From Barbican to Paddington Green

 

 

It’s a Saturday and I’m going up to the Barbican Library. I can drive to Oakwood and park on the street on a Saturday. I get the Piccadilly line train as far as Finsbury park. The train has a window that is not locked and its swinging about in front of me. It interesting watching people sit next to it, discover its swinging as the train goes over the bumps, and then try to close it. It’s all to exciting and I swap trains at Finsbury park and get the Victoria Line to Kings cross. I forget where I am and get the Circle Line in the wrong direction. A quick swap around and I get to Barbican station. It’s very quiet all around. I walk past the offices of the Barbican centre. usually bustling on a Friday, they are silent, except for a solitary man working in the last one. I wonder if he has extra duties, or just hasn’t worked hard all week and needs to catch up.

I’m in the London section. Someone working on the computers dares to talk to someone on another computer. A man wearing a hat shouts loudly telling him to be quiet

“ Don’t you know this is a Library?” he shouts.

The chatty guy ignores him.

The hat guy calls him names.

I leave with a book about Victoria Park in Hackney.

After browsing around for a while, I leave the way I came. The laundrette is still offering service washes. The greengrocer doesn’t open on a Saturday. Clerkenwell is quiet. It’s funny to see London like this. It’s Local London for Local people. A cable company takes advantage of the quiet streets and weaves fibre optical wires with the precision of someone crocheting. I branch off toward Chancery Lance. A young couple walk in front of me. The woman is in a brides dress with veil. The man is wearing one too although he can’t get it to zip up at the back. No one bats an eyelid as they pass by. Both are wearing DM’s

It’s starting to rain. I pass an Eat sandwich shop but its empty. I don’t like to go in. And its a bit early for Lunch anyway.

I’m on a mission. I want to buy a Kindle and I’m thinking John Lewis might be a good place to go. I do need to walk along Oxford Street which, on a Saturday is not pleasant. At Holborn, I pass a London souvenir shop. As its belting down with rain, the owners are getting black umbrellas out of a box and putting them on display outside the door. No one is dropping by. On the opposite side of the road is James Smith and son, ancient umbrella store. Its full.

At John Lewis, I skirt through the handbag and leotard department (as Victoria Wood might have said) and take a lift up to the fifth floor. I wait to be served but the guy tells me he has a White Kindle that I’m after, reduced as the box is damaged. £20 off sounds good and he takes it to the till and instructs a young guy behind the till to open it and let me check it over. It looks great and I take it before they change their minds. You might wonder why I’m after a Kindle but, my eyes like large print and this one is back-lit when I need it.

I’ve given up on the idea of eating at Eat and head for Marks and Sparks. A Pot of Tea, Bacon Roll and an Iced bun and I’m refreshed. On the table next to me and old lady sups a large glass of red wine. She is picking the ham out of a baguette with a fork leaving the bread like some organic plate. She’s finding the wine far more interesting. I wait ages for the lift to go down. We all seem genuinely excited when it arrives.

Kindle in Hand, I’m no longer on a mission and the days my own. I’m near Marble Arch so I decide to revisit an old haunt from 20 years ago.

I find the Edgeware Road. The cinema on the corner has been demolished but the rest seems. Familiar. In 1997 I used to come to meet someone on a Saturday for a romantic lunch on Paddington Green. It was all rather lovely. This person worked in the Edgeware Road Marks and Spencer’s which at the time was mainly food with a few knickers and socks at the front. I’d get the train from Gordon Hill to Kings Cross and traverse the circle line to Edgeware Road with its indoor planters and gnomes. On arrival I would find out what time their lunch hour was. Often I’d have several hours to kill. I’d walk along the Edgeware Road and find the huge branch of Woolworth’s and hang out in there. I remember “Its such a Perfect Day” playing for Children in Need. I think I bought a copy. These Saturdays did seem perfect. When it was finally lunch time, we’d take a sandwich from the sandwich shop, bought with staff discount, and sit on Paddington Green with the flyover as our back drop. Once I saw Wendy Richard walk past. I didn’t like to say hello. She lived near by and someone pointed out her house to me with a green frog on the wall. At the time, there was a fly on the wall documentary about Paddington Green. I felt part of it.

img_2945img_2946As I walk along the Edgeware Road I am jolted back to reality. Woolworth’s has gone of course. It is now Waitrose but it doesn’t have the same appeal. I try to find Wendy Richards house but I’ve forgotten where it was. I arrive outside the Edgeware Road station and find the statue of the Window Cleaner which I always found a bit random.

