Voyage of the dawn treader: Very occasionally my job takes me somewhere different. Yesterday it took me on a 20 mile train journey to a small town in Thurrock (that's the arse end of Essex). I set off in darkness, travelled eastwards up the Thames estuary (via Barking, Dagenham, Grays and Tilbury) and arrived at my destination just after sunrise. It was a journey into dawn, and here are some of the sights I saw.
Dawn minus 50: early truckers tucking into drive thru breakfasts, a tiny cloudburst of blue fire dawning in the eastern sky
Dawn minus 40: discarded copies of Metro in an empty carriage, compressed commuters rattling past in the opposite direction, gasholders silhouetted against approaching morning
Dawn minus 30: redbrick valleys and concrete cuttings, litter-strewn back yards cloaked in shadow, bleary car workers lined up on platform 7 with tabloids in hand
Dawn minus 20: motor city, tarmac fields blanketed by identical saloon cars, industrial deserts where nobody lives, whirling wind farms driving away the darkness, a busy trunk road on concrete stilts
Dawn minus 10: unspoilt expanses of gloomy marshland, the dawn chorus sung by waves of waterfowl, le nouveau chemin de fer exprès vers Paris, distant chimneys belching smoke into daybreak, affordable housing in blocks and boxes, jammed traffic suspended in midair across the QE2 bridge
Dawn: delivery lorries at the Poundstretcher hypermarket, long lines of containers stacked tall by the dockside, warehouse after warehouse after warehouse after warehouse, ocean-going ships revealing the river's hidden path, towering pylons stalking the landscape, water towers reflecting the first glints of sunlight
Dawn plus 10: power stations that Londoners never see, local traffic queued at level crossings, a flock of gulls alighting on a silent lake, medieval churches perched on tiny hillocks in a muddy patchwork of brown and green, a load of bullocks on Mucking Flats, far-flung communities under threat of tidal flooding, an orange globe peeking over the lowland horizon, a new day rises in the east