Friday to Monday - Amwell, Hackney and Kennington
Friday 27th February
We got lunch from Neighbourhood Organic and watched the families in Sandall park. I did some cycle deliveries in the afternoon, though sadly Jay had pulled out and instead I did a couple of deliveries with a bloke called Guy, one of which (by Camden Road) I’d been to before. We went back to get two more deliveries, to take to an estate opposite Market Gardens. I made the mistake of asking Simon casually, as conversation, how many more there were, and he said if I wanted to come back there were two more (I didn’t want to). The one I did with Guy seemed easier to find than Simon had suggested. I needed number 5 and went past 1,2,3,4, then to the end parade where I saw number 6, 7 and then another 6. Seems number 5 was set back behind 4. I phoned Simon and told him Guy was coming back, and I was halfway home. I didn’t fancy cycling that boring bit of road to the pick-up twice more.
Jack fancied a walk, so we went to King’s Cross and sat in the square, then I suggested we go up to Pentonville to see if La Valle might be open for takeaways. After we’d walked as far as the Lexington, looking as the massive, modern student and office complex on the way there, Jack said he was trying to find a Japanese restaurant that he said was near a mound. I assumed by “mound” he meant Percy Circus, which is up a hill, so we turned up Amwell Street, with its ancient shop fronts and signs, and down Wharton Street, a very attractive road laid out in 1832 with Greek revival houses and stucco decoration.
We explored the exclusive Claremont Square and eventually got to Percy Circus which wasn’t where Jack was referring to, and we eventually found his restaurant (closed) at the junction of Weston Rise and Swinton Street, not so much next to a mound as by a small piece of grass on a slight incline. However on the way home through St Pancras we discovered another historic, industrial street over the railway – Wicklow Street - tucked away between King’s Cross Road and Gray’s Inn Road.
Cycled down to Kennington, giving myself so much time I was half an hour early. I parked my bike on the main road, in case Hannah asked me whether I’d got a helmet yet (I haven’t). After a chat with the girls, I went off to litter-pick with Richard and Claudia, the girl who said hello to me last week and I couldn’t then identify. I now worked out that I’d gone over to talk to her on her first task at the warehouse - she’s from Bexleyheath. These girls assume I’m going to remember them, they don’t realise how many people I talk to. Richard who hasn’t got English as a first language, was quite stumbly in his words and unfortunately I got impatient and kept talking over him. There wasn’t really much litter, the best part was when we climbed up a kids’ climbing mound to pick up a lot of torn-up paper.
Afterwards we went for a coffee in the park, something I’ve had to miss on my previous two visits. I walked over with the two Emmas, chatting about shoes and the Government road-map while we waited for the others. Hannah said there was another part of the park we needed to tackle next week. She is a real organiser and persuader. She’s got someone to donate free litter-pickers and bin-liners, and has rounded up a lot of non-CA people to help tidy the cricket ground. Last time, when I enjoyed a chat with her before I left for another task, she talked me into getting a cycle helmet. This time I was mainly talking to Gayle’s flatmate. They are moving from the Elephant, to Electric Avenue! Gayle is surprisingly quiet. I also had a little wind-up with Hannah’s group.
I then ran to King’s Cross to meet Jack; I was for once correct with my ETA. We sat by the birdcage and then King’s Cross Square, after which we went to see if La Valle was now open. We got a big takeaway there which we ate in Percy Circus, where we watched a man eat two whole multi-packs of Club bars. We realised later that he’d probably got OCD. We then sat in Islington Green with a coffee.
I thought it would probably be further from there, to run back to where I’d left my bike in Kennington, but it was about the same distance and it was a novelty to run down St John’s Road. I collected my bike and cycled down to Brixton, looking at a history magazine in WH Smith until it was time to go to Greggs for the pick-up. Sally and Jacqui were the other helpers, but they wouldn’t listen to my cycle/task/run/Jack/run/task/cycle story of the day. I assumed our destination was the same as last time, but after setting off and checking, I realised it wasn’t, so I caught up with the girls and walked the 2km with them. I knew where to go, as our destination was opposite Vassall Road, which I keep passing in recent weeks. As it turned out, I’d been to the destination before, though I’d approached it from a different direction. It was the one where there’s been a young boy in the house with the woman. This time it was a grown man who answered the door and called for “mum”.
Ran up to Haringey for a 10:00 start, for a task replacing lettering at the nature reserve. I got a shock when I left the house as there was a real chill in the air, a contrast to the recent mild weather. Although I went back for a vest and a jacket, it was still really cold at the task. I left home a bit later than expected, still got there in time, but when I got to the postcode as indicated in City Mapper, I couldn’t see a nature reserve. I looked back and recognised the bridge where I’d done this task before, but when I looked over the wall, all I could see was back gardens. I had a frustrating run around the area and unsuccessfully asked one lady if she knew the nature reserve.
Eventually I ran back onto the bridge from the path below and saw Geraldine arriving. She showed me where to go. Sally and Jacqui had not arrived yet anyway. Patrick was there, so was Louise who was talkative as ever, and also Nurjehan, who said to someone, “This is Lisa-stevenson. We call her Lisa-stevenson”, which was a bit odd; I could only reply “well that is my name”. We did a bit of bulb re-planting, then went to the bridge to re-hang the letters. We didn’t have the right plastic tie-strings, the holes were too small, so someone got some more which we used to hang the letters, rather than thread them through the holes.
I ran back to Finsbury Park with Patrick, Sally and Jacqui - the girls were litter-picking there - then after running home I went to Argos with Jack – I was picking up new running shoes and he had a couple of orders to collect. I suggested a cycle ride to Hyde Park but he wanted to see how our daffodils were growing at the Glasshouse, so inevitably we went to the Black Cat beforehand. I went wrong early on, and we did a loop back to Highbury, but got back on track and arrived just in time.
This time we went to Hackney Downs to eat the food – Jack got vegan fish, which I hadn’t seen on the menu. We then went to Bakehouse East to get a coffee. It took half an hour andt we again watched a dog chasing a ball. When he put it down, he couldn’t grasp that he was on a slope, and it kept rolling away. He sat on it but it escaped, and he was looking round everywhere in a kind of panic before spotting it.
We saw our daffodils which are beginning to come up and cycled home along the canal, diverting via Amwell (third day in a row we’ve been there). Jack had a family Zoom call so I did some things on the laptop and we watched another episode of the UK-TV documentary series about railway architecture.
After nearly a year, I feel our lunchtime walks are finally getting a bit monotonous, unless it was just today. We went to Ellie’s and sat by the railway arches. Later I went to the Angel for a deliveries task and I had to talk to Steve L for a while until Simon arrived. I didn’t want to go inside for too long, it’s too chaotic, people are crowding round being too helpful. Anyway it was straightforward today, I just had the same few flats in Roman Way as last week.
In the evening I finally typed a letter for Miss H about her arrears. I found her address a few months ago when I got a letter from the council about her flat, but now I’ve found out from Mr Kumar that she’s selling the flat, so it’s a good time to write. I also set up a letter for a resident about who the neighbour above has complained about late-night noise. I looked through the old box-files which I’d forgotten existed and threw away most of the invoices and correspondence, as they were so old.