12 hours in London (is like a year in any other place)

derelict Victorian Public Toilets into a cracking little pub.

A quick overnight trip to London was called for, ceramics to be delivered in the morning to the Cecilia Colman Gallery, so arrival was late in the evening – the idea being to spend the night and get up early.

closing time at Pueblito Paisa

London is an extraordinary place, which is why I found myself late that night somewhere in Haringey eating aborrajado (deep-fried stuffed plantains) and empanaditas (meat turnovers) all washed down with cold Colombian beer. The city is ever shifting, neighbourhoods seem to change overnight from the down-at-heel to the slickly bourgeois, and this perpetual construction of flats for the professionals, the foreign “land bankers” and who knows who else seems to be hitting Seven Sisters, so that the little restaurant we were eating at is now in danger, along with its neighbouring businesses, of making way for another redevelopment scheme.


Within this large building more than 100 Latin American traders have created a busy complex of cafes, butchers, travel agencies, restaurants, clothes shops and greengrocers all under one roof, and is a fine example of a city that can boast to being the most multicultural place in the planet.

Relocation is promised, but everyone knows that it would never provide the genuine atmosphere that exists when people unselfconsciously transform a place through the need to make a living and make use of their own experiences and backgrounds. It is called Pueblito Paisa, and long may it thrive. Pay it a visit and try the ceviche.

passers-by outside the High Cross pub

We then walked a couple of blocks to a solid Victorian public toilet. This very hospitable place turned out to be a pub, recently converted, and we sat down outside under a cherry tree to drink and watch the night traffic flow by, mostly double deckers and taxis, and pedestrians of all shapes, sizes and diversity, track suits, hijab, business suits, shorts, sauntered past us.


At one point we looked at the shrubbery at the base of the cherry tree and were startled by the untroubled gaze of a fox which gave up on us and turned away.

the canal, early morning

The next morning a visit to Tottenham Hale and the canal that runs alongside the Walthamstow wetlands offered a complete contrast to the urban activity of the night before. Here all was placid and calm, and, if it had not been for the trains, it was easy to imagine you were in the countryside.

Cecilia’s place

And then the trip to St John’s Wood to visit the Cecilia Colman Gallery. Another contrast: spacious Regent’s Park, the London Zoo, the Regent’s Park mosque, Lord’s cricket ground, and St John’s Wood High Street with its cafes and shops – a small world away from edgier Haringey, but cosmopolitan nevertheless.

small three legged bowl at Cecila Colman’s

The Gallery has been in London for forty years having opened in 1977 and is one of the few remaining shops on St John’s Wood High Street which survived the transformation of the area in the last few decades. Cecilia chooses all the pieces and artists herself and is passionate about the work she exhibits. She chose eight recent Arscott ceramic pieces – do drop in to have a look.

large stoneware vase

On another note, we are all very pleased that CUP ceramics project (see previous blog) hit its crowdfunding target with 5 days to spare. Over 90 people pledged contributions, an excellent indication of the support for an open-access studio providing a creative community for all types of ceramicists to share skills and ideas in a relaxed environment

blue vase