Revisiting Camden

Revisiting Camden, & finding new places.

I say I have been Revisiting Camden, as it’s a place I used to frequent a lot. As well in the early ’90s, I  studied at North London University in Kentish Town as a mature student. I used to go to a lot of gigs there. Going back there and getting the idea to lead a walk in the area felt exciting. I was also going there to writers meet up group. (sadly not there any longer.)


picture of me taking a picture

I drink, therefore I am, a pun on JPS I think therefore I am, self-reflection in a window.

After Revisiting Camden, I started revisiting the Chelsea library again!. 

I  love Chelsea  I used to work there in Old Church Street. The Kings Road, however, is still pretentious. Researching though is an enjoyable process, researching and reading up on the history of Camden.  A haven for Artists, Writers, Musicians, Historians. Fascinating & somewhat mysterious historical characters, such as Walter Sickert,  one of the founder members of the Camden Artist group. I’m re-reading Patricia Cornwell’s Case Closed, where she sets out to prove that Walter Sickert was, in fact, JACK THE RIPPER. The case is in fact not closed as further evidence has been discovered. 

It has been said that Sickert’s landlady at 6 Mornington crescent believed The Ripper had lived in one of her rooms. this certainly had an effect on Sickert’s imagination who painted Jack the Rippers room and is featured today in Manchester Art Gallery. 


Camden got let off lightly during the blitz.

It seems only Camden Tube Station got slightly hit. The rest is intact. Part of its charm is the beautiful listed buildings, edging onto Regents Park. Camden Theatre at Mornington Crescent built-in 1900 is still standing, now named Koko, it was rescued by the BBC in the 1940s, virtually desolate in the early 1970s then resurrected as The Music Machine named after an LA Psychedelic rock band, making way for the new wave punk generation.  Then it became Camden Palace, now Koko.

walking past Spiritual Bar

A girl walks past The Spiritual Bar

Literary Camden

There is no end to writers who have lived and worked in Camden, from WB Yeats to Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Beryl Bainbridge, the original fantasy writer George McDonald, and many more.  I kept coming across plaques and had to rein the guided tour in somehow. What was starting off as a rock n roll walk was going to turn into a literary walk? Although I can’t do it all in one walk, there is so much scope for future walks.






 It never fails to surprise me how popular Camden Market is. People are happy to be crammed in and queue up for the ever-increasing food stalls in the market.

I prefer to get there early to actually be able to look at the stores and look at the new designs and products. I had gone off Camden some years ago but must say it has so much life and energy there, it feels good to be back in North London.





From Literary Camden to ELTHAM WRITERS

I have been busily involved with The Eltham Readers group, my interview with Bernardine Evaristo author of Mr. Loverman can be found in the SEnine Magazine.  (see page 29 on the link below)



Last Saturday of November I will be joining the’ Bedlam Walk. A historical tour set in the grounds of the Bethlem Royal Hospital.






Coastal walks

SEPTEMBER a grand month for coastal walks.

I did two Coastal walks this month. You can usually find me heading towards the coast in September. I feel it’s the last of the summer wine before the nights start drawing in. My first coastal walk this September was Littlehampton

 Staring with a day out walking from Littlehampton to Worthing. Taking a train from Victoria we wanted to venture out to the coast using my 1/3 travel ticket before it expires in October


It was great to get out in the fresh air and away from London.  Starting from leaving the house to returning, the whole day walk was about 12 miles. This was an easy but long walk. We admired some of the houses along the coastline, considering what type of house we might like to live in if money wasn’t an issue!

A linear walk along the coast.

coastal picture sea, sky, space

Big sky open space, just what the doc ordered.


The little Haven South Shields

Staying at the Little Haven at South Shields we were fortunate with the weather, as well as being upgraded to the Marco Polo Penthouse Suite.

Travelling up from London on The Grand Central Train to Sunderland, it can work out cheaper going to instead of Newcastle and then just taking the metro for a few quid. We got to the hotel in time for  a shower and went out in the evening for a quick drink in The Harbour Lights. All the better for the recently installed full length windows ensuring a great view.


After a swift half, we headed down to the famous Ocean road for a meal. We sampled one of the many Indian restaurants, Zeer Cuisine. It was beautifully decorated and the service was fabulous. I sampled a vegan menu, with a selection of various dishes.  A very relaxing evening to set us up for the following day’s walk.


The following day we walked to Seaburn from South Shields.

