What’s the Story? Green Flag Award


What is this award about?


The Green Flag Awards are judged by an army of more than 700 green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including, horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.  The grounds of  our own People’s Palace,  Alexandra Park has been awarded this endorsement of quality for the past seven years.


But that’s not the end of the story. Every September there is a public vote to choose the best loved parks and green spaces. Go to the link below and a simple click registers your vote for Alexandra Park.


Here’s a summary of some of the things our green space has to offer:

About this park/green space

Alexandra Park’s 196 acres of Grade II listed parkland surrounds one of London’s most iconic destinations – Alexandra Palace. The Park is a much loved green space and its beautifully maintained grounds and stunning views over London are enjoyed by local community members, Londoners and Palace visitors all year round.


The Park recently celebrated its 150th anniversary and continues to showcase a diverse range of outdoor events throughout the year. Events included a Park-wide summer festival, the popular Red Bull Soapbox race and the huge annual fireworks festival.


While more modern attractions have been developed across the Park, a number of historic features are still in existence including the old racecourse, boating lake and rose garden. A £3.6m Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2002 saw major improvements made across the Park, including the play area, skate park, pitch & putt course and cafes. It also improved areas of green space for picnics, informal games and dog walking.


Alexandra Park has recently been declared a Local Nature Reserve recognising the site’s importance for wildlife as well as people. It is home to a wide range of flora and fauna and is a haven for bird watching with more than 100 species recorded including regular visits from a Peregrine Falcon. Visitors can visit the Park information centre which is staffed by volunteers, to pick up leaflets and information about this historic destination. They can also take advantage of the Park’s various attractions including a weekly farmers’ market.


Period Features: Shell Guides


If you ever come across one of these in a charity shop – snap it up.


Some of them are really collectable . They are, of course the famous Shell Guides, which were produced by the company to help the newly emerging motorist classes to get out of the cities and enjoy the countryside using their cars. Neither too serious nor too shallow, they hit the spot for people who took pleasure in the ordinary and peculiar culture of small town Britain. In the three decades after the Second World War the Shell Guides provided a surreptitiously subversive synthesis of the British countryside with illustrations by some of the best known artists of the era, who often designed covers which verged on the surreal.


The series started in June 1934, with Betjeman’s Cornwall, and continued until 1984, by which time about half the country had been covered. A series of 48, cheaper, Shilling Guides, came out in the early sixties. These had only 20 pages with a full colour card cover, representing highlights of the county covered, and included a two colour map of the area, preceded by an essay on the history and landscape, and followed by a short gazetteer of main towns and tourist attractions. This illustration above, for Dorset, (which I think is fabulous) was by Paul Nash (wrongly attributed to his brother John for a while).

I also like this one by Barbara Jones.


And this one of Wiltshire by Keith Grant.


The original guides were published on a county-by-county basis, under the editorial control of the poet John Betjeman and (later) the artist John Piper (this image of Wiltshire below gives a flavour of his style).


There were three publishers involved in the publication of the 13 pre-war titles : The Architectural Press, Batsford and finally, in 1939, Faber and Faber. In 1939 all the previous twelve titles were re-issued and one new one in the same format, David Verey’s Gloucestershire.

Every library had a well used set


but today these practical, yet sometimes whimsical guides are worthy of the collectors shelf.


Out and About: Hornsey Historical


The heatwave seems to be consigned to history now but this weekend is a good opportunity for anyone interested in local history to take a look at our marvellous treasure-house of experts and stories – The Hornsey Historical Society, who are opening their doors to the public on Saturday and Sunday. The programme is as follows – for more details see: http://hornseyhistorical.org.uk/w/index.php/courses


Prickett and Ellis have a strong and fruitful relationship with HHS who have helped us trace parts of our 250 year history working in this special piece of North London. We thank them for their continued support and interest.

OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND – 17 and 18 September 2016

HORNSEY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, – The Old Schoolhouse,, 136 Tottenham Lane (corner of Rokesley Ave), London N8 7EL, Tel 020 8348 8424 (answerphone)

Saturday 19 September

Muswell Hill Walk: Muswell Hill’s Edwardian history in Architecture.

