Autumn in East Finchley

Crab Apple in East Finchley

Dear Readers, while much of the UK is based to receive a month’s worth of rain in a single day tomorrow, East Finchley is basking in November sunshine. I have had to disinter my faux-fur hat from under a pile of shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe and dig out my polo neck, but it’s worth it for a chance to trot around the County Roads and see what’s going on. What is largely going on is a whole lot of leaves. This crab apple is distributing its largesse all over the pavement, and I rather liked the juxtaposition with a puddle.

Plus there are still a few crab apples left on the tree, waiting for the parakeets to find them.

Some trees are not a hundred percent happy with losing their leaves, it seems, and hang on to a few stragglers.

Many starlings no longer fly off to Africa in the autumn – why would they, when our gardens  are stuffed to the gunnels with goodies? But sometimes I see them all lined up on a television aerial and wonder if they are experiencing zugunruhe, a fantastic word meaning ‘migratory restlessness’. What do you think? I have certainly sensed an increase in urgency in the birds, but I was putting it down to the colder weather, longer nights and the fact that natural foods, such as berries and nuts, are beginning to run out.

Starlings. Watching for someone to fill up the bird feeder, or wondering if they should be flying south?

My Virginia creeper had a bit of a scalping earlier this year, but no doubt it will recover in 2020. In the meantime, this one is magnificent.

And although my friend A is getting a bit fed up with her tamarisk, I do think it looks rather fine in the early November sunshine.

I was delighted to spot some coleus in a window-box, although as they’re just about to flower I doubt that  they’ll be around for much longer.

And there is a positive hedge of rosemary. It’s too cold to get much scent from it at the moment, but I have no doubt that when it warms up in spring it will be a pleasure to brush up against it. As it is, it reminds me a little of a mammoth.

And this is a very splendid tree, with more than a touch of sumac about it.

This young tree on East Finchley High Road looks quite different depending on whether the sun has kissed it or not.


Given a peck on the top of the head

As I wander along the High Road I notice a pair of jackdaws in the tree outside Sainsburys. These are relatively recent arrivals to N2, but have been breeding. This pair took off to the other side of the road, no doubt to have a better view in the case of anyone dropping some chips or dumping their kebab into an unattended bin.

Onwards! There is a very fine cotoneaster bush that glows so brightly that it stops me in my tracks.

I say hello to what is possibly my favourite tree in the County Roads – I love how it has twisted over the years to avoid growing through the bedroom windows or into the garage (with more than a little bit of human assistance I’m sure).

I am rather taken by the coloured glass in the upper windows of some of the older houses around here. It gives a rather jaunty air to these otherwise quite serious houses, what with their names and dates and all….

I notice a ginkgo that hadn’t come to my attention before. The tree is reputed to drop all its leaves on one night, leaving it standing shivering in a puddle of sunshine, but this one hadn’t got the memo. Maybe it depends on how abruptly the temperature drops.

And here is what I think of as a typical East Finchley pigeon. We seem to have a lot of birds with white primary feathers, or white bodies, and I suspect one particular male has been extraordinarily successful with the ladies.

By now it’s getting decidedly chilly, so I decide to head for home. This evening I am dropping my little cat off at the vet to have a heart scan tomorrow – she appears to have a heart murmur and we’ve ruled out all the usual things. She’s eating and drinking and seems generally happy, so I’m not too concerned, but her blood pressure is through the roof, and we need to find out why. So please keep your fingers crossed if you have any digits to spare. It would be good to not have to worry for a bit.

But the County Roads have one more surprise for me, and it’s hiding in plain sight. Some of the houses have very intricate plaster work around their doorways and windows, and I hadn’t really paid attention, assuming that it would be the usual fruit and leaves. And indeed this is what some houses have.

But some of them have little faces.

And this one appears to have a cherub kissing a cat.

All this really makes me want to know more. Did the different builders have different patterns for the plaster panels? I shall have to do some research and see what’s going on. I love that, even after living here for ten years and walking about regularly with my camera, there is still always something new to see. It’s lovely to travel, but it’s great to be back in my home territory.




