“I believe your atmosphere and your surroundings create a mind state for you.”
– THEOPHELIUS LONDON
Good morning, London!
What a fantastic thing to say, or rather think, first thing on a Saturday morning. I’m still getting used to everything that simple sentence contains: the new sounds of an unfamiliar surrounding, the strange and yet oddly charming smell of Earl Grey hanging in the air, and the sun shining through my window.
9 am finds me at the breakfast table, a steaming cup of Earl Grey with milk and a bowl of cereal next to me, while I’m making plans for today. I have visited London four times now, this being my fifth time, and I cannot say that Stoke Newington has ever been on my sightseeing agenda.
Therefore, I gathered that I should get to know my new neighbourhood a bit better. After all, Edgar Allan Poe spent a few precious years of his life here and Amy Whinehouse shot a music video in a cemetry nearby, so there must be something to see. By the time I leave the house the sun, of course, is gone.
1. Abney Park Cemetery
This beautiful Victorian cemetery and nature reserve, established in 1840, was the set for two music videos over the last years. Scenes from Amy Whinehouse’s video Back to Black and Hurts’ All I want for Christmas is New Year’s Day were both filmed here. While wandering through the narrow lines of gravestones, trees, and daffodils, reading the names of the deceased, it can get a bit creepy. Edgar Allan Poe fans will be very much at home here. Some of these stones and graves are so askew that it’s easy to imagine how their owners must have turned beneath the soil to cause so much displacement. Every now and then, you hear a squirrel in the underwood or you see a robin fly out of a broken stone coffin and those sounds of nature break the heavy atmosphere. If you don’t have a good sense of direction, you may want to have a navigation app or a map with you, because getting lost is very easy in this labyrinth of tombstones. Also, I wouldn’t recommend going there after sunset. Not to be paranoid, but some makeshift graves had me wondering…
2. Stoke Newington High Street
Now on to lighter topics. For a street as narrow as Stoke Newington High Street, there’s an awful lot of traffic and just as many people. But it’s the perfect spot for the hungry and the undecided. Fish’n Chips, bars, pubs, Italian, Indian – there’s something for everyone here, including a Tesco express for 24h grocery shopping. And if you take a close look, you’ll spot the Shard tower in the far distance.
3. St. Mary’s Church
On the way to Clissold Park, this beautiful church came across my way. A look inside does not only reveal nice architecture, but a huge amount of charity work they do. From my many trips here, I know what a multicultural city London is, but the city centre is rather British and the influences of other cultures are not as obvious as on the outskirts, though zone 2 is hardly outside of London. In this neighbourhood, there are churches, synagoges, and mosques right next to each other and this peaceful coexistence of different cultures is also mirrored in the people you see on streets. It gives hope that someday, this level of acceptance will not only exist in a part of London, but everywhere in the world and with a common ground of mutual tolerance, it might happen.
4. Clissold Park and Clissold House
This park was, also, established in the late 19th century and offers besides lots of green space a wonderful playground for children, tennis courts, and much more. Clissold House, which can be seen in the picture above, is a popular location for weddings and other parties. Fun fact: the deers, that are living in Clissold Park, first came to live there in 1890. Also: the benches are a perfect spot for people watching!
Since it’s rather chilly today, I’m now looking forward to a nice cup of tea.