Wednesday, October 5, 2022


More leaves from my walk home yesterday. We have a 90 percent rain chance today and it's pretty gusty out there, so I may not be doing much walking today. It's nice to have the tube when I need it! 

I don't have much to report. The roof work is still going on, I'm still trying to get overdue summer books back, and Olga is still bouncing around happily. (She may not be when she has to go on her walk in the rain later today.)

Here's one of my weekend projects. These windows, right at the entrance to our living room from our hallway, used to have hideous wooden blinds up at the top. We never used them -- in fact, in the eight years that we've lived here I don't think we lowered them once. They made it hard to clean those top windowpanes and they were a haven for cobwebs, so on Sunday I took them down entirely and put them in a closet. The windows look so much better without them.

(They'll look even better when that scaffold outside is gone!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Autumnal Hampstead

So what else did I do with my weekend besides my long Thames walk on Saturday? Well, I spent Sunday morning working on a bunch of household projects, mostly cleaning and routine maintenance. I got a lot done and it felt fulfilling.

I also finished that John Irving novel I was reading, "In One Person," which was all about sexual and gender identity. It was an interesting exploration of those issues, considering Irving was about 70 when he wrote it, and its ultimate message to resist labels is often associated more with younger generations. I enjoyed it but I wouldn't say it blew my mind.

Then, in the afternoon, I took Olga for a walk. I thought we'd just go to the cemetery but she wanted to explore Hampstead, so that's what we did.

We found an interesting piece of apparently hand-painted street art.

I thought it was pretty good, for something just pasted up on a utility box.

We didn't go all the way to the Heath, but Olga seemed happy enough with just sniffing around the streets.

Autumn is coming! (I guess it's already here, technically.)

Last night Olga had a post-operative check-up with the vet. We were seen by the same doctor who diagnosed her with a possible tumor, and despite the clear biopsy results, the vet is not letting go of that idea. She thinks the biopsy could be wrong. But we told her that Olga is much better, her swelling is down, and considering her age we're just going to let her be. If she does have cancer (which I doubt) it's moving very slowly and we wouldn't do anything heroic anyway. I am not going to chase ghosts. We got a medical test and it was clear and that's the end of it, as far as I'm concerned, unless we're given reason to believe it's not. Time will tell.

Have any of you noticed a Blogger peculiarity where old comments are being put into the spam folder? The Blogger code geeks seem to have ironed out the problem with new comments going to spam, but in checking my folder I've found that a handful of comments -- even my own! -- on older posts are going in there. I have no idea why this is happening but I just approve them and move on.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Hammersmith to Lots Road

As promised, here are some more pictures from my long walk Saturday along the Thames. We're backing up just a bit to begin in Hammersmith, just before the Hammersmith Bridge (which you can see in the background). There are lots of pubs along the waterfront in West London and I fully intend to go back with Dave and the dog to enjoy a pint or two at those outdoor tables!

I watched a couple of swans nibbling in the river mud. This one was walking toward the water when it sat down for a rest. I imagine that fine, silty mud is pretty hard to walk in -- it must add a lot of extra weight to their feet.

After circling the Craven Cottage football stadium, which I mentioned yesterday, the path led me past Bishop's Park and Fulham Palace and then beneath the Putney Bridge, shown here.

There's a mosaic nearby commemorating the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, "the world's longest surviving sporting challenge." It began in 1829.

I walked on, circling Hurlingham Park and passing the relatively ugly Wandsworth Bridge. The path got a bit dicey here, because there's so much construction in that area that the directions on the map didn't match what was happening on the ground. I simply stuck to the river as best I could until I got to an area of new apartments near the old Lots Road Power Station, and then I found myself at a dead end.

Across the river I could see a beach in Battersea that I visited more than ten years ago. Back then it was littered with trash but it looks like it's been cleaned up. All the dead sneakers have been removed from the chains along that concrete wall. I think the Thames Path might take me through that area when I walk back along the south shore of the river.

Anyway, being at a dead end near Lots Road, I decided to call it quits there. My dogs were barking, as the expression goes. (In other words, my feet were killing me.)

