Friday, 12 December 2008

Blogging by full-moon

Tonight is the 12th full-moon of 2008. And the last. No 13th this year (I'm too tired to enter the blue moon debate at this time, but I'm certainly going to cover that soon).

I went out. It wasn't a moonwalk - not in the way I'll experience 13 moonwalks next year - but nevertheless, I left the warmth of my house and stepped out into the warmth of a Friday night in winter. And stepped into my old, rattling car. And drove. Moondrove.

I checked a booklet of Lea Valley walks before leaving the house. "Walk with a View". Not so much of a view at night. I drove to point m - Coleman's Lane - because of the following promise. "Concealed in the hedgerow in Coleman's Lane are two white metal bollards." Tax collectors erected such posts (c. 1861) to mark the boundary inside which those who lived were required to pay taxes to the government on coal and wine in the late 17th century. Cole-man's Lane? These taxes were levied to renumerate the City of London for its incredible losses during the Fire of London and to help rebuild the place.

I found one.

Bollards, I thought. Where's the other one?

Coleman's Lane at night isn't pleasant. It's tucked around the corner as you come off the Crooked Mile towards Nazeing. I drove straight past first time - slowing down and speeding up, concertinaing with the Focus in front. Dark night, crazy driver, forest. They must've worried.

It's grit pretending to be a road. I crawled up. Dead trees lined me either side. The Smiths whispered threats from the radio. That's when I spotted the boundary post and popped out of the car to take a closer look. I even managed to record the exciting moment on camera (the visuals, as you'd expect, aren't great).

Forgive the narration. Let me correct myself. The "old stone " is of course one of the two 19th century metal bollards. But it was eerie. The "old farmhouse" had a security light that I twice set off, before I ducked behind the hedges, trying to fit in as the third boundary post. I stayed for 10 minutes - sneaking along the track, looking for wildlife and lunatics. But it was tricky. You see, there was no moon. One accurate comment on the video.

Like my first moonwalk - Falmouth, Cornwall, January - the moon decided to hide. Thinking back, the Falmouth walk did provide a few glimpses of the big round thing - but I was hoping for more. Tonight, nothing. Except a little adventure scaring some farmers into thinking they were being robbed by a stupidly overdressed man, armed with a value torch and a "Walk with a View" tucked under his arm.

And there I was hoping to see the biggest full-moon in 15 years.

Good bye, 2008. Not a happy year. 2009 promises to be far busier and hopefully kinder.

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