Archive for March, 2009

Thiruvananthapuram

March 24, 2009

Kerala

“Nightflight to India from Gatwick”

On the bus from Hartlepool, Durham place names – Fox Holes Loom, Shot Rock, Running Waters, The Rift, Fence Houses, Shiney Row and about four Sunnysides, High Sharpley, Fallow Field, East Batter, Law, Esh Winning, Dere Street, Pity Me, Nevilles Cross, High Stoop, Stoney Heap, Co-operative Villas, Hobson, Anfield Plain, Stanley and Coalburns. The lads loved it down the pits, only the less fortunate left above ground left talking to The Women of Sunderland. Surreal flashback: In Jarrow, 1964 a double-decker pink plastic teapot, halts outside the Leam Lane estate mini-skirted girls, obviously models, jump out and one of them bending over offers a packet of Tetley’s teabags smiling.

The Thames river defines the scale of English proportion. Trivandrum plane over Victoria swoops in for Heathrow over the former primeval river and the swamp now a Battersea Park lake. Train to Gatwick from Kentish Town for nightflight to Kerala: Thinking about Hove. Worthing on the little bus: the bustle of Worthing at the pier. Two teens get on exploring the stage of a single decker bus swaying with retired ladies. Through West Sussex resorts with lagoons in between. Cycle north to Ditchling Beacon, Lewes and along the River Amur back through Peacehaven. On the flight meet someone connected with Battersea Park athletics and Shimla. On camera see the empty arabian coast knowing Desert Storm was raging inland with news of sand storms. Cross the Arabian Sea and land in Trivandrum.

Behind the smiling skull of India though lurked a life and death reality so obvious, so clear. Christian festival one evening. Smiling Indians saturated and soaked the air with ‘Oh what happiness’, draped in the rich Indian colours of red, orange, yellow and blue. Trinkets and garlands around the necks of girls so beautiful only God and Gravity could have been here perfecting them.

Kovalum: A lighthouse dominates the town. Approaching in a taxi from Trivandrum, the lighthouse the only protrusion from the jungle of palms. Like on a postcard the lighthouse beam sweeps the Arabian Sea. From balcony watch the caste of walk-on parts. At fish landing fish wives wait, chewing a dark terracotta narcotic, to go in to character. Roadside model women break stones. India is a triangle: Three religions! Hinduism embraces creation, use and decay without flinching.

The boxer model record producer wrestles with a jackal on the beach oblivious to Rabies. He said ”You are swaying between Life and Death”.

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Thiruvananthapuram

March 24, 2009

Kerala

“Nightflight to India from Gatwick”

On the bus from Hartlepool, Durham place names – Fox Holes Loom, Shot Rock, Running Waters, The Rift, Fence Houses, Shiney Row and about four Sunnysides, High Sharpley, Fallow Field, East Batter, Law, Esh Winning, Dere Street, Pity Me, Nevilles Cross, High Stoop, Stoney Heap, Co-operative Villas, Hobson, Anfield Plain, Stanley and Coalburns. The lads loved it down the pits, only the less fortunate left above ground. Surreal flashback: In Jarrow, 1964 a double-decker pink plastic teapot, halts outside the Leam Lane estate mini-skirted girls, obviously models, jump out and one of them bending over offers a packet of Tetley’s teabags smiling.

The Thames river defines the scale of English proportion. Trivandrum plane over Victoria swoops in for Heathrow over the former primeval river and the swamp now a Battersea Park lake. Train to Gatwick from Kentish Town for nightflight to Kerala: Thinking about Hove. Worthing on the little bus: the bustle of Worthing at the pier. Two teens get on exploring the stage of a single decker bus swaying with retired ladies. Through West Sussex resorts with lagoons in between. Cycle north to Ditchling Beacon, Lewes and along the River Amur back through Peacehaven. On the flight meet someone connected with Battersea Park athletics and Shimla. On camera see the empty arabian coast knowing Desert Storm was raging inland with news of sand storms. Cross the Arabian Sea and land in Trivandrum.

Behind the smiling skull of India though lurked a life and death reality so obvious, so clear. Christian festival one evening. Sincerity soaked the air, draped in the rich Indian colours of red, orange, yellow and blue. Trinkets and garlands around the necks of girls so beautiful only God and Gravity could have been here perfecting them.

