If you live in an area as densely populated as I do, where one city seamlessly blends into the next and even the greener agricultural fringes with their fields and small patches of woodland just seem a little less tightly knitted, you are used to a certain level of business. Cars on the road. People running their errands. Supermarket customers queuing at understaffed checkout desks.
So the following observation took me by complete surprise, though I certainly should have expected it. After all it is mid-January; for days temperatures have been below zero, even here in north-western Rhineland. No snow, though, just frozen soil and puddles turned into ice.
Under these conditions there seem to be few places so perfectly quiet, so perfectly at peace with themselves as a garden centre at 9.15 am on a Wednesday morning.
Plants in deep slumber, their leaves rolled up or lost. In a heated glass house some eager azaleas, pink crimson and white. Not a soul in sight except for an employee quietly unpacking some bird seed.
(Before you ask what on Earth I was doing there: Cavendish had asked me to get some bark mulch for his Dahlias.)
On a less winterly note: Yesterday evening we finished rewatching Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which has aged surprisingly well. A clear victory of writing and acting over relatively low production values. Even in this day and age of near perfect CGI worlds the show manages to be every bit as atmospheric as it used to be. Also, it’s fun to see a young Peter Capaldi play Islington.