I stopped at a corner pub for a well-deserved pint and sat on a bench outside in the sun behind some orange traffic barriers, watching a surprising number of pedestrians and passing vehicles given that this used to be a pretty remote industrial area (before all the new construction). There are still signs of that industrial past, like the old power station (now being renovated into something else) and the borough of Kensington and Chelsea's vehicle impoundment lot, right across the street from the pub.

I then made the short walk (or limp, in my case!) along Lots Road to nearby Gunter Grove, where I caught the 328 bus all the way back to West Hampstead. Pretty darn convenient.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Kew Bridge to Fulham

I did get out and walk the Thames Path yesterday, as planned. I went about nine miles, from Kew Bridge (above) to Lots Road in Chelsea. It was a beautiful warm day (t-shirt weather!) and perfect for walking.

I have a lot of pictures, so I'll share just the first batch in this post, covering the stretch from Kew Bridge to Fulham.

The path took me past quaint but surely expensive riverfront houses, some with interesting address plaques. I'm not sure what polar bears have to do with the Thames, but I like them.

My map told me to watch for blue plaques on the houses, signifying that someone famous once lived there. The example it gave was Johan Zoffany, a painter. I'd never heard of Zoffany (and I didn't see his plaque) but I did see one for actor Donald Pleasence.

There were lots of rowers out on the water, as is often the case on this stretch of the Thames...

...and some familiar brand names on buildings on the opposite shore. This was once a brewery but it's permanently closed and is now the object of a redevelopment campaign. Farther downstream there's a beautiful old furniture storage facility once owned by Harrod's, now converted to apartments.

This woman came down to the river to feed the birds. As you can see, she was getting mobbed.

And speaking of birds, this sculpture stands atop a tall pole in Duke's Meadows near Chiswick. It was made of recycled materials by artist Kevin Herlihy and students at Cavendish Primary School, and although the route map erroneously describes it as a gull and chicks, it is in fact called "The Fantastic Herons."

This shows how low the water level is in the Thames. The river is partly tidal, but this is pretty far upstream and it didn't seem to vary much all day. I wonder if this low water level is due to our recent drought. Can you see the woman who walked her dog all the way to the end of that concrete walkway so it could take a dip in the river? (I suppose the fact that there's a walkway there suggests those mud flats are often exposed.)

I walked past the troubled Hammersmith Bridge, which is no longer open to traffic because of structural issues. It's now being used by pedestrians only, while various governmental entities wrestle with how to repair it (and who should pay).

And I circled around the riverfront Fulham football stadium, Craven Cottage, where crowds in black-and-white striped jerseys were gathering for a game. I happened to see Billy Badger, the Fulham club mascot.

As I said, this is just the first leg of my walk. I'll share the rest with you tomorrow.

Incidentally, although I was motivated to get out of the house by the fact that roofers were supposed to be here yesterday, doing their noisy repairs, Dave said they never showed up!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

A Bigger Scaffold

There's a tree on my walk to and from work that's already dropping very colorful leaves. It's pretty early and most trees around here are still green, but I'm loving these little bursts of color I find on the sidewalk.

Thank goodness it's the weekend! But it's not going to be a peaceful one. We came home last night to find this:

That's a MUCH larger scaffold than the one erected to replace the Russians' window. I opened my e-mail to find a note from Mrs. Russia saying that the workers determined the first scaffold wasn't enough to repair the roof and they needed a bigger one for safety. Well, this thing is gigantic, with pulleys and huge bracing poles that extend all the way to the other side of the patio.

It's so big it's hard to photograph.

Anyway, she said the workers were going to spend today and Monday repairing the roof. I guess I shouldn't be too complainy about it. We definitely don't want a leaky roof.

Meanwhile, I'm going to make myself scarce. I'm planning to walk another segment of the Thames Path. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. We had rain yesterday and we're supposed to have rain tomorrow, but I think today should be relatively dry. Photos to come!

Friday, September 30, 2022

Ian from Afar

I've been habitually checking the news coverage of Hurricane Ian in Florida. The areas where my family and friends live in Tampa, Sarasota and Jacksonville were largely spared, it seems. I spent several years in Venice, Fla., which is the closest I ever lived to where the storm came ashore farther south in Fort Myers. But even Venice seems to have come through pretty well -- there's been some heavy damage to the community theater but that's all I've seen online.

