Saturday, October 29th 2016
As we had not been to Cafe Renoir in Kentish Town for a while, we decided to go there today. We have been there many times before (see, for example, A stroll around Kentish Town). Today it seemed different and I wonder whether it is under new management. We were a little disappointed and may not go back for a while.
Afterwards we set out on a ramble around the area without any fixed plan. Our attention was caught by this beautiful street tree, gloriously dressed in autumn colours. I don’t know what tree it is. Is it perhaps a maple?
I liked this old warehouse in Spring Place. It has a look of dependable solidity and is not unlovely. I know nothing about it but suspect it dates from the Victorian or Edwardian periods. It still has a hoist beside a loading door but the bell buttons beside the leftmost front door suggest that it has been converted for residential use.
On the corner of Arctic Street, Tigger was in time to stop me blundering into a residence of a different kind. A large spider had created a web about three feet in diameter and there were supporting threads stretching across the pavement to a road sign. The spider was motionless in the centre of the web. The threads were very fine and the spider seemed suspended in mid air. Spiders must have a hard time finding food in winter but the size of this one suggests it is a very successful individual so perhaps it will survive.
In Cressfield Close we witnessed a stand-off between a cat and some squirrels. Did the squirrels know the cat was there, waiting to pounce and were teasing him, or were they unaware of his presence? I suspect the former and that they were having some fun at his expense. There were three squirrels in the tree though you can see only two in the photo, one where the tree divides and another, posed head-down on the left of the trunk. It was this one that later came down the tree onto the ground and sat up as though completely unaware of the cat. The cat pounced but the squirrel was far too quick and disappeared into nearby bushes, leaving the cat frustrated.
We next paid a visit to the Kentish Town City Farm. How do you define a city farm? It’s difficult because each one is different. They are not commercial and unashamedly ask visitors for voluntary contributions. They provide the public, and particularly children, with the opportunity of seeing farm animals and poultry and also allow volunteers to work on the farm and care for the inmates.
I particularly like goats and we spent some time beside this enclosure. The goat in the picture is asleep but maintains his dignity so well that I can only describe him as being ‘majestically asleep’.
Tigger took this picture of me engaging in a photographic tête à tête with one of the goats.
City farm animals are of course well used to people and not nervous of them. Depending on individual character, they either ignore us or approach us to see if there is anything on offer. There are notices warning us not to feed the animals but, of course, some people do and, as a result, some of the animals will respond hoping for a snack.
I’m not sure whether these are sheep or goats. With their black and white fleece they are attractive and unusual. City farms do often keep breeds that you would not expect to find on commercial farms. (Update 12/11/2016: see WOL’s comment that these are Jacob sheep.)
This one contemplated me with an expression of thoughtful sadness, rather like that of a dog that has been told off and is hoping for a reconciliation with its owner. I felt like giving it a hug and saying ‘There, there’ but notices warn you not to touch the animals. In any case, it would probably find contact with me alarming rather than comforting!
There are several areas in which plants of various kinds are grown. This was, I think, the largest of the gardens and it was watched over by three scarecrows. Whether they actually scared any of the crows, I am unsure.
A farm without a cow is like a carriage with a horse – or something like that. Anyway, this farm has a cow, a handsome black one. The fact that it was recumbent rather than standing up suggested to Tigger that we should expect rain though how accurate bovine weather forecasting is, I do not know.
A close neighbour of the cow is the pig. He or she was having a lie-in and so we could only admire him or her from a distance. Pigs intrigue me because of the closeness of their genetic relationship with humans. The evolutionary relationship between pigs and primates has been known for a long time but more evidence of this has emerged recently (e.g. see Pigs and humans share more genetic similarities than previously believed). Perhaps our subconscious recognition of this relationship lies behind stories such as the myth of Circe and George Orwell’s Animal Farm (Summary here).
I was glad to see that the smaller members of the community had not been forgotten. ‘Insect hotels’, large and small and of various designs, are increasingly common in parks and gardens and other places such as city farms. If this is a sign of increasing awareness that insects are essential to the environment and not just nuisances to be swatted then it is to be welcomed.
We reached the end of the farm and turned back. As we passed the goat enclosure again, I saw that one of the goats had jumped up onto a plank suspended between two concrete blocks and had fallen asleep… standing up!
This is one of the horses on the farm, apparently called Champion (perhaps in reference to Gene Autry’s Champion the Wonder Horse). Above him sits one of the pigeons that seem quite at home on the farm.
In the farmyard were ducks and chickens of various breeds. This magnificent white cockerel strode among them in a very dignified manner, obviously considering himself the boss of the farmyard.
After visiting the city farm, we made our way towards Camden Town. On the way we passed along Queen’s Crescent where I photographed this market stall in front of the public library.
Queen’s Crescent Market is one of London’s oldest street markets though it’s not as famous as some. It takes place of Thursdays and Saturdays and a wide range of goods, including food and household items, was on display.
In Camden Town, a happy surprise awaited us. At the Chalk Farm Road end of Hartland Road we found one of our favourite street artists at work. Dank (Dan Kitchener) was working on a large painting which he had sketched out with white line drawings. It was an opportunity to see an artist working on the early stages of a painting. After a few words with Dan, we left him to continue his work, intending to go back soon to see the completed painting another day.