Saturday, 29 November 2008

Day Trip to London

Willow leaves

Yesterday I had to go down to London for work. I am very lucky in that I work from home but occasionally I have to go to meetings. It's funny I was born in London and lived there until 2006 when we moved out here, I now really hate going there although yesterday wasn't quite as bad as I could travel in later in the day missing the rush.
It was a pretty miserable day weather wise grey and foggy so I settled myself down on the train listening to a podcast on my iPhone staring out of the window at the gloom. As the train moved towards London I remembered an article I had been reading by Nigel Colborn in the RHS magazine 'The Garden' ( Nigel has an excellent blog at
which is well worth reading) in which he was talking about plant spotting from a car and possibly writing a field guide. Well as I looked out of the train window it struck me how much there was to see along the embankments, normally I am birdspotting across the fields but I couldn't see them through the fog. They are wonderful examples of what ecologists call successional flora, or land left wild to be re-populated naturally. As I looked out of the window there were stands of silver birches glowing white through the mist with a few golden yellow leaves hanging on after the recent gales. Willows with yellow stems are also present in large numbers. As you get nearer to London the railway cuttings are older so you begin to see the second phase of succession with beeches and small oak trees appearing some of these are quite big suggesting very little disturbance. As the train enters London it crosses the grand union cannal in Haringay, the banks of which at this time of year are alive with colour from the mature Weeping Willows along the banks. So what was potentially a very boring trip to London turned into a botany field trip, you can also study the geology along the route by looking at the plants, more of that another time.