Kovalum: A lighthouse dominates the town. Approaching in a taxi from Trivandrum, the lighthouse the only protrusion from the jungle of palms. Like on a postcard the lighthouse beam sweeps the Arabian Sea. From balcony watch the caste of walk-on parts. At fish landing fish wives wait, chewing a dark terracotta narcotic, to go in to character. Roadside model women break stones. India is a triangle: Three religions! Hinduism embraces creation, use and decay without flinching.

The boxer model record producer wrestles with a jackal on the beach oblivious to Rabies. He said ”You are swaying between Life and Death”.

Dungeness

March 22, 2009

Dungeness

From London Victoria, Charing Cross, Paddington, Euston, King’s Cross, Waterloo, Fenchurch Street or Liverpool Street on Sunday set out north, east, south or west, with the premise there is a God and that I, image of God, see the Vale of Pewsey white horse from the train and feel ‘happy’. From London train lines radiate from the capital north, east, south and west. South west and Wales is up to five hours away. South is closest. South east takes a little longer than straight down to Brighton. Winchelsea, Folkestone, Whitstable and Margate are good alighting stations for cycling tours.
London gives access to The West of England via Paddington by train. Swindon is half way, Bristol Temple Meads the gateway. The North and South Downs converge in Wiltshire. Its possible to travel by bus from Victoria to Wales but three days are needed and no cycle carriage on buses generally in England. A trend towards limiting cycles on trains and no horses are allowed: A light futuristic folding mountain bicycle overdue for invention. Rail and road transport radiate from London dendritic often, comprehensively cover the south east. In Surrey Borders Hampshire Home Counties The Watercress Line is a means of visiting obscure country via Winchester.
Over in East Sussex and Kent: Visit the harbour of Winchelsea on the coastal side on both sides of the river when heading east or west. There are cycle tracks across the pebble beach. From Winchelsea: Crossing county boundaries is a thrill: An abstract line on a map. Cross over into Kent from East Sussex on Dungeness mid afternoon, a pebble scrub waseland. There is much to behold here, not just on the theme of Stephen Spender and pylons in the landscape, or Derek Jarman juxterposed with fishing boats in the shadow of nuclear power. There is a 15 mile curve to Hythe and Folkestone via Littlestone-on-sea and Dymechurch. The aspect of Littlestone-on-sea is
special with a broad lawn between the shelter and houses.

Sudbury-on-Thames

March 21, 2009

Sudbury-on-Thames

Surrey

From Putney cycle to Sudbury-on-Thames. The Thames Path runs from Thame to Broadstairs nearly the full length of the river Thames with tracks and routes through on both sides.

Winchester

March 21, 2009

Hampshire

Winchester

Cycle over Salisbury Plain from Winchester first visiting Stonehenge where there are more Eric Von Daniken-esque landscapes and sumptuous lanes beyond. Make it to Chippenham via Devizes and Bowden Hill.

Brookwood

March 21, 2009


Surrey

Brookwood

Gloomy Brookwood cemetery commissioned because City of London burial places could offer no more spaces in crypts and yards for the recently deceased. National memorials from War Dead from Canada and The Checkoslavakian Air Force. Linked by rail to Waterloo there is a branch in to the grounds: A simple portal chillingly welcomes mourners and visitors from the station. All denominations dwell here in endless sleep. The class system may continues in to the afterlife, yet solemnly this is truly a beautiful place.

Cookney

March 21, 2009

Surrey

Cookham

On a branch line from Maidenhead alight at Bourne End for Cookham unspoilt village at the apex of a large loop in the Thames. Stanley Spencer painted Jesus Christ here among boats and swans in the idiosyncratic style of a gentile Englishman. Curved and steep almost incised hills flank the river on the inside curve.

Silchester

March 21, 2009

Surrey

Silchester

Amorphous inland Surrey, north of the South Downs, south of the River Thames, Heartland of Stone, Iron, Roman and Conservative Britain. Silchester, a Roman city, among fields, set in yellow hills away from canals, rivers, roads and railways. The centre of ancient Britain. Silchester like Porchester felt awfully big, glorious and ruined under late afternoon sunshine. Kind of washed up shorelines alter fiercely in Porchester, and away from action in Silchester. Climb from Aldermaston past nuclear halls.

