Out and About

After I spent a long time writing about the exact reason I cry at a kids’ film, a friend suggested I might want to get out of the house more. The same friend also enabled me to get out of the house by taking me to Loughton on a Saturday afternoon. Except that those two things happened out of sequence….even after our epic voyage to Loughton, she *still* thought I needed more excitement in my life. How is that even possible?

I bet you wanna know more about that Loughton trip, don’t ya? Well, it’s true that after two weeks of Covid isolation I was happy to go absolutely anywhere so Loughton on an overcast Saturday afternoon was an exciting enough prospect. Bits of it are quite scenic:

And it has a good tree, just in front of the world’s most car showroom-like Nandos:

I had been promised a Clarks and a New Look and only one of them was still there so I did not manage to buy a handbag. I did browse Superdrug for a new hair colour and have a rifle through the racks of the charity shops. I also saw this boxing/sunbeds combo that could not be Essexier if it tried:

Then we went to a cafe, which I won’t name because it was a slightly underwhelming experience. My waffle took a while to arrive and, when it did, was a bit…basic:

But pleasing on a geometric level, right?

The next day I left the house again, for IRL church and then hanging around Angel Central while Eva went to see a film at my old stomping ground. The N1 Centre, as was, has changed a bit since my day but I realise that my day was almost 20 years ago. For instance, this is new:

I also found a functioning branch of Itsu, which is a rarity in these post-lockdown times:

It was surprisingly hard to find somewhere to have a coffee though. I did a bit of shopping after lunch – H&M, M&S, Monsoon – and still failed to buy a handbag. I did manage to find the upper floor of M&S after much wandering about and using a tiny, cranky lift. It was only on the way out that I spotted the stairs and a (non-functioning) escalator that might have helped.


After all that, I just wanted a sit down. Pret in the shopping centre had a massive queue. Starbucks on Upper Street has closed. The other Pret on Upper Street has very little seating, so would have been a stool-perch, which I’d already had to do at Itsu (won’t someone think of us poor middle-aged people?) An independent place called Redemption Roasters looked promising but was packed and, again, I was possibly too middle-aged to go there. I resorted to googling and ended up just opposite the McDonald’s I’d taken Eva to before her film. There’s a Costa there which, although small, had enough seats for me to sit and read for a bit. The book, incidentally, was a new purchase from the very nice Upper Street bookshop. It was a spontaneous day out, so I hadn’t brought any reading material with me. As I walked through Chapel Market, I reflected on how Islington is still very much a town of two halves. Illustrated by this Waitrose, squeezed in among betting shops and Cex:

So it’s fair to say we haven’t been on any big days out lately. It’s taking a while to adjust back to the outside world after the isolation and our Plan B-restricted homedwelling in January. Going back to the office this week for the first time and restarting choir after a two-month break have taken most of my energy, alongside recovering from Covid itself. But Eva and I were out teaching English yesterday and, on the way back, had the choice between Five Guys and McDonalds once again. Reader, I chose well this time:

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