Meet 2pm outside Muswell Hill Library, (numbers limited to 45) approx duration 2 hours, ending at North Bank, Pages Lane for tea

Saturday & Sunday 17/18 September

The Old Schoolhouse is open 11am to 4pm – An exhibition of the development of the Parish Infants’ Schoolhouse, a small early Victorian Infant school building from 1848,showing how the original building was set out and used.

An exhibition on John Farrer, architect for the Warner Estate and many roads in Hornsey. Self-Guided Tours available

Garden Guru: Box Caterpillar!


If you have any box plants in your garden and  don’t already know about the box moth and caterpillar this one is for you. Read carefully or you  may find yourself with a skeletal bush writhing with fat green caterpillars.


This is what the new and dramatic threat to box trees look like:


and the parent mothboxtreecaterpillaradult-moth

This is what the RHS has to say about it:

What is box tree caterpillar?

Box tree caterpillars are the larvae of a moth that feeds on box (Buxus) plants. It is native to East Asia and it became established in Europe in 2007. Although adult moths were first found in the UK in light traps in 2008, it was not until 2011 that larvae were reported in private gardens in the home counties. By the end of 2014 the moth had become established in parts of London and surrounding counties; in many cases the caterpillars had caused severe defoliation indicating that the moth is likely to become a serious problem.

Quick facts

Common name Box tree caterpillar
Scientific name Cydalima perspectalis
Plants affected Box (Buxus)
Main symptoms Foliage is eaten and covered in webbing
Most active April-October

I have my friend Linda to thank for alerting me to the problem – I had designed a new garden for her in the spring, so it was with some concern that she noticed patches of brown appear on the box topiary – could it be the dreaded box blight? A closer inspection revealed this sort of thing tucked away:


a pupa nestled in a strong sac of webbing – and this


newly hatched pupae with excrement and wedding. Yuck.

The problem is spreading so we need to spread the word too. The RHS are asking all gardeners to report the problem to them so they can track it.


So far we’ve got the worst of it BUT the good news is that it’s treatable. Ask your garden centre to recommend a spray such as Bug Clear or Provado and make sure you work through the plant in a thorough and meticulous manner. The spray will only give protection for two weeks or so – so vigilance is the word. It seems there is one more job to add to the list of garden chores – watch out for these blighters.


Wednesday Moodboard: Sky Blue


We are having such marvellous weather and it is a pleasure to go about our business under a blue sky. We like our skies blue, when they’re not we have the colour, sky blue, to remind us of what they are like.

What do you think of this kitchen?


Talking of thinking – this office interior wittily called ‘sky blue thinking’.


Maybe get yourself a vintage metal alphabet letter for days when you think, ‘O for a blue sky’.


And when it’s grey and pouring with rain this umbrella could bring a little cheer:


Meanwhile let’s all enjoy the real thing!



What’s the Story? MHFGA


If you live here:


you may be interested in this:


I haven’t had first hand experience but this looks like a great association to be involved with if you want to be an active member of your community.  The next meeting for members is scheduled for  8pm Wednesday 5th October 2016 at Pages Lane when there will be a talk by the Chief Executive of Alexandra Palace. Plus, if this is more your thing you may be interested in and Italian wine tasting at 8pm on Thursday 10th November at The Clissold Arms, Fortis Green.


This is what their website says about the association:

THE Fortis Green Residents’ Association was formed in May 1948, following an outcry over the parking of commercial  vehicles in Annington Road, just behind the Muswell Hill police station in Fortis Green.

Its aim was to “foster an interest in local government and other matters of local interest”. The Association was to be strictly non sectarian and non political. The slogan adopted became “strength through unity”.

Today we are an established local organisation with more than 700 members from the wards of Muswell Hill, Fortis Green and Alexandra. We are consulted on local planning applications and can bid for funding to save, maintain and improve the area’s landmarks and environment.

Our history has been documented in Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association: a history of its campaigns and landmark achievements, originally published in 2010, covering among others our successful fight against

  • the proposed Archway Road motorway scheme;
  • Haringey Council’s proposal to cut down nearly 4000 street trees in the western half of the borough;
  • the threat to demolish the famous art deco Muswell Hill Odeon (now Muswell Hill Everyman).  The cinema was saved and given Grade II listed status.

