Plus ça change…Tinnitus, Spring, Pottery

Tuesday, 26 February, 2019

Mired in the blahs a bit. The wedding was a nice little oasis of colour and new stuff to do but, for the most part, February has been spent right here at home or around the neighbourhood. And it’s not as if there’s nothing going on here. It’s all in my head!

My head being a bit full of tinnitus.

If you think tinnitus is just an annoying, somewhere-in-there, ringing in your ear, you’d be only partly right. Mine is ‘recurring.’ I can go weeks, months, even years without it – or at least there’s ‘acceptable’ level noise in my ears all the time but then every now and again it gets serious. It spikes and I can’t cope. This isn’t ‘carry on regardless’ any more. It leaves me incapable of doing even the ordinary things. I’m hypersensitive to everyday noises and instinctively avoid them. Running taps, the shower, the sound of footsteps, the wind blowing leaves, traffic driving by, someone unwrapping or rustling paper… This is called hyperacusis.

My personal kind of spike is this – Sometimes there are baby crickets making some noise occasionally, sometimes there are bigger crickets being a bit more insistent, and sometimes there’s a whole meadow full of really huge crickets in full voice for hours on end, if you’re lucky with intermittent breaks.  Has anyone ever made a really loud noise too close to your ear? Yelled? Blown a whistle? If so, did you pull away immediately to avoid the noise? Imagine if you couldn’t.

One more thing about tinnitus – it isn’t actually in your ear, although it can certainly drown out other noises or upset your balance (quite a bit in my case) but it’s coming from your brain. Your brain is filling in gaps of sound or frequency with something recognisable. Sort of like phantom limb syndrome….

So back to Hackney and getting out when balance is on my side. It’s unseasonably warm. It’s T-shirt weather for some. My phone weather tells me it’s 19C. And it’s still February.

Over the course of the day, so any variations in the sky. February.
Over the course of the day, so any variations in the sky. February.

Continue reading “Plus ça change…Tinnitus, Spring, Pottery”

Penge Street Art Trail

Wednesday, 23 May, 2018 (afternoon)

I follow the Instagram account London Calling Blog ‘Documenting Street Art since 2015.’ They blog about and post street art from every London neighbourhood and have often helped me identify the pieces I’ve photographed. One thing I noticed is that Penge has a lot of street art. It has do with LCB’s Street Art Community Project aka SprayExhibition20 when a lot of pieces went up. The trend has continued.

I used to live not too far from Penge and I remember it being a not-too-desirable fairly boring place to be back then, so I wasn’t expecting too much. I knew it was quite residential and that it had a high street and that’s about all.

I was at a disadvantage, Krish having asked where I wanted to go and me having rattled off a half dozen options. He chose Penge. In a parallel universe I’d have prepared a map and plotted art pieces along the route. Instead I had some roughly scrawled notes to go with my admitted lousy map reading skills. Argh.

We set off about 2pm and arrived just after 3pm – love the Overground! We started at the southern end of the route, Anerly. Not much to see here but one shop shutter near the station did set the pace. Walking to our first stop, Maple Road, I remarked this looked quite a lot like Herne Hill but not as grand. Krish agreed.

Shutter near Anerly Station
Shutter near Anerly Station

Maple Road is a pretty ordinary street. It starts off small and residential and then starts to gain momentum with shops before meeting Penge High Street. We explored along the route and in some back alleys (quite reference to notes) and found quite a lot of art, good, bad, and indifferent. It’s a hard job choosing photos to post here but here we go with the first lot. I’ll add artists when I find the names.

This one is famous - doesn't quite do it for me
This one is famous – doesn’t quite do it for me

Mr Cenz
Mr Cenz
Leon Seesix - Dotmaster
Leon Seesix – Dotmaster
iCON
iCON

On a toilet door in a back alley
On a toilet door in a back alley

We are not the droids you are looking for
We are not the droids you are looking for
Dope
Dope
Neequaye Dreph Dsane - Dreph
Neequaye Dreph Dsane – Dreph

Leon Seesix – Dotmaster  

Continue reading “Penge Street Art Trail”

Amhurst Road, Hackney Downs Studio, and Evelyn Court

Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

A busy day planned today! It started with a trip to the doctor where I asked about my leg pain and inability to walk like I used to. Of course, it’s to do with my arthritis and the fact I tore my meniscus several years ago. Advice is to lose some weight (noted) exercise my legs every day (noted) and to take better pain relief (noted) – I noted all these with some trepidation. The final bit of advice – This is normal and natural. Don’t beat yourself up! I like this new doctor.

On the way back from the doctor, I checked out a new cafe called Fingers Crossed on Amhurst Road at Shacklewell Lane.

A not-flaky-or-chocolatey-enough chocolate croissant and a perfect handmade no-sugar chai latte at Fingers Crossed
A not-flaky-or-chocolatey-enough chocolate croissant and a perfect handmade no-sugar chai latte at Fingers Crossed

Around the corner from the doctor is a little inner yard full of artisans of many kinds. You would definitely have to know it was there to venture in. So I did walk in there to see how things were. I was surprised to see that they are building new places back there – looks like studios etc, and the cafe/events centre was padlocked so I’m not sure if it’s just an overnight or a permanent thing. Will keep checking on that!