I walk through the Marks and Spencer’s. Theres a Coffee Shop in there now. That would have been nice to wait in years ago. There seems to be less food now and more clothes. I’m half expecting my friend to pop out from behind a clothes rail but it’s not to be.

img_2948Paddington Green lies over a busy road junction. I dare myself to walk through the Joe Strummer Subway. I don’t know who he is but find out the he was a singer with The Clash and used to busk here. Twenty years ago this was a bustling subway with two shops in it, one of which was a cobblers and key cutters. In latter years they had art installed in them. Now, it smells of Urine and I walk swiftly past the guy sleeping rough in there. I make a note to walk over the road at street level going back. I’m singing Polly Perkins as I walk over the green which, since the building of the West Way and Fly over is cut off from Paddington station.

 

img_2954There is a statue to the actress Sarah Siddons and |I think to my self what a dreadful out look she now has. Next to the green is St Marys Church and the churchyard which since the late 1800’s has been a park. I walk right around the path remembering the walks I did all those years ago. I find Sarah Siddons Grave, one of the few left in its original location. The other headstone are lined up along the side. Someone is edging the path, keeping it neat.

img_2982I read the signs and find mention of a cold war defence building that was put up on the green in fifties. It’s still here when I look in the bushes. I wonder if this has anything now to do with the Top Security Police Station along the road. My mind wanders into fantasy of subterranean passages and tunnels. If only I could open the door.

I’m riding a wave on nostalgia but decide to explore further. I remember hearing about a Church street market. I walk past a fenced off area next to the Green announcing new homes. West End Gate. Probably going to cost a fortune. On the other side of the road, a hen party, wearing pink with suitcases on wheels, buzz at a door beside the shops trying to make themselves heard. Church Street market is longer than expected. Lots of stalls selling Gold and fruit and Veg. I find Alfie’s Antiques which I wrongly think has a River running through it. A quick walk round and its obvious this was once a department store. Jordans to be exact. One Lady stands there bemoaning the fact that things aren’t what they used to be.

“Keep yourself well” she pleads with him.  ” You’re the only one he listens to”

I buy a big bowl of strawberries for a pound, which I’m given in a paper bag. I like to think I’ve given something to the local economy. Then I head back, crossing at street level, to the station to head home.

It’s good to revisit places that mean something to you. They may change, but there are still things to trigger a memory.

 

A Queue, Rain and the 252

It’s the week before my birthday and I’m entering the last year of my forties. As if to make a statement, I get up early and walk to Trust Ford to book my car in for its MOT. perhaps I should have and MOT too. It’s usually quicker to walk but this morning there is less traffic and even the buses are running past me.  I arrive out of breath.

I get back home in time to gather my books and set off for the Barbican. It feels warmer than I expected. Not too bad for November. I arrive early for the train. My friend phoned as I was parking in a side street. Now, while I have twenty minutes to pass, I can’t get her on the line. Funny how we say that. On the line. I’m on my mobile. The train is quiet as we pull away. My friend phones. We chat. I’m conscious of others listening and try to get my lips closer to the mouthpiece; not that mobile has one. We are just getting to a good bit when Liverpool Street looms and the prospect of disappearing under tunnels cuts us off.

I buy a cup of tea and ascend the stairs to the High Walk. A well spoken bag lady shares her opinion of the stairs in some rather choice words. As I puff my way up, I’m tending to  agree with her. I sit down by a square pond avoiding a net and some wellingtons which have been left on a seat. It spits with rain. I revise my opinion of the weather with my friend who has phoned back. Tea break over, I make my way into the Library. I’m carrying Joan Littlewood biography which is so large you could go rafting on it.

