Saturday, June 11, 2011

Juneathon 2011 Day 11: Localism vs Cosmopolitism

2011 Streak 162/365: Walk - 4.47 miles, Time 1hr 35min, Weather - blue sky, white clouds, coolish breeze
Drain - Piccotts End
I have no idea whether Hemel Hemsptead drains Nos 1-3 still exist or how many there were above 4, but I am delighted this has survived. It reminds of of the time when Hemel had its own iron foundry and the independence of local communities. Intimations of past ages often come through these small details rather than the big houses and monuments which are preserved as heritage statements. In my own obtuse way I will sometimes find an old weathered brick wall more interesting than a room in a stately home, all carefully dressed and furnished with appropriate decorations.
But back to the drain. I like the 8 bar design to accommodate the 8 letters in Hempstead - excellent. 
Finding pleasure in these local details makes me think I lead a restricted life. I vacillate between the view that you can see the universe in a grain of sand and the whole web interconnectedness  is accessible from any  and every spot, to thinking that there is a big interesting world out there, with so much to be seen.
This internal debate came into sharper focus today as I read of the death  of Patrick Leigh Fermor. I cannot fully express my admiration for someone who could, at the age of 18, set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople as the courage and assurance needed to do such a thing is quite beyond me. The two books he produced about his journey (A time of gifts and Between the woods and the water) are well worth reading (I especially like the disjunction of a youthful adventure being recollected and written about when he was in his sixties).
I look at Hemel Hempstead drain covers and he traverses the whole of Europe - not a lot of difference really!


Anonymous said...

I'd vote cosmopolitan. If you like literary travel writing, I'd recommend Eland publishers. I've found a couple of wonderful reads on their list, which have really brought trips alive -

Highway Kind said...

Ah yes Eland Books. They have a good list