Taken this morning on Wanstead Flats, Leytonstone, East London 🙂
It sounds weird to say we’ve had a horrendous grass fire almost on our doorstep when we live in a converted first floor flat in a brick-built Victorian terrace house in a very busy and generally built-up area of East London – yet on Sunday that’s exactly what happened.
Wanstead Flats is a large expanse of open ground made up of grasses, scrub, trees and bushes that nestles quietly behind the scenes between Leytonstone and Manor Park on the map. It’s been kept as common ground since the middle ages, and is a permanant breath of fresh air for people like me who are not natural city-dwellers and miss the vast expanses of the countryside. Nowadays it is divided into three very similar sections by two busy roads cutting through it, and here in Leytonstone we are lucky live right on the most western edge of the flats.
Sadly in this never-ending heatwave we’ve been experiencing lately, somehow some of the tinder-dry central section caught fire on Sunday afternoon, quickly spreading and soon resulting in a grass fire the size of 150 football pitches being tackled by 40 fire engines and over 200 fire-fighters. The billowing plumes of smoke were visible for miles, and the smell of drifting woodsmoke permeated everything close by well into the night.
As advised I kept well clear of the area on Sunday and Monday, but took a walk on ‘our’ section of the flats this morning – thankfully it looks very much as usual for this time of year, golden grasses and green trees and blue skies…
But once I reached the road separating our section from the central section, the devastation from the fire on Sunday was immediately apparent. The police cordon is still in place, roads are still blocked and the whole area still closed off. It’s apparent the road between the two sections created somewhat of a natural fire-break, used and encouraged by firefighters fighting the blaze, but nevertheless the fire has burned right up to the edge of the pavement, which is where I took these images from…
At present the situation is still clearly ongoing, in that while I was there I saw three fire engines in situ still dousing the smouldering, charred and blackened ground, and even met two fire-fighters on foot walking the perimeter of the fire to check the extinguished sections around the edges of the cordon don’t re-ignite.
I’m just so full of praise for the men and women of London Fire Brigade who have worked and are still working tirelessly to ensure our homes remain safe in what has been a concerning experience for all of us who live in the immediate area – thank you all so much from a very grateful East London resident 🙂
Not my finest moment – I was walking back from the supermarket a couple of days ago with my usual bulky bag of groceries when out of the blue my ankle gave way and I landed in an ungainly heap on the pavement. My groceries went flying, and my poor bewildered husband, who had been walking beside me also heavily loaded down, like me was caught by surprise and had no idea what had just happened to cause me to fall.
I have a history of falling over like this, quite often at the most inopportune moments, so we both know the drill by now. Let me sit tight for a moment, get my bearings, give all my limbs a cursory feel to check for serious injury, and all being well, I can slowly get up with help. It’s embarrassing to fall over in public, and when a passing stranger quickly crossed the road to offer help we reassured him I would be fine but thanked him for asking.
I quickly realised I’d twisted my ankle, grazed my knee and jarred my shoulder when I put my hands out in an attempt to save myself, but nothing worse than that so after gingerly getting back on my feet I retrieved my shopping, limped home with my husband’s support, and sat with my foot up for the rest of the day. I had some puffy swelling and woke up stiff as a board the following day, but thankfully am well on the mend now.
But it made me think – that’s the third time I’ve fallen over in public on a busy London street and on every occasion a stranger has come to my rescue, offering help. The first time I fell I was with my husband, and both he and two men who had been walking behind us showed a lot of concern until they saw me get up again. I don’t really like too much attention when I fall, I feel bad enough sitting like an idiot in the street without being overly fussed over, but I do appreciate that people care.
The second time I fell in public I was on my own, and a young man in a cap and hoodie saw me fall and immediately ran across the road to offer assistance – he asked if I’d hurt anything and I told him only my pride, but he helped me up and made sure I could walk before he carried on his way. London’s funny that way, it’s as if everyone goes around ignoring everyone else until something happens, and then they suddenly spring into action to offer help where they can 🙂
PS Two other famous falls of note I remember – in private this time – have caused me to (1) fall down a few stairs and have a huge haematoma on my right thigh that lasted for weeks as well as bruising on my back, and (2) need an uncomfortable trip to A&E to treat a concussion and a painful split in my scalp after falling out the shower and hitting the wash hand basin on my way down. Clumsy? Me? Nah! 🙂
Fandango’s One Word Challenge today is ‘mean’ and the first thing that came to mind was a little rhyme I found once on Facebook (in the days when I was on Facebook) to help remember the difference between the median, the mean, and the mode.
I learned while studying for my degree that quantitative analysis is simply not my thing – statistics confuse me, befuddle my brain and twist my understanding up in knots – give me qualitative analysis any day 🙂
What would you name the autobiography of your life?
‘Outside Looking In’
Which do you prefer: sweet, salty or buttery?
