The Atolls of Acton

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As well as the lovely parts of London, I get to frequent some pretty grotty ones too. The area around North Acton station is what one might call post-industrial, a soulless collection of cheaply constructed, thoughtlessly designed warehouses with an unloveable countenance. Those that have not already been demolished to make way for bland new apartment blocks and university buildings will be bulldozed in the path of HS2, the new high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham. I doubt anyone will mourn their passing.

Mosses and lichens, Acton, February 2016

I’m a firm believer that beauty can be found in the most unpromising situations. Crossing an ugly, featureless bridge over the Central Line tracks, I spied, glinting in the rising sun, a miniature landscape of lushly vegetated islands surrounded by sparkling reefs, adrift in a murky sea. It was as if I were looking down from a light aircraft, on the approach to a Pacific island paradise.

Mosses and lichens, Acton, February 2016Each mossy island had a mist of melting frost hovering above it, tiny droplets of water waiting for the feeble winter sun to disperse them. Silvery encrustations of lichen spread like ice across the cold stone, flaking away in the middle to create glittering atolls in an ocean of concrete. It was nothing short of magical: a little piece of heaven in an industrial hell. I carried on my merry way with a mossy spring in my step and thoughts of a tropical holiday on my mind.


Categories: Foliage, Musings, Photography

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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21 comments On "The Atolls of Acton"

  1. I know what you mean about finding beauty in the most unlikely places, but to do it you perhaps need to retain the eyes of a child. In the street in North Kensington where I lived for a long time as a child there was just one plane tree, which I loved for its beauty in every season, from the little velvety budding leaves to the gloriously coloured falling ones, and the wonderful mottled trunk. Just the fact that it was the only living thing nearby made it more special, and meant that I observed every detail of its growth more closely.

  2. What an unusual observation…they are just like tropical islands!mwho would have thought it and in Acton too! Great photos Dan and thanks for sharing them!

  3. Bravo!
    I like this so much I want to use it in the classroom. May I, please Don? I will send you the worksheet. 😊
    Regards, Jack (absent from WordPress for too long; there is great joy to be found here!)

  4. Truly beautiful, yes there is beauty to be found if we just look. I really notice surface texture when out and about, and I really like the bent forms of leafless trees bearing the brunt of the Cornish north coast wind, especially when they are against a clear sky.

    1. I’ll be in Cornwall, on the north coast, shortly. There is something particularly evocative about those tortured trees isn’t there? They are so much part of the landscape and the history of that part of the world.

  5. Was this outing all part of your convalescence?
    Hope you’re better now and thanks for a beautiful, thought provoking post. I definitely find blogging has helped to open my eyes.

  6. Just like the hedgehogs and other wildlife, plants are trying to make the best of our changing world. Good for you for really seeing what was there.

  7. It has been a mossy winter down here in the south west, lovely to see that nature can take over up in the city too.

  8. Reading just your headline and seeing the first picture, I thought of the Scandinavian skerry landscape, off the coast of Sweden!
    Lovely pictures and hats off to you for spotting this scene and linking it to an atoll – it really does look like islands in the sea.

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