There was hardly a soul in sight, only a few cyclists and dog walkers.

We were fortunate with the fantastic weather & beautiful blue sky’s all day.

Catching the bus back to South Shields we took a bus to the Market Place and checked out the Ferry Timetable. Then walked up to the Ocean Road.

After a delicious fish and chips from the famous Coleman’s fish and chip restaurant. A popular place where it is written upon the board which boat the fish came in!. https://colmansfishandchips.co.uk  After the feast, we needed a couple of hours to rest in the Penthouse.! We were startled by a loud horn, and this beautiful ship cruised by.

We were back up with a spring in our steps. A brief shower followed the cruise liner, as we watched it heading into a big black cloud. Looking out from our balcony overlooking the sea, it was an artists dream to see the ever-changing cloud formations

The brief downpour of rain only made the air feel fresher as we ventured back out to sample a few pubs.

A sight for sore eyes! cruising past the hotel

Going going gone….

There is a rich history in this part of town with the docks, river and sea.  

Starting at The Lawe Top in the Harbour lights pub, we first stopped at the two cannons (which according to Newcastle Chronicle are replicas captured from the Russians during the Crimean War, as the originals were melted for ammunition during World War 11.

We walked up and down a lot of stairs on this trip. There are many old steep staircases along & around the Lawe Top. Eventually, two staircases down we were at the Quayside which was unrecognisable to me. As is everywhere near a river, renovations and new buildings made the area somewhat a new area to the one I knew.

We tried a half a beer in the Allum House pub situated next to the ferry. Then ventured over to The Steamboat situated by the Tyne close to the Customs house Arts centre. 

It served hand pulled beers in a cozy lit atmospheric bar; saturated with paraphernalia ranging from Lobster pots to scarves and flags. It was a great pub with a fantastic jukebox, we could have stayed longer but had run out of cash and they weren’t accepting cards. We found a few places that only accepted cash in the area.


shadow on wall


We took the ferry to North Shields to discover a lot of new restaurants had opened up and we enjoyed a lovely walk along the promenade to Tynemouth.

We considered walking to St Mary’s Lighthouse but as we were going out into Newcastle later in the evening, we decided against it. Instead, we had an amble around Tynemouth before heading back to North Shields for our lunch returning on the ferry to the flea market at South Shields

Last but not least, as always it’s great to be back in my home town Newcastle and go out to a restaurant down near the river and visit the Tyne Bar & Baltic. Then back to Sunderland to catch a train back to Kings Cross. I could have done with one more day in Newcastle. Maybe next time

More tales from the coast below.

Berwick to Seaford on a Blue Moon weekend


Summer Walks

In August 2018 I was feeling reflective, In June I had been walking along the cliff tops in Northumberland. Summer walks can be some of the most beautiful walks.

My summer walks were shortlived. Returning to London in the heatwave in June, was intense. I had work to do and a course to attend. I wish I could have spent a whole month just doing summer walks across the cliff tops. Instead, I had to get back to London after a few days. As always work and courses dominate my life.

Summer walks just taking in the Stunning scenery in Northumberland  

Northumberland, Craster coastline

waves crashing on cliffs

Blue sea rugged cliffs, June 2018 Northumberland

Old friends (eh not so much of the old,!) go back a long way…  from Newcastle & South Shields enjoying the sunshine


looking at you, looking at me

Handsome cliff side sheep


Politics/Unite, Angel-Islington & Farringdon, London


On a recent UNITE REP course situated between Angel and Farringdon, I found this little spot by the Canal to sit in at lunchtime. No matter what I’m doing or where I am, I usually find hidden spots. The Unite Course was intense for a whole week, so finding a bit of space was heaven.

Although I haven’t had the time to go on any more summer walks lately, I’m still Clocking up the steps.

Walking from My house to Herne Hill and from  Farringdon Station to the Unite Office; I walked up to Upper Street Islington for lunch and walked back to Farringdon at the end of the day to take the train, this all clocked up about 5 miles a day.

As well as walking at the weekend from Victoria to Blackfriars to the TATE MODERN  walking 8 miles. It all adds up.

five minutes from Angel Station

                                Regent Canal  Islington

Dave a Unite Rep & bus driver, told me this story

I love my walk to work. It’s about 7 kilometers and takes just over an hour. The first part of the trail is through the quiet back road, through a park,to the local area City Centre (Woolwich ).

