Around the Angel

As it is another warm day and promising to be even warmer later on, we decided to go out earlier than usual today. We also went somewhat further than usual, “to get used to it”, as one might say, ahead of the intended general return to work, so far set for June 15th.

If you are keeping tabs on the temperature, it was around 20° C (68° F) when we went out and expected to rise at least another 5 degrees by mid-afternoon.

Islington High Street
Islington High Street

This was the scene as it appeared from beside the tube station in Islington High Street, with plenty of traffic and pedestrians. In fact, it was almost like a normal weekday before the pandemic.

Arcade
Arcade

We walked under the arcade in front of this row of banks and offices as there were fewer people here to dodge.

Caffè Mobile
Caffè Mobile

The little motorized coffee stall was ready for business though the barista didn’t seem very busy.

Upper Street and Angel Central
Upper Street and Angel Central

In Upper Street, in front of the entrance to the Angel Central shopping centre, is an important bus stop where a number of routes meet. Buses, we noticed, still attract relatively few passengers. Will that change on June 15th.?

Monument to Sir Hugh Myddelton
Monument to Sir Hugh Myddelton

Reaching Islington Green, we paid our respects to Sir Hugh Myddelton who brought water to London with his New River and also gave his name, unwittingly perhaps, to a number of streets and businesses around his New River Head. What would Sir Hugh make of today’s bustling Angel which, in his day, was a mainly rural area?

Dated 1902
Dated 1902

This striking building bears a date of 1902 and is an example of the mixture of styles and dates that characterizes this district.

Islington War Memorial
Islington War Memorial

In the park resides the Islington War Memorial, a controversial design known to the less pious as “the Doughnut”. Designed by John Maine, it was unveiled only in 2006, a temporary memorial by Charles Higham having been set up in 1918. Embarrassingly, work had to be done to shore it up in 2013 when the foundations proved to be inadequate and the monument began to sink. The wire outline of a soldeir with his rifle is not part of the monument but has been placed behind it for some reson.

Islington Green
Islington Green

Islington Green is a triangular-shaped park well placed in the centre of things. Apparently, it was never, as its name might suggest, a village green, but the remains of one time common land on which local farmmers had free grazing rights. Most of it was built on and the green remains as a small and pleasant memento of times past.

Camden Passage
Camden Passage

We entered Camden Passage, a walkway beween pubs, shops and restaurants, once famous for its antiques shops. The era of antiques came to an end when the owners of the old Tram Shed, which until then had housed a number of antiques stalls, decided to evict the antiques vendors and turn the shed over to single occupancy. Since then a number of businesses have occupied it for a while and then left. Perhaps it’s not a good spot for a big store. Either way, the loss of the antiques emporium provoked the gradual disappearance of other antiques shops and their replacement mainly with restaurants and special goods shops. There are still some antiques businesses left and two open spaces where antiques markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. (Outside of pandemics, of course.)

The Masked Blogger
The Masked Blogger

In Camden Passage was a shop selling re-usable face masks and we bought one each. I am far from convinced as to the protection they afford the wearer or anyone else but when the shops start opening and people start going back to work it is likely that we shall all be expected to wear masks on pubklic transport and anywhere where people gather in close proximity. We later decided that we had put the masks on upside down and so reversed them. They weren’t much more confortable that way round, either.

Clamshell with face

Clamshell with face
Clamshell with face

In Charlton Place, one of the house doorways is decorated with this attractive clamshell plaque with a female face in the middle. The ribs of the shell do double service as the figure’s hair.

Duncan Terrace
Duncan Terrace

This is a glimpse of Duncan Terrace, as exclusive a neighbourhood as it is picturesque. The New River runs along here but is now covered up. Duncan Terrace, incidentally, was named after Admiral Duncan who commanded the fleet against the Dutch at the battle of Camperdown in 1797.

More Duncan Terrace
More Duncan Terrace

We continued along Duncan Terrace towards City Road and… yes, Jusaka! The park on the left, which marks the course of the New River, is open but the managerment has instituted a one way system for walkers within it.

Squirrel
Squirrel

We met a squirrel who enaged in that run-stop-run-stop game that they play. I think it is because they are afraid of people but know that people sometimes feed them and so they like to keep a safe distance while watching in case we have something to give them.

Avian apartment block
Avian apartment block

Enough bird boxes have been installed in this tree to constitute a veritable avian apartment block.

Jay
Jay
Photo by Tigger

The Jays are perhaps our prettiest corvids with the Magpies following as a close second. They are also relatively scarce so it was good to see this one, especially as he came quite close to us as he hunted for food.

From here, we made our way out into City Road, crossed into Goswell Road and so to Jusaka where we had left our special Jusaka reusable takeaway cups, which they had kindly given us. Coffee in hand, we made the final dash to home.

