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Mid Century Bonanza!

This weekend we’re looking forward to a Sunday shopping treat like no other when Mid Century East returns to Hackney and as an added bonus it’s set in the rather splendid Grade II listed Haggerston School.

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This stunning modernist building is Erno Goldfinger’s only secondary school and was built in 1964. The Hungarian-born London based architect was the first to develop the use of concrete aesthetically in the UK inspired by Auguste Perret and Le Corbusier; he was the architect behind the now famous Trellick Tower and the inspiration behind the Bond character of the same name!

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check-out some more of my favourite London brutalist architecture here

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Breakfast at Highgate

After dropping off pooch for his grooming session at the rather lovely Hair of the Dog in Highgate Village last Saturday morning we found ourselves with a couple of hours to spare; being a wet and windy start to the weekend we thought to treat ourselves to a nice breakfast and spotted a Café Rouge conveniently located just off Pond Square.

Cafe Rouge Breakfast

Although part of a chain offering a sort of sanitised, faux French experience, it knows and celebrates this which makes it just a little more appealing (contd)…

New River Walk

There are hundreds of parks, commons, heaths an even a couple of forests in London making it one of the greenest capitals in the world.

Tucked away in a residential area of Islington is one of the smaller, less well-known ones, the New River Walk. This man-made park was created to follow the overground route of the river from Essex Road to Canonbury where it emerges from an underground tunnel.

The River was built as an aquaduct in the 1600’s to carry drinking water from Hertford to London originally ending at Clerkenwell near where now stands Sadlers Wells theatre and next to that the rather magnificent former headquarters buildings of the Metropolitan Water Board.

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We took Herbie for a stroll along the Islington section yesterday, the weeping willows provided welcome shade, a respite from the searing heat of the summer that’s eventually landed.

At this point it’s little more than a stream, but provides a haven for wildlife. In addition to the ducks, moorhens and cranes we even spotted a terrapin loitering on one the miniature islands created by partially submerged  bales of  straw.

The next overground section of the 28 mile route upstream is at Stoke Newington; we’ll be continuing the journey soon…

A London Lighthouse, lost no longer

Directly opposite the newly regenerated Kings Cross station, a long-forgotten and neglected building that had almost melted from the consciousness of passing traffic and pedestrians alike is slowly emerging from its shrouds, sparkling clean with a stunning new stepped vaulted zinc roof and beautifully restored brickwork all topped off with the refurbished Lighthouse.

 

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In a former era the building provided a street entrance to the Underground, a parade of small independent shops and at one time Netten’s Oyster Bar. Urban myth suggests that the Lighthouse perched atop was an novel advert for the oyster bar below although some believe that the Lighthouse preceded this. In fact there is no evidence to support any of the theories regarding its purpose; I think it would be rather lovely if it was indeed just an architectural folly…

 

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Kings Cross & St Pancras has been transformed over the last two decades from an industrial wasteland and red-light district into a gateway to Europe, home to the new British Library, the Granary Buildings now accommodate Central St Martins (University of Arts London), even some of the former the gasholders are being converted into luxury flats and the refurbishment of the Lighthouse Building completes the re-imagining of the Regents Quarter.

 

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There can be little doubt as to the aesthetic and economic benefits that transformation has brought to the area, but there is a small part of me that mourns the loss of character, the edginess and excitement of Kings Cross of the late ’80s…

Railway Royalty

If you go down to Kings Cross today you’re in for a big surprise! There’s something to stop you in your tracks next to Platform 9¾ …

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Not this time the Hogwarts Express but the Princess (after Princess Alexandra of Denmark); built over 150 years ago in London and now fully restored, this beautiful little locomotive is one of the gems of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways which operate two narrow-gauge lines in the heart of Snowdonia.

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Some of the crew from the railway are at Kings Cross until the weekend to guard their pride & joy and answer questions about the trains and railways. Now that really is magical…

Check out more details including timetables, events and news at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway website

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Bright Lights in the Big City

For just four days this chilly January the streets of London were alight and alive with works of 30 artists that make up


From the spectacular Granary Buildings at Kings Cross to the elegance and grandeur of St James’s Square, Lumiere London showcased a captivating array of light installations.  Here is a short clip of one of my favourites, Elephantastic by Catherine Garret.

More details and links from my webpage Lumiere London

Shoreditch Home Stores

Located on Curtain Road, between Old Street & Liverpool Street tube stations in a former furniture manufacturers warehouse is the rather splendid interiors store, SCP.

Spread over three floors each revealing a selection of accoutrements from the latest kitchen utensils, quirky placemats, to beautiful lighting & expertly crafted furniture, this emporium is an Aladdin’s cave, a true treasure trove for all those things you never even knew you wanted… This really is one of my favourite stores in London  – check-out their website 

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