The Library is quiet. I’m a little later and the Buggy Brigade has departed. I choose a few books on Mindfulness and detoxing. Then I stumble upon a book on Farce by Brian Rix. I was only a few months ago that Lord Rix died. My parents met him many years ago when the Revue group they ran went to one of his shows. Not only did they meet him, but he agreed to be the patron of the group and regularly sent messages of encouragement. I thought it time to read up a little more about his time in the theatre. Its while I’m by the ballet section I feel my phone buzz. Its Dad leaving a message to phone mum. Her mobile has no screen so she finds it hard to dial out. Yes, the stuff of farce. We speak in hushed tones in the theatre section as far from people as possible. She’s forgotten I’m on my trip out.

As I leave the centre, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. I’m in a cloth coat with no umbrella. I walk back around the centre following the covered walkways and end up at London Wall. I pass the remains of St Albans, Wood Street. This church tower in the middle of the road is all that is left after bombing in World War two. Apparently it is now a private house. Right opposite the Police Station.

The rain is making my coat smell of a wet dog. I find a bus stop in Cheapside and queue for a 252. There’s a lot of deciding who goes next to get on. The bus is full. I’ve not been on this route before. I’m hoping I’ll get to Tottenham Court Road. People are smugly walking past with umbrellas. How did they know it was going to rain when I didn’t. I’m using an app to follow my bus journey and its saying it will take 27 minutes to travel seven stops. I’m thinking that’s must be a mistake. The bus moves on in to High Holborn. then grinds to a halt. We inch our way in a queue of traffic until, eventually, the announcement comes that “This bus terminates here” We have arrived at St Giles which is as near to Tottenham Court Road as it get.

I get off and walk toward Cambridge Circus. The traffic is angry. Lots of hooting and frustration. It would be quicker to walk if the rain stopped. I enter McDonalds and exchange a voucher for a meal. Its worth complaining sometimes to get sent a voucher. I find a table and squeeze my way in between two other people. It’s very cosy. Just as I’m finishing a group of school girls get up to leave a nearby table. One girl has got her shoe stuck in the legs of the chair. She takes her shoe off so she can pull it out from the small gap she’s squeezed it in to.  Her friends are in Hysterics. I’m trying to not laugh but it’s not easy.

triangleWhen I get out, it is still raining lightly. Enough to soak you after a while. I spot this sign. It’s as though everyone is laughing at my lack of a brolly. Foyles had a soaking of its own recently when a burst water main flooded the store. It has a slightly damp smell when I enter today and the basement floor looks very clean. I browse the books but my heart is not in it. London looks drab today. You can see why Christmas was invented. We need a bit of “lights and glitter” to cheer the place up. I dash along Charing Cross Road, dicing with death across Oxford Street and into Tottenham Court Road. This has been spruced up lately and each time I’m here, something has changed. I do a quick shop in Sainsburys and then carry along.

At Goodge Street, and old lady passes me sporting the biggest pair of earphones I’ve ever seen. I thought they were earmuffs at first. She is carrying a cloth bag with Wigmore Hall written boldly across it. I’m imagining her to be listening to a Piano Sonata or Song without words rather than the latest rap. She certainly looks in a world of her own. I enter Waterstones in Torrington Place. Why I think this will inspire me more than Folyles I don’t know. I’m Cold and Wet. I pass a fourth oriental man wearing the same blue suede loafers without socks. It’s either a fashion statement that’s yet to come our way or someone has a job lot of the back of a lorry and they’re hawking them round Chinese restaurants.

I’m deciding I’ll get on the tube at Warren Street. I don’t walk along the top of Tottenham Court Road very often. I pass the Cost which has had a trendy makeover and now sells Hand Crafted food. Looks like the sandwiches are in a different box. It’s still full of students nursing the same cup of tea. Further along I pass Mantovani 1946. I’m thinking this might be where he came when he wasn’t playing his Violin. But sadly no. It looks like a franchise. On a corner, another building has been demolished. An NHS poster has a big face of a woman advertising the now building. Her eyes seem to follow and the look is as if to say “Look at that man who’d come out in a cloth coat and no umbrella”

Warren Street station is more Brash. I prefer Goodge Street where they play classical music as you wait for the lifts. Here you make you way down endless escalators. The rain is dripping from my fringe now. On the platform, I walk to the front of the train only to find the train coming from the other end and I’m at the back. My train takes me to Seven Sisters where I catch my Enfield Train home. Its been a day of wet and queues. I’ll be glad to get in.

