Tag Archives: Molecule Man

The Kingdom by the Sea

“England, of course, resembles a pig, with something on its back. Look at it. It is a hurrying pig; its snout is the south-west in Wales, and its reaching trotters are Cornwall, and its rump is East Anglia. The whole of Britain looks like a witch riding on a pig, and these contours – rump and snout and bonnet, and the scowling face of Western Scotland – were my route.”

Paul Theroux The Kingdom by the Sea 1983.

Bedraggled ten-year-old t-shirt

In 1999, MM and I attempted the most clichéd journey in Britain – the End-to-End. We started at the ‘wrong’ end, John O’ Groats, planning to cycle to Cornwall in time for the Total Eclipse on August 11.

I say ‘planning’, but in reality, our plans were rather poor. I injured my knee on the first day, but we stupidly continued, making it worse day-by-day, until we had to bail out and take the train for large chunks of the route. We did get to see the Eclipse – well, as far as that was possible through the thick black clouds – but have always planned to go back and do the trip ‘properly’.

Carn Brea, Cornwall, England. August 1999.

So ten years on, we’re giving it another bash – starting at Land’s End this time. We haven’t got a date yet, and we’re yet to figure out routes, distances, time-frames etc, but it’ll almost certainly be soon after the end of MM’s summer term.

One thing is certain, we both need to get fit and make some proper weekend cycle trips before then.


Enfield Chase


Valentine’s Day – champagne, chocolates, a single perfect rose, candlelit dinner à deux – or a tube trip to Cockfosters to explore the London Borough of Enfield with Mondoagogo

No contest!

I know virtually nothing about Enfield, so this was a true voyage of discovery. Mondo suggested a visit to the Museum of Domestic Architecture and Forty Hall, and with no suggestions of our own, Molecule Man and I were happy to go along with this.

We took the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters Station – a rather lovely synthesis of concrete and brick, with a Hopperesque diner.


station diner

A small parade of shops had a great array of lettering and signage – a bit of an obsession for all of us, while a potentially dull call centre along the main road redeemed itself with a graceful curve, making a surprisingly fetching photograph.

Oh you

Cockfosters Call Centre

The entrance to the Museum of Domestic Architecture was slightly tricky to find, but this small museum is well worth a visit. One of the things I love about museums with a 20th Century emphasis is the potential to bring back memories – “my mum had one of those…” But my favourite photographs from the museum were abstracts of the fixtures of the museum itself.

Light at MODA

Next, we hopped on a double-decker to make the trip to Forty Hall – like something out of a Jane Austen novel transplanted into suburban North London. It boasted some wonderfully ugly carvings, and engaging displays of 20th century childhood pursuits, advertising ephemera, ceramics of variable quality and assorted kitschy tat.

Forty Hall

The Borough of Haringey was on our February Borough Challenge list, so we got a bus to Wood Green, changing at Enfield Town. It was a bit dark by the time we got there, so I’d like to go back for a more comprehensive photo-stroll, but I managed to grab a few shots of the tube station, and got mildly admonished for my pains by a London Transport employee.

Wood Green
Wood Green Tube Station

Finally, we got the tube back to Central London. Soho was heaving with romantically-inclined couples – we had entirely forgotten it was Valentine’s Night. We found a table at Café Em’s, decked out with primly closed daffodil buds and heart-shaped balloons with an unfortunate resemblance to comedy breasts.

So all in all, an interesting jaunt for Valentine’s Day – but I’m still waiting for my flowers and chocolate.