Monday, 8 August 2011


This lunchtime, while sitting in a Kensington public garden with my book and sandwich, I was hit on the back of the head by flying bark. In a lifetime replete with more-or-less comical minor indignities (I like to think of myself as a kind of English Monsieur Hulot), this was a first. The bark, I should explain, was plane-tree bark, and great chunks of it were being stripped from the trees by the fierce northwest wind, every gust bringing more bark gliding through the air and clattering to the ground around me. It's beautiful stuff, plane-tree bark, with its curved, cedar-brown underside like the lining of a cigar tube, and, happily, it's light enough to be the bark of choice if you have to be hit by a chunk of the stuff. Indeed it was a pleasure to be struck - a rather wonderful experience - and I don't think I've ever before seen such a dramatic barkstorm.


  1. a lifetime replete with more-or-less comical minor indignities ...

    Masterly, Nige. I have another friend with that almost mystical ability to find the potential for modest injury or humiliation in even the most benign activities, but I don't think he's managed to get himself attacked by a strip-teasing tree before.

    I suppose the solution is to never leave the house, but of course even there dangers lurk: the vaccum cleaner, the ironing board, the trousers...

  2. Only yesterday my wife was remarking on the quantity of plane tree bark strewn around the streets. It's probably a once-in-a-hundred-years event. A perfect barkstorm.

  3. Quite worthwhile information, thank you for the article.