One of the very many criticisms levelled at this blog is that it’s too South London centric. Cause I live in South London and hang out here quite a lot, the Google map ends up looking a bit bottom-heavy. Like Eva when we haven’t changed her nappy for a while. So today, we made a trip that combined all kinds of motives and it happened to be in the north. Score!
So, the first thing you need to know is that it’s Amy Winehouse’s birthday today and it would have been her 30th. The second thing – that you may already know – is that we’re not massive Amy Winehouse fans. We have a casual interest, if any. So the idea of going to Camden on some kind of Amy-pilgrimage may seem absurd to you.
Unless, of course, you’ve been following Nathan’s blog “A Year of Celebration“. Then you’ll know that we have celebrated far less significant things this year. Why, just yesterday was International Chocolate Day and we celebrated that with a box of Nathan’s birthday chocolates (hang on, did I just imply that chocolate was insignificant? What is happening to me?!) Anyway, it’ll all be written up on his blog as soon as he can be bothered. So reason #1 – Amy pilgrimage, made easy by all the special events on in Camden to mark just this occasion.
Reason#2 – need more North London-related blog posts
Reason#3 – need to see obscure kids’ film that’s not on at the Ritzy. But it is on at Finchley Rd.
I love it when a (complikated) plan comes together. And if I could score a “Name That Hill” for the LWAT Facebook page, even better. I’ve heard they have hills in North London. That’s why I tend to avoid it.
So, we got to Camden Town tube around 11:30, after some tense discussion on whether to take the Bank branch or the Charing Cross (bitter, me?!). It was less crowded on the tube than I thought it’d be but there was still a bit of a scrum at bottom of the escalator – not ideal when you’re trying to manoeuvre a buggy onto it. But I did it with finesse, in my own opinion at least, and as soon as we got out of the tube I remembered why I used to kinda like Camden:
It’s Spiderman in a tutu. When we first spotted him, he was just walking past the tube, casually, as if this was something perfectly normal. And of course, in Camden, there is no “normal”. It’s a refuge for all kinds of freaks and geeks. But today, we weren’t shopping for knee-high boots, prom dresses or furry skirts – we were on a mission. And we’ve clearly gone soft as we shunned the “grabbing food from a street van and eating on the kerb” lunch option in favour of a shiny corporate place with soft seats and working toilets:
After lunch, we spotted something both unexpected and exciting. There was a Wellcome Collection bus, full of curiosities that are temporarily homeless while the galleries are being refitted. I’m fond of the Wellcome Collection – some will understand why – and couldn’t wait to hop aboard. Reuben was keen to do the same, and zipped up the stairs of the Routemaster before I’d even finished chatting to the lovely girl on there.
And what wonders we found upstairs! A bag of congealed fat, a prosthetic hand and a board game that Roo assured me was “Round and Round” from “Charlie and Lola”. I’m not sure it was, but he seemed convinced:
There was also a feedback board, that I assumed was for drawing on. It was only after Reuben had scrawled over it in orange crayon that I noticed the feedback cards sitting next to it. Oops. Sorry Wellcome Collection. If it helps, you can display his artwork when you reopen. It’s very “edgy”
On leaving the bus, we found that Nathan had reverted to Camden form and was browsing a CD stall. He’d also bought some neon pink fairy wings and 8 inch high biker boots. OK, those last two bits were made up.
Then we saw some giant robots outside Cyberdog. Roo liked them too:
And finally, we got to the Proud Gallery to see the exhibition of Amy photos they had on. While Nathan browsed long enough to justify this whole pilgrimage thing, Roo and I explored the venue. You see, it’s a bar by night, gallery by day which means you discover all kinds of interesting features like the pole dancing room (see top). But the decor is interesting by even nightclub standards. It’s still set out like a row of stables and each stable is a differently themed room. There’s one that’s a fake library, one that’s a fake garden, one that’s sponsored by Smirnoff and so is bright red. As you can imagine, the different rooms kept an inquisitively-minded 4-year-old occupied for a while:
Sadly, we never found the hot tub. But we did find the fussball table, which Reuben played with, while relating some rambling anecdote about how he played table football as a baby. Apparently. Meanwhile, Eva was asleep.
We’d planned to walk over to Finchley Rd (around a mile and a half) but the no 31 bus was right there, so we hopped on. Reuben had been asking to go back to the “funny bus” but seemed to accept a regular bus in its place. That dropped us at Swiss Cottage tube and we walked up the (massive) hill to the 02 Centre, to see “Justin and the Knights of Valour“. Reuben liked the stars in the floor of the foyer and spent a few happy minutes jumping from one point of the star to the next. I would have taken a photo, but I know what cinemas are like about copyright… Meanwhile, Eva was still asleep.
There was one more treat in store for Roo. It wasn’t meant to be – it was meant to be a treat for me, but that’s how it so often goes. There’s a new branch of Tiger at the O2 Centre and I wanted to a) explore and b) buy some vanilla sugar. I managed one of those, but also got conned into giving Reuben his first ever pocket money (well, he has started school now…it’s probably time) and letting him spend it on a lurid green and purple mini football. A bargain at only £1! Last time I went to Tiger, I bought not only the vanilla sugar but also some pens and a 3D jigsaw of a foetus (a gift from a foetal Eva to Nathan). I had to restrain myself from buying a bargain hobby horse. Such is the random wonder of Tiger – it has funky homewares, toys, bizarre gifts and many types of baking supplies. Reuben was disappointed that it wasn’t entirely stocked with toy tigers, but he soon got over that.
It was time to leave quickly before I blew our mortgage payment on tiny jam jars and innovative knife blocks. We went to Finchley Rd tube which is on the old part of the Jubilee Line, rather than the all-new swishy and accessible bit. So, I had to bump Eva’s buggy down, which finally woke her up from a 3-hour snooze, just in time for a tube ride home. But remarkably, we got to Waterloo in almost no time at all. I think the Jubilee Line might be my new favourite line, especially now that I’ve finally memorised all the stops on it. In fact, it was almost as quick to get from Finchley Rd to Waterloo as it was to get from Waterloo to street level, thanks to the slowest lift in the world. But the lift lobby makes a great mini-football pitch, played on scooters: