An early awakening

Around 5:30 this morning I was rudely awoken from odd dreams about plastic jewellery by loud voices outside my window.

Looking out, this was the scene that greeted me.

The pipe was happily disgorging hundreds of liters of water per minute, washing away the sub-surface of the road. The water carried the mud and silt around Osborne Square, leaving a nice sticky film everywhere.

QMUL Canalside

Some recent photographs from the Regent’s Canal as it passes though the QMUL campus.

Chorthippus Parallelus - Meadow Grasshopper
Chorthippus Parallelus – Meadow Grasshopper

There were several of these grasshoppers chirping away, trying to find a mate. They were very approachable, not vanishing just as the shutter clicks. Common species, both male and female have short front wings and no hind wings.

Continue reading QMUL Canalside


Dead; not my corner of the internet – this is just pining for the fjords, but my poor walking boots.


A couple of thousand miles.
Five countries.
Three-and-a-bit years.
Three mountain ranges.
Two continents.
One dead pair of walking boots.

Spending the Royal Wedding bank holiday wandering around the Scottish Highlands including Ben Nevis finally finished them off. The laces snapped at airport security and a gash in the side opened up descending the Ben. The soles have leaked since January.

Traffic & Wantz

So yesterday Diamond Geezer posted a list of ‘blogs that link to his, affable-lurking being among those listed and close to the start of the list (alphabetical order rather than a top ten list or anything). I thought I’d investigate if this drove any traffic towards my little corner of the internet.

Basically, the answer is no. Or at least undecidable. My daily visitors number around 10-20, this did not really change much yesterday. I shall have to wait until the end of the week to check out the weekly stats to see if this picture changes much.

One thing I did notice is that around 15% of my traffic comes from people searching google for “Wantz stream”. Now I posted about this stream in May last year, a post I thought would be of no interest to anyone apart from myself. Why do I get so much traffic to that post, and why does no one ever comment or email me about it? Are schools setting a project about the stream? I’ve no idea.

As it seems there is possible interest, I shall post more of my findings about that stream and others in Dagenham in the next week.

If you’ve ended up here after searching for information about Wantz, or Eastbrook or Wythenbroke, please leave a comment or email me and let me know what your interest is.

A walk on the wild side – to Barking

After making good my escape from entrapment in the building yard, I carried on down River Road hoping to get back to the riverside at some point.

River Road
Once one of the primary industrial roads in Barking, servicing the old Barking power station and various warehouses and stores along the Thames, now the road primarily services the building yards in the area and the Sunday Market on the site of the old power station.

On either side of the road at this point are reminders of the high voltage history of this area; from decaying switchgear and the buzz of still active pylons, to the warnings of buried cables and risks of electrocution.

The next landmark of any real significance as you continue down River Road is the Crooked Billet pub. Very much a locals’ local, nothing fancy – just a place for a pint and somewhere to take a break from a walk. The pub began life in a wooden cottage in 1719, later moving to its current premises.

Dead (?) switch gear Danger to Life The crooked billet

Barking Creek is the name given to the stretch of the River Roding that runs though Barking; Creekmouth is where it joins with the Thames. Just opposite the Crooked Billet is a gateway that leads to the Creekmouth Open Space – one of the few intentionally publicly accessible areas along River Road.

A foot path leads though the space to two information points and finally to the Barking Barrier; a 60 m tall structure supporting a 200 ton steel barrier that, when in the closed position, prevents high tides and storm surges from entering the mouth of the Roding and flooding further upstream.

Erosion of the river banks is a significant problem in the Creekmouth, not helped by the Chinese Mitten crab – a foreign invader to UK shores that makes its home in holes in the bank, causing damage and eventual collapse.

At the very edge of the Roding, just before the barrier, attempts have been made to reduce erosion and to trap any silt washed down the Roding by the emplacement of twig bundles embedded in the bank to simulate the effect of plants roots. This seems to be having positive results – many of the bundles are now only just visible peeking through rich river mud deposited around them.

Though I looked I was unable to find any mitten crabs, but on the Thames banks on the other side of the barrier I did find many large woodlouse type creatures – about an inch long and looking exactly like a scaled up woodlouse – not something I had expected to find there. I’m still trying to get a positive ID for them.

Barking Barrier - 1 Erosion defenses Unknown Creature -1