Here I can jump on a bus (if running late) to work. It’s the highlight of my day; taking a bag of peanuts to feed the squirrels in the park. Where I can get my best ideas walking. Arriving at work my mind fully charged with ideas.


a chair a bridge an old boat and a cancal

Away from the main street was this little spot- Regents Canal Islington


As a Unite Rep Dave deals with drivers on a daily basis; who are dealing with poor health due to the job demands and lack of healthcare from the privately-owned companies. It is a dog eat dog world & all he/we can do is fight for our rights for better working conditions.

Helping ourselves is the first step towards freedom. Keeping on walking and getting the exercise as well as just seeing different places makes a whole load of difference to a mind that is filled with politics of one kind or another; be it office politics or general politics. There is no end to it all.

As Old man, Bob Dylan said, “you gotta serve somebody.”

My next idea to start a new walking Meet Up Group is on the cards, and I will roll that out in September and see how that goes. It will start slowly, leading occasional Sunday walks. Watch this space.


RAA headlines

Daily Crap Headlines

Grayson Perry RA coordinates the biggest, brightest and most colorful Summer Exhibition yet, in our 250th annual celebration of “art made now”.(RAA)

summer exhibition



I attended the Royal Academy Summer Show again this show, not knowing what to expect. It’s always reassuring to see the massive collection from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s been my ambition for a long time to write about art. As yet I just haven’t got round to it. I may do yet. 

storm in a teacup! or not?!


The summer is coming to an end, and the heat was intense making some situations unbearable, so I’m glad to see the back of it and embracing cool beautiful September & October, with much to do as always.

Coming up next month


last month has many more episodes of the exciting North East Trip

Escaping the heatwave




Escaping the heatwave

I tried escaping the heatwave, but even in Newcastle it was hot.

It was so hot in fact everything turned green!  Well all of my photos. Escaping the heatwave is easier said than done, I kind of like how the heat somehow melted my pictures of sea and sky turning everything a greeny-blue haze. Trying to get out of the heat by going North, wasn’t a bad idea, but Escaping the heatwave, was proving to be somewhat impossible!

Escaping the heatwave and seeing green!

everything has gone green & bluey green!

Spending time in Newcastle,  South Shields& Northumberland.

The heatwave was more durable due to a breeze from the Tyne or the sea.

Fewer buildings & people does help but the heat was still intense. The green shots were taken along the rugged coastline Smugglers Bay, just passed South Shields.

Not quite sure why they came out like that but consider it an art installation moment. Art is anything you want it to be.! A vision!  I’m looking forward to the 250th RA summer exhibition next month,

I love my gigs and always try to see live music when up in Newcastle.

The Cluny, one of my favourite music venues situated in the  Ouse Valley, tucked in at the edge of Newcastle City Centre, away from the Bars and usual clubs.


I just managed to make the gig on time, due to my train from London being on & a half-hour late. (the heatwave again !)

It was an acoustic evening, so therefore seated. The opening act Fred Abong sang his own quirky very short songs but flowed well.

Headlining was Kristen Hersh who I can only describe as understated perfection! It’s all about the synergy twisting the words to fit the rhythm


Up in Northumberland

I visited Alnwick where my tour guide (old flatmate) led me through  Hulne Park

two women painting in Hulme Park

A painters paradise, lush green trees, with a gentle running river flowing by


Hardly a soul about we walked for about 6 miles before lunch in Alnwick Centre.

The following day we did a circular walk around  Craster, my favourite area. Last time I had visited it was pouring with rain, whereas this visit at the end of June, it was hot enough to swim.  I discovered that behind the castle a five-minute walk to the beach was in sight, sandy beaches for miles.

My last shot on  35mm film leftover from NYC Gateway to the sea View from outside pub at Craster. A beautiful day, I could have stayed there all day.

Newcastle upon Tyne

Meeting up with an old friend and visiting the Baltic on a hot summer day was a highlight for me. We loved this picture of our shadows.


The Baltic

We came across a project from 2018 called Ceremony

Presented as a large-scale film installation. It follows the artist’s search for a decommissioned 1970’s statue of German philosopher Friedrich Engels. As the film tracks the statue’s journey from one side of Europe to the other on a flat-bed truck, it starts showing the bewildered faces of the older generation some not understanding why they have to remove it.

