Today we went to the local branch of Giraffe for breakfast as we had not been there for a while.
It was quite chilly this morning but we went for a walk, starting with a little street called Colebrooke Row. Outside a beautician’s, there was a blackboard. It had been “edited” by some wag.
We saw two heads in a window. They said they were Blues musicians. They were made of wood.
Everywhere in London you are likely to come across vestiges of the past. Sometimes they are self-explanatory and other times, as below, they offer only a hint of their story.
At least, I assume that’s what it was, a women-only hostel. The faded sign reads:
9D & 1/- PER NIGHT
4/6 & 6/- PER WEEK
It must be quite old as it dates from a time when you could get a room for the night for 9 old pence (3.75p) or one shilling (5p) and for a whole week for 4 shillings and sixpence (22.5p) or 6 shillings (30p). Not only that but the economy was stable enough for the manager to have the prices painted on the wall.
A little further along Colebrooke Row, at number 55, is the above plaque. Henry Hyndman (1842-1921) is credited with founding Britain’s first socialist party, the Social Democratic Federation. Other members were William Morris and Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl Marx. How many people remember Henry Hyndman and his organization now?
We passed along the rather pretty Duncan Terrace, one end of which is shown above. Named after Admiral Duncan, commander of the fleet against the Dutch at the battle of Camperdown (1797), the Terrace was once distinguished by its position beside the New River, created to bring much need water to North London. These days, the river is hidden in pipes running under the park that runs along the street.
We continued on down to the Regent’s Canal. There we spotted some black and red creatures (see above). I didn’t know that they were until I saw some ladybirds nearby and guessed that they were ladybird larvae. Looking them up when we returned home, I found that my guess was right.
It is pleasant to walk along the canal. Today it was quiet and calm and the barges were colourful.
At this point, the canal passes through the Islington Tunnel. I was fortunate to find a vantage point from which it is possible to see right through the tunnel. There is no tow path in the tunnel and in the old days, bargees would have had to send their horses through the streets and push the barges through the tunnel by hand.
We walked on down to City Road Lock and were in time to see a cruise barge going through. A lock is one of those simple but ingenious devices that are impossible to improve. They allow boats to negotiate different levels on the waterways. While they are best operated (as here) by two people, they can be worked by just one person. And yes, the barge did wait for the two crew members to climb aboard again.
In the second picture above, the right branch of the canal terminates in the City Basin. This would once have been a dock but is today an amenity. There is a canoe club and housing estates on either side.
Unfortunately, you cannot walk all the way along the side the water because the path is closed off. You have to make a detour through the streets. We did so and eventually reached City Road.
The sky was now looking rather stormy and it was beginning to rain. The wind had stiffened and I was wishing I had remembered to bring gloves. So after a last look around the Basin we caught the bus for home where we made tea and warmed ourselves up.