Just round the square to the deli

On Thursday, I became a little unwell and by Friday (yesterday) things had reached a stage where I felt it would be better to seek medical help. I made a brief outing to the GP surgery but stayed indoors for the rest of the day.

My condition has improved somewhat today but I still don’t feel able to go for a long outing. Tigger did some shopping for me and when she returned we went out together to fetch our coffee from the deli.

We did go round Myddelton Square before calling at the deli but then came straight home. My photos – and the commentary accompanying them – will not be very interesting but, all being well, I shall recover soon and “normal service will be resumed”.

You will remember that, after many months of water wastage, the leak in Claremont Square had been repaired.

Leak repaired
Leak repaired

This was what it looked like when the barriers were finally cleared away.

So, imagine our incredulity when, today, this was the scene that met our eyes:

Leaking again
Leaking again
Photo by Tigger

It is leaking again and, if anything, flowing even faster than before. I am not a water engineer and have no idea of what can go wrong, so I will reserve judgement on the matter and wait to see how long it takes for them to attend to it again. You might be able to decipher the blue label reflected in the water: it belongs to a van emblazoned “Thames Water” so perhaps they are aware of the new leak though there were no people in or near the van.

No one working
No one working

Meanwhile, the second leak is still in suspended animation. Having dug a hole, they have gone off and left it. What is worse, is that they have had to close the road, putting people to inconvenience while they do nothing. Nul points for organisation.

Clear water
Clear water

The hole has filled up with water, of course. We were glad to see how clear it is but slightly bemused by the blue colour. Perhaps this is caused by something in the earth rather than being a quality of the water itself.

Myddelton Square
Myddelton Square

Tigger suggester we take a turn around Myddelton Square and I agreed. We have walked here (and taken photographs) countless times before but I have become fond of the place and its sober but elegant Georgian style houses. Even minor changes strike us and evoke our interest.

The gardens
The gardens

We didn’t go into the gardens and I made do with a photo. I looked to see whether the “squirrel lady” (see Thursday’s post) was there. She wasn’t but I have no doubt that we’ll see her again one of these days.

Coffee in view!
Coffee in view!

We turned the corner and the red shade of Myddelton’s deli came into view.

Having bought our coffee, we made straight for home. After even such a short walk, I was glad to sit down and drink my coffee. I look forward to recovering my energy and venturing further afield but, for today, it was enough.

Water leaks and the squirrel tree

Today is set to be cloudy and cold all day. Tigger is at work and not here to encourage me but I did manage to persuade myself to go out for a walk, albeit a brief one. Even though it was short, it provided some surprises.

They've filled in the hole!
They’ve filled in the hole!

Yesterday, I said, somewhat sarcastically, that Thames Water would no doubt fill in the hole “one day”, that is, hinting that it would take them a long time to deal with it. Imagine my surprise, then, at finding it already filled in!

That’s not all, however, and another surprise awaited me further down the road.


Mylne Street closed to traffic

I found Mylne Street closed to traffic and for a good reason: they have dug up the road in order to deal with the second leak!

A two-man team
A two-man team

They have already dug quite a long way down, as you can judge from the man standing in the hole. This appears to be the usual pattern with works of this nature: one man doing the actual work and the others standing around watching him!

Bag to catch the leaking water
Bag to catch the leaking water

There was a pump in action to remove the leaking water from the hole and I saw that outflow had been directed into this bag, perhaps to prevent it spraying muddy water onto the cars and pavement.

Muddy puddle
Muddy puddle

The outflow had created this impressive puddle on its way to the drain on the left.

Myddelton Square Gardens
Myddelton Square Gardens

I went for a stroll in Myddelton Square gardens. There were a few people here but noticeably fewer than when we had come here with our coffee. The change in the weather was obviously the reason for the difference.

A promise of spring
A promise of spring

These daffodils growing in the shelter of a tree offered hope that spring is still on its way in and that the dull, cold weather of the last couple of days is but a temporary setback.

Three species
Three species

There were not as many pigeons and other birds as usual but I counted three species here, wood pigeons, rick doves (feral pigeons) and crows, mixing amicably enough, perhaps because there was plenty of food.

Feeding the squirrels
Feeding the squirrels

I had noticed this lady standing near a tree but hadn’t paid her any attention because I am used to people doing strange things in parks, whether performing exercises or meditating or whatever. But then I saw a movement in the tree, then several: squirrels. She was feeding them and said that there were five of them. I tried several times to photograph them but they moved very quickly and disappeared again immediately. It was fun to watch, though, and was the highlight of my walk.

Old drinking fountain
Old drinking fountain

I left the gardens by the top gate and came home. On the way, I photographed the old non-functional drinking fountain though I’m sure I’ve already photographed it. Let’s hope the better weather will return soon and encourage me to take longer walks.

