Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Greenways to Osidge

We meet at the statue in Friary Park. If anyone doesn't know, the statue is very close to the main entrance in Friern Barnet Lane (opposite Park Way). We will stop for lunch in the New Southgate Recreation Ground - 45 minutes. There are no cafes nearby so it is essential that you bring a packed lunch with you. After lunch we head off along a very pretty stretch of Pymmes Brook and for some of the way we will be on a picturesque woodland walk. We then pass through a garden village and Oak Hill Park for a finish at the cafe there, where freshly prepared food is available. There will be poetry readings along the way and we will have a minute's silence at the old air raid shelter in the Rec.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Walking Writer

The Walking Writer workshop is all about nature and writing. Many writers including Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and Frank O'Hara used walking as a way of stimulating their writing. Walking is not just good for the physical body; it is good for the mind too. For William Blake and William Wordsworth, writing was a way to leave the outside world behind.

We will be retreating from the busy everyday into our own particular creative worlds with an emphasis on sight, sound, smell, touch and hearing and there will be some readings.We will be writing and walking in the wooded areas of Finchley. We will meet at West Finchley and make our way down to the beautiful Dollis Brook where we will write among the trees. You will have a chance to discuss your latest writing project, make new writing friends or meet old ones. We will stop for lunch at The Redwood CafĂ© in Swan Lane Open Space.

Where and when:
18th October, 10.30am West Finchley Station, London N3

The Walking Writer Workshop: 

 As a way to fund her PhD; Rosie Canning is offering this workshop on a donation basis. Rosie is hoping her PhD will contribute to changing the outcomes for Care Leavers by challenging stereotypes and the public consciousness.  

Click here to reserve your place:

               Eventbrite - The Walking Writer

Photo © Mike Gee

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Visions of a Garden City

Dates for your diary:
Thu 17th July 7.30pm Visions of a Garden City - Hampstead Garden - slide show at Trinity Church hall, Nether Street N.12
Sun 27th July 11.45am East Finchley Station - Visions of a Garden City - the walk

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Stephens Ink

For my birthday treat this week, I visited an Arboretum. And, no, I didn't have to travel hundreds of miles. There is one here in Finchley, in Stephens House and Gardens, one of the sponsors of this year's literary festival. Renamed the Finchley Literary Festival, it seems apt that this year the Main Speaker Event, Saturday 31st May 2.00-6.00pm, takes place in Stephens House and Gardens. Formerly known as Avenue House, it has had links with literature since the Stephens family purchased it back in 1874.

There are hundreds of trees in the arboretum, many planted when the house was owned by Henry Charles Stephens, manufacturer of the famous Stephens' Ink, invented by his father, also Henry Stephens (1796-1864). Stephens senior, conducted experiments to improve writing fluids and wood stains. In 1830 he invented an indelible blue-black writing fluid patented in 1837 and later formed the Stephens' Ink company which grew into a worldwide brand with the famous inkblot image.

The company founded by Dr Stephens continued for more than a century after his death. Dr Stephens' eldest son Henry Charles Stephens (1841–1918), known to his friends as "Inky", ran the company until his death in 1918. He was an entrepreneur and philanthropist and also MP for Hornsey and Finchley from 1887 until 1900. His involvement in local affairs, and his nickname "Inky" Stephens have since remained familiar to several generations of Finchley people.

A letter written to the Finchley Press, June 11th, 1923 by Martha Stephens, explains how her brother, Charles ‘Inky’ Stephens came to bequeath Avenue House, ‘so spendid a gift to Finchley’. Martha explains in the letter how they were together one Thursday afternoon when Stephen called her over to the window. He was so taken with the children playing in the grounds that he said, “This is what I so do like to see,” and after a pause, continued “Do you know I have a good mind to leave Avenue House and the garden to Finchley”. Martha went on to write, ‘As we all know, he did so leave it in his will.’

The Finchley Society, another of this year’s festival sponsors, have a small Stephens' Ink museum in Stephen's House. So, after I had finished hugging the trees, I popped into the museum. Peter Marsh, the curator, was very helpful and told me all about the history of the famous ink including the friendship between Stephens and poet John Keats.

Stephens senior, shared rooms with John Keats when they were at medical school in 1815. Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson recalls this anecdote:

‘One evening in the twilight, the two medical students were sitting together, Stephens at his medical studies, Keats at his dreaming, Keats breaks out to Stephens that he has composed a new line:

“A thing of beauty is a constant joy”
“What think you of that, Stephens?”
“It has the true ring, but is wanting in some way” replies the latter, as he dips once more into his medical studies.
An interval of silence and again the poet:
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever”.
“What think you of that, Stephens?”
“That it will live for ever".'

'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,' is the first line of Endymion, the poem first published by Keats in 1818. As we know, unfortunately Keats died in 1821, before he could try the blue-black writing fluid but we can imagine he would have enjoyed writing his poetry with this new thinner ink.

Nobody can be sure who did or did not use Stephens' Ink, but it is probable that many of the great novelists did, for example Dickens, Trollope and Thackeray almost certainly did and they all spent time in either Finchley or Barnet.

Stephens' ink is renowned for its non-fading ability and to this day Stephens' indelible Registrar's Ink is one of the official inks that Registrars of Births, Marriages and Deaths throughout the United Kingdom are required to use for their register entries.

The Stephens Collection is housed in the conservatory of Avenue House, and is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2.00-4.30pm

See Finchley Literary Festival for details of a Literary Walk about writers and artists in Finchley.

1. H.Smith, Keats and Medicine, Cross Publishing, Newport 1995, p. 51.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Slideshow and Debate

Slide show presentation at Trinity Church Centre on Tuesday 18th February at 7-30pm. The presentation is called CHURCH END TO EAST END. There are some new photos and some archive shots added and it will form the basis of a walk on Sunday 13th April, full details of which will be sent out presently.

Next walk is Sunday 13th April 

We will be looking at no less than 27 distinct and separate green spaces between St Mary's Church and East Finchley tube station, some of which are very picturesque, others that are well off the beaten track and two of which will not be there this time next year. 

Two more dates for your diaries -

Avenue House, Thursday March 27th at 7-30pm. DO FRONT GARDENS MATTER? 

The Future of Transport with an invited panel of experts to field your questions. The title says it all, over 70% of our front gardens have disappeared under concrete and block paving.  
Does this impact on our ommunities, lives or the asthetics of our neighbourhoods? Does it matter? Come and have your say, there will be plenty of time earmarked for general discussion.

Christchurch, North Finchley, Thursday April 24th at 7-30pm. Brand new slide show presentation plus an update on North Finchley regeneration plans.

Does this impact on our communities, lives or the aesthetics of our neighbourhoods? Does it matter? Come and have your say, there will be plenty of time earmarked for general discussion.