Old school fun fairs and ancient trees. Life in e17

Sunday 11 June 2017 – London.

Summer is coming along nicely now, we have had a bit of rain but that was during the week, and who cares what the weather is like during the week? I don’t, at least while I am working in Hammersmith which is too far to ride to from home. Maybe when (if?) I start this new job which is a lot closer to home I will start riding to work again.

It has been an interesting weekend, quite busy, yet there seemed to be plenty of time to get a few chores done as well. The e17 art trail is on at the moment, it is a two yearly art happening in Walthamstow, which has grown significantly over the past couple of events and now features dozens of exhibitions in local homes and public spaces. El and I decided to take in one of the furthest away exhibitions and do a supermarket shop on the way back. It was nice day for a walk.

We passed Walthamstow Cemetery on the way, I have driven past it a couple of times, but have never been in, as we were on foot it seemed like the right time. It is pretty interesting, unlike the graveyard at our local church which is grassed; and very overgrown at the moment, Walthamstow cemetery is almost grass free. There has been some weird subsidence and earth movement here and a lot of the graves are now rough and tumbled, it was quite an interesting place, though the light was really harsh and I only had my cellphone. I will come back one day soon when the light is better, bring the camera and have a really good look around.

It turned out that the art exhibition had finished the weekend before, but the walk was still worth if for the cemetery visit alone.

A couple of weeks ago it was London Tree Week, something I was not ready for. I did see a couple of photos of what is supposed to be one of, if not, the oldest tree in Epping Forest, along with a rough idea of its location.It was such a nice morning so perfect for jumping on the mountain bike and going on a tree hunting mission. Trying to find a tree in a forest. It could be interesting!

With no real idea of the location of the tree I skipped all the fun bits in the small interlocked sections of forest and park that connect home to Epping Forest proper. I was not planning on stopping until I reached The Lost Pond, where the tree I am looking for is be located. However, there are longhorn cattle in the forest at the moment, and as I had to stop and open a gate it would have been rude to not take a photo when this cow came over to check me out.

My next stop was Loughton Camp, pretty much the furthest North I have been in this block of the forest, Loughton Camp is the site of an Iron Age fortified village from approximately 500 years BC. Obviously there is not a lot to see, but the banks, ditches and ramparts that were formed are still there. I think it is quite cool – a 2500 year old piece of history made of earth half hidden in an old forest.

I also found this very pretty old tree, a back up in case I do not find the one I am looking for! It too is a copparded beech. A copparded tree has been coppiced (pruned very close to the ground) and then pollarded (pruning of the top branches to promote growth) at various times over the decades and centuries.

North and west of Loughton Camp lies The Lost Pond, I have never ventured to this part of the forest before, so as well as the adventure of looking for an old tree I also had the added adventure of riding into an area I haven’t been to. I often end up on trails and in bits of forest I haven’t been in, but that has always been by mistake and in areas I generally sort of know. 

From an adventure perspective it was all rather boring, I rode up the wide walking track for a little bit and then ducked off into the trees on a bit of single track. Two minutes later I found Lost Pond. It was not particularly lost, and I did not feel lost either. I stopped to take a photo of the pond, and two elderly couples wandered out of the forest to look at the pond as well. This made me feel even less adventurous. This section of the forest is particularly beautiful, though I think that every were I go.

Getting back on my bike I started to look for the ‘tree’, I knew what I was looking for, but trying to find a tree in a forest is like not seeing the wood for the trees. There are a lot of really nice beech trees in this section of the forest, which was a very good sign seeing as I was looking for a beech. I was quite surprised but I found the tree almost immediately, admittedly it did not require a huge amount of effort. It was disappointingly easy to find…

However finding it was not disappointing at all, it is a lovely tree. Possibly the oldest in the forest, and possibly over 1000 years old. It is a magnificent and regal specimen. It is a copparded beech tree. , as far back as Saxon times. It has been cut many times, pruned for firewood, fence and house building; who knows what for, but over centuries bits have been lopped off, but always leaving enough for it to continue to grow. Providing a source of wood for future generations.

I will come back to Lost Pond and this lovely ancient tree.

As is tradition on any ride, no matter where I am in the forest I always head to the tea hut at High Beech for a cup of instant coffee and piece of bread pudding; energy to ride back home. High Beech is usually the furthest part of the forest from home that I ride to. There is, of course, plenty more forest on from High Beech; and one day I will explore more of it.

