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Tolworth Tuihitsu

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Note: Zuihitsu is a Japanese style of literature that can drift like a cloud or read like a song. It comprises a number of loosely connected themes, often featuring poetry inserts, expressing typical Japanese themes, such as nature and the changing seasons. Here 'Tolworth Day' (29.7.19) and  Tolworth Court Farm, are connected to lines found in John Clare's poems.

 1. The trickling brook veins sparkling to the sun J.C.
Actually there are two rivers here: the Hogsmill rising east to west from its spring ponds, boldly crosses the county boundary from Surrey into London at Tolworth; and the Bonesgate rising unseen, with two sediment laden arms, somewhere between  Chessington's farms and roads, only traced in places by  power and tree lines. A Guardian article (2015) attests that its  named from the resting place of London's  plague victims, but it seems only part of the story, due to its inaccessible location.Bonesgate sediment

2. The black ants city by the fallen tree…

Heritage Trees part 2: street trees.

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Street trees can often be the most beautiful objects in our streets. They are important to their communities as well as having environmental benefits. They are a living history in our landscape and can have particular connections. They may be fragments of a previous landscape incorporated into a modern street scene, such as the oaks at Cambridge Gardens once  part of the Duke of Cambridge's estate.  A great read with information on how to research street trees is a  History of Street Trees by Dr. M. Johnston.


Studies show that the difference in local tree cover can reflect the various socio-economic groups. In Victorian times middle class areas were planted with many street trees or had higher quality front gardens than working class districts; now referred to as 'green equity'. It can be demonstrated by looking at old photos of the seven roads that were demolished to make up the Cambridge Road estate in the 1968, which were virtually treeless.

The demolished houses  were…

Grassland water voles

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Does the topic of fossorial or - subterranean living - grassland water voles (GWV's) have any bearing for us in south-west London, or is this just a phenomenon of north-east Glasgow?  I went there to seek out this nationally significant population, after finding my own fossorial animals in west London (as well as seeing the One Show segment).  It was thrilling to see such abundance and listen to the work of  Robyn Stewart on behalf of the Mammal Society at  a course in Easterhouse, Glasgow.

Useful facts: fossorial animals are deemed those living >500m from a watercourse. Animals more than 150m are considered a 'transitional' population, the rest are water voles. 80% of the grasslands containing Holcus lanata (Yorkshire fog) in the north east Glasgow, contain water voles; 56% of these areas will be lost to development or infrastructure projects over the next five years.


In the time outside the course, I went  exploring the M8 motorway corridor, local housing estates -…

Lost Rivers: The Fleet

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Starting at the Hampstead ponds - a group, convened by David Fathers and the London National Park City - began to walk the course of the 'lost' Fleet river. There are at least two arms arising from the spring ponds in Hampstead and at Kenwood House; where the river arises from gravelly scars across the lawn,  especially in winter months. The Westbourne, Tyburn and river Brent also rise hereabouts.We left the Heath and followed Flask Road named after the bottled spring water industry, which was popular in the 19th century.
Following Fleet Road we walked into Kentish Town (Ken is the old English for Oak); at Talacre Gardens there is  signage detailing the industrial rise of the area at the expense of the river. Then to Chalk Farm and Camden. The etymology of Chalk Farm is an abridgement of Chalcot Farm, and has nothing  to do with geology).






Through Kings Cross -St. Pancras Old Church, where stands the Hardy tree - and to St. Chads, we were able to hear (and smell) the rive…

Citizens Tree Assembly

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Citizens Assemblies are used worldwide as a mode of 'deliberative democracy' where a problem is debated without the outcome being predetermined beforehand. One organisation, 'Involve', brings people together, usually with facilitators and expert leads over 2 - 4 weekends, to understand and arrive at a consensus over complex issues such as road pricing.

The 'gold' standard would be an assembly at national level known as sortition; such a  formula was used in Ireland to decide  what should be the country's position on gay marriage and abortion. This is the type of deliberative forum preferred by Extinction Rebellion for discussing climate change; further information, including a podcast can be found on their website. Citizens Assemblies can also compliment representative democracy, especially at a time when our representatives spend more time resolving conflicts within their own parties, ignoring those who elected them.

If we are serious about the climate eme…

Deputation request that the council does all in its legal power to halt biodiversity loss forthwith

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Londons House sparrows: Cambridge Road Estate

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Correspondents Lyse Doucet and Martha Kearney covering the Israeli elections  on this morning's 'Today' programme,  were surprised as listeners 'Twittered in'  comments  regarding the house sparrows chirruping in the background. It lifted spirits to hear happy chattering, a sound once common in all our gardens.
We have lost 12 million house sparrows since the 1970's. Populations continue to be  fragile in some London boroughs, due to the fast pace of development and the amount of  Total Footprint developments council's have been prepared to accept, in order to achieve their housing targets.

Some councils have taken their legal obligations more seriously see February's post -house-sparrows in Ilford but as  kingston-enters-anthropocene on many environmental fronts we need some assurances that there won't be any more losses of colonies, such as at the former gasholder site opposite Sainsbury's, and the Cambridge Road development in Norbiton. Coup…