A Mixed Bag in London

Sunday was a fun day – spent the day at an outdoor music festival in Hyde Park, and saw the Police. It was a great day – sunny, warm with enough of a breeze to keep things nice. I showed up mid-afternoon, while the music was already started. Frankly, the rest of the bands playing didn’t hold much interest for me – I was there to see the Police. In their “last London show”, if that is to be believed.

I actually showed up near the end of the Bangles set – way too funny really. They closed out with a pretty cool mix of their hit Walk Like an Egyptian and Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson. That was pretty cool. The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging in the sun, drinking beer, and listening to OK music. The whole festival scene is so much more civilized here. No lines for drinks, as they don’t pen you up in some small area. 

The Police were great; they put on an awesome show. Sting was looking a bit old, sporting a scruffy (and very grey) beard. They played all the expected hits, and the crowd was very into it. The show wrapped up surprisingly early, but it was a good day.


A Saturday at home – quite the novelty for me of late. So I made the most of it, and ended up having a varied, full day. I started off the morning by sleeping in late, which hasn’t happened in quite a while. It was very enjoyable. After that late start to the morning, I wandered over to Borough market and did some actual shopping – I now have food in the place for the first time in quite a while.

After coming back from the market, I was a little unsure of what to do. It was a beautiful, summer day – blue skies, a nice breeze, and bright sunshine. There was no way I was going to be cooped up inside. So I grabbed my box of walks, and picked one (sort of at random…), ending up with Stoke Newington.

Like many parts of London, Stoke Newington was a small village that got absorbed into the city. You see it a lot as you wander London – small, unique villages that are absorbed by the slow, inevitable creep outwards of London. I started off talking the Tube up to Finsbury Park tube station, and walking through Finsbury Park. That wasn’t part of the route, but it was such a nice day that it seemed like a good idea. It’s a nice park, pretty large with a boating pond and lots of open, green spaces – the footballers were taking full advantage.

The route took me through a not-so-great area of town, but eventually lead me through another one of London’s unexpected wild spaces. West Nature Reserve is a bit of green, wild space surrounding two reservoirs in this part of the city. Not large, but still quite nice to walk through, on the overgrown path. There were kids out on small boats on the reservoir, some kids fishing, and a few people out wandering like I was. I did get some pretty good pictures (I think) of some of the local bird population. 

Swan, on the resevoir at Stoke Newington

The path dumped me out at the foot of the “Castle”, a turreted, (yep, it looks like a castle) abandoned water-pumping station. The card called it “the turreted Victorian folly” – and it does seem a bit much for a pumping station. After the Castle, I wandered through some residential neighbourhoods, and into Clissold Park. Another very lovely city park, this one was cool in that it has an enclosed area with a small herd of deer. And a few goats, and a pen of rabbits. Slightly odd, but the kids all seemed to like it a lot. 

The "Castle" - Victorian excess at its best...

The "Castle" - Victorian excess at its best...

After leaving the park, I ended up on the main street through Stoke Newington. It’s a nice little village-in-the-city, with lots of unique shops, none of the big “high street” stores, and a very small-town feel. While the main street was OK (I was not in a shopping mood, so I skipped the stores), the highlight of the trip was the last part, the walk through Abney Park Cemetery. This place is cool beyond words!

A Victorian cemetery (I saw grave stones from the mid 1700s all the way up to the 1980s), now “abandoned”, turned into a local nature reserve, maintain by volunteers. It’s amazing – left to go completely wild (less the bit of pruning here and there to maintain the paths), it’s become a magical place. Or at night, I would imagine it would make an ideal set for any horror movie. 

The overgrown fantasy-land of Abney Park Cemetery

Narrow paths, overgrown with tree, vines and other plants; tombs and grave stones falling over; an abandoned church in the middle of the cemetery (it’s a big place); the atmosphere is just amazing! I must have spent hours wandering around, taking pictures and enjoying the peaceful tranquillity of the place. 

Some of the amazing gravestones in Abney Park Cemetery

Sadly, I had to get back and return the car to the office - £24 a day for parking seemed a bit steep. After returning from Woking, it was about 9:30. The sun was starting to set, and the cloud patterns and colour in the sky looked good, so I went out to take some pictures. 

Southwark Cathedral

St. Paul's and the Millenium Bridge

London cityscape, including St. Paul's

Two and a half hours later, I dragged myself back into my flat and called it a day. A very full, very fun day.