Walking in a London Wonderland

London Wonderland 1

Hackney Marshes, looking less marshy, more snowy and beautiful

We had our biannual snow day two weeks ago, but unfortunately, my son’s school was still open. This presents a slight problem when all you want to do is go play in the snow and your living, breathing excuse to do so — your small child —  has gone off to school for the day. How dare he.

So instead of building snowmen and pegging each other with well-packed balls of ice, the missus and I took a brisk and beautiful walk along the Hackney Marshes, a vast swathe of green space local to our part of East London, providing playing fields and picnic spaces in fair weather, and bright, crisp splendor in the winter as you can see here.

Regents Canal running through the marshes.

Regents Canal running through the marshes.

What I began to notice as I savo(u)red the beautifully self-contained sound of snow compacting underfoot was the underestimated panoramic joy afforded us so close to the center of one of the largest and busiest capital cities in the world. And how it genuinely feels ever so slightly different to stroll though open spaces and trails that neighbo(u)r the grey, sludgy, dull roar of busily trafficked thoroughfares like the industrial Orient Way and Leabridge Road, a stretch that slices right from Hackney to Whipps Cross, just short of Essex. So, with the following photos, I have tried to capture something of the uniqueness of nature within earshot of the chorus of rumbling engines and angry horns scurrying about the roads on their daily grind. I hear it’s snowing again in many parts of America. I hope this captures the brighter side of it. Enjoy.

London Wonderland Winter snow

‘Ello ‘ello. Even the Snowmen in East London demonstrate fine cockney wit.

#Hackney Marshes

“The powerlines have floaters so the airplanes won’t get snagged.”

Tower Blocks on the Horizon.

Tower Blocks on the Horizon.

#HackneyMarshes #snow

Old England, looking a bit like what I envision New England looks like in my unschooled imagination. Puts me in mind of Emerson, Thoreau, Frost etc…

Snowy Path in Hackney Marshes

Beauty dotted with flecks of industrialization on the distant horizon.

Snowy Path Hackney Marshes

“Take nature altogether since time began…” Frost, “Our Hold on the Planet”

Snowy Path under Leabridge Road

“Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Snowy Hackney Park

Signposts worn hard by the snow…

London Wonderland

And alas, back amid the sludge and drudge of civilization. Still, a park in the middle of all this or even just below it near the canal, can be an ephemeral bit of magic. Enjoy it while it lasts…

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6 responses

  1. Love the photos! We didn’t get that much snow down South – looks like you had a lot of fun!

    1. Thanks! Weirdly, by the time we took the photos, the rest of Hackney looked pretty grey and slushy, but it was nice to walk around the marshes like this. Surprised there wasn’t as much snow ‘sarf of the river’.

  2. I love seeing London in snow! We lived there for many years and only saw snow 3 times, but they were glorious! Your photos and words are a wonderful reminder. Thanks so much. All the best, Terri

    1. Thanks, Terri. We seem to get it once a year or every other year, but it’s more fun when the whole family has a snow day together. Be interested to know what area of London you were in.

      1. Over the years we lived in 3 different areas – Earl’s Court, Chelsea, and Hammersmith. I was working as a management consultant with Delloitte Touche based in London, but I worked all over Europe. James was an executive with Sun Oil.

      2. Fascinating. Sounds like a very exciting time. I always think West London feels like a different country, a leafier, less noisy,less crime-ridden country.

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