Coffee and some boats

Tigger’s on the early shift today, leaving her office at 4 pm. For once I took the initiative and suggested that we could meet and go for coffee. Tigger was happy to agree.

St John Street
St John Street

As usual on such occasions, I went to the bus stop in St John Street to catch a 153 bus.

Aboard the 153
Aboard the 153

This speedy single-deck bus goes to All Hallows, where I change, and is rarely crowded.

All Hallows in London Wall
All Hallows in London Wall

All Hallows Church stands in the street called London Wall because the city walls (bits of which remain) passed along here. Though by no means a small building, the church seems dwarfed by the overgrown City towers.

East Dock
East Dock

On arriving, I was early and went down to St Katharine Docks. The boat population in this dock seems semi-permanent. A number of craft have been here for several years and are familiar to me. A selection follows:

Zingara
Zingara

Occupying a comfortable corner mooring is Zingara. The name means “Romany girl” (in these times of politically correct strictures we are apparently no longer allowed to use the word “gypsy” and I would hate to upset the self-appointed Thought Police) but a number of vessels have borne this name, some more famous than others.

Dana
Dana

The neat little Dana is registered in Doetinchem (Netherlands) if her stern inscription is correct but has rested quite happily here for as long as I have been visiting the dock.

Libertijn of Alphen
Libertijn of Alphen

The name is Dutch (Alphen is a town in West Netherlands) but the stern inscription says she was registered in London. How do you pronounce the Dutch ‘ij’? There seem to be two schools of thought, one saying it is “long ei” (pronounced like English ‘ay’ in “hay”) and the other saying it is pronounced like English “eye”. Anyone willing to act as referee?

Grand Cru
Grand Cru

This craft was presumably named by someone who liked good wine. A “gran cru” is a wine of high reputation though whether the term is suitably applied to naming a boat is a matter of personal choice.

Excelsior
Excelsior

I almost feel sorry for anything called by the overused word “excelsior” which has now, by use and abuse, become virtually meaningless. (It meant something like “higher” or “loftier” in Latin. I have no idea whether the Romans ever used this word to name ships.) I’m sure, though, that to the owners of this craft, the name is both meaningful and loved.

West Dock
West Dock

Still having time to spare, I ventured into the West Dock though I come here relatively rarely and don’t know the names of any of the boats or whether they too stay here long-term.

Back in East Dock
Back in East Dock

I returned to the East Dock and took the above photo looking in the opposite direction from my first photo. You can see the large apartment block that lines the dock on two of its sides.

Sun Walk
Sun Walk

I returned along the side of the dock by this pleasant path called by the allusive name of Sun Walk. It takes me past the boats I showed you and a good many others.

Unusual sight - empty berths
Unusual sight – empty moorings

I was surprised to notice quite a few empty moorings today in the dock, something I had not seen here before. I wonder whether it has something to do with the economic downturn.

Art, predumably
Art, predumably

Leaving the dock, I passed this artwork consisting of three crumpled lumps of metal. Possibly it means something to someone but it says nothing to me.

Duke’s Place
Duke’s Place

When Tigger joined me, we boarded a 100 and travelled a few stops to this street. It is called Duke’s Place (at least, that’s the name of the bus stop) but to what duke it refers I have no idea. It had now started to rain which was annoying as I had decided against wearing a rain jacket. I did have my folding umbrella but as we did not have far to go, I did not deploy it.

Update: For an explanation of the name of Duke’s Place, see the helpful comment by rescuedogdexter below.

Through the window at Black Sheep
Through the window at Black Sheep

Where we were going was a branch of Black Sheep Coffee. We found a pair of comfortable armchairs by the window. You can see what the weather is like by the gentleman carrying a brolly crossing the street.

St Botolphe’s
St Botolphe’s

Stopping for coffee had the added advantage that the rain stopped while we were inside. We then walked to Liverpool Street Station where we could catch a bus home, passing St Botolphe’s Church on the way.

Walking through the station
Walking through the station

The station was very busy as it was by now the onset on the rush hour. We threaded our way through the bustling crowd to the bus station, adjacent to the railway station.

Our bus is lurking
Our bus is lurking

The 153 “terminates” here, as TfL jargon has it, and the driver takes a 15-minute break. The bus lurks in the tunnel on the left. The bus whose rear you see poking out is a 153 but not our 153. It has just arrived and will wait 15 minutes before emerging. Our 153 is further inside the tunnel about to come out. A little queue had formed by the time it arrived but we all had seats for the ride home.

It has been announced that an indefinite strike involving many of London’s bus routes has been suspended while the union considers a pay offer. I mention this because good news is hard to come by at present and every crumb of it is worth savouring. Any hope of a similar suspension of train and tube strikes?

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Strolling Somers Town

Lloyd Baker Street

The day started with a panic. We had booked flu jabs at our GP surgery at 8:35 and I had completely forgotten until 8:10 when Tigger reminded me. There was then a mad rush to dress and hurry to the surgery. We managed it, fortunately, and received our jabs. Afterwards we retired to the deli for coffee where I took the above photo of Lloyd Baker Street lit by early morning sunshine.

