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A stroll around Temple

Snatching a spare half hour – hard to come by these days – to take my eyes off the street and look upwards (minding those pot- and manholes, unlike Thales). Memories of old college quads and late (too late) nights slouched over in the library, burrowed into absurd rabbit-holes of my own making – shh! keep your voice down! Surprised the public are even allowed to walk through here – free art just standing there on the street. Do you reckon these suited men ever bother to stop and take a look around? As I retrace Dad’s past lunchtime haunts, I remind myself to walk through here again, if only to catch a new pattern of shadows cast lazily across the ivory white, and watch the spires reaching, climbing, and fading into cloudless skies.

Early flowers budding for the bees, who think these warm days will never cease (thanks Keats!) Dive down from Fleet Street into the old stone gateway, from the familiar London blur of black and red towards these quiet cloistered streets. It’s easy to spot the tourists here – nodding to those with cameras also hanging heavy around their necks. Tucked along the path I meet a woman – she’s elderly, alone, and feeding the birds like that character in Mary Poppins. She tells me about this little oasis she’s made for herself, the birds she’s seen from her special bench (she loves my bird identifier app!), and how it doesn’t seem possible to have a public space this calm in the middle of a city like this. We say our goodbyes – I know we’ll bump into each other again. Magnolia petals, freshly fallen, break beneath my feet, and I think of all the gardeners working away, just out of the frame, of all the unacknowledged people who work to maintain this beauty, just so we can catch a glimpse of it on our lunchtime walks.

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