I had an errand to run this morning, so I set off along Upper Street towards Islington Green. Even though it wasn’t as cold as Saturday, the day was obviously autumnal, with overcast sky and a hint of moisture in the air.
Islington Green itself was deserted even though it was by now after 11 am. Usually, it’s the haunt of pram-pushing au pairs who gather in gaggles to chat while their toddler charges run riot. My destination was behind me, however.
The site where Waterstones bookshop stands was once occupied by Collins’ Music Hall (in the photo, you can see the commemorative blue plaque between two windows on the first floor). Today, little more than the façade remains, the original music hall interior having been almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1958.
I had a remaining £10 book token and felt like spending it, hence my visit to the book emporium. I fancied something mathematical but not too technical as this was for relaxed reading. One or two titles interested me vaguely and then I came across a book by Robin Wilson, entitled Lewis Carroll in Numberland (Penguin, ISBN 9780141016108). That looked to be just the sort of thing I was after, mathematical, amusing, entertaining, not too heavy. I hope it lives up to the promise.
At the other end of the small green stands this gentleman, Sir Hugh Myddleton, who lived from 1560 to 1631. Many streets in the area are named after him, as is a school. You soon sense that Sir Hugh is famous for something or other.
Sir Hugh was a very active man and took part in many enterprises but, as far as London is concerned, he is chiefly remembered for bringing in much needed water by constructing the New River. This terminated near Saddler’s Wells and was opened in 1631. It still supplies water to North London, though the population has greatly increased in the meantime and further sources of water have had to be found.
On either side of the statue is a fountain, formed by water being poured into a basin by a boy figure but sadly, these no longer function and the whole monument seems somewhat eroded—rather a shame, given the importance of the person celebrated and its prominent position at the Junction of Upper Street and Essex Road.
I walked back along Camden Passage, once one of London’s most famous centres for antiques. It is today but a shadow of its former self, especially since the Tram Shed has been redeveloped and its tenants evicted.
Things are a little more lively on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the antiques market is held. Those are the best times to come because although there are antiques shops along here, these days most open only by appointment or have limited opening hours.
There was something about the dull grey light and the dampness in the air that was not conducive to prolonging my walk. I thought about going to Tinderbox for a coffee but decided instead to go home. It was pleasant to make tea and switch on the desk light. Oh dear, I hope I am not falling victim to SAD!