There’s little to distinguish North Finchley as a place worth visiting. Like it’s southerly cousin, it’s somewhat nondescript, a trait I find to be common to great swathes of the diagonal corners of London. For some reason the North-South and East-West axes of London seem to retain more character: for example in North London, the central band of areas such as Camden, Islington, Holloway, Highbury, Muswell Hill, Tottenham, Winchmore Hill, etc. are quite notably their own places. But the Finchleys and places like Edgware, Colindale, Pinner, Harrow and the like are very obviously massive swathes of period suburbia, matched in the North-East by the bland expanses beyond the North Circular, Chigwell, Barkingside, the Woodfords and the like. Maybe it’s just me.
Psychogeography aside, North Finchley’s worth a brief stop, but that’s about it. There’s five charity shops to pick from: none are useless but none are outstanding. The pick of the bunch is probably North London Hospice, which is usually good for a bargain – on our most recent visit we found plenty of interesting looking books, tape sets of Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, and other odds and ends. That’s at the top of the high road – we then make our way down to Cancer Research, but not without stopping at the wonderfully odd Tiger, a sort of Ikea meets Muji of absolute randomness with conveniently calculable prices. Cancer Research has an excellent selection of books usually – we have picked up paperbacks by Richard Sennett, John Updike and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and even Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, which has apparently spawned an entire subgenre of classic novels revisited in horror style. Weird.
Across the Tally Ho corner (I’m guessing a hunting cry, there’s no specific reputation for ladies of negotiable affection here) past the Artsdepot is very standard British Heart Foundation, then back up the road for Barnardo’s and a very scruffy but occasionally bargainous Romanian Relief store.
I can’t really ply you with dramatic anecdotes and local ephemera because there isn’t much about which to waffle. North Finchley’s local to us, which makes it a convenient after-work mooch, but while you may find bargains, there isn’t much more to commend it.
Find: North Finchley @ Google Maps
Consume with: Coffee Republic has something of the interior of an unloved indie club, but isn’t too shabby – better than Starbucks at least. Cafe Buzz is to be commended for its carrot cake.
Visit: maybe the Artsdepot, which has pretty much loads going on.
Overall rating: three tape box-sets