Edgelands at Heathrow (II)

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Inspired by my late night readings of Premier Inn edgelands experiences in Edgelands (see yesterday’s post), I awoke as dawn broke this morning in a caffeine-buzzed crazed desire to wander the perimeters of my own Heathrow Premier Inn.

5 am. A rosy streaked horizon as I looked over the incoming flight path and Jumbos emerged as shooting stars from the heavens. I persuaded Himself to join me on a brisk morning walk along some suburban dual carriageway connecting the London boroughs of Hillingdon and Hounslow, or (if you cared to look at it in a gentler pre-war way, the parishes of Cranford and Belford).

Classic edgelands. We attempted to walk around the hotel but were defeated by razor wire after 5 minutes. But we did encounter some sweet-scented roses and a few pleasantly purple buddleia bushes.

Retracing our steps to the highway, we set off on a ramble along the Tarmac, skirting past deserted empty lots and abandoned offices juxtaposed with a brand new drive-thru Starbucks and KFC complex and grimy car-wash joints and cab company offices.

Every couple of minutes a jet flew in over our heads, so low that even I, in my specless myopic morning state, could read the airline logos.

We wondered about living along this roaring highway underneath the flight path. Few people were on the streets at this hour, but those we encountered did not seem unduly troubled by the noise levels. The most deafening sounds came from the blasting music of a particularly scruffy carwash, the centrepiece attraction of a pre-war Arts and Crafts junction, encircled by stucco terraces adorned with heavily mullioned windows and gloriously incongruous turrets. I bet there’s a proud municipal postcard originating from the thirties to be found in some antiques market: “Cranford Junction, near London Airport.”

And underneath all the present-day grime and dilapidation, some hints of old Cranford. An elegant road bridge spanned a quiet wooded valley with a little river trickling through, entitling the adjacent newbuild to call itself the Riverside Conference and Banqueting Centre instead of the Flightpath Function Facility.

Perhaps I should make the Hillingdon Premier Inn the base for my next vacation.

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