Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Most Healthy Spot Near London

'To be let. Unfurnished, on Lease, in Tollington Park - Hornsey Road, considered the most healthy spot near London, a first class residence, built entirely to order of the present owner, replete with every convenience, and containing 3 reception rooms, with boudoir, seven bedrooms, library, kitchens, and a housekeeper's room, hot and cold water on each landing and a large bath-room at the top of the house, a tastefully laid out and ornamental garden, a model stable with loose boxes and stalls, together with excellent coach-house. rent moderate. to view apply to Mr Carter, builder, Hornsey Road'

Morning Post - Thursday 2 August 1860, via the British Newspaper Archives

I'll take it.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Mother's milk

Breastfeeding can be like it looks in magazines: drowsy baby looking up at blissed-out mother. At the start though, when you and a frantic, wordless creature are trying to solve a 3D moving puzzle, you may feel less like a mother goddess and more like Alice trying to persuade her flamingo to unfurl itself and play croquet: pecked and perplexed.

It doesn't help that the NHS/NCT guidance majors on breastfeeding being A Good Thing and rather skates over any difficulties. The result is that although in 2010 83% of babies in England were breastfed at birth, only 24% were exclusively breastfed at six weeks and only 1% at six months. 

Anyway, this is where the Hornsey Road children's centre and its breastfeeding drop-in come in. It's a simple idea (from 1:30. to 3:30 on Mondays volunteers give mothers practical advice) but it's transformative and this post is my attempt at saying thank you. 

If I could I'd award the volunteers damehoods and buy them all yachts, but that'll have to wait until I rule the world.
Incidentally, see below for proof of the long history of unrealistic images of breastfeeding. 

The model was Agnes Sorel, who was the king's mistress and died the same year. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

'Harry, Harry come here'

This is a post about gun laws, violence and how things change and stay the same. 

 It's from the Sunday 3 January 1864 edition of Lloyd's weekly newspaper via the British Newspaper Archive:

'Considerable excitement was occasioned in the parish of Hornsey on Wednesday morning, by it's being announced that a young man had been killed in the Hornsey Road, out of feelings of jealousy, by one of his companions, but this fortunately, as far as can be discovered, is not true. 

Inquiries were at once set on foot by Inspector Langdon of the North division, and it was ascertained that a young man of the name of Banks had been shot in the Hornsey Wood-Lane, Seven Sisters road on Tuesday afternoon, and death had been instantaneous. It would appear that the deceased, in company with a young fellow of the name of Lamb, went out on Tuesday for a little sport, the young man Lamb carrying a gun when on the railway bridge near Hornsey Road the deceased got on a  heap of sand which was lying at the side of the road. 

At the moment the young man Lamb raised his gun to shoot at a small bird, but it being out of reach he lowered it and at that moment the deceased ran down the heap, and received the whole of the charge in the right side, just under his heart. 

The deceased fell, exclaiming 'Harry, Harry, come here', and then expired. Dr Baker was immediately on the spot and pronounced life extinct. On examining the body it was found that there was a hole in the side about the size of a crown piece. 

Lamb was taken into custory and when at the police station was charged with felonously causing the death of John Banks. He was cautioned by Inspector Langdon as to what he said in answer to the charge, when the prisoner replied that he was about to uncock his gun when the deceased passed in front, and the cock slipping the gun wen toff, and the man dropped. He was sorry for what he had done.

An inquest was held on Friday, when the jury returned a verdict of 'Accidental death' and at their request, the coroner admonished Lambert for his having caused his companion's death by his incautious use of fire-arms. The jury also passed a resolution, calling the attention of the police to the necessity of exercising more stringent powers in the apprehension and punishment of the numerous persons who are in the bait of frequenting with loaded guns and shooting in the fields and public roads in the neighbourhood.'

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Organic Stall and the new demographic

This is Kay. He's opened a deli where Hornsey Road meets Tollington Way, i.e. across the road from Tesco's and down a bit. 

Kay, smiling

The shop (called Organic Stall) is a delight. There are tables by the window where you can have a coffee and watch the world or at least the subset of it that hangs out on the Hornsey Road go by. There are wooden crates of fruit and veg stacked up in the middle of the floor (I can recommend the apples) and the shelves are full of what mumsnet would call 'naice' things: posh apple and carrot juice, fancy chocolate, upmarket tea, good tomato sauce, healthy baby food and so on. 

I can also recommend the brownies.

In other words, it sells the kind of stuff that you had to schlep down to Waitrose on the Holloway Road for, and that's only worth doing during a zombie invasion.

Kay's looking for feedback on what to stock, so go tell him if you want to be able to buy spelt flour or ginger jam locally. 

I really want this place to do well because the Hornsey Road needs some luck, but also because its success would prove a theory of mine right. 

The theory is that when high streets struggle it is often (or at least sometimes) because the shops are too downmarket.

You'd never guess it from the shuttered shops, or from the scruffy takeaways and newsagents, but there is money near here. Within a half-mile radius there are two bed flats on sale for over £500k and a house to rent at £925 a week. There is also a hell of a lot of poverty and gentrification is a mixed blessing, but it's been frustrating to see shops struggle because they aren't pitched to attract the new demographic. I don't know why this happens (perhaps because posh people don't tend to open shops?) but it is bloody annoying.

More on this theme in the aspirational Luton blog 

In which I have doubts

Update: I've since heard from Kay-of-the-organic-stall that it's a conversion into offices and all legit. Excellent news and I must learn to be less suspicious.

The ground floor of number 281 (on the corner of Tollington Way and Hornsey Road - next to Tesco's) has been empty for years.

 A Beloved Reader noticed that you can see building work through the gaps in the whitewash:

Lots of building work:

A planning application to convert the shop into flats was refused in 2010 for for 'providing a poor standard of residential amenity': local authority speak for being unfit to live in. I can't find a more recent, relevant, planning application.

Flats fetch more money than shops in North London and that BBC programme about the Caledonian Road showed that this can lead to dodginess.

The Beloved Reader has informed the council as well as me. 

On the other hand, it could all be legit. Anyone know anything?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Clever Mike's hidden bikes

I can never decide if the best thing about cycling is gliding round corners without using your hands or how bikes look. Even humdrum ones are cute (my heart broke last year when some git stole the mountain bike I'd had since my 15th birthday) but some are like Tom Ford's mid nineties Grecian dresses or Celine since Phoebe Philo took over in that they are lovely enough to make you glad you're alive.

Those bicycles even look good stripped down to their candy-coloured frames:

but they look better when they're sleek and complete:

All this shininess is hidden at number 465 under the Danor sign. Go through the right hand door and left at the piano (which is another story)

and you reach Clever Mike* the new bicycle maintenance business/shop

that is this man's brainchild.

Not Mike 

Here's hoping he thrives in the Hornsey Road microclimate. Anyone patient enough to let me meander around with the pram asking daft questions deserves to do well. More importantly, it shines through that he loves his job and is good at it. 

Talking of being good at something, there are far better pictures on the Clever Mike facebook page:

T: +44-(0)7845-304865
Opening Hours
Monday - Friday 8.30 - 17.00

*Rhyming slang for bike. No, I hadn't worked it out either.