A Birthday Walk in the County Roads

Dear Readers, it was my birthday on Thursday, and so I decided to take myself for a celebratory walk around the County Roads in East Finchley. I do love having a wander, with no particular agenda and no hurry, and it’s surprising what you notice when you are just walking along with your camera. The first thing is that although the Christmas trees have been collected in my road, this isn’t the case for everyone, and the residents here have clearly decided that they’ve had enough of having the pavement blocked for weeks on end. The trees will be shredded and used as compost in the municipal parks, but it’s an added task for the refuse collectors, who are already struggling with the fallout from Covid.

What surprises me, though, is the sheer range of plants that are in flower. It’s no surprise that the hellebores are in flower…

…and with the winter-flowering jasmine and winter-flowering cherry the clue is in the name…

Winter-flowering jasmine

Winter-flowering cherry

But there were some violets and fleabane in flower in one of the treepits – this has been pretty all year. I just hope that it escapes the attention of the council weed-sprayer.

Some folk still have their Christmas decorations outside, and very nice they are too. I always admire the house with the glass ornaments peeping out of their plant containers.

There’s a magnificent hebe at the bottom of my street that seems to be in flower for ten months of the year. I had no expectation of seeing any insects today (it’s barely above freezing after all) but there was a magnificent queen buff-tailed bumblebee, almost as long as my first thumb-joint. I was so glad that there was something for her to feed on.

The more I look, and the slower I walk, the more I see. There are some crab apples the colour of apricots, and some others that are blush pink…

There is a cotoneaster just covered in berries…

There is so much colour! The mimosa on the corner of Hertford Road will soon be in flower…

The rosemary is already out..

…and I love the twisted branches on this hazel.

But it isn’t just the plants. The houses on the County Roads in East Finchley are mostly Victorian, but were built by a wide variety of different builders, and over the span of about 80 years. This means that there are a lot of different features. Some houses have tiled porches, for example, and you can often see two or three houses in a row with the same tiles, before the pattern changes. Of course, many have been lost over time, but I love to see the different designs.

Some houses would also have had tiled paths and front steps, but these were subject to a lot of wear and tear. Most have either disappeared or been replaced with more modern versions, but I did spot this one, which looks original to me.

It isn’t just the tiles either. I was struck by the two plaster heads on this pair of houses, and particularly the woman, who has had her lipstick applied. The sunflower detail between the heads is very fine too.

And then I spot this dragon finial on one of the corner houses – corner houses are usually a bit ‘posher’ than the houses in the road itself, and I suspect that they were sometimes built for the builders themselves.

And now I’m extremely chilly and in need of a cup of camomile tea, so home I head. But I need first to check on the bollard on the corner of Leicester Road, which has been knocked over so many times that I’ve lost count. And look, it’s still standing! It feels like a tiny birthday present.

2 thoughts on “A Birthday Walk in the County Roads

  1. Anne

    A belated happy birthday! Walking around your neighbourhood is a far cry from visiting Borneo – yet you clearly show how much there is to see on our virtual doorsteps. I have enjoyed this birthday walk with you.


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