Islington Faces: from Angel to Archway
Nicola Baird began asking neighbours what they liked about Islington. Then she asked local characters. Now there are 180 interviews with people who live or work in Islington on her Islington Faces Blog. Here, she tells us more about life in Islington…
Islington is hard to better. I’ve felt like that since I moved here after leaving university (back in 1986). I grew up in the countryside, but I don’t think I would have stayed in London if I wasn’t living in Islington. Here you’ve got a fascinating mix of people, a villagey feel, lots of small green spaces and fantastic public transport (I love the number 19 and 4 buses). Plus:
- both my daughters were born in Islington
- I got married at the fab Islington Ecology Centre in Gillespie Park
- I mostly work from home, so use loads of Islington shops and services (from shoe repair to doorstep milk delivery).
- and now there’s Islington Faces – an excuse to ask people anything!
I’ve always felt that everyone has a story… you just have to ask the right questions.
But I hadn’t expected interviewing would give me so many new friends. Wherever I cycle or walk in Islington I’ll see readers and interviewees to stop and chat with. Shared stories of our inner city lives can be so inspiring. The interviews include all sorts: grannies, shopkeepers, community stars and the people who’ve turned their lives upside down in response to injury. I love hearing about people who are passionate about food, history – anything really.
Doing the interviews for Islington Faces is such a great way to share knowledge, culture and insider tips about favourite places. Besides how else would I have met local characters like the Pearly King of Finsbury or the milkman who tells his grandchild that he’s out on a spaceship? Have a look, maybe follow and let me know if you’d like to be interviewed.
Nicola’s insider tips about Islington
Every interviewee on Islington Faces shares five places they love. Here are a few insider tips from me…
1 Everyone loves Highbury Fields – probably the inspiration for the final meeting of Winston and Julia in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. You can light a BBQ here, but do put it out safely in the special bins provided.
2 It’s still a cultural mix –go and try Algerian pizza and delicious mint tea in Finsbury Park or be amazed at what’s stocked in Turkish independent corner stores like Moonlight, 135 Holloway Road (opposite Central Library) or Arsenal Food & Wine, 68b Blackstock Road.
3 Find treasures - at Holloway car boot sale every weekend opposite the Odeon cinema, at school fêtes on June weekends or just swap books at the Little Free Library on Prah Road. If you’ve got a bigger budget don’t miss Monday’s sales at Criterion Auction, Essex Road, or the vintage shops that have been here forever. http://www.criterionauctioneers.com/
4 Take a walk – there are loads of Blue Badge guides who know Islington history incredibly well, see the CIGA site. Or just enjoy retracing the New River which is neither new… nor a river. http://ciga.org.uk/ https://www.thameswater.co.uk/tw/common/downloads/aboutus/new-river-path-booklet.pdf
5 Go out more – Islington has brilliant venues. I love Park Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, Union Chapel and the summer weeknights when Freightliners Farm is the backdrop for fab Shakespeare shows. https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/ http://www.sadlerswells.com/ http://www.unionchapel.org.uk/ http://www.freightlinersfarm.org.uk/