We stayed at home in the warm over the Christmas weekend and very nice and comfortable it was too. On Boxing Day, though, we thought it was time to venture out.
Our usual breakfast places were closed for the the Christmas break but the Station Cafe down at King’s Cross was open so we had our brunch there.
We then took a bus down to Tottenham Court Road because Tigger wanted to go to Muji to pick up a couple of items. This was where the first highlight of the day took place. As we were leaving the shop, we noticed some pigeons milling about on the doormat. Someone must have dropped some seeds or crumbs and the pigeons were pecking away happily.
We stopped to photograph them but just at that moment, some people came into the shop. This scared the pigeons who tried to fly out of through the doorway over the heads of the incomers. Most of them made it through by dint of skilful aerobatics but one pigeon, a bit slow to take off, found his way blocked and flew off sideways. This took him into the shop window. The pigeon was trapped behind the glass vainly trying to push his way through the transparent barrier.
Tigger asked one of the shop assistants for permission for me to go into the shop window to catch pigeon and release him outside. This was granted. There was some room for manoeuvre in the window, fortunately, but catching a frightened pigeon is not the easiest thing to do and he could have fluttered away around the display.
Tigger, however, did a clever thing: she ran her bag along the outside of the shop window driving the frightened pigeon towards me. I was able to catch him in my hands. I remembered a previous occasion when I rescued a trapped pigeon (see Showers in Bath) and this taught me to make sure to confine both wings. If the pigeon gets a wing free, he can wriggle out from between your hands. Having got a (gentle) grip on the pigeon, I took him outside, moved well away from the door, and tossed him gently into the air. He needed no further prompting and flew up and across the road to a building opposite.
Holding this live pigeon in my hands was the highlight of my day. I have said before that I love pigeons, without prejudice to whether they are domesticated pigeons or street pigeons, and there was the bonus that I was freeing one that was otherwise trapped. As I literally had my hands full, there are of course no photos of the event so you will have to imagine the drama for yourselves.
After this, we went for a bus ride. Given the cold and the fact that nothing much was open apart from a few shops, a sightseeing tour courtesy of the public bus service seemed a good option.
We got off the bus at Muswell Hill. Most shops were closed and we thought we would have a cup of something hot at the Crocodile Cafe. Alas, it too was closed.
We went for a little walk around and I took the photo at the top of the post. Nearby was this fire escape decorated with icicles. There was a similar patch halfway up so I hope no one had to use the stairs in an emergency, especially in the dark. A nasty accident could have ensued.
We boarded a bus once more, this one heading towards Brent Cross. This district is known for the big shopping centre of the same name. The area takes its name from the River Brent that flows through it.
The Brent would once have been a clean river running through the countryside but today it is imprisoned within artificial banks and is a repository of prams, supermarket trolleys and other detritus. I feel sad for it whenever I see it.
Brent Cross Shopping Centre was so crowded that it was hard to move through the crush of people. It also took us a long time to arrive because the access roads were jammed with traffic. The best thing was to take another bus and escape.
This bus took us to Highgate where, by one of those coincidences that aren’t really coincidences, we arrived at just the right time to have a meal in one of our favourites eating places, an Italian restaurant on the edge of Parliament Hill Fields called Al Parco for obvious reasons.
This was the second highlight of the day, and a good way to finish our Boxing Day outing. If you look carefully, you will see me reflected in one of the restaurant’s mirrors.