Busy week, relaxing weekend

It’s been a busy week and a relaxing weekend. On Monday it was Bank Holiday here in the UK. Usually I would be on the garden but I spent the day in Blackfriars, Central London. This area has undergone a major revamp in the past 5 years. I worked for a few years on the HMS President 1918 ship which was moored on the embankment just down from Blackfriars train station. It was certainly as experience working on a ship which rose and fell with the tides and would rock abruptly if the tourist boats came too close as they dropped off their passenger at the Blackfriars dock next to us.

The dock of HMS President 1918, formerly HMS Saxifrage.

The ship was removed a few years ago. It felt strange to be walking through an area once familiar but with my local references now vanished, businesses where I once ate now boarded up and nearby Fleet Street looking completely difference from my days around here.

The streets were quiet compared to pre-covid times. Tourists rode bikes up and down the embankment with very few cars around. I was in London to meet up with fellow YouTuber, Matt Nelson, who’s channel I discovered a few weeks ago. He’s a runner and is running the entire London Underground network.

I find his videos quite interesting as he offers glimpses of history as he arrives at each station. It’s also great to see the northern countryside of London, especially in a recent video when he discovered a field of sunflowers. After our interview we went for lunch in Covent Garden.

The area around Severn Dials has smaller, independent shops.
Matt showing me the entrance/exit of the disused Aldwych Underground station.

One of my first jobs when I moved to London was working for the American theatre website, broadway.com. I was their London producer so I tend to know London more by the theatre landmarks. It felt very strange to be walking around and seeing them all closed, or ‘dark’ as theatrical people would say. Many of the side street have had their pavements widened into the road so people can keep a 2m social distance. This reduces the amount of traffic which can drive down the road, most of Central London is now a one-way system in the side streets at least. Tourists were aimlessly walking around and not surprising as most venues still remain closed so there is little to do.

We walked from Covent Garden to Severn Dials and sat on a disused fountain opposite the Cambridge Theatre and continued talking. When I worked in the theatre district this theatre was home of the musical Chicago. I visited it many times to interview the cast when a new set of actors would take over. Interviewing Jerry Springer was a highlight as it was very clear he was nervous about making his West End debut.

A few hours later we had walked back to Temple Station and looked out across the Thames. How quiet London looked as the air turned chilly. It was nice to experience London in this silence as the lights of the embankment slowly lit up and reflected in The Thames. I walked Matt back to his bike which was locked outside the tube station, naturally. He cycled off down the embankment as I walked back to Blackfriars train station and home. It was a very beautiful day and something I must do more of.

Sunset over London looking back from Blackfriars train station.

Mid-week and my order of 80 bags of 50L compost arrived at the allotment and as usual, it was raining. It took around 4 hours to move them from the allotment gates to my plot using the wheelbarrow. This has contributed to my cold taking much longer to shift than usual. Once on the plot I emptied 40 bags into the raised bed and stored the other 40 on top. Foxes love compost bags so in order to stop them jumping all over them during the night, I threw every bamboo cane I had on top and it worked.

The end of the week was the endless task of opening each bag and filling the raised beds. This took much longer than I thought. The old compost bags will be kept and used throughout the year as rubbish bags.

This weekend I’ve been feeling quite exhausted so have taken it easy. Meeting up with fellow plot holders and catching up on their gardening successes and disaster stories of the growing season. Many are now taking down their runner bean canes and storing them for another year. The site is feeling quite Autumnal and the nights are certainly colder with darkness falling by 8:30pm.

Yesterday and today all I’ve done is paint the raised beds and cover them with old fence panels, again to stop the fox from digging it out. When I went for a tea at lunchtime I was only gone for 15 minutes but by the time I came back the fox had paid a visit and dug a hole in the fresh compost.

Painted with chalkboard paint. I will use liquid chalk which doesn’t wash off in the rain.

Late afternoon today and the site was empty, just me and the birds. Being Sunday there were no trains so it was peaceful. The birds sang as a foxy face poked its head through a nearby bush to see if the coast was clear. Sitting on the ground and gently weeding I took a few moments to just stop and look at the garden. Some parts need a lot of attention but on the whole I’m pleased with where I am. There is one more bed to construct and I’m hoping to get this finished by the time I film the plot tour for September which should be on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/seanjamescameronuk) next Sunday. See you then.

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