A Sunday Walk Around East Finchley

Dear Readers, a damp Bank Holiday Sunday might have some of us wishing that we were sitting by the Mediterranean, sipping wine and surreptitiously feeding fresh sardines to a hungry street cat, but many of these things can be found on the streets of East Finchley, with a little imagination. First up, how about these grapes, spotted on a vine on Twyford Avenue. I have no idea how they’d taste, but they were certainly plentiful, and unexpected. I wonder if there are enough to make a limited-edition East Finchley vintage?

But first of all, back to the County Roads, where our walk commenced. As usual, I had a quick look at the tree pits. The yarrow and clover were doing very well in what I think of as the wildflower tree pit.

And some cherry tomatoes were coming along very well in the Edibles tree pit, though I can still see no signs of courgettes, just the flowers. In my experience, though, courgettes can hide and then turn into marrows at the drop of the proverbial hat, so let’s see.


Courgette flowers

Now, this little beauty is clearly not a street cat but is someone’s well-loved pet. Still, the moment reminded me a little of one of those Mediterranean harbours where all manner of felines suddenly appear at the first scent of barbecued fish, slinking narrow-eyed out of the nearby alleys to watch every mouthful with unnerving intensity.

I think it will be a good year for fruit and berries of all kinds – someone was remarking that in many places the blackberries have gone over already, which is a bit worrying. Robin Harford, a forager with years of experience, says that the blackberries are fruiting early because of ‘climate breakdown’ – many plants will flower or fruit at unexpected times if they are sick or ‘perceive’ a threat, as their main drive is to reproduce. As the legend used to be that blackberries shouldn’t be picked after Halloween, as this was when the devil spat on them and rendered them inedible, you can see how early the season is this year.

No blackberries on the County Roads, but some very fine crab apples.

Then there’s a quick loop past All Saints Church on Durham Road. There is a most unusual mauve rose – I think it could be ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, but feel free to correct me. I’m never sure if I like ‘blue’ roses (which usually tend towards grey in my eyes), but this one is rather fine.

And then I spot an Abelia bush with some enormous bumblebees on it. It’s time for queen bumblebees to appear – they’ll be getting as much nectar into their tummies as possible in preparation for hibernation over the winter. Most queens will be tucked up in bed (normally a mousehole or some other tunnel, preferably east-facing to get a bit of the morning sun but not so much that the bee is woken up early) by September, though some nests now survive through the winter if it’s relatively mild. There are some really whopping big bees about at the moment, so it’s worth watching out for these gentle giants.

And so we end up on Fortis Green, where there’s a new grocery and coffee shop called Green and Blossoms – if you’re local it’s well worth a look for all manner of healthy food, plus the best selection of Hackney Gelato icecream in the area. And the flat whites are fab. Plus you can sit in one of those curved antique windows and watch all the fit people going to classes in the gym opposite, which always imparts a feeling of relief that I’m not doing the same.

Inside Green and Blossoms



3 thoughts on “A Sunday Walk Around East Finchley

  1. Anne

    You show how much we can appreciate our local environment if we take the trouble to look around. This has been a pleasurable read.

  2. Liz Norbury

    It’s certainly a wonderful year for blackberries, and I’ve never seen so many sloes – they’re bursting forth from the blackthorn branches just like the magnificent grapes dangling from the vines in your photo. Some of the sloes are almost as big as small damsons, so I tried one, fully expecting it to be too tart to eat raw, as they normally are, but it tasted quite fresh and juicy – although I wouldn’t want to eat many at once! I must visit the local beach which is bordered by sea buckthorn, as the berries should be plentiful this year. It’s sad, though, to think that all this abundance may be a direct result of ‘climate breakdown’.


Leave a Reply