Up and Down at the Barbican

Its been a long while. I’m not sure how many people read this and if they miss me. I know my number one fan is having a new kitchen so she’s been busy. I’ve no excuse. I wonder how other bloggers keep their momentum. I’ll look for a book on blogging!
I arrived from Enfield Town. As I passed Hackney Downs, two women comment on the new planters that have sprung up on the platform.
“I wonder if you can just pick things?”
“That cabbage is a bit small”
“You’d think they’d plant larger ones”
It’s like a discussion on an Abel and Cole Veg Box. They do look nice though. Flowers, herbs and cabbage all co-existing in wooden planters. I hope they come to Enfield Town.

I am at the Barbican and my head is muzzy. I buy a Tea in Eat. The woman serving is flirting with some business men. She skilfully extracts the location of their work. I wait a long time for my tea.
I take my tea up to the Barbican and phone a friend. Its chilly but the sun appears. We talk about kittens, work and life.
The Gardening volunteers are tending to the beds. There is a lot to do. I feel very guilty just sitting watching and feel I should be getting a hoe out and joining in.

As I pass the Shakespeare tower I notice people abseiling down both sides. You never know if it’s for charity, repairs or protest. Looking up makes me feel queasy so I look down.

In the Barbican library, Life continues as normal. The excellent Gerald Scarfe Exhibition is on in the Music Library. I went a few weeks ago with my Mum. Yes, she has joined me on my Friday Jolly. The exhibition had original designs for “Orpheus in the Underworld” from the mid 80’s. I went to see this production by ENO for my 18th Birthday. Very memorable.

I’ve observed things in this Library since we last spoke.

There was the time when three librarians are shouting instructions to a woman with a baby in a buggy in the disabled lift.
“You have to keep holding the button in”
The lady pushes the button. The lift descends by an Inch. She pushes the other She inches back up.
“No, hold the button in”
The librarians look at each other
She’s coming back up”
“Push it and hold it in”
This lift appears to have a dead mans handle.
Eventually, after much muttering, they manage to coax the lady to hold the button in and inch her way down.
I found it hilarious. The librarians didn’t
I had the feeling that, once at the bottom, she’d realise that the way out was actually back up the top.

I told Mum about this as I suggested she might like to avoid the steps and go in the lift.
“No, I’ll walk” she said.

I’m back on the serious side of choosing some book. I choose “The Rough Guide to Blogging” as I feel my efforts need a boost. An audio book about Lost Village Life for the car and a book about Old London.
There is an excellent art display of prints that I spend sometime looking at, wishing I had the skill to produce such work.
img_1920I leave the centre and head for my usual walk. So much for heading in a different direction. I pass the Launderette and marvel at its Soft Water Washes. I peer through the gym window and watch them pulling and up and down on the equipment. Several have given up and sit staring out of the window. That would be me – if I dared go in.

I pop in to The Barbican Fruiterers and buy another heather for my Mum.
“You’ll be in her good books” he says as I pay.

As I turn in to the Clerkenwell Road, my sister phones. She needs advice on school and how they are dealing with Terror Clowns. She reminds me how like my Nephew I am. As I proceed along the Clerkenwell Road, I am now on the look out for Clowns, Killer or otherwise. I look up and decide to keep looking up as I go. It’s a revelation. A past London is above our heads as modern fast food outlets dominate below. I dive in to a Prets for a bowl of chicken soup. Guaranteed to cue all ills. At the till, a girl in a Rabbit onesie is buying a sandwich. She looks more surreal than a clown.

My walk is taking through Bloomsbury to the Brunswick centre. I pop in to Holland and Barret’s for some pills. I come out with a bag of lentil Lemon and Chilli crisps. One of the children at school gave me one and they were rather nice.

img_1928I pass Cosmo Pottery and wish I’d bought a Clanger Tea service when I’d seen it in the window. There is a cafe in the church opposite. St Georges Holborn. I wouldn’t have known it was a church but I’m still looking up. The cafe looks nice. No knitted tea cosie and thick green crockery. I weave past and find my self in medical land. A woman walks past with red crutches. She knows they look unusual and is clearly showing them off.

