Mon 1: On the first day of February 2021 I finally managed to pick up a copy of the December 2020 tube map, first published in January 2021 (from the open air racks at Bromley-by-Bow station). The index no longer fits on two panels, with everything from Wapping onwards now relegated to the back cover. Tue 2: Work has begun on the country's first 'Blossom Together' memorial garden in the Olympic Park, courtesy of the National Trust. The sloping glade by the Timber Lodge cafe has been sealed off, white lines painted across the grass and the first of 33 trees delivered.
Wed 3: I wondered what the huge queue was in Hackney Wick, lined up patiently in the rain alongside a graffitied wall. It turned out to be for a milk float which Dalston bakery The Dusty Knuckle uses as a mobile shop which comes round once a week to sell bread and pastries. Such are the perils of moving to a new neighbourhood before gentrification is complete. Thu 4: My 2021 National Trust handbook has arrived, this year devoid of opening dates and times because they'd only have been wrong so please go online and check. I never got the chance to use last year's membership, so here's hoping for better luck in 2021. Also this is the last time they'll send out a new car sticker (in future available only on request). Fri 5: In case you've not seen one for a while, the Evening Standard is still being published and has 24 pages. Sat 6: I woke more than once during the early hours, annoyed that some neighbour seemed to be having a late night rave-up, only to discover in the morning that I'd forgotten to turn off the radio in my living room. Sun 7: Today I got to wander through the Barbican as swirling snowflakes fell all around me, which is the kind of experience concretoholics can usually only dream about.
Mon 8:Posters outside stations urge passengers wanting to find out more about the March fare increase to "Search TfL new fares", despite the fact that such a search brings up no relevant pages whatsoever. [n.b. a relevant webpage now exists, in time for today's first fare hike in five years] Tue 9: It's my brother's birthday on Sunday, so I'm dropping his card in the postbox today because I no longer have confidence in the Royal Mail to deliver it on time if I leave it much later. Wed 10: A lockdown treat has been to watch old episodes of Treasure Hunt on YouTube, with skyrunner Anneka Rice speeding above various farflung corners of the country. I hadn't realised quite how much my 2018 holiday to Cornwall had been based on the contents of a 1987 episode. Thu 11: The Hertford Union Canal has been drained "to enable detailed inspections and repairs of the waterway wall", and it's fascinating to see what shape the channel is (a bit more sloping than I was expecting) and how many tyres are down there. Reopens mid-March.
Fri 12: It's been a while since I experienced proper wind chill, but crossing the Bow Roundabout I was buffeted by a bone-chilling easterly whipping past the foot of a residential skyscraper and I nearly went back home and put the kettle on. Sat 13: A man stopped me on the wrong side of Bow Road and asked where he needed to wait to catch a bus to Bethnal Green, and it was just his luck that he'd asked London's foremost Bus Stop M expert. Sun 14: I tried to remember how long it is since I last a) sent b) received a Valentine's card, and decided it's more than 20 years for each. Mon 15: Birdwatching update: The Olympic Park kingfisher passed low over the footpath in front of me on a swoop from The Mound With The Rings to The Impenetrable Riverside Reeds. [map of sightings] Tue 16: I'm unsure quite what possessed the training/employment/money transfer centre on Stephens Road in Stratford to call itself 'Lady Click Services'. Wed 17: A thing I noticed while collecting my A-Z of bus stops in the Bow area is that Bus Stops A, B and J have the words bus stop written across the roundel but all the other roundels are blank. I've since learnt that the wordy design is the most recent (all three are on Bow Road rather than one of the lesser side streets, and all have been hit by vehicles and replaced over the last few years).
Thu 18: Today's discovery... an unfeasibly optimistic concrete promenade in North Woolwich, just upstream of the ferry sliproad, complete with south-facing benches, decorative anchor and steps down to the foreshore. Fri 19: Birdwatching update: I was so busy watching the eastern banks of the Lea, where the kingfisher usually appears, that I failed to notice it directly in front of me on the western bank until it launched into the air displaying a dazzling orange undercarriage. Sat 20: Walked wistfully through ChrispStreetMarket looking at all the bits they intend to knock down to redevelop/densify the site (and slightly less wistfully at all the bits they intend to keep). Sun 21: I was walking through the Olympic Park at the precise moment a young girl managed her very first solo bike ride. Her parents were effusively proud, recognising what a big milestone this was, while her big brother looked on nonplussed and wished the repeated adulation would stop. Mon 22: Progress on the Olympic Park blossom garden has been swift. Two rings of trees have been planted on the steeper slope, which is now ablaze with daffodils, while a proper path is being laid out on the gentler bank so that visitor footfall doesn't churn up the grass. I can see this being ready to open later in the spring.
Tue 23: Returning from a spring stroll on Wanstead Flats I passed a roadblock on a quiet residential road in Maryland watched over by a group of local rubberneckers, and although I spotted the policeman clearing up rubble I somehow entirely missed the car that had been driven into theside ofa house. Wed 24: Proper Local News: The Nisa supermarket on Bow Road has knocked through a brand new wider entrance where the tills used to be, relocated the tills along the side wall and extended the ramp out front, and is now in the process of sealing up the old entrance. It looks like a considerable investment (and will be much more conducive to social distancing). Thu 25: The vaccination centre at ExCeL finally had a queue outside today, but only three strong, so I guess most of London's 2 million jabs have been done elsewhere. A special hello to the TfL Signage Muppets who've put up posters explaining how to walk from Canning Town to ExCeL at DLR stations with a direct service to Custom House. Fri 26: Had to remove a layer of clothing in the middle of an industrial estate because I'd dressed for chilly conditions three hours earlier, not the rampant onset of spring. Not complaining.
Sat 27: I reached the River Thames off Canary Wharf as the tide turned and was dazzled by its undisturbed mirror-blue surface. Quite gorgeous. Then a single motor launch rippled upstream from Greenwich, its bow wave swiftly decaying to random interference and the magic mirror never returned. Sun 28: I didn't go on a train for 162 days between mid-March and the end of August, and I thought that was a long time. I now haven't been on a train for 163 days between mid-September and the end of February... and still counting.