My brother in Jacksonville wrote yesterday afternoon: "We are home and sitting around keeping an eye on stuff. Mom was evacuated to a retirement center on the north side that (unlike where she lives now) is not in a flood zone. So far so good!"

Still, it was a huge storm and devastating to the Fort Myers region. We vacationed on Sanibel Island a couple of times when I was a child, and those memories are replaying in my mind as I see news coverage from that area. The bridge to Sanibel was demolished by the storm and apparently the island was really hammered. I think about the little beach cabins where we stayed in the summer of 1979, with their linoleum floors and jalousie windows. Each one had a cute beachy name like "conch" and "sea grape." Those buildings seemed light as a feather and although that resort still existed as of earlier this year, I wonder if it exists today. I suppose the buildings would have been modernized and brought up to more current hurricane codes in the intervening years, so maybe it does.

Somewhere I have a whole roll of film from that weeklong stay, but the only picture I can find at the moment is this one, of our old bulldog Meatball reclining on the cabin floor. We took her and our little dachshund, Mabel, and those dogs just did not know what to make of the beach. Mabel was terrified of the gently rolling waves coming in off the Gulf.

Anyway, that's where my mind is at the moment, reliving my memories of Southwest Florida.

Here in London, it's life as usual. I'm once again on a campaign to get kids to return their overdue summer books. Plus ça change.

(Top photo: The autumnal leaves of the persicaria in our garden.)

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Olga's Indian Summer

You know how the vet told us Olga had a tumor beneath her infected incisor, and we've been waiting for the results of a biopsy to find out what kind of tumor it is?

Well, the results came back yesterday, and SURPRISE -- there's no tumor at all! Olga doesn't have cancer, at least not in the tissue that was biopsied. It's just a big infection.

We are, of course, incredibly relieved, and also a little bowled over that the vet could be so certain in her preliminary diagnosis and yet so wrong. She was convinced it was a malignancy. Weirdly, this is the same vet who, four years ago, removed lumps from Olga's hind legs and took huge margins of tissue because she thought they might be cancerous -- and they weren't. What is it with this vet?

Her most recent diagnosis never quite made sense to me, because Olga had this lumpy nose off and on for almost a year, and it didn't seem to grow substantially or drag her down at all. This explains, too, why Olga was bouncing around so soon after her surgery like she was perfectly fine. She is perfectly fine.

Anyway, Olga has now been referred to a dog dentist (apparently there is such a thing) who will review her records to see if she needs further treatment or more antibiotics. Hopefully the removal of that single incisor is enough to quell this infection. Remember we were also going to remove the other incisor -- which is gray and perhaps not healthy but so far not causing her problems -- and we decided not to because of the "tumor." Well, I'm not putting her under the knife again unless there's really a crisis.

Jesus! What a roller-coaster ride.

So that's a big explosion of happy news, desperately needed in these crazy times. Otherwise I've been worrying about Hurricane Ian affecting my family and friends in Tampa (it looks like they avoided the worst of the storm, but of course it's hammering other parts of the state). And what about the insanity of our newly-elected British government, which has cooked up tax cuts for wealthy people that are so ridiculously irresponsible that our currency has tanked and even the leaders of the International Monetary Fund felt compelled to protest?

I mean, honestly. Here we are in the middle of an energy and cost-of-living crisis, with local governments in such a struggle that garbage lingers on the streets and libraries can't stay open, and the answer is to provide £45 billion in tax cuts to the country's wealthiest people?


And then, of course, there's the Ukraine situation, which may pose the greatest existential risk of all. I occasionally read a right-wing news site which shall remain nameless, just to give myself agita, and they continually make excuses for Putin, saying that he is on an anti-globalist crusade against all the evils of the West, and look how vigorously he supports the Russian Orthodox Church and blah blah blah -- and I think, when did the American right wing climb into bed with Russia?

Despite our surging household costs and the weird apparent sabotage of the gas pipelines beneath the Baltic Sea that supply Europe with Russian energy, I briefly turned on our heat this morning. It's 42º F outside (5.5º C) and that is freaking cold.

Oh, Olga, you scared us to death. And incidentally, that is MY PILLOW!