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Three photos

Today’s cloudy sun has raised the ambient temperature by another degree to 27° C (79° F). Any time now, I am going to start feeling anxious about global warming 🙂

We made do with a stroll straight to Myddelton’s and back. I had time for just for the three photos below.

Claremont Square
Claremont Square

In this photo we are looking along the lower side of Claremont Square (the upper end is bounded by the main road) with the reservoir on the right. We are looking directly towards the sun though this is momentarily veiled by clouds.

Being limited in our movements by the lockdown has made me concentrate on the neighbourhood and has enabled me to know it even better than before, a case of familiarity, far from breeding contempt, leading to a deeper understanding and appreciation.

Curvaceous tree
Curvaceous tree

In line with the above, I noticed today for the first time how picturesquely curvaceous this tree is. It makes me think of a giant version of a Japanese bonsai tree. What, I wonder, caused it to grow into this crooked but decorative shape? Now that I have noticed it, I shall look out for it and enjoy it each time I pass by.

Notices in the pub window
Notices in the pub window

I mentioned in An extra treat that the George and Monkey had reopened for takeaway service. These notices in the window spell out the terms of service. I expect you can read them (if you want to) so I won’t transcribe them.

We found our friends at Myddelton’s busy but as amiable as ever. Buying coffee has become a social event rather than merely a mundane shopping transaction!

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Two pubs no longer pubs

For once, the Bank Holiday weather was exactly as people wish Bank Holiday weather to be. The sun beamed kindly from a cloudless sky and the temperature hovered around the 25° C (77° F) mark. And all this without any hat-endangering wind 😉

We enjoyed a good walk, longer than usual, during which I took a lot of photos. A selection of them appears below.

The Gate, anciently the Clown
The Gate, anciently the Clown

At 370 St John Street is the above establishment, presently home to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant called The Gate. A late 19th-century building, now Grade II listed, it is, as you may guess, an old pub. I am not sure what it was called but suspect it had many names in its time. It seems that before this one was built, the site was occupied by a pub called The Clown, supposedly in honour of Joseph Grimaldi who frequented the place after performing at the nearby Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Part of St John Street
Part of St John Street

We continued in down St John Street, a section of which is shown above. It is quite a pleasant road, containing a number of interesting buildings, notably the local public library and the Dame Alice Owen pub mentioned previously (see Windy and cooler). It’s main claim to historical notoriety is that it used to be the last stage in the journey of cattle being driven to their gruesome fate in Smithfield Market.

Sparrow tree
Sparrow tree

Between houses nestles this tiny park or garden. I photographed the tree because it was alive with the singing and chirping of sparrows (though of course the photo doesn’t record the sound). As sparrows have become rare in towns these days, any sighting is welcome.

Once the King’s Arms
Once the King’s Arms

On the corner of Rawstorne Place and Rawstorne Street stands this building. We saw it the other day and speculated about its history. I thought it might have been a bank except that it is rather an out-of-the-way place for a bank. A more likely designation was that of a pub. Research today reveals that it was indeed a pub, existing from at least early Victorian times and called the King’s Arms. Its career as a pub ended in 2013 and it now seems to house offices.

Arms of the Brewers’ Company
Arms of the Brewers’ Company

In Brewers and hermits, I mentioned the Brewers’ Buildings, dwellings erected as a charitable works by the Brewers’ Company. We had another look at this installation today. The several buildings are all dated and cover the years of their construction between 1871 and 1882. The above photo shows the latter date together with a shield bearing the arms of the Company, sheaves of grain and barrels – suggestive of the brewing process.

Peregrine House
Peregrine House

I photographed this residential block, called Peregrine House, simply because it is so uncommonly tall and sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb among its more normal neighbours. It also proved a challenge to photograph precisely because of its size. I should feel really uncomfortable living right at the top, given the fires that have occurred recently in high-rise blocks.

Fairy-tale door in a tree
Fairy-tale door in a tree

On the corner of Hall Street, some inventive soul has installed a simulacrum of a front door in the base of a tree and some other furnishings to suggest a fairy-tale dwelling.

Hounds guarding the door
Hounds guarding the door

We made our way through back streets to emerge in City Road. The houses along here are all rather grand ones in the Georgian style typical of the area. They would once have been the town houses of affluent families but most are now divided into offices. Some retain vestiges of their past eminence such as this pair of hounds guarding a front entrance. One can imagine the affection in which the householder would have held them.

Missing house?
Missing house?

The gap in this row of houses seems anomalous. Elsewhere, the terrace is continuous. Why the sudden break here? It occurred to us that the width of the gap is the same as the width of each of the houses. Was there perhaps once a house here also? If so, why is it no longer there? One possible explanation is that it was badly damaged by bombs in WWII and the decision was taken to demolish it completely rather than attempt to rebuild it. Perhaps further research will uncover the answer.

We now continued up the road to Jusaka where we collected our daily ration of coffee before heading for home to muse on a our walk and our “catch” of photos.

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