The added bonus after eating the bread pudding is that from this ‘high’ point in the forest there are some really nice down hill tracks towards home, with so many choices and so many criss-cross tracks I inevitably end up somewhere new. This time I found myself in a wonderful little glade, with a couple of great, tall and straight trees. I must take my tree book up next time. One of the joys of randomly riding around the forest is coming across these sunny little spots, with possibility of never finding them again.

It was very peaceful, I could hear birds and the wind ruffling the trees and nothing else, and just as I was taking a photo of some lovely fungus a group of rattling chatting mountain bikers passed on through. Moment of reverie over. It was time to ride on home.

I was pretty knackered when I got home, I had been out for over three hours, which was quite a long time by my current standards and level of fitness. Every ride gets easier though!

After lunch and a wee lie down El and I walked round the corner to Lloyd Park which was hosting ‘Carters Steam-powered Funfair’ over the weekend. It was fabulous. Beautifully restored fairground rides, loads of families and kids. All the fun of the fair as they say. I only had my phone with me, but took a few photos anyway. I love seeing this sort of thing, things from my youth, looked after and being enjoyed by today’s young. Who cannot get joy from old school dodgems. So much better than Playstation.

And to finish, here is a photo of some wild flowers that have been planted in the street behind ours. We pass here every morning on the way to work. Lovely.

E17 Art trail

The annual E17 art trail has been going since 2005 and has been growing each year with this the tenth anniversary being the biggest yet. This year it ran over three weeks from the beginning of June with over one hundred and sixty locations showing art, holding performances or learning experiences. All by local artists, fabulous !

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For those who do not know what E17 is, it is the postcode for an area in north east London, around the suburb of Walthamstow, where I mostly live – and one the many good reasons to live in the area!

I was not able to, nor to be fair, interested in going to every event that was included in the program, but El and I did manage to squeeze a fair few of them in and I took a few photos as we went. June was a bit of a mad busy month for some reason – SUMMER I guess, so here is a quick summary of the things I liked best.

There was a huge range of exhibits from the large mural by Stu Lee on the side of a house down by Blackhorse Rd tube station – which was my favourite single piece from the trail, I guess with my love of street art, there are few surprises there.

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To the small knitted figures from the Howard Rd garden.

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Unsurprisingly my focus was primarily on looking for photographic based exhibitions and the two I enjoyed the most had photography as the key visual element, though the stories behind the photos were the more important aspect. I didn’t get photos from the first.

The Ex-Warner Project is a photographic and oral history project recording the stories and histories of the people who live in the old Warner houses near Lloyd Park. The Warner houses were built at the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century as social housing, they are quite distinctive small terraced houses, which are now mainly privately owned. I really enjoyed listening to the stories and looking at the images. An interesting project.

The second project I liked was on display at a newly opened coffee shop Bygga Bo, which just happens to be at the end of El’s road and serves great coffee and really nice cinnamon buns… This project had stories and photos of people who are of mixed-race, sharing their experiences of growing up. Again it was really interesting to read about people’s experiences in this, very multi-cultural piece, of London.

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In the grave yard of St Marys Parish Church was a cool little exhibition from Whitefields school of small sculptures made from found items, I really liked it.

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There was also an exhibition inside the church. I am going to visit the church properly soon as it has an interesting history!

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There was a load of stuff happening in Walthamstow Village including Breaking Bard, a collection of sayings from Bill Shakespeare posted in the windows of houses in a few of the streets. It was quite amusing.

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And in the streets of the newly named “Poets Corner” – so named as the surrounding streets are named after poets, were a collection of verse.

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What I liked about these, and the whole art trail in general was that it gave all residents an opportunity to participate and share in the event.

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There was some interesting work in the Winns Gallery from Waltham Forest College, including this interesting sculpture from student – Simona Pesce.

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Even the underground station was in on the project with a couple of walls holding some quite interesting prints.

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There are a few small galleries in Walthamstow and we visited a few of them, including the Pictorem Gallery way up by the Bakers Arms, which had a show by a range of artists. El even bought a small piece!

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I am not sure if this was part of the trail or not, but it was on the way , and it looks like it has been left for a reason – maybe it is art ?

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Separate, but sort of part of the art trail, is a new project called the free library project that now includes Walthamstow. There are a number of small library boxes around where people can exchange, take or leave books. A very cool idea – one that should be taken up everywhere ! This box has been painted by street artist Hannah Adamsezek – who I last found here, a slightly different environment !

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I missed a whole load of things out due time and missed a bunch of photo ops as I didn’t always have a camera.

It was a truly awesome event, and I am looking forward to 2015 – I may even join in as well !!