London: Slinging Thru Islington


ARRIVING IN LONDON YESTERDAY MORNING for a late winter sojourn, I had none of the sense of disorientation and dislocation I normally do when landing in a foreign country after a semi-sleepless night on a plane.

No, I just got right into it, though I haven’t been in England in ten years and, despite at least that many visits, don’t know London well at all. Its intricate layers and ever-changing character seem to defy knowing.

I’m staying with a dear friend in De Beauvoir Town, a neighborhood in the northeast of the city, developed in the mid-19th century from farmland into row houses, much like my home borough of Brooklyn.


From Heathrow I took the Tube to King’s Cross Station, above, and then a taxi to my destination, below. All smooth as clockwork. No sooner did I sit down in the back of the cab than the driver, noting my accent, said, “Well, shall we talk about the elephant in the room?” I was a little slow on the uptake (jet lag) and didn’t get it, until he added: “Your President!” Oh, him! I hadn’t thought about any of that in hours. The driver was smart and not a supporter, so the ride passed pleasantly.


My theme for this visit: historic pubs. I plan to visit at least one a day. So far on schedule, though the two I’ve been to (the nearest at hand) are not particularly historic and not found in guidebooks. Both were incredibly welcoming, and I don’t know why Keith McNally, instead of continually reproducing old-school French brasseries, doesn’t bring us some upscale British pubs. Lunch today, at The Scolt Head, below, right around the corner, with two other old friends, was convivial and delicious.


I had wild mushroom pie, but forgot to take a photo before tucking into it. The plate below belonged to another diner: your more traditional Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding. The sides were the same: potatoes, red cabbage, carrots and peas. Scrumptious.


We’ve done two long walks: yesterday down to Regent’s Canal, below, where industrial buildings have been turned into residences and narrow working barges into colorful houseboats. A few casual cafés have even popped up along the towpath there.


Today we did a circuit of what they call Georgian terraces in nearby Islington — that is, attached houses of the late 18th century to mid-19th century, uniform and understated, except for the occasional yellow or blue door. Some have carefully considered front gardens.

Islington has the feel of a village, organized around park-like squares. There’s little commerce, except for the occasional pub. It’s altogether genteel, a very fine address.

For the next three weeks, I’ll be exploring London, largely on foot. I hope you’ll come with me.


Spring is farther along here. Daffodils, forsythia, early magnolias about to pop. The mimosa, above, already in full flower.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here:
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15 Responses to London: Slinging Thru Islington

  1. Staci says:

    Nice photos! We had a good English Breakfast at Cafe Oz in Islington this last summer.

  2. Stacie R Sinder says:

    I’ll come with you! So far, I’m enjoying the stroll. And I laughed at your story about the elephant in the room. Love the photos and happy to see that mimosas are blooming somewhere

  3. Jeff Sidney says:

    Great stuff Cara, I look forward to following your trip

  4. Hi, Cara! I used to live in Highbury, Islington

    Sarah F. Parsons Gow

    Tel 917 748 8067

    Please follow me on Instagram and Twitter: sarahfparsons


  5. melanie charnas says:

    Wonderful post! I enjoyed it, as always.

  6. Well aren’t you the jet setter. Have a great time. 💋💋💋

    Sent from my iPhone


  7. Martha Kelly says:

    You picked a good time to leave – it’s FREEZING in Brooklyn. All that almost-spring greenery is making me jealous. Your pictures are lovely, as usual. I particularly like the bright yellow door reflected in the puddles.

  8. Marianne Davies says:

    Love your pictures and look forward to following your trip.

  9. coppermaven says:

    You sure started out running! Looking forward to your day by day…

  10. Harriet says:

    Three weeks. Oh good, I need a long vacation.

  11. Julia Mack says:

    While in London a few years back, I stayed in a little house in Hampstead Heath and found it charming. If you have time in your schedule, a visit there would be quite a lovely way to spend a half day or so.

  12. Rick Gerwitz says:

    i love your
    pics!!! i am travelling vicariously thru them. Would LOVE your take on Brompton Cemetery!!

  13. Cate Corcoran says:

    What wonderful photos and story. The Scolt Head is looking very Brooklyn chic — or is it the other way ’round?

  14. cara says:

    Great to hear from you all, friends. It keeps me observant, knowing you’re with me XOXO
    P.S. Would that we had such a place as The Scolt Head in Brooklyn – we’d be there all the time!

  15. Theleens says:

    My old stomping ground and it’s looking lovely from 3500 miles away. Wonderful article and pics.

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