The Brunswick centre is always unexpected, built as it is in the middle of a housing estate. Its underground cinema advertise opera and theatre live screencasts. Two guys play table tennis. Everyone eats. I end up in the Marchmont street Cost for a pot of tea. Its time to go home. These Fridays go all to quickly. I’ll leave you with a few pictures looking up above the shops in Clerkenwell, and a random one looking down!

 

Baubles at Barbican station

Its a Monday 14th of December and term has finished. Three weeks of school holidays start here. I set off to Enfield Town station to try this route in to the Barbican. Enfield Trains are half hourly so it might not be good despite being direct. There are two trains in the platforms so I plump for the usual one. There is an air of promise now that the Overground has taken over the route. More trains and better trains. But not yet.

The journey is different and I’m noticing the unusual roofs of the shops that line the track. A woman is leaning out of the window to watch the train. I guess that passes for excitement around here.

I dash through the barriers at Liverpool Street and re-enter the  tube. This is quite liberating now as you don’t have to pay any more now that the Enfield line is part of the tube network. About time too.

On arrival at Barbican station, via a Met Line Train (I am being daring) I notice the trees on the dis-used platform are decorated for christmas with large baubles. Very festive. I’m reminded how this blog has seen the year round nearly. Perhaps I should plan an anniversary event.

The library is open longer today and I don’t feel in such a rush. Not that I have ever been here as it has closed. But somehow there is always the feeling that it might. A year on, I still feel this is the most remarkable library I have used in London. I started out coming to borrow the sheet music. I have discovered the London Collection and now borrow the audio books from the vast collection. All for free. Barbican Library is how all Libraries should be.

A plonk on a piano reminds me that the concert hall is just below. Only once, have I been here at the time of a concert. Maybe in the new year. Now a baby is screaming. It’s time to move around and look for some books for the Christmas holidays.

The Launderette is busy as I pass by. There’s a couple of old ladies sitting doing their word searches. A bid sign shows the Christmas opening times. A cage of men ascends noisily along some scaffolding and them promptly descends before ascending again. Someone must have forgotten something. Or pushed the wrong button.

 

At the Greengrocers, I buy one of those Christmas plants with the orange cherries. The assistant served me while the owner sat watching out the back. There is no one else there in the shop and I’m optimistic that my purchase might help keep them open. I head along the Clerkenwell Road. My plan for the new year is to explore out the other way. Although, thinking of it, there is plenty still to discover along here. I pass the solicitors I took shelter at last time and try to find a nemonic to help remember the name. It doesn’t work.

I fancy some soup but Prets doesn’t have any I like. So I decide to look for Eat which I am sure is along here somewhere.  3 branches of Prets later and Eat still hasn’t appeared. By Holborn, I end up in the Golden Arches again. In the new year, I am determined to try out a small independent cafe each time I come up rather than a chain.

I’ve arrived at Tottenham Court Road station and the Central Line is stopping here again. I decide to explore. It has been shut to central line passengers for about a year while they prepare the new station for the coming of Crossrail. It seems a long way down to the Central Line platforms. It’s very white. Looks like a job lot of Wickes Tiles. No more mosaics. And I’m only going to Liverpool Street today for the journey home.

I’m reflecting on the year and the blog. I have written a post each time I come to the Barbican. Mostly, it is written while I am out. I’m not sure that anyone reads it. But that was not the intention. I have written it for me. And I like to think I have got a little better at it as I go along.

Merry Christmas, and may your bauble glisten like the ones at Barbican Station.

A little bit of stress and the right time to eat.

Its been a stressful start to the day. I thought for a change I would use the line from Enfield Town to Liverpool street to get to the Barbican today. If you don’t know it, and there is no reason why you should, it’s an end end of the line type station with very few trains. Half hourly service for most of the day. I couldn’t find my jumper, I late leaving and the station is far enough away to make walking sound too much of an effort in the morning. The car was no help. It is impossible to find anywhere to park thanks to Enfield Town’s Residents Parking Only Scheme. So yes, I missed the train and not wanting to sit there for half an hour I drove to Woodford where my parents live and a train pulled in within a minute. Not to worry if it didn’t. They are usually every few minutes anyway.