A dash in the rain

The weather has turned wet and, in consequence, our “walk” was reduced to a quick dash there and back. We had business to see to and, having taken care of it, returned home via Myddelton’s.

Lloyd Square in the rain
Lloyd Square in the rain

The above photo will give you some idea of the conditions – not at all suitable for drinking coffee in the park!

Leak nearly repaired
Leak nearly repaired
Photo by Tigger

It turns out that the workmen I saw yesterday at the water leak in Claremont Square have done good work. A new access point and cover have been installed and all that remains is to fill in the rest of the hole and make good the road surface. They will no doubt do this… one day.

We spied a neighbour at the window and Tigger naturally took a photo.

A feline neighbour
A feline neighbour
Photo by Tigger

The behaviour of the human members of the household will have changed radically because of the pandemic and I wonder whether their domestic pets are puzzled by this. Perhaps in the case of young ones like this kitten, though, that behaviour will be what they are used to and it will be the change to normality that they will find puzzling!

Water leak repair and pigeons

Tigger’s work schedule keeps changing. This is a nuisance but I suppose it keeps us on our toes, so to speak. Thus, although today is Tuesday, Tigger has gone to the office.

Left to my own devices, though I didn’t feel much like it, I felt I ought to make the most of the sunshine and go out for a walk, even if just s short one. For encouragement, I promised myself a coffee. So off I went.

Repairing the leak
Repairing the leak

In Claremont Square, a surprise awaited me: they were actually doing some work on the water leak! When I took the photo, I attracted the notice of one of the workmen. I think they would have liked me to take more photos but, as far as I was concerned, one was enough.

Penton Street
Penton Street

I crossed into Penton Street where the low sun was dividing the view into bright sunlight and darker shade.

Caligraphic Cats
Caligraphic Cats
Andie Scott

The Amar Gallery, though closed of course, was featuring a window exhibition by Andie Scott entitled Caligraphic Cats. You will find more information about the artist on her website.

Gown for a spring bride
Gown for a spring bride

Next door, in Mirror Mirror, the shop-window dummies were dressed as spring brides with (fake) flower headdresses. The sunlight made their gowns positively shine. I wondered, though, how many spring brides there would be this year. Surely fewer than in normal years.

The Joker no more
The Joker no more

I noticed that this pub on the corner of Penton Street and Chapel Market had apparently lost its name and the windows were covered with newspaper, suggesting work in progress. The pub used to be called The Joker of Penton Street and a pub website for that name still exists, carrying a promise to “throw one hell of a party when this is all over”. It seems that this hope has evaporated and that the pub, when it eventually re-opens, will do so under a new name, Day and Night. We can but wish it good luck.

Tolpuddle Street
Tolpuddle Street

For my part, I continued on until I reached Tolpuddle Street. The presence of police vehicles is not indicative of some crisis but of the fact that the district’s police station resides here.

Culpeper Park
Culpeper Park

I walked along to Culpeper Park which I dutifully photographed though I had really come to see someone else. Or several someones, in fact.

The Culpeper pigeons
The Culpeper pigeons

I had come to visit “my friends”, the Culpeper pigeons. They have colonised this section of pavement where they gather together, sunbathing, courting and eating when people put out food for them, as some do.

Not everyone likes pigeons but I do and make no secret of the fact. Perhaps if we called them by their alternative name, Rock Doves, people would respect them more.

Coffee almost in sight!
Coffee almost in sight!

I crossed through Sainsbury’s car park into White Conduit Street where Mercer’s, purveyors of food and dispensers of coffee are to be found.

A view from the window
A view from the window

I kept an eye on the busy scene outside while my coffee was being prepared (“black americano, no milk, no sugar”) and then, coffee cup in hand, made a dash for home. And, yes, it was still hot when I arrived – my reward for venturing out, if I needed one.

In Clerkenwell and Camden

Today (Monday) brought us another sunny but chilly afternoon, a degree or so colder than yesterday, making it more comfortable to stay on the sunny side of the streets where possible.

My favourite tree
My favourite tree

I started by photographing the Curvaceous Tree, even though I have done so many times before. This is partly because I have become very fond of it and because it has, in some sense, become the symbol and inspiration of our pandemic walks.

We again drank our coffee al fresco, returning to one of our favourite resting places, Percy Circus.

The sun in a lamp
The sun in a lamp
Photo by Tigger

Tigger was inspired to take a photo of the sun shining in a street lamp – rather artistic, don’t you think? As yesterday, the air was hazy, lending a soft-focus effect to distant views.

We found a bench in the sun in Percy Circus where we took our ease and drank our coffee.

A view of Percy Circus
A view of Percy Circus

A took this partial view of Percy Circus Garden from my seat on the bench.

Old Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court and Police Station
Old Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court and Police Station

After coffee, we ventured down the hill to the King’s Cross Road. This is the Grade II listed former Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court of 1906. Attached to it is a former police station which is much earlier, dating from 1842. I think it is a rather handsome building. I wonder what the future holds for it.