Forecourt, British Library

Later, we went to the British Library where Tigger wanted to do some research.

Humanities 1 reading room

As required, we left our bags in the locker room. This time I remembered to take my membership card with me to be admitted to the reading room but… I forgot my reading specs and the charging cable for my phone. Maybe next time I’ll remember everything,

Ossulston Street

Leaving the library, we walked down Ossulston Street, somewhere we go only rarely (in fact, I don’t recall ever going there).

As an aside: It annoys me intensely that when I want to photograph a street, the view is cluttered by two continuous lines of parked vehicles. I remember that when I was a child, parked vehicles in a residential street were the exception rather than the rule. We children could play in the road because passing vehicles were a rarity.

A private garden

Through closed gates, we saw this garden, private to residents. Strange how inaccessible places exercise a fascination on us!

Global Generstion

We came upon what appeared at first sight to be a community garden but which, on further inspection, turned out to be much more. It is run by Global Generation which describes itself as an educational charity. Certainly, there was a lot going on and we didn’t really get to the bottom of it all.

Classroom

The was a classroom,…

Roundhouse

…a roundhouse,…

Yurt

…a yurt,…

Hugel mound

…at least one Hugel mound and a story garden which we could not visit because there was an activity taking place in it.

The neighbourhood we were now exploring is called Somers Town. It has seen many waves of immigration, notably that of Spanish political dissidents fleeing the repression of King Fernando VII of Spain in the early 19th century.

Mini parks

As we progressed round the streets, we saw a number of these mini parks, spaces created in the road with plants and seating. Anything that reclaims space from motor vehicles is welcome in my book.

King’s Cafe

We were both beginning to have thoughts about lunch when we serendipitously came upon King’s Cafe.

In King’s Cafe

It’s quite small as cafes go (in fact it was a tight squeeze between our table and the one next to it) but the steady stream of customers indicates that it is popular with the locals. We certainly have no complaints about our lunch.

The Somers Town Coffee House

My attention was caught by this pub – at least, I think it’s a pub – called the Somers Town Coffee House. They advertise that they serve food all day (and presumably, coffee too). We didn’t investigate it today, though, having just had a satisfying lunch.

Churchway

We wandered down this pedestrian street called Churchway. This seems to indicate that the local church once stood hereabouts, an impression supported by the fact that names of saints abound along Drummond Crescent to which Churchway leads.

Glimpse of a church

I think the original church that gave rise to the names must have vanished though, from Drummond Crescent we did glimpse this curious drum-shaped building, identified as a church by the cross on the roof.

St Aloysius RC Church

The drum belongs to the RC Church of St Aloysius whose front is in Eversholt Street.

Horizontal housing estate

I noticed this housing estate, looking cheerful as it basked in sunshine. I thought how nice it was to see a horizontal housing estate instead of the dreadful, dangerous and anti-social tower blocks. It amazes me that such towers are still being built. Planners, it seems, are immune to learning the lessons of history. Or does the idea of a quick profit outweigh all other considerations?

Dead pub

I read that pubs are closing down at a faster rate than ever before. Some are being demolished but some are “repurposed”, often as residential properties. We first saw this one and then, not far away,..,

Dead pub

…another one, seemingly also entering forced retirement. This one still bears its original name – Eastnor Castle – whereas the previous one has been rendered anonymous.

A lane between greenery

Another pedestrian path, this one with greenery on both sides, led us to…

Tiny library

…a quiet street where, at the top of a flight of steps, was one of the smallest libraries I have seen. It contained a stock of books and CDs. I don’t know what you do to become a member or whether membership is even necessary. There is a mystery here, though: the flight of steps must surely once have led to a door. What happened to it?

Working Men’s College

I had been following Tigger, as I usually do, without necessarily knowing where we are or where we are going, trusting her to lead us safely to wherever we should end up. In seeing this venerable building, the Working Men’s College, founded 1854, I knew where we were – in Crowndale Road.

Aboard the 214

This was good news because it brought us onto the route of the 214 bus and I was beginning to feel tired and ready to catch the bus home. A bus duly arrived and we clambered aboard.

Saint Espresso

The bus delivered us to our nearest bus stop which is in Pentonville Road. It just so happens that the stop is next to a branch of Saint Espresso. Would a coffee round off our outing nicely?

Coffee at Saint Espresso

Yes, it would and did! We sat at a table in this tiny coffee shop and lingered a while over our our drinks before finally heading for home.

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Sixteen years

Sixteen years

WordPress has reminded me that I have been running this blog for sixteen years.

I started the blog on September 20th 2006 with no very clear idea as to what I was doing or whether I would continue from these uncertain beginnings.

Tigger and I had started living together in May 2005 and the blog was to become a chronicle of our life together. We often refer to it when we want to remember what happened when!

Though the blog is personal, it resides in the public domain so that anyone can read it. This has led to some rewarding exchanges and some continuing relationships that I value.

It is a wise (or foolish) man who dares to say where and what he will be sixteen years hence and as I am neither wise nor (I hope!) foolish, I will not try to guess. With my beloved Tigger beside me, I will take each day as it comes and see where they take us.

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