Tate Britain, the National Gallery, and more

Eight of us met at Tate Britain on a cold but dry Saturday January 19th. We were there to see the Burne-Jones exhibition, although a couple of us baulked at the admission cost and just went round the rest of the Tate. There was the usual grumbling that the admission automatically assumes you are a 40% taxpayer and adds on a couple of pounds, requiring you to say, in a clear voice, that you do not want to have it under Gift Aid. It makes you feel cheap, which I suppose is part of the plan, but really, isn’t the gallery satisfied enough with the extra 25% it gets under Gift Aid? I would happily agree to Gift Aid if it does not cost me any more than the already high admission charge. Ah well, back to the exhibition...

efog tate 190119 135429artBurne-Jones was one of the last of the Pre-Raphaelites and worked a lot with William Morris. He produced and designed works for tapestries, paintings, stained glass windows, and so on. It was a surprise to see so much work – there were 7 rooms full of his work – and it took us more than 2 hours to get round. All of us agreed it was a wonderful exhibition and felt a bit mollified about the cost (Sorry, last time I shall mention it). Meeting up with the others who had toured the rest of the gallery we then adjourned to a nearby pub for lunch.

It was now 3 pm but we had not finished. We walked to Trafalgar Square, noting as we passed the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall how many protest groups were stridently demanding freedom, liberalism, justice in various countries from the Democratic Republic of Congo (when a country has to include Democratic in its title you know it is anything but) to Balochistan (look it up, I had to). The police were out in force to cope with the groups.

Dave wanted us to see the Rachael Maclean exhibition in the National Gallery (free this time – sorry, I lied!) There was a thoroughly entertaining video and examples of her art. A lot more colourful and bright compared to Burne-Jones. Coincidentally, Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen was on display in an adjoining gallery and was well worth seeing.

Exiting the National Gallery in the gathering dusk a few were planning on going to Stratford to watch Stan and Ollie, a film about Laurel and Hardy. A full day indeed! The rest of us went home.

Brian Unwin, 20th January 2019

The Parkland Walk, Saturday 5th January. Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace.

Just over 10 years ago I stood outside Finsbury Park Station, at Station Place, to meet nine other Epping Forest Outdoor Group members to lead them on a 5 mile walk along a disused railway line.

On Saturday, on a somewhat grey day, I again met with members of the group, this time for Lynne to lead 15 of us over the same tracks (tracks – get it? Railway line?) Well, actually there aren’t any tracks and the old Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace railway, after years of decline, eventually closed to all traffic in 1970 after which the tracks were removed. In 1984 much of the route was re-opened to pedestrians and cyclists and became known as the Parkland Walk.

Thparkland 190105 110301746artWalking - and chatting - the Parkland Walke walk is effectively in two sections. The southern section begins at one of the entrances to Finsbury Park itself and leads – gradually trending uphill - as far as the Highgate tunnels. These tunnels are not accessible to pedestrian, and indeed since I lasted visited have even been bricked up. This is for safety, but also – and importantly – to protect the various species of bat that have made them their home.

Thus, at this point, pedestrians are diverted onto a stretch of pavement walking along the Archway Road, passing the entrance to Highgate Northern Line Station, and then shortly in the City of London-owned Highgate Wood. After only ten years I was mildly disturbed that I couldn’t remember entering the wood at this point, until – looking back on the route that we had taken then – I realised that I had diverted slightly to include nearby Queens Wood.

parkland 190105 110548318artNot much point waiting for a train here anymore... Crouch End StationThere is one of those convenient and welcome park cafés in Highgate Wood, and we paused there for a while to take in the ambience, and some food and drink.

Leaving the wood, the temperature had taken a distinct drop, and we did too, dropping down – by way of a stairway – to regain the railway route in its northern section. We soon found a convenient tree alongside the track where – as ten years ago – the more adventurous (or fit) members of the party had a swing on the old tyre. I didn’t participate, this time.