24 thoughts on “Autumn in East Finchley

  1. Anne

    Such a delightful post! Do starlings migrate to Africa? I thought we had enough of them living here year-round! Your photograph of autumn-coloured leaves are beautiful and I warm to the architectural details you have picked out. It has been a joy to walk around with you.

    1. Bug Woman

      Only as far as North Africa apparently, although there are introduced non-migratory starlings in southern Africa (and of course in North America, where that geezer who wanted to be surrounded by the bird species mentioned by Shakespeare released a flock in Central Park). And I’m glad you enjoyed our walk!

  2. cilshafe

    Lovely post, much enjoyed. I miss walking around North London since my half-brother died (he lived in Hampstead.) Thank you.

  3. Gail

    Lovely colourful post. When we moved down here to Somerset from Barnet, we were – and still are – delighted by the jackdaws. There are lots here, strutting and whirling and shouting. They remind me in their communal behaviours of starlings, that real sense of closeness and oneness.
    I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed that all is well with your cat.

    1. Bug Woman

      Thanks Gail! The cat apparently has a narrowing of the right ventricle but nothing that needs treatment yet, and she was spoiled rotten at the vet (tuna!) so she is now appalled her (very expensive) cat food. And yes, jackdaws are ace. I love their calls – almost musical (for a member of the corvid family :-))

  4. Sarah Ann Bronkhorst

    Welcome home. Glad you’ve spotted the quirky little plaster carvings. I’ve often wondered whether there were builders’ pattern books for them, as with Victorian wallpaper and other design features.

  5. Susan Hathcock

    Good luck to your little cat. Our Bronwyn developed high blood pressure at the admirable age of fifteen. With medication, she carried on very well for another four years; I often reflect that the administration of those little pills, while lowering hers, went a long way in raising mine.

    1. Bug Woman

      Hi Susan, I have recently discovered pill pockets (just in case you ever have another animal who needs medication) – they are a kind of meaty putty, and my cat loves them! You wrap a pill in the stuff and away it goes without having to wrestle your pet to the ground/hide the tablet in her food (when did that ever work). Fortunately the heart scan showed that although the cat has a narrowing of her right ventricle, it’s nothing that needs medicating or treating yet, so that’s a result! And wow, Bronwyn got to nineteen years old. It’s never long enough, though, is it. Someone once said that one of the great sadnesses of life is that our cats and dogs don’t live as long as we do….

  6. Alexandra Rook

    Often builders would have a range of different fanciful details, like your cherub & cat, & I believe that sometimes if they had a buyer for a plot ‘off plan’ the prospective owner could choose which details to gave. Otherwise o think the builder just did differentnones to customise what would otherwise be a standard house type.

  7. Andrea Stephenson

    Hopefully that little cherub is a sign that all will be well with your cat, sending healing wishes. The predominant colour of our leaves this year seems to be golden yellow, so it’s nice to see some fierier colours. Our starlings gather on the TV aerials in the mornings too, but I just see it as them being boisterous and playful before they decide what to do with their day!

  8. Toffeeapple

    I have been deserted by the Starlings here; last year they were a delight but not this year. We have a lot of Corvids but I have not seen any Jays; the Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies are such fun to watch though.
    Your area is very colourful and I enjoyed your walk around it.

  9. tonytomeo

    Tamarisk? Is that considered to be a desirable species there? I have never heard of anyone actually growing it intentionally. I only know of it as an invasive species.
    That small tree that looks like a sumac seems to be a redbud – the state tree of Oklahoma.

      1. tonytomeo

        Actually, some of our most aggressively invasive exotic weeds were imported because someone wanted them for their garden; pampas grass, broom, Acacia dealbata, etc.

      2. tonytomeo

        Up until the Victorian period, there was not much consideration for ecology. People did not realize how much damage they could do to it by simply adding exotic plants to the mix.

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