Mon 1: Birdwatching update: In the centre of the Olympic Park, opposite the Channelsea outfall, I suddenly spotted a kingfisher bombing low along the edge of the river... and a couple of seconds later a second kingfisher bombing low behind it. I'd always suspected there was a pair, and now I have glorious proof. [map of sightings] Tue 2: Walking along Wick Lane, and with absolutely nobody else around, I noticed a £10 note lying on the pavement. This never normally happens. Ridiculously I decided to leave it where it was, partly because it wasn't mine but also because I've become conditioned over the last year not to touch things unnecessarily. Could've bought a ton of hand sanitiser with it. Wed 3: I remember when Budget day felt important and the prices of alcohol and petrol would tick up by a few pence shortly afterwards, but these days the Chancellor dare not raise taxes on anything concrete and merely tweaks thresholds to snaffle your money later without you noticing. Maybe it's time to restart the fuel escalator after a decade on pause. Thu 4: There's a phone box in Whitechapel that still has a poster advertising a Pet Shop Boys Dreamworld gig at the O2 on 28th May 2020, and I wouldn't have gone but every time I walk past it I kind of wish I could. (I see the show's currently rescheduled for 22nd May 2022, so good luck with that) Fri 5: I got back from the supermarket to discover, again, that my cucumber had slipped out along the way. This time I took your advice ("I always had you down as someone who would have retraced their steps determined to find exactly where it was that cucumber slipped silently from your bag") and immediately retraced my steps but found nothing. Perhaps someone in E3 has a penchant for abandoned vegetables... but more likely I never picked up my cucumber from the checkout meaning it was never in my bag in the first place.
Sat 6: The 40 year-old cafe in the park at Island Gardens, the one with a teapot and cuppa bricked into the wall, is to be knocked down next month and replaced by a bigger cafe faced with timber, tiles and glass. It'll also have public toilets (but less character). Sun 7: Amongst the 'City Walkways byelaws' posted up in the Barbican (and dating back to 1974) No Person Shall... climb or sit on any balustrade, set up any structure or erection, use or operate any radio or similar instrument, or bring or cause to be brought any horse, pony, mule, ass, goat or cattle. Mon 8: It looks like the disused waste oil depot at the end of Cooks Road is finally being dismantled, with a digger on site and a truck taking away chunks of silo. The north side of the Bow Roundabout smells like 20 people have vomited simultaneously. Tue 9: One lovely thing about a birthday is how many people get in touch out of the blue to send good wishes. This included three generations of my family, BestMate's OtherHalf, a former workmate, TridentScan's IT Director, a former Guinness recordholder, someone I last saw naked ten years ago and a Cambridge neuroscientist.
Wed 10: Blogpost update: At Gallions Reach I was surprised to spot another 'bus stop I' because it's not one of the six in TfL's bus stop database, a document which appears to be incomplete. Alas there's no 'bus stop O' in the vicinity otherwise a full alphabetical tour would be possible. Thu 11: Birdwatching update: Yay, kingfisher again. That's a dozen times now. Sorry, I should probably give this feature a rest. Fri 12: The 24 hours after being vaccinated are a nerve-wracking time as you wait to discover whether you're about to be physically walloped, mildly inconvenienced or outwardly unaffected. I was lucky, I got the latter. Sat 13: On the Isle of Dogs I was almost blown off my feet by the wind blowing between two blocks of flats. I've stood in a proper scientific wind tunnel before with the fans on, but this was genuinely liftier. Highly unnerving. Sun 14: Ah, the joy of lifting the tray in a box of chocolates and discovering, against expectations, that yes there is another layer underneath. Mon 15: At the northern end of the Olympic Park I watched the sluices open and a torrent of water emerge from subterranean pipes, initially gushing white and then, ugh, brown, as a cloud of something icky started making its way downstream.
Tue 16: Headed out this morning to discover traffic queueing in both directions and the pavements swarming with people, mostly parents taking children to school, and Bow Road hasn't looked this 'normal' in over a year. (n.b. I haven't seen it like that again since) Wed 17: Made it as far as the Ornamental Water in Wanstead Park. It was very quiet, just me and an older lady walking a dog, both of us heading in the same direction. I deliberately held back so as not to appear threatening, given everything in the news at present. I suspect I was more terrified of her dog than she was of me, but you never can tell. Thu 18: East Ham Nature Reserve, the repurposing of one of England's largest churchyards, is gorgeous at present. Spotted butterflies, bumble bees and blackthorn blossom but not the promised lizards. Also utterly devoid of other people which was a plus. Fri 19: Exactly a year ago, amid pre-lockdown panic shopping, I bought an emergency packet of chocolate digestives 'just in case'. I had promised myself I'd finally open them on today's anniversary, but they remain uneaten (and possibly a little stale). Sat 20: I could tell you an anecdote about a woman buying pillows and a slanging match with a cyclist, but it's a bit convoluted and not really worth the effort. Sun 21: Did that stupid thing where I forgot to charge my phone overnight but wanted to head out really early, so I was well impressed when it hit 50% after an hour because I'd forgotten how efficient new phones are. Mon 22: Even after a year of intense local wandering there are still new streets to discover. Today I stumbled upon an ice cream factory in Homerton surrounded by houses, and a Tina's Ices van turning up to replenish supplies.
Tue 23: Today the Mayor visited the Olympic Park to plant the final tree in the National Trust blossom garden. Unfortunately the path is still nowhere near finished so it's likely the public won't be gaining access until all 33 trees have finished flowering. Four are at full peak right now and two have already dropped everything. Wed 24: Beside the Eagle Pond in Snaresbrook, freshly taped to a lamppost, is a notice offering a reward for the return of a ginger cat missing from Ilford "since 2nd July 2017". That is one devoted, but optimistically misguided, former owner. Thu 25: Spotted a Jaguar parked in Brooks Avenue, East Ham, with the registration TRSP HRI, and no way is that legit. Fri 26: Went through the annual charade of upgrading my ISA account because the interest rate was 'maturing', and the best rate they could offer this year is a quarter of what they were offering last year. Sat 27: Birdwatching update: For today's unexpected appearance the kingfisher flew underneath me as I crossed the footbridge by the split telephone boxes at the end of the Channelsea River. It then dodged into some overhanging plants opposite the Waterglades, so we may have a potential nesting site.
Sun 28: The blossom around Aldgate Square, a repurposed bit of gyratory, looks spectacular at present. Shame so few people will have enjoyed it. Mon 29: The new series of Just A Minute features ten different chairs, presumably as an audition for taking over Nicholas Parsons' role permanently. Thus far Paul Merton was better as a contestant, Nish Kumar too intrusively verbose, Zoe Lyons and Lucy Porter competently cheery, Gyles Brandreth too much of a pedant and Sue Perkins a pitch perfect successor. Tue 30: I don't know when your Most Expensive Day Of The 21st Century was, but mine was today. Wed 31: The best thing about River services restarting is that you can walk down the piers again.