I’ve zipped along the central line and now I’m waiting at Mile End. An announcement tells us that the board and announcements are not accurate and that we should check the front of the train. I’m in a dilemma now, not sure whether I should belive this announcement but sure enough, the Richmond Train on the board turns out to be my Hammersmith and City. How exciting.

I’m at Barbican station and the sun is out. Always the same on the first week I start back at school. I’ve been going to school for over 40 years now. I’ve got  a new bag to accompany me on this days out. My blue bag faded to nothing and was returned to John Lewis who provided me with a refund. I pull a zip that I’ve not found before and open up a new compartment with holders for pens and cards. Magic.

The Barbican is different today. There is a conference on and the door I usually go in to reach the Foyer is shut off. There are lots of very bored looking people with tags with their names on them popping out for a fag. The door I’m allowed in through take me right to the lifts and I ascend to the second floor with the air of someone who visits regularly; not someone who’s been sent on a course.

Even in the Library, things are different. Chairs are out in a corner and someone adjusts a projector screen to accommodate the image from their laptop. Maybe a talk? I’m siting right next to a sign saying that The use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited. We are all using them. But not to make a call. This sign is from the days when that’s all you could do, judging by the sign. Its taken me a while to realise but a new disabled lift has been put in to take customers from the Main Library down to the Music Library. For some reason it is reminding me of a Magicians Wardrobe where the assistant enters only to disappear.

I’m leaving the Barbican Centre and there is a change of mood. It’s lunch time for the conference and the delegates are coming outside into the sunshine clutching a boxed salad which looks quite nice. I walk out along the road checking everything is ok. The Launderette has a sign saying I can see the assistant to make arrangements! The greengrocer has different plants and a Bay Tree for £2.90 appeals but I don’t have any cash so it will have to wait for another time. When I pas the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, I peer through the window and see another Lunch set out on a table. Another conference and the delegates will be well feed. The leaders in Child Health know how to get up a good spread. I walk dow Leather Lane Market. The name has such promise but most of the stalls today are Street Food. There are long queues at each stall. I feel sorry for anyone local that wants to buy a nylon overall or a pair of fluffy slippers. Still, I guess you go with the public and street food is the in thing.

I’ve diverted off of my route and the Pleasant Lambs Passage takes me to Lion Square and I see the front of Conway Hall owned by the Conway Hall Ethical Society and opened in 1929. The cafe in Red Lion Square is doing good business. Everyone is eating and I do too.

Bloomsbury is overshadowed by the British Museum and as always there are plenty of tourists posing for selfies outside. There is a copy of the A and C Black Music Express book I teach with in school, in the Oxfam Book shop. This isn’t even a year old yet and the CD’s and DVD inside are unopened. They are selling it for £8. It costs £29 new. Some one will get a bargain if they see it. I should have bought it for a spare. I look in the window of Souvenir publishing which seems to be part book shop and part publishing house. It’s closed for lunch. A new Tea shop has opened called Tea and Tattle and it looks nice. A pot of Loose Tea was over £3 with cakes a similar price. Expensive but hopefully it will taste a little better than my Costa pot I’m drinking now. Boiling water is so important and it clearly was made with water off the boil.

I’m near the Brunswick centre. Two old ladies, one black, one white, both wrapped up for snow with headscarves are heading towards each other. The acknowledge each other with a slight nod of the head and walk on past. The troubles of the world on both their shoulders.

One girl is talking loudly about her eating habits.

“I only eat when I’m hungry. No Breakfast, Dinner, Tea. You know. When your Hungry?”

“Are you Hungry?” Said her friend with the desperate look of someone who would like a meal.

“I don’t know” said the girl. “My boyfriend goes mad. He likes his dinner at a set time.

Are you Hungry? We could get something.” Said her friend.

“I don’t know”

Sloe, Sloe, Quick Quick Sloe.

