Have been glued to my computer. Mostly various work projects, and there are some interesting things about our book on World War 1. The children may not be learned historians, to put it mildly, but their tale of the flea circus owner who went to war is enchanting, and it's found a wonderful illustrator in Russell M. Olson, who does cartoons and graphic novels.
T dragged me away from the computer, though, for a walk on Hampstead Heath which looked amazing in some recent misty weather. I've been reading about the Heath's history, and how, in the 19th century, the Lord of the Manor, Lord Maryon Wilson, wanted to develop the land for housing. There was a lot of local opposition, but it was his land, he reasoned, and so he didn't care. To be honest, Bad Lord Maryon Wilson does not sound like my cup of tea at all. Or anyone's, probably. In anticipation of winning, he started building avenues and bridges for the villas he planned to construct..
He also planted lots of non native trees on the Heath to destroy the "natural history" arguments for preserving it. He hoped sand and gravel workings would ruin the landscape value and make it possible to concrete it over. But public opinion foiled him, tee hee! He was prevented from building his villas, and the open space was saved for the public. And over a hundred years later, his unusual trees, man made valleys and small lakes just make Hampstead Heath seem more picturesque.
The present Lord Maryon Wilson - Good Lord Maryon Wilson, I call him - owns our 3 acre back garden, and the freeholds of many local properties, since his manorial lands extend for some distance around the Heath. We are grateful to him. His estate office is a really helpful backup to our own running of the garden, and he is reasonable, constructive, and does not seek to make unfair profits.
Back at the heath, I like these weighty pillars (below) at the end of a bridge which Bad Lord MW threw across a large lake. You can stand on the bridge and look down into the lake
which is different in all seasons. Today it glowed a strange blue colour, which I have never seen before. Either it was radioactive, or more likely it was the effect of the mist on algae.
As the sun began to sink, the mist went gold and the willow trees reminded me of a Chinese picture....
Down in the holllows, dead plants were fabulously jewelled with moisture..
This long avenue of trees was all in shadow as the sun disappeared and twilight began to fall....
The temperature began to drop....but what was this? A cosy little cottage?
Actually the sweetest little Edwardian public loo. Like the rest of the Heath, it is now administered by the City, which is the financial district of London. (Why? No idea. I haven't read that bit up yet). The bankers have not cherished this vintage convenience, but it is carefully designed, with white and brown ceramic tiles, rustic wooden doors and a white boarded and whitewashed interior.
Look at the crude modernization. The cast iron cisterns were obviously replaced in about 1960s and lagged with gaffer tape. See the art nouveau brackets? Pity. Maybe one day someone will see what an asset this would be if it was sympathetically restored. (Or do you think I'm over concerned with what is just a public loo?)
Stopped at the top of the hill to look over the Vale of Health positively glowing in the late light, and to London, beyond, then headed back across to our own little bit of Lord Maryon Wilson's estate. We didn't go directly home, but had a wander around to admire the exceptionally gorgeous sunset.
The last picture (below) somehow reminds me of the work of Atkinson Grimshaw, who often portrayed bare trees against a twilit sky, and lamps glimmering from the rooms of old houses.