Springfield Park and a mosque

Saturday, Arpil 28th 2015

We decided to have a leisurely in-town day today and so we took time over breakfast. For this we went to the Gallipoli Cafe & Bistro in Upper Street, where they serve a tasty Turkish breakfast. (For us pesky vegetarians they kindly exchange the sausage for grilled haloumi.) The interior decor of the cafe is very elaborate as the picture below shows.

Gallipoli Cafe & Bistro, interior
Gallipoli Cafe & Bistro, interior

The picture is made up of several photos stitched together so there is some distortion and a bit missing at top left but I think it gives a good impression of the cafe interior.

After breakfast, we set out to find somewhere where we could wander and explore. An idea came to mind: when, on those sad occasions, I have to take Freya to the cattery, our train crosses a green expanse studded with bodies of water. I had often wondered what it was. Today, I was able to find out by the simple process of going there!

Springfield Park in context
Springfield Park in context
Click for the Google Map

The green area is called Springfield Park and it is in Hackney, in Upper Clapton, to be precise. Click on the above map to see a Google Map of the area. It is easily reached by bus and provides a charming setting for strolls, jogging and athletic pursuits.

How did such a spread of pleasant greenness (it is also a local conservation area) survive amidst the inexorable spread of the city? Briefly, in Georgian times when the area was still open country, there were once three family houses here, each with its own land. The whole estate came up for sale by auction in the early 1900s, by which time the surrounding area had been built up. A group of philanthropically minded local businessmen bought the property to ensure its survival and the London County Council later took it over. It is now in the care of Hackney Council. Two of the houses fell into disrepair and had to be demolished. Of the three, only Springfield House remains and today houses a cafe. You will find a little more detail on the Wikipedia’s Springfield Park page.

Springfield House
Springfield House
Now a cafe

Today it is accepted that parks have an important part to play in the conservation of wild life. But wild life is not only to be conserved; it is also to be enjoyed. For this, a park has to be designed so that it attracts wild creatures but is also comfortable for humans to move about in. This requires a compromise between ’wildness’ and convenience, for example in the provision of pathways and benches.

Springfield Park

Springfield Park, it seems to me, has achieved a successful combination of rough areas where wild creatures can feel at home and tidier parts where people can walk and observe. The crow in the above photo was happy to pose… as long as I didn’t venture too close.

Here are some more scenes from the park.

A natural-looking lake - with a fountain
The fountain

A nice example of compromise: a natural-looking lake but with a fountain! The fountain probably helps aerate the water for aquatic creatures as well as looking pretty.

Once a bowling green...

This was once a bowling green but today the pavilion is boarded up and the grass has been cut by a machine following a spiral path. It is no longer a flat green but a spread of rough grass. Perhaps it is being allowed to return to a more natural state. (I wonder what happened to the bowls players, though.)

Old tree

This old tree stands still unclothed from winter, its muscular limbs showing its age and its successful weathering of storms. Will it burst into new life or has its day passed?

Trees in blossom

Other, younger, trees nearby were already covered with blossom which shines brightly in the sunlight.

The River Lee Navigation

The River Lea passes this way but where it runs through the park it is called the River Lee Navigation (note the change of spelling). That is because it has been modified and managed to make it suitable for sailing on. Large numbers of barges were to be seen, most moored and obviously serving as people’s homes. One must admit that it is a pleasant spot to live in.

The waterside pub

If ever one gets tired of the greenery and the water, there is always the pub on the other side of the river…!

The broad path

A broad path or track runs along the river. It is used by walkers and joggers and, less happily, by others (see below).

A apir of mating swans

We saw a pair of swans on the water. They were doing their mating dance, their heads rising and descending in unison.

A heron fishing

We also spotted a heron fishing in one of the quieter streams which abound in this area which is part of the Walthamstow Marshes.

Railway bridge

Looking back, I could see the railway bridge and the very trains that carry Freya and me to and from Chingford.

In the photo you also see what I referred to above as a less happy sharing of the path: cyclists. Now, I have nothing against cyclists provided they follow the rules and do not come into conflict with pedestrians. The problem is that local authorities are creating more and more shared spaces, that is, paths that are used by both cyclists and pedestrians. This doesn’t work. On tow paths and tracks such as this, there are notices saying “Cyclists give way to pedestrians” but, generally, cyclists do not give way to pedestrians. They may ring their bells (which, with my hearing loss I usually don’t hear, anyway) and blunder through groups of walkers. Far from “giving way”, they are likely to shout at you for obstructing them. Cyclists and pedestrians need to be on separate paths. When will government at last understand this?

After our pleasant walk through the park (and, to be fair, the cyclists we met on the broad track caused us no problems) we caught a bus to Dalston. It was time for a late lunch and we knew where we wanted to go. We had started the day with a Turkish breakfast and so we continued with a Turkish lunch at Evin Cafe Bar in Kingsland High Street. We have been here before (see Cornish fishermen and the William Morris Gallery).

Before catching the bus home, we walked up the road and photographed the spectacular Turkish mosque, Aziziye Camii. Yes, I’ve photographed it before (see A stroll along Ermine Street) but it’s worth photographing again!

Aziziye Camii Mosque, Newington Road

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to Springfield Park and a mosque

  1. Mark Elliott says:

    Cyclists: quite a while ago, I wrote on my blog about the menace that cyclists constitute in the city where I work (http://thoughtsfromamountain.blogspot.ae/2014/01/why-cyclists-are-more-dangerous-than.html). Unfortunately, I think that the pampering of cyclists by politicians is quite a cheap (and politically correct) way of attempting to garner the green vote. As you say, cyclists and pedestrians simply don’t mix. More importantly, pedestrians should not be forced to do so.

    I am of the opinion that as soon as someone mounts a bike, they magically transform into a flower fascist. They automatically have right of way over the rest of (in their view, sub)humanity. Recently, on a trip to the country, I saw a couple arrive in a huge diesel-guzzling 4×4, take their bikes off their non-aerodynamic bike rack and cycle off along a (pedestrian only) track. An hour later, we had to jump into a ditch as they hurtled back down towards their 4×4 in order to return home. So much for non-polluting bicycles! So much for respecting the environment and their fellow men!

    Presumably, such people cycle to work,ecologically terrorising all and sundry and only use their fuel-thirsty 4×4 to get to unspoilt natural spots so that they can rip up the pathways with their bikes.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I am of the opinion that cyclists should be treated exactly like any other vehicle drivers. That is, that they should drive only on tracks specifically indicated for them (definitely not on pavements or pedestrian crossings); that they should have to take a driving test and obtain a driving licence that can be withdrawn in case of misdemeanour; and that they should have to take out third-party insurance to cover people or property they damage in case of collision.

      I am in favour of separate cycle tracks where there is room for these (though I every day see cyclists ignoring these and riding on the road instead) but only if these are also separate from pedestrian walkways. I often find myself walking on a track that is divided by a line for cyclists on one side and pedestrians on the other but guess where all the obstacles such as street lights, public notice posts, advertising stands are: yes, all on the pedestrian side so that we have to step onto the cycle track to go round them.

      Having tracks where cycles and pedestrians are mixed without even a dividing line is quite mad. We pedestrians should not be letting the government and local councils get away with this. Time we formed a Pedestrian Protection Society!

  2. WOL says:

    A lovely spot of green in the city. Parks are as good for people as they are for wildlife. They help to mitigate the “stone jungle” of the city.

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