The railway route exhausts itself at an entrance to Alexandra Park. But of course park paths take over and we made our way to the extensive terrace with views to the east and south-east of the City, the Docklands complex, Shooters Hill, the Stratford development and even Ilford. Ilford, by the way, looked like a somewhat broken pyramid, with the twin-towers of Pioneer Point helping to form the sides. I couldn’t really see my rooftop just to the left, but it’s true that if I cross my road onto the Flats I can – visibility permitting – see the transmitting mast of Ally Pally. Oh, and the Epping Forest ridge was clearly visible, even to what was probably where some of us had been when 2018 became 2019 – Pole Hill.

parkland 190105 130950821artEFOG members potentially looking sillyWe descended from the heights down the slopes of the park to cross the railway footbridge at Alexandra Palace station, where most of the group repaired to The Starting Gate pub for more refreshments. A bit further walk followed, to catch our transports home from Wood Green station.

Thanks, Lynne, and all the others on the walk. Looking back to the ten-year-past walk, I see that I was the only group member that did that one and this one.

There is a photo write-up of that expedition on our website here.


Paul Ferris, 5th January 2019

On this walk: Lynne, Ann, Brian, Cathy, Chris, Fred, Ian, Jenny, Ken, Kathy, Paul, Phil, Sue, Tony, Trevor.

And ten years ago: Paul, Ann L. Cliff, Duncan L., Gill L., Maz, Pam, Peter, Prue, Susan W.


Parkland Walk - Take 2

Fifteen of us turned up at Finsbury Park station on a cold but dry Saturday in January 2019. Led by Lynne, we were going to do the Parkland Walk from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace.

The route is an old train track and the gradient was therefore gentle, just a gradual rise as we climbed towards Highgatepklnds 190105 110621 brian artThe Spriggan. Skirting the edge of Finsbury Park we then headed Northwest along the rail track. The first impression was that we were on a running track, joggers coming past every few seconds. We were a big group and so filled the path but everyone was considerate on both sides until we stopped at a disused railway station where a woman with her dog aggressively carved her way through. Ah, well. A bit further on was a high retaining wall and we would have walked past but a local suggested we look up and there was a larger than lifesize gargoyle - a Spriggan - coming out of the brickwork.

We stopped at a café on the Walk which Kathy informed us was, and may still be, a cricket pavilion (there was a door marked "Visitors dressing room") for a cuppa and something to eat. Very pleasant and we could imagine it would be full in Summer.

Moving on, we neared Highgate and Kathy suddenly realised that she was looking at the back of the flats where she lived as a girl. The Walk was not there at that time, nor the trains. A hundred yards or so up the A1 Archway Road and we plunged into Highgate Wood. It claims to be an ancient woodland but it did not feel like it to me. pklnds 190105 142103 brian artAt the Starting GateEpping Forest by comparison feels much more ancient. Heading towards Muswell Hill we came out of Highgate Wood, passed by Cranley Gardens where the murderer Nilsen clogged up his drains with the remains of his victims, under the Muswell Hill road and into Alexandra Park and its palace. The exhibition hall was empty (we sneaked a peep) but the BBC signs were up. The building still looks unloved but no doubt Haringey Council has higher priorities for their money.

Descending towards Wood Green we stopped at The Starting Gate for a pint and, in some cases, a bit more to eat (chips, cheese and gravy - it didn't entice me). A very nice pub. We more than doubled the number of people in it but I suppose Saturday afternoon is a quiet time.

Suitably refreshed and with a visit to the loo, we departed for Wood Green and home. An enjoyable day.

Brian Unwin, 5th January 2019

New Year at the Pole. January 1st, 2019

Somewhat surprisingly, nine of us turned up to celebrate the beginning of 2019 – even though I’d done my best in promoting the event to confuse people and to suggest that it would be a foolhardy mission.

Well, - apart from myself, of course – seven hardy fools from EFOG attended, and even my friend Sue who isn’t even an EFOG member. Most of us assembled – eventually – in the designated meeting-place at some time around or after 11pm and after ascertaining that the couple whom we had been waiting for were ascending from an alternative starting point, we began the long and dark haul uphill to reach the summit.

Pole Hill is something like 300ft A.S.L, and our starting point was just 200ft. Rudimentary mathematics (of which I am not part, nor do partake, nor am particular to) would indicate (apparently) that we had a 100ft climb ahead of us, which in non-brexit terminology (note the small ‘b’) is 30.48 metres. This – by the way – is an unlit and un-signposted route, and as at least two of our party had neglected (forgotten) to bring their obligatory torches was accomplished with – surprisingly – no incidents apart from slightly muddy footwear.

