An early train journey in a still empty carriage to take me south to the capital. Across the Fens at first, then chalky downland before racing through leafy commuter towns into the city.
It’s a beautiful morning, with a late summer early autumn sun low in the sky, painting the landscape with luscious colours. Golden fields contrast with those already ploughed, the rich fenland soil jet black. Brilliant green grass banks and verges lie in between. The trees are on the turn – leaves turning brown but it’s still too early for the reds and golds of true autumn.
The land here is always on the move – more liquid than solid, and this year’s extreme weather, in turn freezing, then wet, a two month drought, the extraordinary heat followed by more rain has shifted the embankment. An alarming lurch causes the normally private commuters to share wry smiles and raised eyebrows.
Then a university town and bustle before the voluptuous curve of the downs that rise here at the eastern end of the Chilterns, gentle green grasslands flecked with chalk in the pale earth. I fall asleep, to wake on a now packed train trundling slowly and noisily across the points on its way in to the terminus.
There is a rush, a burst of activity. Throngs of people walking, running, scurrying to work, onto buses, into coffee shops or, like me, down into the underground, to be dispersed across the city like seeds drifting in the wind. My particular gust carries me to the calm suburban west, ahead of the sun still rising behind me.