It shifts from one sense of history to another. In parallel, it cuts to stories of Collins’ collaborators in Manchester, including a young dancer who struggles to make ends meet, a factory worker who had to go back to work straight after a stroke.

The statue ends its journey in the centre of Manchester, among the towering new glass and steel buildings that act as alternative monuments to corporate wealth an aspiration for some by no means all.  What would Engels think now?


Also showing was series of displays and projects, questioning What is the North, to quote Paul Morley in his book The North, “the North that is written is a hallucination as much as it is a history, a non-fiction dream of what might have been rather than a documented expression of the definite” 

Always a lot to think about in the Baltic.

No pre-planned walks at present, but who knows what will come up, Next post end of August.


All I need is the air that I breathe

 All I need is the air that I breathe. A new advertising campaign from Transport For London A great song in its day

The song us used as part of an advertising campaign to raise awareness of air pollution issues in the capital and the new Ultra Low Emission Zone. Less cars means better air.  The campaign features a choir of children singing the famous Hollies hit. ‘The air that I breathe‘ is a truly lovely song and an important issue. Living in London the air I’m breathe in  on a daily basis can’t be doing me much good.

The pollution in inner cities is rife, . As a cyclist who works in the inner city, I get blasts of fumes in my face on a regular basis. I get sore throats and headaches as part of the parcel. Getting out of the inner cities & London as often as possible is essential.

Hastings to Rye

Walking to Rye from Hastings recently I clocked up 17.1 miles which is equal to 39,340 steps and 85 floors, a long walk! I can’t pretend it was easy as it was only my second attempt of leading this walk and left most of the decisions to Martin who was co-leading.

The mist at the beginning of the walk didn’t help by throwing us into corners and then having to backtrack. We got there in the end. I think after much thought I prefer the walk to start at Rye and finish at Hastings.  Might try to master that before the summer ends.

sheep relaxing

Happy sheep among the daisies, sitting outside Cambor Castle


We walked in the mist all the way through Hastings Country Park by the time we got to the military canal leading to Rye it had cleared up nicely.


Winchelsea ButteRfly on a Buttercup

Picture of a Winchelsea Butterfly landed on a buttercup, courtesy of Chelin Miller who also blogs http://www.chelinmiller.com



Not a very nice walk to The Lovely Gallery!

Last Sunday more to do with the trains not working than any real desire to walk, we trudged uphill on an urban walk from Brixton to Sydenham High street; the walk was about 6 miles. For some reason, I decided to let the map on my I Phone dictate the way; whereas usually when walking to Penge East I would at least walk to Crystal Palace  & down through the park. We missed a couple of turnings so it was a bit of a bore.

We were rewarded for our efforts, as we visited The Lovely Gallery. It was great that the artist gave a talk about his work and as it was the last day there, we were presented with wine to help us appreciate the exhibition. It takes time to adjust the eyes from an Urban sprawl to see beyond everyday reality.! Got there in the end.

Followed by homemade scones with jam and strawberries, lovingly baked by the gallery owner, we had an off the cuff great day out. Worth a visit if you are in the area

The  Lovely gallery

Down to Earth

Down to Earth -Martin Fidler displaying his latest collection http://www.martinfidler.com


Canterbury Trails-Kent Linear Walk

From door to door, the walk added up to 16.5 miles, 24,230 steps and climbed 25 floors.  We ambled alongside The Great Stour river through Blean woods to the University of Kent Campus . After which we descended into the City Centre and stopped a while for a few beers in the City of Canterbury. A whole day of Sunshine!

Sheep flat out in Cantebury

Came across herds of sheep flat-out.



looking down towards Cantebury

Heading inland to Canterbury


The Canterbury walk, although long was nowhere as strenuous as the Hastings to Rye, or the Seaford to Eastbourne I led recently. I’m determined now to go back and get the  RYE TO HASTINGS ROUTE under my belt.

I prefer having the option to stop at Winchelsea & have a sit down near the beach at  Petts Level before ending up in Hastings, it just works better. Additionally, Hastings is a bit more lively than Rye.  At Hastings  you have a load of pubs and possibly a bit of live music to look forward to at the end of the long walk.

I just need to work out if there’s a way of cutting out the Country Park perhaps going around, I have done variations on this route following other leaders so it’s worth a try.

I’m currently up in Newcastle Upon Tyne my hometown visiting The Cluny in Ouseburn Valley and getting out and about up the coast. I will regale you with More tales about that next post, as always at the end of the month every month.