Basingstoke canal, in the shadow of it’s own trees, pill boxes on bends, was the second line of defence after the Military canal at Hythe: Neglected and disused short of Basingstoke. Glimpses of idyllic Surrey across golden wheat fields. Yet Surrey County Council let the South Downs shrink dreadfully. Walk from Marlborough along the chalk South Downs to Newbury. Farnborough airshow can be viewed from Basingstoke canal at Fleet Road.

Newtown

March 20, 2009

“only your eyes are unclosed”

In the 1930’s cycling was very popular and it was not unusual to cycle 100 miles, even by night. In World War Two Coventry was bombed first. It is 100 miles from Newtown, Wales. Coventry was a treasure of dark radial winding streets. What the German attacks missed was soon destroyed by planners not much later.

Durham

March 18, 2009

Coal Mine Closures in Durham

Industry and The Spiritualty have been entwined in Durham more than any other place in the world. The monks in the prince bishopric at Finchale abbey owned the nearby mines. West Boldon church spire overlooking Boldon Colliery is the only 13th century one in Durham and mining was well underway then. Coal seams exposed in the Tyne Gorge were the first exporters. Heworth, Hebburn, and Jarrow pits flanked the un-dredged Tyne. In the 1970’s no culture spread more throughout England than through Geordie miners heading south.

A network of cycle tracks gives physical access to Durham. The absense of evidence of pits, villages or winding shafts heightens the sense of time passing. Time passes!
Diagonals link Middlesborough to Durham via Castle Eden. Hartlepool vertically to Sunderland. Bishop Aukland to Durham. Darlington to Northalerton across the moors. Lucky to cycle through Durham County on a summer’s day.

With it’s epicentre in Grantham Margaret Thatcher’s birthplace, maybe the worst far-reaching cultural earhquake, for the 1970’s generation was the closure of coal mining in England. Over 25 years the landscape was removed of evidence of mining.

Northumberland and Durham Pit closurers

1950s – ‘Axwell Park, Bildershaw, Blaydon Burn Bessie, Blaydon Burn Mary, Castle Eden, East Hedleyhope, Greencroft Tower, Harbour House, Little Burn, Montague (Newcastle), New Brancepeth, New Delaval, New Hartley, Ramshaw, South Shildon and Throckley Isabella.

1960s – Addison Colliery, Barcus Close, Barlow Towneley, Beamish Mary, Bedlington F, Bedlington Doctor, Bowburn, Brancepeth, Brandon, Burnopfield, Cambois, Chester South Moor, Choppington A, Chopwell, Clara Vale, Crofton Mill (Blyth), Crookhall (Lanchester), Deaf Hill (Trimdon), Dean and Chapter (Ferryhill and Chilton), Dinnington, East Tanfield, East Walbottle, Esh, Hamsterley, Handenhold, Harraton, Harton, Hazlerigg, Heworth, High Marley Hill, Kimblesworth, Lambton D, Lanchester, Leasingthone, Linton, Lumley Sixth, Longhirst (Ashington), Mainsforth, Malton (Lanchester), Middridge (Ferryhill), Newbiggin, New Shildon, Pelton, Randolph, Ravensworth Anne (Gateshead), Ravensworth Park, Ravensworth Shop, Rising Sun (Wallsend), Roddymoor, Ryhope, Seghill, Sherburn Hill, South Pelaw, Staindrop Field House, Stanley Burn, Stanley Cottage, Stargate, Tanfield Lea, Thrislington, Trimdon Grange, Tudhoe Mill, Tudhoe Park, Ushaw Moor, Washington F, Waterhouses, West Auckland, West Thornley, Wheatley Hill, Whitburn, Wingate Grange and Witton.

1970s – Adventure Pit (Rainton), Bardon Mill, Bedlington A, Blackburn Fell (Gateshead), Burradon, Elemore, Fishburn, Hylton, Kibblesworth, Langley Park, Medomsley, Metal Bridge, Nettlesworth, Shotton, Silksworth, Thornley, Usworth, Washington Glebe and Whitworth Park (Spennymoor)

1980s – Ashington, Bearpark, Blackhall, Boldon, East Hetton, Eccles (Backworth), Eden and South Medomsley, Eppleton, Herrington, Horden, Houghton, Marley Hill, Sacriston, Seaham, Shilbottle, South Hetton and Woodhorn.

1990s Dawdon (1991), Murton (1991), Easington (1993), Westoe (1993), Vane Tempest (1993), Wearmouth (1994).