Contrasting styles
Contrasting styles

We admired these white fronted houses with elaborate balconies resting between plainer siblings. This is not a chance alignment and we saw other examples during our walk. It seems that the builders of these streets sometimes included more elaborate designs in the middle of a terrace to attract buyers looking for something a little more special.

Calthorpe Community Garden
Calthorpe Community Garden

When she first arrived in London, Tigger lived for a while near here and remembers this terrain as a bomb site. It has now been converted into a community garden, with children particularly in mind.

Community Garden entrance
Community Garden entrance

The elaborate artwork above the gate suggests that the garden is a place for children to play and explore and other signage confirms this message. One part of the garden (not shown here) has been left fairly rough, presumably on purpose. The organisation has a wider purpose, however, as detailed on its website.


Old cattle trough and drinking fountain

The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association was set up in 1859 to provide clean drinking water for the public. In 1867 it changed its name to reflect a new additional purpose: Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. The design of the troughs remained much the same throughout the history of their establishment and provided drinking water for humans, cattle and dogs (the ground-level trough is for the latter).

Many of its troughs were partly or wholly financed by people wishing thus to create a memorial to a loved or admired deceased. This one, for example, bears the following dedication:

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
H T W & M M W
1885

The MDFCTA has a website and this Wikipedia article gives an outline of the Association’s history. The troughs, no longer needed for their original purpose, have been taken in hand by local councils and often planted with flowers, as this one has been.

Old Royal Free Hospital
Old Royal Free Hospital

This rather fine Victorian building still bears the name under which it was founded: Royal Free Hospital. It later became the Eastman Dental Hospital and part of University College London Hospital. It is now being “redeveloped” but I don’t know what it fate is to be.

Old Eastman Dental Clinic
Old Eastman Dental Clinic

Its more recent companion site is also undergoing a similar change of fate. What is to become of them?

Sculptures at the entrance
Sculptures at the entrance

The entrance is flanked by two columns bearing the sculpture of a child. I do not know who the artist is or whether they will survive whatever fate lies in store for the building.

Traditional mosaic
Traditional mosaic

The houses in the area present a mixture of types but the underlying character is the Georgian style domestic dwelling, some more elaborate than others. It’s fun keeping track of the different styles of mosaics in front of the door. Here are two in contrasting styles. The above above represents the traditional, while…

Modern mosaic
Modern mosaic

…this is a strikingly modern design.

Art Deco, 1938 vintage
Art Deco, 1938 vintage

This building caught our attention because of its odd – not to say awkward – configuration. It clearly divides into two sections. Bearing a date of 1938, it has two Art Deco figures atop pilasters either side of the entrance.


Art Deco figures
Photo by Tigger

It turns out that the building is Grade II listed and that the section we photographed was just part of a larger site which includes a pub called The Duke (originally the Duke of York). The curious thing is that this pub’s history goes back to at least 1841 (see this article). I can only suppose that the pub already existed when the site was developed and was incorporated into the new building.

Double doors
Double doors

I took this photo to illustrate a feature quite common in this area: double front doors. In Georgian style houses, the larger ones often have this feature while in less affluent neighbourhoods, the doors are single although their design often imitates double doors.

The problem with double doors is where to place furnishings such as the door knocker, the doorknob and, later, the letterbox. A common solution in this neighbourhood is to make the design symmetrical by including two knockers and two doorknobs. When letterboxes came into being, they spoiled this symmetry, having to be placed on one side or the other. This dissatisfied one house holder who…

Two letterboxes
Two letterboxes

…installed two letterboxes! I wonder how the postie decides in which letterbox to place the mail.

The Lady Ottoline, once the King’s Arms
The Lady Ottoline, once the King’s Arms

This fairly handsome Victorian pub was built in its present form in 1898 on a site occupied since the 18th century by its forerunner, the King’s Arms. At some point, though I don’t know when, it was renamed the Lady Ottoline after Lady Ottoline Morell, a well known society hostess who lived nearby and rubbed shoulders with the elite of the world of letters and learning. Her most famous liaison was perhaps that with philosopher Bertrand Russell.

Royal Oak clock
Royal Oak clock
Photo by Tigger

Here is another curiosity. This house at, I think, number 12 John Street, is an ordinary dwelling and yet it has a large clock affixed to the façade! The inscription on the clock is ROYAL OAK. That sounds like the name of a pub but large exterior clocks are not commonly found on pubs. However, I note that there exists a company called Royal Oak Insurance. Could this clock have once adorned the front of one of their offices? Perhaps the building was demolished or the clock disposed of for some reason and the householder of the time rescued it. Who knows?

Conway Hall
Conway Hall

When we found ourselves in Theobalds Road opposite Conway Hall, home of the famous ethical society of the same name, we realised how far we had come. We therefore adopted the solution we had chosen on Saturday and returned home by bus.