We reached the Pole after about 15 minutes of almost totally non-arduous uphilling, to find that it was still dark, not yet midnight, and still 2018. We also found the two rebel go-it-alone-from-another-starting-place EFOG members. Kathy and Brian’s names will not be mentioned.

There were other – less definable – persons up there already. We had been beaten to the Pole. There was also at least one dog. It was possible to make out London in the distance to the south-west, and with the help of a pair of binoculars even to see the London Eye, 10.5 miles away.

Although two other EFOG members who had proposed to come hadn’t been able to, Lynne had brought some mulled wine along, so – even without Pam’s intended contribution – we were able to have a pre-2019 celebratory drink, and I was forced to give my traditional rendering of ‘The Owl’.

And then one of the by-then multiplicity of shadowy figures that had assembled began a countdown to 24.00, or 00.00, or 2019. Naturally, with somebody going “ten, nine, eight...” etc. nearby, it was impossible to hear the chimes of Big Ben ten miles away. Still, we all cheered and said “Happy New Year”, and shook hands and hugged and kissed and that, and of course that led to fireworks.

efog fireworks pole hill 2019artFireworks at New Year, viewed from Pole Hill (but not this year's photo)

Probably Chingford and Stewardstone are in mourning or suffering from economic depression, or just depression or S.A.D., which is sad, because compared to previous years I would say that there were less local fireworks. But then think of the environment! However, the display that we could see from around Westminster, and other places, was sufficient for us to realise that an event had or was taking place.

After standing around a bit, wondering what to do next, I made a walk-leader’s decision (somewhat based on others’ suggestions and the fact that others were deserting the Pole anyway) that we should attempt to find our way down. I have always found that going down is harder than going up (I’m talking about hills here, not psychology), but the going was firm, and our route took us to where we needed to go. That is, back to our cars, or in the case of Sue and I (with a little help from Amina who gave us a lift to the bus-station) to our buses.

You don’t have to pay on the buses on this particular night – which is a bit of a let-down if you don’t have to anyway – but on the other hand at coming up to one o’clock in the morning buses aren’t that frequent, though we managed to get two late and Happy New Year’y buses to Wanstead. That’s fine for Sue, who lives there, but there are no buses from Wanstead to Manor Park, so a bit more walking was involved for me. Luckily, the night was mild, and even though cloudy there was enough light to see by. The walk across Wanstead Flats at 1.30 in the morning was without incident and I arrived home to find it was 2019 and not quite 2am.

Paul Ferris, 1st January 2019

Paul, Sue, Amina, Parviz, Lynne, Ken, Diana, Kathy, Brian.


A walk in the Mistley area.

Lynne, Paul, Ken, Kathy, Richard, Trevor and Gill met each other on Saturday 8th December at the Mistley train station for a walk through the Mistley Woods.

efog Mistley Wood 181208 121740798 artOld Knobbly, in Mistley WoodStarting at the English Diastatic Malt Extract Company (Edme) factory, we walked partly along an Essex green way to Furze Hill to visit Old Knobbly, an 800 year-old tree which was a sanctuary for witches in the 18th century. Old Knobbly has lots of history: it has survived a big fire in the past, it has its own website, and it has starred in a children's book!

As we walked along the green way we came across a stray spaniel puppy. He joined us and played with Serena. We were worried about who the owner was and we asked a local couple that we met if they knew. They didn't but offered to take the dog and try to find out.

Much later oefog Mistley 181208 1154artAn Essex Green Wayn in our walk they saw us and stopped in their car. They had found who the owner was and was taking him home.

Although rain was forecast, luckily it stayed dry throughout the walk although part of the walk was quite muddy, especially through the woods, and  around the lake.

efog Mistley Stour 181208 1334artThe River StourMistley is well known for its Grade 1 listed Mistley Towers, all that remain of a Neoclassical Georgian parish church designed by Robert Adam.

Continuing, we walked along the beautiful River Stour towards Manningtree where we noticed a man feeding the gulls and swans, and surrounded by the hungry birds. The Mute Swans at Mistley are famous, and Mistley Coucil and Swan Rescue make sure their local birds survive the winter by feeding them twice a day.

After our 3.5 mile walk, lunch at Mistley's authentic Quay Tearooms was lovely. Our table overlooked the beautiful River Stour. A visit to the craft shop inside the tearooms building added to the finish of a lovely few hours in Mistley.

Gill Light, 8th December 2018