Guest post by Abi Gilbert
When I were a lass – growing up alongside the North Yorkshire moors – my daily life was infused with the magical stories which my Dad told me about sprites and fairies.
No trip into Ilkley, tramp up Hebers Ghyll, or mere visit to the shops was left uninhabited by these mythical beings. I was reliably told, and believed absolutely, that they were hiding behind walls and trees and under bridges. I built homes for these friendly folk, and they sometimes visited in the night to collect the food that I left for them, but I never, ever saw them.
Alongside and beneath its hundreds of miles of railway tracks and arches, there exists another London.
A London of inner city edgelands – liminal spaces that create internal thresholds within the metropolis – including, in North London, a working farm.
To celebrate the 256th anniversary of William Blake’s birth. Curiocity – the map magazine –organized a Blake themed walk around Soho, Covent Garden and Piccadilly.
Often its an image, or sense, of the physical presence of a place that draws me to it, but in the case of One Tree Hill, it was the name that attracted me.
A name that seemed so impossibly resonant that I had to see for myself whether the actual hill could ever live up to it.
Some places just sound better than others. Whatever they may actually be like on the ground, there are places with names that seem to possess an inherent resonance and romance.
Others however, just sound a bit crap.
Yesterday, the St Jude storm sent me on something of a dérive within a small area of Lambeth. There were no trains due to the winds, so instead of standing on Tulse Hill’s platform 1, I made for Brixton, but wanting to avoid the main roads, headed up a road I’d never walked along before.
The pervading spirit of some places hangs quite obviously in the air. Even if you’re only passing through and not looking very hard, the distinctive atmosphere will soon make itself apparent.
West Norwood isn’t one of those places.
Islington is not exactly blessed with parks and green space. This makes one of the borough’s great unexpected treasures all the more delightful.
From the top deck of a bus on Moorgate, on the facade of a bank, I once saw a lighthouse sculpted into the corner of the building. It seemed strikingly beautiful and strangely out of place. I couldn’t help wondering who put it there and why…
Between the back gardens and traffic jammed streets of North London runs an extraordinary green path: Parkland Walk, once a rail line to the suburbs, now a tree-lined escape from the city, in the middle of a city.
A little beyond Highbury Corner, just off the traffic jams and restless hustle of Holloway Road, are some silent giants. The giants in question are trees – any mental association with Arsenal, The Emirates and hushed crowds, or the sylvan stiffness of certain Germanic central defenders, is entirely in your own imagination. Trees, on the…
Every area of urban green space has it’s own particular history. However, in a general sense, it’s probably true to say that the reason for a specific site’s continued existence will be one of three: it’s a cherished survivor, it’s hung on by chance, or it’s been deliberately created in a spot that was previously home to something else.
Grand plans and remodelling on a citywide scale never seem to have worked in London. It doesn’t possess the triumphant avenues, boulevards and grid layouts of other major world cities.
This means that some of its most interesting spaces: old churches, museums, wonderful little shops, pubs, statues, gardens and even whole streets sometimes take a little finding.
In the last half century, visions of Dalston have been refracted in many different ways, from cult 1950s novels, 90s Yardie tales, angst-ridden millennial films to the clean windows of hip coffee shops. But for me, as an ex-resident, its pulsing, vital heart remains the stalls and sounds and crush of Ridley Road Market.
I’ve always found bus drivers to be rather surly to say the least. But conductors were always a little different. There was a fascinating Arena documentary on TV the other night, all about five different, famous – in their way – conductors on the much missed London Routemasters. One of them – Duke Bassie –…
Grrr vs Ahhh during the London Olympics.
Granville Road Spinney is a short walk from Finsbury Park tube. Just minutes from busy, grimy, North London is a place where bats, hedgehogs, frogs and foxes and more can be found.
Why is it that a certain kind of person in this country finds it so hard to accept that children exist? It’s not as if they are a rarity. If you have or know children, you’ve probably encountered the type. They’re often male, but not exclusively, usually fairly well-off and long past their own youth.…
The best way to approach London, according to Jonathan Raban at least, is from the north. You should drive down via Archway to take in the fabled Dick Whittington hillside view of the city and descend deeper within, until you reach the river Thames, where London’s full glory will hit you.
My own arrival was rather prosaic by comparison: a dull coach journey up the M4 from Bristol, which ended up amid the traffic at Hyde Park Corner