We’re moving to Manchester next week, but for the last two years we’ve lived in London. Trying to pin down the exact bit is tricky. It’s near Finsbury Park, which for non-Londoners means north and a medium distance out from the centre, and for practical purposes, “near Finsbury Park” is what I’ve always described it as. But Finsbury Park is quite large and there are lots of places near it which aren’t particularly near each other.
We’ve lived in the area immediately to the west of the park, not south enough to be Holloway, west enough to be Archway (which isn’t really an area anyway), nor north enough to be Crouch End. The main feature of the area is Stroud Green Road, which runs from Finsbury Park station north west until it becomes Crouch Hill and continues into Crouch End. This road also forms part of the boundary between the London Boroughs of Islington (of wealthy “new” Labour fame) and Haringey (of Baby P fame).
Stroud Green itself was a hamlet a little further north which got swallowed up by nineteenth century suburban expansion; apart from Holy Trinity Church, the site it occupied is mostly residential now and not a distinctive area. Stroud Green Road to the south, however, is the economic focal point, and something of a gem for the diversity and quality of independent shops and restaurants along and around it.
As a result of today’s Tube strike, it took me four and a quarter hours to get from Hackney to White City in Shepherd’s Bush. Admittedly, I didn’t go about it optimally. Here’s a breakdown of the journey:
- I started in Hackney, where I’d been staying with friends. Time: 0830.
- First I tried to take a bus to St Paul’s, where I had a 10 o’clock meeting. There were several suitable bus routes, but every bus that came past was full, and wouldn’t stop to pick up any more passengers. Waiting for bus: 55 minutes. Time: 0925.
- I tried a new tactic: catch one of the nearly-empty buses going in the opposite direction on the same route. Bus in wrong direction: 15 minutes. Time: 0940.
- I texted the person I was supposed to meet in the City to cancel, and decided to concentrate on getting to White City for 1300 instead.
- Further up-route, the buses in the right direction were empty enough to be boardable. However, the traffic was heavily congested and progress was excruciatingly slow. By the time it had reached Shoreditch Church, I’d worked out an alternative, and got off. Bus from Hackney Wick to Shoreditch Church: 85 minutes. Time: 1105.
- Most of the London Overground was running, so I went to the nearest station at Shoreditch High Street. Walking time: 10 minutes. Time: 1115.
- Waiting for train: 10 minutes. Time: 1125.
- Overground to Clapham Junction: 40 minutes. Time: 1205.
- Waiting for next train: 10 minutes. Time: 1215.
- Overground to Shepherd’s Bush: 15 minutes. Time: 1230.
- Walk from Shepherd’s Bush to White City: 15 minutes. Time: 1245.
- And I made it in time for the second meeting!
Lesson learned: check the operating services ahead of time and plan properly. I could have got to White City a lot quicker if I’d gone for the orbital Overground route earlier. Making the meeting in the City was always going to be difficult and I should probably have cancelled it as soon as the strike was confirmed.