Today’s proposed walk was not as extensive as I had planned since I was feeling domestic rather than intrepid and I have two knitting projects that I just can’t put down at the moment! Additionally my bedsit is enjoying a period of relative order, which means that I like being in it. In other happy, domestic news, I have revived the sourdough starter and have a lovely, light, fluffy loaf of joy sitting in my home and infusing it with leavened goodness!

I think the first in my series of A4074 walks is going to be entitled Avenues; this is because it contains many avenues of trees. Autumn moves fast; observe the difference in the colour on the leaves of the trees in Palmer Park between the first and second photograph;

Thanks to my trusty I SPY I can now tell you what some of those trees are, like this magnificent Plane tree. This fine specimen has lovely tresses of leaves that rustle very pleasingly on blustery Autumn days, bringing the sound of the wind down from the sky. It decorates the view with lovely baubles.

From nearby I heard the throaty, sonorous coos of the pigeons and doves that inhabit the park.

I saw many Lime and Ash trees before wandering down to the Kennet and Avon Canal and crossing the bridge to the Thames path.

I always love the sounds along the riverside. The previously documented thunk of conkers from high in the branches of the Horse Chestnut trees has sadly halted, but this has been replaced by the joyous rustle of leaves underfoot that attends dry, Autumnal walks in wooded places. One can also hear occasionally the lovely sound of the wash hitting the bank when boats go past, the bustle of river life with vessels and folks and dogs and children all out to enjoy the sunshine, and the distant moan of traffic on the ceaseless Reading IDR.

Today, taking advantage of the unseasonable warmth and the beautiful surprise of these sudden, late blooms, I heard the fretful droning of bees.

I think that the section of the Thames that runs beside King’s Meadow is known as The Clappers, after a rickety bridge that once stood in the river. Here is a picture of said bridge, printed in 1882.

On the approach to The Clappers through King’s Meadow, there are lovely tall White and Lombardy Poplars. This White Poplar tree glistened like silver in today’s low sun and the leaves crunched like paper underfoot as I got near enough to photograph its characteristic bark.

Don’t you just want to find a way of knitting that? Is it just me or does that just seem like the most perfect readymade fairisle inspiration for something?

I think I was sufficiently awed as to become utterly distracted and abandon the walk in favour of investigating Blake’s Riverside Museum. This is a rather damp, unattended building, housing (in a rather cramped way) an incredible old Romany Gipsy Caravan made in Reading in the early 1900s, a collection of historic materials pertaining to the various trades that have thrived along the waterways of Reading, and a drafty, damp, magnificent old Pumphouse that used to be part of an old sewage works. As unpromising as this sounds, I fell in love with this building immediately and was very excited to see that they are soliciting for Summer Art exhibitors. I wonder if they would allow me to use this space as the Hub or centre for my A4074 walks project? I like the Industrial nature of the building, its on-river positioning, and its faint sense of melancholy. I feel it could benefit from some celebratory sonic artworks, some brightly coloured posters and the assured presence of knitters and cakes!

I shall investigate.

I have a thing for old, mouldering buildings along the waterways of Reading. Observe this building, which was apparently the Gasworker’s Social Club some considerable time ago.

It clings to its old red bricks like a little island of history amidst a sea of post-1970s redevelopment. Its rafters are festooned with pigeons and its windows are all in pieces. It sits within an area which was once dominated by the Huntley and Palmers Biscuit Factory, decaying slowly into the river. All I want to do is turn it into an art space with a cafe and fibre centre. I fear this is beyond my means, but I love this building and I wish there was a way to save it…

So at the end of my rather modest perambulations I have some notes for the first section of my Avenues walk, the potential for a venue in which to host said walk, (plus the others in the series…) the joy of having identified several trees that I didn’t know about before and more memories about this city where I live.

All good.

8 Responses to Avenues

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » 31.14 miles: the A4074 walk part 1

  2. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Archive » Sweater Quest – or when is a book about Starmore not a book about Starmore?

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