Rock down to Casino Avenue

Adapting the catchy lyrics of an Eddy Grant hit from the 1980s, this post on the All About Walking blog, is about a project we began in 2012.  We had just won a contract from Greenwich Healthy Living Services to create walking and cycling routes around every health centre in the borough. To undertake this, we recruited a dozen freelancers like ourselves to help us create all the routes.

We divided up the borough and started walking and cycling around the neighbourhoods surrounding each of the health centres – we discovered corners of the borough we had never been to, as well as covering miles and miles of southeast London’s suburban streets.  It was at that time of year, a week in March, similar to the one we are in now, with bright, sunny weather with with bright blue skies, followed by grey drizzled days. What cheered us all up on the grey days, were the bursts of colour from flowering magnolia in front gardens that we passed.

As we were mapping the walking and cycling routes, it wasn’t to much more of a task to map where the magnolia were, and so a project emerged that we called “Magnificent Magnolia” or #MagMag 

Once we had walked or cycled a route twice (a second time to gender check it at a different time of day), we wrote a commentary and handed over a draft to the mapping team at the borough council.  In all, we devised more than 140 circular routes! To be honest most of the team were focused on that task and were not particularly interested in my Magnificent Magnolia project, so consequently my magnolia map was somewhat limited.

However each year since I’ve tried to map Magnificent Magnolia I have encountered in the streets of south London’s suburbia – often in front gardens and occasionally as street trees.   Huge and beautiful flowers that only last a few days as their petals are often knocked by the wind or rain.

Five years ago I met Paul Wood a.k.a. @thestreettree introduced by Katrina Ramsey at the London Mayor’s office.  We had been doing some work for Katrina for London Tree Week and she felt that Paul with his enthusiasm for street trees and the Museum of Walking could make a great team running live events of tours of tree-lined streets – so was born our Explore the Urban Forest walks.

It was Paul who introduced me to Casino Avenue between North Dulwich station and Herne Hill (check Google Streetview here), along which you will find magnolia as street trees. It was this time two years ago that we had to postpone and then cancel one of our  Explore the Urban Forest walks with Paul which would’ve brought 20+ people to discover the Magnificent Magnolia of Casino Avenue.

So when you are out and about walking (or even cycling) in south London in March keep an eye out for those Magnificent Magnolia and when you get a chance “rock down to Casino Avenue”.

All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..

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