Tag Archives: relief fund for romania

North Finchley

North Finchley, under Creative Commons from John Keogh's flickr photostream. Click pic for link.

North Finchley, under Creative Commons from John Keogh's flickr photostream. Click pic for link.

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.

FindNorth 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

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Filed under 3/5, London North

Archway

from Archway Bridge, by Martin Deutsch, under creative commons. Click pic for link to photostream.

from Archway Bridge, by Martin Deutsch, under creative commons. Click pic for link to photostream.

There are some nice parts of London; you can see them from here.

So opined Saint Etienne back in 1993 in Archway People. Typically, New Model Army go one step grumpier with Archway Towers:

I’ve tried to wrestle
Some unbalanced nightmare
Tell myself over that I
Don’t really live here

Although it’s clearly somewhere people are trying to get away from, this North London nowhereville is redolent with music history. Joe Meek went insane just down the road, and the Kinks’ Muswell Hillbillies album cover was shot inside the Archway Tavern – now (reputedly) co-owned by Shane MacGowan. It’s also been home to the Boo Radleys, Jesus & Mary Chain, Ms Dynamite (ee-hee!) and Rod Stewart. Not a bad roll call.

I don’t know what the link is though: Archway seems like bedsit country for a million student bands, which could be a lot to do with it. There’s no way that you could call it a desirable area, so much so that I’ve never found any reason to stop here before despite it being pretty close. However, the Whittington Hospital beckoned, and with new found freedom we swept the charity shops of the area.

Which are actually pretty good. Time forbade us to stop by the familiar yellow and blue of Marie Curie (I’m reliably informed by my charity shop companion that it’s not worth the effort), so the first stop was a little but crammed Romanian Relief Fund. This was a tightly packed affair with everything in labelled boxes. I left with nothing this time but there was much potential.

The highlight is on the huge Archway junction itself. Looking up the hill you can see either towards Highgate Village or the Suicide Bridge; downhill is the Emirates Stadium and Holloway and the City; East you face through the houses to Crouch End, and West to Tufnell Park and on to Camden Town. Archway Methodist Church sits right smack in the middle of the junction, under the watchful eye of  the Archway Tower, and its accompanying shop is right on the main road. We moved quickly past a gentleman yelling abuses into a mobile phone and into the shop. It’s one of the biggest in this part of London, and not because of a furniture section, because there is none. Again with everything in labelled boxes, it’s a treasure trove of goods. There’s everything from knitting needles and patterns to the car boot sale staple of a box of cables; cases of records and rows and rows of books on every subject under the sun; tatty men’s coats to vintage lady-wear. It’s all pretty reasonable too: there’s a cart of books outside that are 5 to the pound.

This shop is a great find, and although Archway is a pain to get to unless you live on the Misery Line, it’s worth a re-visit. Perhaps when I have my follow-up appointment next.

Find: Archway @ Google Maps
Consume with: Perhaps a pint of the black stuff at the Tavern, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Visit: There’s really no visitable places in Archway, but unless you want to schlep up to Highgate Ponds or the Cemetery, you might want to take a look out from the Archway itself, the proverbial suicide bridge, with amazing views of London Town (another hint: try the fourth floor of the Whittington Hospital as well).
Overall rating: three knitting needles

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Filed under 3/5, London North