I haven’t been walking much of late, my working hours haven’t made it easy.  Not good for me in so many ways, so I decided to take myself off on a couple of guided walks to blow the cobwebs away.  I thought it would be a good choice after the glorious weather of last weekend, so I chose to go walking in Islington.


I’ve been thinking so much about Goa, I think I must have forgotten that I live in England, because when the day came, it was pouring with rain.  By the time I left home, it had stopped, but was still overcast, with the threat of more rain to come.


Take a waterproof jacket, thought I.  Waterproof jacket?  Waterproof jacket?  Water wings and a pair of flippers would have been more appropriate.  The heavens opened as soon as the first walk started and by the end, I, and everyone else, was absolutely drenched.  Of course, I was dry in the bits covered by my waterproof jacket, and my boots, but my legs were soaking.  It chose to stop raining when the walk ended, of course.  This isn’t Goa, it’s England.


I chose a Wednesday to go for my walks because, in my experience from the days when I was a shift worker, Wednesday is always the quietest day of the week to be out and didn’t fancy crowds.    Good choice.  The walks were off the main drag anyway but the streets were not too busy.


The first walk was entitled, “Six Islington Squares,” hosted by Rob Smith, one of the Footprints of London tour guides.  Regular readers will know about my love affair with this tour company and its guides, I think they are very good value.  I hadn’t previously done any of the Islington walks, so thought I’d go for it.


I thought I knew Islington pretty well when we started this walk.  How wrong I was.  (This is exactly the reason I haven’t published my second blog yet:  there is still so much to know to make it worthwhile.).  What became immediately apparent to me was the amount of research that Rob had done in order to ensure that his walk was both enjoyable and informative.  I mean that as a compliment to him because I love the research as much as writing and it’s important to give people the right information.  I have a huge respect for people who do their research thoroughly.


This walk took us to some beautiful buildings, and some not so beautiful buildings, but Rob really brought the story behind them to life and explained how the various squares grew and evolved over time.

The second walk of the day was the other side of Islington, around the Angel area and Exmouth Market, entitled Merrie Islington.  I didn’t have any idea that at one time there were a number of springs and spas in the area (no, I didn’t pick up the clue in the name Clerkenwell).  This walk was about the various forms of entertainment that used to take place in the area, from theatres to drinking establishments and the spas.


I think what I found most interesting was the changing fortunes of Sadler’s Wells, one of my favourite theatres (I saw my first modern ballet there, maybe the subject of a future post).

No spoiler alerts here, I would urge you to go on the walk to find out more.  It really is worth it.  Rob was a charming guide and I am sure that you will enjoy his walks as much as I did.


© Susan Shirley 2016


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