16th March, 2018
I was suffering the tail end of a migraine. Half sharp and somewhat cheerless. I thought a walk along the river would provide a calm and welcome respite, with added fresh air.
Opposite the Fletton Quays development, there were several swans on the shallow concrete steps that decend the riverbank. A park stretched alongside as far as Frank Perkins Parkway, which crossed the Ouse over a large concrete bridge. Things looked promising from this vantage.
A bit further along, a dislapidated barge, possibly occupied, faced the Fletton Quays. Not far away, a tent was pitched, the first of three I spotted on the park. A sort of tale of two cities separated by the river. Would the occupants of the tent or boat benefit from the new flats being built? It seemed unlikely. Despite the slightly spring like weather and near sunshine, the park felt bleak.
Further along, a disused looking public lavatory sat by itself, opposite a disused warehouse the other side of the river. The combination of the landscape, which usually I would find interesting if grim, and the migraine, brought a feeling of increasing gloom and disengagement.
I carried on up the path which sloped upwards onto Frank Perkins Parkway. I had assumed it would allow a left turn which would take me in the right direction back to work. But it only turned right. I decided to carry on, cross the river and double back.
The foot/cycle path across the river was separated from the dual carriageway by a waist high metal fence. Not that reassuring when enormous lorrys roared past. The path turned out to be a long one, with no choice but to either keep going or turn back, apart from an unofficial desire path down a steep slope through some trees, leading to a building site. I wasn't tempted by it.
The path eventually came out near an allotment, where a left turn alongside a cemetery offered a way back in the direction of town. Leaving behind the grim path, the heavy gloom it had brought, in combination with the left overs of the migraine, dissipated a bit.
A suburb of brown 1930s houses further along was overlooked by Peterborough United football ground, but despite this the atmosphere was not oppressive. The combination of 1930s housing and the football ground, not unlike the area around Wembley and no doubt countless other football grounds, conjured up images of Saturday afternoons in an indeterminate time. Football matches, grandstand on telly, tea round your nanna's with the football results on. An atmosphere dregded up from somewhere in my memory..and I don't even like football.
Emerging onto the main drag of London Road was a return to a more oppressive atmosphere, coinciding with the sky turning greyer as the sun went in. The stretch back to the river consisted of a closed pub, a large hand car wash operation and a series of unpromising looking takeaways.
Back in the town centre minutes later I saw two young people dressed in the Goth style. An unusual site in Peterborough. It's as if they had been conjured up to mark the end of an unusually oppressive walk, ambassadors of a gloomy Friday lunchtime.