The book, by the current Association chairman, John Hajdu, has now been updated to 2015 and is made available to members and to all those who are interested in the Association’s  activities and campaigns conducted over 67 years to protect, maintain and improve the local environment and quality of life.


The MHFGA Membership runs from the 1st of May to the 30th of April of the following year and includes:

  • six bi-monthly Newsletters covering the Association’s activities, local news, events and members’ letters;
  • regular email updates with news and developments relevant to our community;
  • members’ meetings – talks are held at North Bank in Pages Lane, where you have a chance to meet and talk with other members;
  • annual guided local walk;
  • http://www.mhfga.org – our informative website, where you can also download past Newsletters.

Period Features: The Autoped


Would you give this pile a second glance if you saw it lined up on your neighbour’s wall?


This little lot sold at Bonhams  for £805.00 – not bad for rusty scrap. Here’s what the sales brochure said about it.

c.1916 Autoped 162cc Scooter
One of the very first attempts to build a viable motor scooter, the Autoped was manufactured by Autoped Corporation of Long Island, New York and presumably intended as a means of countering congestion in that overcrowded metropolis. It first appeared at the New York Auto Show in January 1914 but did not enter production until 1916, having undergone a partial redesign. Powered by a 1½hp four-stroke engine driving the front wheel via a multi-plate clutch, the Autoped weighed around 110lbs and cost $110, with a toolbox, lights and horn available as extra cost options. The handlebar stem could be folded down, attaching to the rear mudguard and thus acting as a carrying(!) handle. Production had effectively ended by 1920, although the design was revived – in improved form – by Krupp in Germany in 1921. This ultra-rare early scooter was discovered many years ago in Bethesden, Kent. A present for the vendor from his wife, it was intended as a restoration project but has not been proceeded with. Partly dismantled and not entirely complete, it is offered for restoration and comes with a set of engineering drawings. Sold strictly as viewed.
The snappy little machine was used by the postal service in New York to deliver mail more quickly and efficiently.
It is said that it became quite popular with gangs too as it allowed for quick getaways down narrow alleys where no police cars could follow. But how did the rusted carcass of an Autoped end up in England? Well, it seems they were actually quite popular with smart and with-it ladies – in America and Europe. Even right here in London.
Quite a liberal image for the times – the liberated woman on her high speed scooter throwing caution to the wind and feeling the air under her skirt. Here’s an image of English socialite and activist Florence Priscilla, Lady Norman, who  was given this Autoped as a birthday present by her husband, Sir Henry Norman.
Auto ped suffragette.jpg

 She used it to travel to her office in central London. However, some of these early scooter designs were unstable, uncomfortable to ride and difficult to handle. The decades leading up to World War II saw the gradual introduction of a range of refinements, including efficient lights and brakes, gears, suspension, enclosed bodies and leg shields.

So, it’s always giving a discarded object the once over – it may be worth a second look.


Out and About: Farmers Market & Jazz


So it’s raining today but who knows it may be a fine Sunday morning. I fancy popping in to the Alexandra Palace Framer’s Market which, this week is being held in the grounds of Campsbourne School.


You’ll find a range of good food on offer – ingredients to cook yourself


and some ready to eat on site or to take away.


I’ll be going for the macaroons.


And later you could offer yourself a drink Downstairs at the King’s Head in Crouch End and take in a cool jazz jam session from 2.30pm – 5-30pm.


Happy weekend to you all.

Garden Guru: Daffodils


There’s one thing on my mind this week – daffodils. Or should that be two things – daffodils and narcissus? When I was young I thought these were two separate but related plants – but they aren’t. Both fall into the genus narcissus but we generally call the large trumpeted varieties daffodils


and the smaller ones


narcissus. September is traditionally the month to plant these beauties with their scent of spring, though some people swear that October is a better month. I am going to compromise by planting towards the end of September but now is the moment to make your choice and buy the bulbs while they are still in plentiful supply.