Somewhat hidden entrance to Amhurst Studios from Shacklewell Lane
Somewhat hidden entrance to Hackney Downs Studios from Shacklewell Lane
Some of the older Studios in the yard
Some of the older Studios in the yard
Work on new studios at Hackney Downs Studios yard
Work on new studios at Hackney Downs Studios yard
Going back up to Amhurst Road from Hackney Downs Studios - local secret
Going back up to Amhurst Road from Hackney Downs Studios – local secret

Continue reading “Amhurst Road, Hackney Downs Studio, and Evelyn Court”

Visitors – Shoreditch, Skygarden, Marylebone…and…

Friday, 4 May, 2018

My friend, Virginia (Jinni), and her husband Dave are visiting London. This means a lot of guiding and walking.  Most of what I see is familiar but I do sometimes spot something new and that’s always a nice suprise!

On Monday, I met them for a local walk around for groceries. Instead of the fish and chip dinner I thought we might have we went to a pasta place close to their hotel. To my mind, the Italians tend to undercook ravioli. At least, I know that it’s supposed to be al dente and that’s fine but I think I prefer my ravioli and pasta a bit more tender than that. Doesn’t have to be soft but … yes, tender. It’s made me more determined to make a little of my own. After making it with a machine and with a rolling pin, I say the machine wins for the thinner, more tender, dough.

We started our walk near Arnold Circus (my usual route). The middle garden area was looking like Spring was taking hold. A nice oasis in busy Shoreditch.

Arnold Circus gazebo
Arnold Circus gazebo

We aren’t wimps but let’s say we are getting older. We stopped in The London Tea Exchange on Brick Lane. The server comes to your table and asks what you’re looking for and then choose a few options for you to smell and consider.  I chose the Green tea with Rose. It was very fragrant and refreshing. I was already starting to feel the warmer weather after the past several wet and cold ones. Five pounds well spent? Hmmm.

Rose green tea
Rose green tea at the Tea Exchange
Dave and Jin spotted this building name - I had never noticed it!
Dave and Jin spotted this building name – I had never noticed it!

I had booked three spaces at Ottolenghi so we arrived and ordered our dinner.  The prices have gone up – no surprise – my cold main and two salads was £18.80. I enjoyed it but thought I might have got the end of the roast since it wasn’t as rare as it used to be. Still, I made good choices – with Roasted butternut squash with nigella yoghurt, grilled spring onion and green chilli, Green beans, red endive with miso tahini and toasted sesame, and the fillet of beef.

Lunch at Ottolenghi
Lunch at Ottolenghi

I had been trying for over a week to get some spaces at Skygarden. It was definitely frustrating me. On Monday morning I was ready to grab spots for Tuesday and stupidly was waiting for something to show up while still on the April calendar. When I figured out what I was doing wrong, it was too late, no spots. Still, I knew that cancellation spots turned up if you keep checking and to my surprise as we left Ottolenghi, five spots showed for 3pm. I quickly selected three spots and prayed I’d been on time. I was! It was 2:20pm.

Every time I go to Skygarden now I think I don’t need to come back, but there I was and, despite the dull sky, I took a few photos for posterity!

The Tower,Tower Bridge, and City Hall
The Tower, Tower Bridge, and City Hall
The Shard and London Bridge Hospital
The Shard and London Bridge Hospital
Looking west with St Pauls, and the Eye around the bend in the river
Looking west with St Pauls 

Continue reading “Visitors – Shoreditch, Skygarden, Marylebone…and…”

A wander in Stoke Newington, the high street, Old Church, Church Street, and Abney Park

Saturday, 21 April, 2018

My brother, John,  has been a keen genealogist for some time and keeps me honest on these pages. The amount of history my family has – on both sides – with this borough of Hackney and that of Tower Hamlets is quite astonishing. No wonder I feel completely at home on these streets. Although it’s not as prolific as the connection with Mile End, Bethnal Green, Spitalfields and Whitechapel, there is a pretty strong line in Hackney so I’ve chased some of the places up.

‘Birth cert of Kate Lees (Samuel Simmons’ – my paternal grandmother – mother) of 1865 shows she was born at 25 Wentworth St. Terrible reputation but maybe the street was not as bad at that time.
Also, her mother Hannah’s last address was 140 Imperial. The Willing great grandparents also lived on Imperial (#37), not sure if they overlapped.’

So on a walk up to Stoke Newington for bread and fabric, I looked for ‘Imperial.’ On a street called Victorian Road is a complex of flats that I immediately recognised as one of the Four Percent Industrial Dwellings that are still scattered around the east end of London.

And part way along, almost where the road becomes a much more modern housing estate, is a chained and padlocked gate. If you look through the bars, there is Imperial Avenue – like a row of mews houses – a hidden pocket of homes.

Imperial Avenue
Imperial Avenue, seen through the bars of a sturdy modern gate
A sad plaque
A sad plaque

I was interested and, as always, my own neighbourhood had surprised me with something I hadn’t seen before. And ‘victorian rd, imperial ave and coronation road. I sense a theme,’ I told John.

Stoke Newington (aka Stokey) can be a grim area along the high street. It’s somehow escaped the gentrification of neighbouring Dalston. However, its age also brings some treasures and I’m very fond of things tour guide Eleanor Blum calls ‘ghosts.’ These are remnants of past times. Still partially there but not in keeping with today.

ghost sign on Stoke Newington High Street
This ghost sign on Stoke Newington High Street was painted twice, one on top of the other

I often buy fresh burrata and newly baked ciabatta at Gallo Nero along the grubby high street. It’s not quite Italy but it’s packed with Italian goods.


Saturday, after a busy  morning, I set off again to Stoke Newington.  (The New Town in the Woods.) This time to Church Street (Stoke Newington Church Street) because I’d heard there were St George Day celebrations at the last remaining Elizabethan church in London, The Old Church. Contrary to the main high street, Church Street is charming, leafy and feels far different. Continue reading “A wander in Stoke Newington, the high street, Old Church, Church Street, and Abney Park”