Rather than catch the tube straight to Finchley Central I took the opportunity to have a preliminary drift between Kings Cross and Camden. It was just before midday so I had a good seven hours spare time. The development around Kings Cross has been relentless in the last few years but pockets of resistance and dissent still exist.
Drummond Street are under threat. Graves are being exhumed in a public garden destined to disappear and be buried itself under one of the new entrances.
Meanwhile, carrying on towards Somers Town I wasn't sure if this tailor had abandoned the premises or had barricaded him/herself inside.
Victoria Park to try and find a convenience. There was one but it was locked. I left the park being too distracted by natures call to explore it properly. I'd never been there when I lived in the area.
Back on the main road I was drawn into a side passage known as Lovers Walk. No sign of anything amorous occurring but maybe that only happens at night. It looked to be in the right direction for the Dollis Brook and there was a possibility of finding somewhere to have a pee.
allotments of Barnet would be a good excuse to come back another day. As far as I am concerned allotments are magical spaces and in more ways than one. Anyone who has one will probably tell you that upon entering an allotment site you are instantly in a different place physically and mentally. Any stress and anxiety seems to dissipate as you pass through the gate as if you have entered parallel dimension of calm and equilibrium. They are also miraculous in their continued existence given the pressure from developers and land grabbers. But many have been lost including one recently in nearby(ish) Watford. They represent a healthy 'up yours' to the idea of relentless property speculation as the best use of land...maybe that's another reason it feels good to have an allotment. The resurgence of interest in them among all sorts of people in recent years has been important in helping reduce their loss. It has also meant that they are no longer only inhabited by the stereotypical easy going old men in flat caps, although gladly they are still about to offer their wisdom.
I had it in mind that this road would lead to Mill Hill East tube station. I passed a crossroads with a handful shops and a couple of busy cafes. I half recognised this from my Uni days of 25 years ago. The scene sparked a vague memory of trying to walk to Mill Hill East back then and never reaching it. I remembered these shops but never finding the tube station. Again when I got to this place I initially thought I might be at Mill Hill East. It wasn't of course and I carried along the road. Looking at the map now this was probably Lullington Garth but I'm not 100% sure.
Carrying on I soon found myself in what was beginning to resemble countryside. I found a stile into a field and felt compelled to climb over it. There were several mushroom rings in the field, this being Autumn. In European and British Folklore these 'fairy rings' are usually considered dangerous if entered. One legend has it that 'someone who violates a fairy perimeter becomes invisible to mortals outside and may find it impossible to leave the circle. Often, the fairies force the mortal to dance to the point of exhaustion, death, or madness'. While the idea of becoming invisible is quite appealing when doing a walk, I was never much of a dancer to being with. I skirted round the rings just to be on the safe side.
|Invisible dancefloor of death|
Across the field I climbed another stile and entered what looked like a farmyard. I saw people with children on horses. I followed the footpath signs across another field and into a paddock. This contained a couple of large horses and no apparent way out the other side. Retreating from the paddock, I retraced my steps as no other obvious pathway presented itself. I have a sort of unwritten rule never to double back on a walk unless there are exceptional circumstances. But horses can be dangerous and I'm a coward. This was an exceptional circumstance.
Back on the main road, I soon saw that the reason for the proliferation of all things horsey was the Frith Manor Equestrian Centre'. A bit further up the road I passed this mysterious obelisk.
Inglis Barracks used to exist nearby but the site has since been given over to a fairly typical looking residential development only remarkable by it's non-remarkableness. Millbrook Park was a result of something called Project MoDel which basically involved the Ministry of Defence divesting itself of sites considered surplus by selling to housing developers. I guess houses are better than war.
this booklet to refer to. These field officers hold the key to an unseen world of underground byways through these portals. Maybe they know the secret of the names given to the covers. But to me they remain as random sounding and unexplained as those given to different models of glasses in Specsavers.
|Probably not an official warning sign|
Graveyards of Scotland blog, 'An urn is the epitome of elegance, class and style and had soon replaced the skull and crossbones on many graveyards in Scotland and the world'. Not being one to care much for elegance, class and style I think that's something of a shame.
Goon Show and fairies. Spike apparently had a fascination with fairies and convinced his children they lived at the bottom of his garden. Hopefully they didn't fall foul of the mushroom rings. I did sit for a few minutes and wondered what bizarre anecdotes he'd be able to tell me about the environs and characters of Finchley in the early 70s. I'm sure he had plenty but he remained silent.
Also in the gardens is 'the Bothy'. A Victorian folly under renovation. One of the first non-Roman concrete structures in Britain. I'd never really associated the Victorians with concrete but the view of one of its towers from outside the garden had a definite proto-brutalist feel to it.
Finchley Borough Council. This organisation disbanded in 1965 when the Borough of Barnet and swallowed up Finchley. I wondered what the faded white rectangle symbols represented. Had always only been an electricity room or had Finchley Borough Councillors had utilised it for other purposes.
Pineapple Pub for a relaxing post walk pint before heading to Hampstead, by bus or train.
Eventually I was out of Hampstead Garden Suburb and heading towards Swiss Cottage. I don't recall much of the walk between the two except that by this point I was beginning to regret wearing new boots. I had only planned a shortish walk but I hadn't turned out that way and my feet were beginning to feel it. I passed this ghost sign for an optician on the main street having left the foliate suburb to pass into a more down to earth albeit less leafy area.
produced a map. It may or may not be complete and up to date..maybe a Sam Smiths walk is needed to find out...
From Swiss Cottage I headed towards Camden and Kentish Town. I passed this high rise in a street mainly made up of older houses. Having never been inside a high rise flat I wondered what it would be like..the higher floors of these flats must afford spectacular views across London, in the direction of Primrose Hill and Regents Park. I don't know the demographic of this particular block but, although this block is not quite Belfeon Tower or Trellick Tower and probably not a target for the National Trust, I would guess the story is (or will be) similar. One of the original people it was built to house being displaced by those with more money.
I had not bargained on encountering the Drinkers Paradise shop. Here I stocked up on a couple of beverages for later. I was attracted by the display of decent beer in the window. The Fosters lager logo and 0171 number, displayed on the old sign, would have been contemporary of my time at the Poly. The old and new signs seemed to represent both an increase in the availability of decent beer (hooray!) and rampant gentrification (boo!) that has happened since the era of the 0171 number - I suppose I have to grudgingly accept that the former is a symptom of the latter.
I had intended to get a train from Kentish Town West but that seemed in the wrong direction, and I decided to walk towards Hampstead. This part of the walk was not that eventful..I was weary and was looking out for a bus to take me to Hampstead. I made it to Gospel Oak after passing through this tunnel and the dolls shop below. I'd been past the dolls shop before and had assumed it was closed up. The bizarre objects in the window looked like it had been abandoned years ago and were covered in dust. It was reminiscent of a combination of the shop from the children's TV programme Bagpuss and The Victor Wynd Museum of Curiosities. On that occasion it was Sunday but this time it was very much opened for business, although the cage was kept up on the window. I've since discovered a couple of short films about the shop and it's eccentic octogenarian owner, Kristin Baybars. 'The Little Shop in Gospel Oak' and this one from the London Film School show what I missed by not going in. 'We do not exist, but of you think we do please knock' reads a sign on the door. I wish I had.
|No sign of Professor Yaffle|
|28 days later...|