Alan Titchmarsh writes:

‘I always prefer the miniature varieties to the full-blown “cooking” daffs, since their scale is more in keeping with small gardens and they have an elegance lacking in the likes of ‘King Alfred’


King Alfred

and ‘Carlton’. Both of these tend to get bowed down by snow and rain, allowing any passing slug or snail to hop aboard and eat their fill.

The miniatures also have foliage which is less obvious when it is dying down in those six vital weeks after flowering before you can chop it off. Plant these miniatures in clumps at the front of your beds and borders.

Of the taller varieties that do stand up to the weather I defy you to find a yellower yellow than the stunning ‘St Keverne’, and May without


Old Pheasant’s Eye

‘Old Pheasant’s Eye’ and its divine scent is only half the month it should be. I cut them and bring bunches indoors to scent the kitchen – almost as good as the aroma of bacon frying and a darned sight sweeter.

So get a catalogue or go online now and get your order in promptly. The fatter and the larger the bulbs you buy, the better will be your display. So don’t stint or go for cheaper options – and don’t buy “mixed” varieties; they lack the impact of a group of one variety.

Pound for pound, daffodil bulbs are about the best value going. So be sure to make the most of them.’

Deborah Stone reminds us that you can have them flowering in the garden for a long season, January to April, if you plan the varieties. Here are her suggestions:

 January: try Narcissus Spring Dawn, a delicate creamy lemon flower on short stems about 10 inches (15cm) long. They flower from January and work well in borders, containers and are especially good for naturalising in lawns.

 February: One of the best-known early-flowering daffodils is February Gold, with bright yellow trumpets and petals that curve backwards, almost as if they are eager to please.Another good naturalising bulb bt good for borders and pots too.They grow to about five inches tall (12cms), but don’t expect them to appear until late into the month.

 March: Most daffodils and narcissi flower in March, so you have plenty to choose from. But for something a little different try Narcissus Rio Van Winkle. Its yellow flower looks like it’s been designer-distressed, with masses of ragged petals that create a yellow starburst.

April: Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus, more easily known as old pheasants’ eye, are really pretty narcissi with creamy white petals and tiny yellow trumpet-like corona trimmed with orange that looks like a bit like an eye. They also have a lovely delicate perfume.


Whichever you choose – even if it’s a last minute purchase in the supermarket  – get some daffs in the ground – they’ll be a delight in spring.


Wednesday Moodboard: Sand


Did you go to the seaside on holiday this summer? I did but to a shingle beach, which has its plus side, but there’s nothing like the luxury of a beautiful sandy beach to sink your toes into. So, sand – its the theme this week – hope you enjoy it.


What comes to mind when you think – sand?  A classic desert island perhaps?


A little gem in Cornwall?


Or sand dunes in the Sahara?


Talking of sand dunes, have you heard of the great dune of Pilat, on the Atlantic coast of France,  near Bordeaux?  It’s a bit of a crazy sight – just a huge mountain of sand, about 60,000,000 m³ of it, measuring around 500 m wide from east to west and 2.7 km in length from north to south and  currently standing around 110 meters above sea level. It’s Europe’s largest dune and gets a million visitors a year.

Back to the beach – one of the things you just have to do is build a sandcastle – be it a simple bucket shaped affair or


something a bit more complex. I like the simple but surreal work of sand artist Matt Kaliner who incorporates bits of driftwood and fishing line into his creations.


Photographer Claire Droppert hurled clumps of sand through the air and captured the peculiar shapes with a high speed camera for her series Sand Creatures.


‘Looking at the final images it was hard not to see the abstract forms of animals and other creatures that emerged from the weightless plumes of sand.’ There’s a magical, ethereal quality to these images which show off a different, physical, aspect of sand.

Now, take a look at this:


isn’t nature endlessly surprising? This is a completely natural phenomenon of coloured sands on the island of Mauritius.

Sand is ubiquitous in our lives – sand bags help with floods and other problems, sand is used in the building trade, for horticulture and even beauty techniques. Sand from the Sahara sometimes reaches our shores in great storms of wind and rain and, of course, Great Father Time carries an hour glass, filled with slipping sand, to mark the course of our lives. Phew – that’s a bit serious – lets get back to the beach!