online: 19 february 2006
modified: 18, 19 february 2006

18 february 2006 thoughtful design

14:50 From a seat in Hampstead Heath Extension, facing north. At the horizon are two ridges, one beyond and higher than the other. The furthest is (i estimate) about 5 miles or 7 km away. It's covered with fields and woods, not houses, so i suppose it's part of the green belt around London.

Today i am feeling too tired to walk so i sit here, wondering if i should have stayed at home to sleep before walking?

While i was writing that, one of the keepers spoke to me... she was collecting litter. We spoke of the heath and how marvellous it is and how much it is valued by those who come here. She told me she was trained in gardening but branched off into this, the taking care of a piece of city forest (as i call it). I gave her the address of this website. Perhaps she will be the first of the keepers to read and to be aware of the digital diary!

I walked here through Hampstead Garden Suburb, enjoying again the thoughtfulness that is evident in its design: the cottage-like roofs, the wide windows of small panes, the uniformly rectangular hedges, the curved roads, the feeling that someone has cared for each detail but without the intrusion of ego.

When i continued walking i decided to revisit the house of:

1902 - '1983
1936 - 1983

It is in a terrace of 4 houses next to the wildest part of the heath. I remember speaking to Nikolaus Pevsner after one of his lectures in 1950 or so. I was then studying engineering but wanting to change to industrial design. I asked if he could tell me how to make this change and if he thought me suited to it. He agreed to look at some of my designs but his reply was not encouraging.

Close by is the house once lived in by Michael Ventris, the architect who (with John Chadwick) deciphered linear B, an ancient script in early Greek.

I paused at a yellow skip full of earth penetrated by roots. I tried to pull out some of the roots but i could not... then i looked closely at those pieces of black earth reinforced and connected by tough roots about 1-2 cm thick - i don't remember being so closely aware of the nature and great strength roots-and-ground before.

I walked all the way home, choosing the wildest and most undulating paths i could find, and felt revived by the walk.

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