For our first trip of the year we headed back to one of our favourite stamping grounds, Chiswick (see here for previous blog). Not only is the Premier Inn right next to the Chiswick Flyover (!) it is also just about the cheapest room we have found. And it is next to the Fullers brewery!! And a friendly pub, the George & Devonshire!!!
On top of all of that, Chiswick is a great hopping off point to sites in West London we wanted to visit. And as we realised this time, a couple of places sharing a common theme of Reuse and Recycle, part of the palimpsest of history, each new chapter overwritten on the previous.
So on the way there it was Battersea Power Station: an incredible, hulking edifice, its shape so iconic, and now converted to somewhere you can actually visit and touch some of its six million bricks.
Inside as well as out, simply vast, but tastefully done, the shop signs in concordance with each other and lacking gaudy advertising, just like we found so pleasing in an equally imposing edifice last year, the Halifax Piece Hall.
But as well as its sheer bulk, there are artistic touches everywhere, intentional and otherwise, some absolutely remarkable for such an utilitarian building:
The only slight disappointment was the way the edifice is now hemmed in by new high-rise flats (no doubt needed to fund the conservation of the main building)…
But from the riverbank the iconic outline is still visible, along with views along the Thames:
Out on the water there was a flock of Gadwalls, and then on the supports of the coal jetty, the most wonderful lichenscapes and mossy microcosms:
Then after a restorative drink, courtesy of the Battersea Brewery Tap Room, underneath the arches of the railway. we headed through Battersea Park to the station. The Power Station loomed from every angle, and the park had sculpture and palm trees:
Winter Honeysuckles were blooming, each flower extravagantly fragranced, and attracting lots of bumblebee interest, while on the lake Shovelers were getting into the swing, or spin, of Spring, one particular pair spinning round and round, heads down, beak to beak, for minutes on end. Feeding frenzy, or pair bonding…or both?
Next morning dawned crisp and blue, perfect light for a stroll through the grounds of Chiswick House to the station:
Our destination, more reused and recycled infrastructure, the London Wetland Centre at Barnes, a visionary rescaping of the former Barn Elms Reservoirs from water supply to wetland biodiversity and education.
Something for all here, from the captive but entertaining (again including many Spring frolics, especially among the head-tossing Goldeneyes and skittering Smews) …
… to the wild birds, often remarkably tame as well …
… although not always: the Moorhens were going at it with all the ferocity of fighting cocks.
Aside from birds, it was good to find a Cream-streaked Ladybird, Winter Aconites and our first Cherry-plum flower of the season, and Butcher’s-broom, simultaneously flowering and fruiting a year apart.
And natural art, from the depths of winter to the cheering new shoots of the year.