Its been a while readers and I have no excuse. Well i’ll make a few. Train strikes and poor weather and a week in the Lakes all seem to have made my visits less this summer rather than more. I’m starting out at the Elmhurst Gardens in Woodford looking for Sloes. Right at the Side of the North Circular near Charlie Browns you will find a large Blackthorn bush and the Sloes are excellent for flavouring Gin. I have company today. These trips ar usually solitary affairs. We notice that the Sloes are ripe and falling off so an evening picking session is on te card s when we return.

The central line is hot and the trains now look shabby. Ive eaten a Finger of Fudge and i’m now on some Hoola Hoops. That’s breakfast sorted. The weather is hot and sunny which is unusual for a London August of late. Stepping on to a Hammersmith and City train at mile end is like going from Hell to Heaven. The air conditioning is on and the trains are spacious. Admittedly they are not deep level tubes, but their modern open design is welcome.

imageComing to the Barbican is familiar now. I’m like a tour guide pointing out the sites to my companion for the day. We look at the residents allotments like the Seattle Pea patches and wonder at the cabbage growing there.Who’d have thought it.

The Barbican is really a town on its own and each time you turn a corner you discover a new part,

imageThe Library is quiet for a Saturday. I’ve never been in the morning as I’m usually at work. There seem to be more resident here and there is a familiarity between them and the staff. My companion discovers the Audio books that I’ve never seen. I enquire about the wall of books that you can borrow and I’m polietly told that they are free to borrow for the three weeks the same as books.

Free?” I ask again, as I can’t quite belive it.

“Yes” and you an renew them too.

She then shows me how I can also download audiobooks to my iPhone. The staff here are always helpful. I skirt round the section where someone is having a detailed discussion with themselves and reach the gardening section. An excellent book on Community Orchards that I’ve not seen before. So now I’ve chosen my books and I have the audio book of “Cabin Pressure” Series 3.

My Companion has vanish in the periodicals. Now that takes some doing.

A quick checkout and I’m leaving the centre via a different door. The church of St Giles opposite the terrace has always been like some magic island that some are allowed on and I’m not. Today I intend to get there. My companion finds a bridge which as it si named St Giles, I’m confident will take us there. We cross the Barbican’s answer to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and our only disappointment is tat the lovely Island Pods are for residents only to sit in. I live in hope a resident will see this blog and invite me over.

And then I’m there. The church of St Giles Cripplegate. And they’ve got a book sale. The Church, Tardis like, is large on the inside than it looks out. The display shows just how derelict this area was after the bombing of World War Two. The church, one of the few old remains of the area was nearly demolished by the bombing but the extensive damage was restored.

We leave the Barbican and head towards Clerkenwell. A man comes out of the Launderette. I’m glad its being useful. Past the Shakespear and my heart is in my mouth. I can’t find the Greengrocers. Surely it’s not gone. Then to my relief I see it is still there but closed. I don’t think it opens Saturdays. In the window is an apologetic sign from the owner telling us he his having a day’s holiday next friday. A long Bank holiday weekend. I want to send him off on a fortnights cruise somewhere but feel he might not come back.

We are walking along Clerkenwell Road and it is quiet. There are no queues out of the coffee shops and some haven’t opened. This is a weekday place. At the Italian church, a car with ribbons sits outside. The Bride has chosen a good day, and a lovey location. The villiage feel gives way to the large building of Holborn and we eventually end up in Waterstones at Gower Street. Even here, the usual bustle of students is missing, it being the holidays. A pot of tea and a Raspberry fancy and we are fit for anything.

The sun stays hot. Its a barbecue day and we head towards the Bruswick centre. Another of London’s secrets. And we’ve still got the Sloes to go back for.

A Rose, a Fuchsia and a Seed Cake

It’s the middle of June but you would be forgiven for thinking it is march. Yesterday’s warmth has given way to a chilly wind. I’m greeted as I leave the house by a white rose which has just come in to bloom. Three dead sticks arrived in April as a free gift from the news paper. It’s amazing to see how they have sprung to life. The were labelled as Red Rose, Pink Rose and White rose. Very descriptive. The blooms look as though they are true to their work.

imageAs I cross across the high walk, I notice some planters are being tended by an old man who appears to have vegetables and herbs as well as flowers. I’m guessing he lives locally and some of the planters have been given over, like mini allotments to the residents. The main planters look amazing and have a wild garden look about them There are not to many people in the foyer at The Barbican Centre today but those that are seem to be making lots of noise. Have I stumbled into a mother and toddlers club? I’m having a quick cup of tea. I have a fat Tonsil and it needs regular lubricating. The two girls serving behind the counter are discussing religion. One doesn’t seem to be understanding the other.