Er… all of the above, depending on my mood. I definitely love the sweet sensuous sticky feeling of good milk chocolate melting gently in the mouth, but I also love the salty crunch of savoury crisps (potato chips in US), and what’s a better comfort food in winter than a steaming cup of tea and toasted teacakes slathered in butter or hot buttered toast 🙂
What’s the finest education?
‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of vessel’ – Socrates
I absolutely love learning – I really enjoyed my formal education at school, and as an adult have attended both college (attaining a practical healthcare qualification) and university (where I achieved a first class honours degree in psychosocial studies, and also later gained a post-graduate certificate in positive psychology).
But I also love informal learning – independent reading, practical experimenting, everyday life experience, deliberately developing creativity, building on basic common sense. To me, the finest education is all-inclusive, being a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. And above all, being constantly open-minded, open-hearted, and as non-judgemental of others as possible ❤
What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?
I’m struggling a bit with life at the moment, so find it difficult to smile at much right now, but I decided if I thought hard enough, I would find something. And I did. We’ve had a bit of a heatwave recently, so all have our windows open day and night, and living in close proximity in a city leaves not much room for privacy.
The other day I overheard our neighbours’ autistic 9 year old son having a strop in their back garden – he was yelling frustratedly at his mum ‘Who cares? I don’t care, I don’t care! Who cares?’ and when his very patient mum repeatedly replied calmly and lovingly ‘I care, I care’ his 4 year old sister, not wanting to be left out, piped up quizzically with ‘Uh… Mummy, do I care?’ That little snippet of family interaction certainly made me smile… 🙂
Today saw the official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force (RAF), and as there was to be a special fly-by over Buckingham Palace to mark the occasion and we live directly under the flight path I just had to try to capture the planes as they passed by overhead.
Typically we’ve had wall-to-wall blue skies for weeks now, but earlier today we had grey cloud cover for the first time in ages – although its cleared up spectacularly now the excitement is all over. The fly-by was scheduled for 1pm, so from previous experience I knew the planes would be passing over us just before the hour.
At around 12.45pm I took my camera and wandered out onto Wanstad Flats, a few minutes walk from home, to get the best view I could – and it seemed lots of other people had the same idea. As expected, we soon heard the first engines and saw a formation of helicopters approaching above the treeline. They passed directly above us, these are apparently Pumas and Chinooks followed by smaller Juno and Jupiter helicopters…
Then the older propeller planes flew over with their wonderful deep rumbly engines – a Dakota, followed by a Lancaster flanked by spitfires and Hurricanes, three Prefects and a perfect diamond formation of Tucano T1s…
These were quickly followed by a pair of Shadows, a duo of Hercules bombers, and the huge pregnant-looking belly of the Atlas…
Suddenly it all speeded up into the more modern age with a Globemaster and BAE 146 followed quick as a flash by a single Sentinal, a Voyager, a Rivet Joint and a Sentry with its tell-tale radar dome…
More formation flying followed on in the shape of T1 and T2 Hawks, Tornadoes, and the new Lightnings…
And then over the trees came a spectacular flying ‘100’ created by Typhoon jets, and last but not least an arrow-head of Red Arrows – although sadly before they had their multicoloured red, white and blue tail-smoke stuff turned on.
Still, even without the colour-show of vapour trails it was an excellent, very well choreographed display of skilled formation flying over a busy bustling city that pretty much lasted for a good 10 minutes – and I noticed with a smile that several planes even had ‘RAF 100’ painted on their tails.
And of course, as well as celebration today it is important to commemorate all those brave service personnel over the last century who have died serving their King or Queen and Country: Per ardua ad astra.
PS I keep threatening to buy myself a proper zoom lens, but so far I’ve not got around to it, so these were all taken hand-held at the zoom end of the basic 14-42 (28-84 equivalent) kit lens of my Panasonic GF6 set to ‘auto’ so I couldn’t screw up the focus or the exposure – I’ve cropped them a bit to get closer, but overall I’m quite pleased with how they’ve turned out 🙂
PPS I figured I might as well use the exacting ‘geometry’ of close formation flying for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week 🙂
I’ve not been blogging much this week. I’ve dipped in and out here and there and have read a few blog posts now and again, but have basically found myself with nothing to say. It’s not just my blogging, either – I mean I’ve gone to work, and gone grocery shopping or whatever as necessary, but everything else has been seriously curtailed.
I’m just not coping well with life at the moment, so am back on antidepressants for a while until things feel a little better. Sadly this has been a common enough recurring experience for me over the years, so I know the score and am used to sitting it out for the duration – it feels dire at the time but I know the misery doesn’t last forever.
So for now I find myself hiding away at home much of the time, comforting myself with watching the World Cup and Wimbledon on TV. It’s not that I’m a great sports fan, but it’s easy enough to follow the familiar routine of spectating specific matches, and it’s a good excuse to explain my lack of participation in anything else.
Hopefully my medication will help stabilise my mood sooner rather than later, but in the meantime I’ll do my best to stick around one way or another until I feel more on an even keel again. Sending lots of blog love to you all, see you around… 🙂