Sunday, 15 June 2014

Big woods and fire engines

It's a bit late to be writing a blog, but I've just spent the last thirteen hours in the company of Raily, Tanya and Hilary. It's been like old times all day.

The day kicked off with Hilary and a trip up to Highgate Village for the Fair In the Square, a sort of fete filled with all kinds of wonderful stalls, colourful people on stilts, curious pipe organs, and of course, the local fire brigade. What fete could ever be complete without the ability to climb all over a fire engine?!

There was even a little train which ferried people up and down a short stretch of road.

The atmosphere was wonderful. We ate veggie burgers and ice cream and listened to a local amateur choir singing songs from the shows. One of the sopranos got a little close to the microphone, and in the excitement of performing managed to sing every thing exactly a quarter town sharp, which lent their set a curiously polytonal vibe which would have fascinated my mate Sam!

The choir were followed onto the stage by a group of school girls doing a contemporary dance which involved a great amount of self-conscious posturing and jagged hand gestures. I'm not sure Highgate was quite ready for such an extraordinary display of originality, but it made the fete feel somehow complete.

We strolled across the Heath together before hooking up with Raily and Tanya, who'd been doing what female historians do at the women's history network all day.

We packed ourselves a mini picnic of crisps, muffins and fizzy pop and went back to the Heath, this time heading for Jack Straw's Castle to take a charming walk around the pergola there. It became the theme of the day to smell every single flower we encountered, Raily claiming she'd lost her sense of smell and someone else asking if it's possible to sniff the scent out of a flower!

We sat by a pond on a blanket brother Edward gave to me and talked for hours about the world.

We went home via Hampstead Garden Suburb; a request from Raily who'd seen the "Big Wood" on a map and thought it sounded intriguing. And it was! The whole of that area intrigues me, in fact, built as it was on wonderful socialist principals in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement. It was designed as a utopian garden city where poor and rich could live side by side, separated by hedges rather than fences. Ironically it's now one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the UK!

We returned to Highgate where I cooked the team a pasta dish of mushrooms, courgettes, Quorn (TM) and peas in a cream sauce, with a beautiful salad which featured lettuce from Raily's allotment. She also handed me a Jerusalem artichoke, which I'm told I'll need to boil for an hour. An hour?!! It better be worth it. The last time I ate Jerusalem artichoke I was sitting next to the actress Billie Whitelaw at my old mate Vera's house. It was an enormous artichoke, which was given to me as a starter. I remember everyone sitting and watching me eating after they'd finished their starters and feeling both incredibly self-conscious and a little underwhelmed!

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