will appear on a patch of neglected land on Union Street in Southwark this summer (close to Borough Market and Tate Modern).  It’s called the Urban Physic Garden and will be shaped by the hospital and planted with herbs that heal.  We visited earlier this month.  It’s currently a rubble filled wasteland, but tiny violas are growing wild in one corner and a blue tit has moved into the on-site bird-box.

My roof garden (and imminent book about it and London nature) has attracted some attention recently, and has featured in articles in the Evening Standard, Londonist, Jellied Eel, Lost in London, Treehugger and even Psychology Today!

The rooftop feels full of energy.  My fingers are turning green again and I know my fingernails are looking unrespectable once more.  I’ve been hunting for free containers, and so far have found a gorgeous old basket abandoned by a bin and persuaded the Holloway Road veg man to give me three wooden crates.  Outside there are flowers and much foliage, and inside runner beans are racing up coffee stirrer supports and tiny tomatoes are thriving in yoghurt pots.

Everthing sounds good at the moment too…

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