I had a dreamy North London day out yesterday. Freshly back from a week of regrouping
in Sicily, I am between jobs and the gentleman caller had an unexpected day off work, so
we decided to hit the streets of N7, NW5 and NW1 for a fun-shaped Tuesday to welcome
As all good North London days must, it started at Parliament Hill lido. The water was 17 degrees and the sun was out, as were the burnished bellies of the lido regulars. (It is so sunny for early May! I later discovered I'd burnt my face off.)
We swam and sunned until hunger forced us to leave, then walked up Kentish Town Road towards Cecil Sharp House, for lunch. Cecil Sharp House is home to the English Folk Dance and Song Society , an imposing 1930s building with sweet gardens in Primrose Hill. Their café is a haphazard affair; the lady who runs it sits outside in an icecream van, so there's an honesty box for if you have to help yourself to anything. The vibe is locally sourced and homemade; when I asked for a Diet Coke the lady told me they didn't have any because she doesn't approve of it. Fair enough! I had a feta and spinach tart which was delicious but I was jealous of the GC's brie sandwich with grapes, homemade chutney and two fat, sweet dates. The building is home to a theatre group so there were drama students rehearsing lines all over the place, which added to the completely eccentric vibe.
I will be returning soon to try their damson icecream but I had other plans for dessert. We ambled through the sunny streets of Primrose Hill, slightly dazed from lido sun overdose and trying to quell lifestyle jealousy – I mean, it's ridiculous there, actually too quaint to be real – and stopped for a quick browse through Shikasuki, who stock top quality vintage dresses and accessories from labels such as Gunne Sax and Enid Collins, plus lots of very wearable costume jewellery.
Then to destination dessert: Marine Ices, an Italian gelateria which is celebrating its 80th year of selling icecreams on Haverstock Hill! I spent last week in Sicily gorging on gelato, but I seriously think Marine Ices icecream was nicer. I had scoops of vanilla pod and italian toffee.
Final stage of North London day out had to be a drink, so back up the busy and still scorching Kentish Town Road to the Southampton Arms. This is my new favourite local pub. Their motto is 'Ale, Cider, Meat', all served up in a dark wood bar with walls covered with Victorian portraits and a small garden out back, filled with gossiping sexagenarians and pipe-smoking hipsters. I had half a cider and half a chocolate beer and that was me done up nicely. It's good to be home!