Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Intrigued by the mysteriously glowing yellow/orange thing in the sky (what do they call it again? I've forgotten), I dragged the bike out of the garage to see if I - and it - could actually move again.

Where to go? A quiet ride up the Regent's Canal, with a coffee break at the Pavilion Café in Victoria Park (the Sunday clientele here very much the knit-your-own-bicycle antithesis of what you might see around Canary Wharf).

Not so quiet, as it turned out. The towpath was approaching congestion, what with family groups out for a stroll and endless runners - clearly training for the marathon is getting under way. At an emptied council housing block in Hackney, windows are boarded up with photos of former residents, in this installation.

After following the canal to Islington, it's downhill all the way through Clerkenwell to Bloomsbury, to pick up a new book about one of my heroes, what to do? Well, once in Bloomsbury, the British Museum always has something new, and for the moment, it's the "Staffordshire Hoard", a newly-found collection of battered and crumpled Anglo-Saxon gold artefacts found in a field. No-one yet knows what it was all about, though to me it looks distinctly like the quickly-stashed proceeds of looting.

As a relief from all this high-mindedness, just around the corner is the Cartoon Museum, whose current exhibition on the magazine Viz is for the easily amused, but not for the easily shocked.

And on the way home in Shadwell, in the late afternoon sun (ah yes, that's what it's called), a blackbird was singing.

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