Right on cue the air screams with the vibrations of a timely plane as it passes overhead, seemingly close enough to reach out and touch. This is Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world and arrivals and departures number in the seconds not in the minutes. Believe it or not you do tune it out to some degree but the sight of the giant metal Avians littering the sky is a familiar one and one you expect of a bustling city like London. Being somewhat of a country bumpkin myself i nevertheless feel very at home in my city second home and thrill in the vibrant diversity of it all. The hustle and bustle feels very compact and crammed in , with every available space untilised to the maximum and hardly a green space to be seen unless it be of the grass verge variety. Or so i thought.
Following a maze of urban streets you step through the gates of a city park and are instantly transported to rural heaven. Along winding tree lined avenues, following the wild overgrowth of the River Crane, you would believe yourself to be in the heart of the British countryside and not infact in the depths of the largest city in England. Butterflies wheel and spin, vying for airspace as they dance their fluttering dance across the heat shimmering sky. The air of silence is oddly shattered by the alternating sounds of the overhead jet engines interspersed with the raucous cries of squabbling magpies. Crossing an elderly bridge to gaze down at rippling water and contemplate a game of ‘Pooh Sticks’ before turning a corner and stepping back in time.
St Dunstans church nestles serenely in a sunlit corner of the park showing visible signs of age yet none the less impressive for all that. Splitting wood and age worn gravestones announce proudly that this elderly house of god has been there for many more years than you and i could contemplate.
”Come inside” it smiles invitingly, like some beneign old grandfather welcoming you around for tea. Who are we to refuse and we walk carefully around the grounds interestedly peering at those gravestones visible enough to still be read. Yes old it is and the gravestones lay testament to its age. Who were you we wonder as we pause by first one and then many more of the higgley piggledy scattering of stones. Serene and welcoming and cause indeed to linger a while before continuing on our way.
Much of a surprise then to round a corner and see undeveloped land as far as the eye can see. The alien bulk of a distant control tower the only blight on the otherwise rural looking landscape. Golden fields ripple in the gentle breeze leading to enticing looking tunnels of trees and yet more green and golden expanse. A flash to the right as a little grey body makes a dash for cover, white fluffy tail bouncing madly as it makes a bid for safety.
Yet another and then two more as they pause to consider our motives before either fleeing or dismissing us of no consequence and remaining as they were. We briefly halt our progress and tarry a moment to consider them as they in turn watch us a little warily but do not flee. Another is not so bold and dashes for the safety of a large patch of undergrowth yet perhaps it was not us who sent him there as a large magpie hops madly around upon the path infront of us. Just about to perform my usual superstitious salute i spot another and lower my arm in relief. The area is almost deserted compared to the overpopulated urban madness not a stones throw away, yet here it is peaceful and only the odd passing stranger indicates that we are not totally alone. Along the river we wander before out into the wide golden wilderness we step once more. Some thoughtful soul has cut a wonderful path of crossroads within the expanse and some time is spent wandering first one way and then another , randomly taking first one turning and then a second. The bunnies give way to a lone kestrel soaring in the evening sky, clearly it is time for dinner and we are too far away to disturb his efforts and so he pays us no heed. Look another and yet another and still one more! Six we count in all and they swoop and soar in the warm evening air first gliding landwards before flapping madly to hold in some advantageous position. Glorious they are and so many is a sight to see but secretly i pray ‘dont catch a bunny, oh PLEASE don’t catch a bunny! ‘
Again the raucous call of a bullying magpie as a tag team of the embullient avians lay chase to an unfortunate Kestrel. Clearly laying ownership to a small tree they are having none of the poor Kestrels attempts to gain perch there for some small moment of time. Two against one is no match and in defeat he wheels away to seemingly float upon the night sky with his bretheren. Pause for a ‘selfie’ for posterity and then it is time to let those jet engines intrude once more as the rural hideaway fades and urban life encroaches once more. How magical to find such a place so hidden from view in a most unexpected place and one i hope i shall visit again sometime in the future.