“What, they are a religion but they don’t do it?”

“Yeah, they just fake it”

Girls, that’s life.

I’m in the London Collection and I get a book all about the Cockney and their Dialect. I’m going to look a few things up and see if the saying “How’s your belly off for spots” can be attributed to my roots, or odd parents. I’m trying to find a book about Clerkenwell but the copy was not where it should be on the shelf. I feel I need to research the area for you readers.

The July magazine produced by the Library is out and I pick up my copy. Not many Libraries produce a monthly magazine like this. I’m checked out in person.  The Display at the Library entrance is of close-ups of flowers and I stop to browse before making my way to the lift. Talking of the Lifts, anyone who visits will know there are four lifts, two on one side two on the other. Which ever side you wait at, the lift comes to the other… Guaranteed.

imageI pass the laundrette and there is an older couple watching their washing. They don’t speak. There is a very informative poster on washing labels that I notice and make a note to learn  up. I get to the Barbican fruiterers and decide today is the day. I’m going in. I pick up this rather fine fuchsia for £1.80. If that’s not a bargain I don’t know what is. The owner, John, is serving and old lady with a push along trolley. That seems to have come out wrong. The Old Lady has the trolley, not John! He sorts her old three bananas of varying shades so they’ll be ripe at different times. They both know each other by name. Service. You don’t get that at your Tesco Local. He breaks off from serving her, to collect my £1.80 and another customer holds my fuchsia while I look for the money. I could do with a trolley like the old lady’s. For the first time I see students going in to the Italia Conti building. In fact there are several Lycra clad girls hanging out of a window. It’s like Fame with out the headbands.

 

I’m walking along the other side of the Clerkenwell Road and you would think I was somewhere completely different. Its funny how you miss imagethings because you are so close up. I don’t know why I am surprised but I find the Chapel of St Johns which is obviously where the road near by gets its name. At least if my Fat Tonsil flares up anymore, I’ll have the first aiders on hand. There’s a secret garden that will need further exploring. The Italian Church of St Peters reminds me that the area of Clerkenwell was very Italian and may explain the number of independent coffee shops. The church is also a very good example of something that showed up better from over the road. There is a rather ornate memorial in the porch and I can see the writing today as I’m close up. But its in Italian so I’m none the wiser.

In Holborn I was given a free Rustlers Hot Panini in a long life wrapper. As I take it, I throw it back at the girl who catches it like a rugby ball. We laugh and she gives it back. I always like something for free. I’m loading up. I’m hoping I don’t lose too many buds of this fuchsia. As If to call me a liar, it is now warming up with the sun making an appearance. I’d like to take this cardigan off but I’ve no hands. I pass the London County Council School of Art building and wonder what it is used for today. More research to do.

As I walk along Southampton Row, I see another Blue Plaque that proclaims, John Barbarolli lived here. Like my Auntie Hilda, he seems to have moved house many times but not gone far. There are several round near the Brunswick centre. We’re near Academia again and I pass a Chinese student who is carrying a note pad and papers tied up with string like a parcel with a bow on top. I’m not sure what weather he is expecting but they wont blow away in a gale. I smile, but at least he’ll know where they are. Unlike me when I need to find any important piece of paper.

I know, you are all wondering about the seed cake. I do pop in for a pot of tea, but no seed cake. I had a raspberry fondant fancy with a chocolate flake. I passed the shop where three weeks ago I bought a packet of Caraway seeds ready to make the seed cake. Time has passed and I still haven’t got around to it. This weekend is a must.

And talking of time, I’ve noticed it’s twenty five to four and like a modern-day Cinderella, I make a dash to Goodge street Station to tap in before the stroke of four. It’s a pound dearer to travel in the rush hour and that would buy another fuchsia……. almost.