Finsbury Park is a big train and tube station not far from Stoke Newington. It's where I caught my train to university three days a week, so I became very familiar with and quite fond of it. It's a very multicultural and fairly poor area.
One weekend we caught the bus there to catch a tube into the west end.
Kids in the front seat on top of a double-decker bus.
The view from the front window of the bus - the big mosque at Finsbury Park. There was often police activity here, as it had had links to radical Islamist politics.
It's taken me this long to transfer all the photos onto this main home computer (as opposed to the laptop I used in London), so I'm only just getting around to making a few more posts here, mainly for my own records. What do peole do with all the blogs hanging around in cyberspace? I'm planning to print out every page of this blog and put them in an album. I'll also save them all onto a DVD. When I'll have the time to do either of theese is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, for posterity, here are some photos I didn't get the chance to post while in London. Starting with a visit we paid (in November) to some friends who have a 'country home' in the green belt south of London, in Sussex. It was 30 minutes by train. They usually live and work in london but the financial crisis means that one of them is out of work and is devoting himself more fulltime to the rural life.
Their little house was a Georgian gatehouse to a big estate.The estate's still there, still owned by the same aristocratic family.
We're back and slowly adjusting to this very strange place called Australia. I do intend to write some more entries here as I took so many photos that I want to add to this record. So check back in a couple of days (all of you many readers!)
Our "Putney friends" joked the other day that I'm always referring to "friends" on this blog without naming or showing them. I've tried to keep it fairly anonymous and so it might look like no one else but Oliver and Wendy is ever in the photos. In fact of course our time here has been in the company of many close friends and family and we'll miss them a great deal when we're back in Australia. Here's a not-inclusive roll call (and not necessarily great photos), starting, of course, with the "Putney friends" (and co)...
It's true - Australia lags behind when it comes to broadband. Wireless broadband is ubiquitous here and it's so much faster. And there are fabulous pricing deals - several people we know get all their international and long distance calls free with their broadband - and the broadband costs about a quarter the price it would in Australia - with unlimited downloads and the fastest possible speeds.
Along with such good broadband comes Internet television - and in particular the BBC iPlayer. You can play any program which has been shown on tv in the past week on your computer, so we'd often sit in bed late at night and watch programs on the laptop.
There's a big (1500 students) high school in Stoke Newington, not far from Oliver's school. This is a local comprehensive and when I say local, it is truly local. Of 29 pupils in our school's year 6 last year, 24 of them went on to SN high school. Of the five others, only one went on to a private school. I wish this was the case in Sydney! I think it fosters a very strong sense of community, where the kids from such diverse backgrounds go to the local primary school and then the local high school.
The high school finishes for the day 15 minutes before our school does and so each time I went to collect Oliver, the streets were full of high school students. (Yes they wear a uniform). Every day, a few police officers gather on the corner and chat to the kids (though in this photo they aren't!) and make sure no trouble brews.
We're leaving London on the weekend and there's still so much I want to post about! I might be posting again from Sydney before I officially close this blog.
Public transport is a massive part of daily life in London. And London has an integrated public transport ticketing system - the Oyster card. You buy a card for three pounds (about $7) and keep it forever. You put money on your card, either at the local newsagent or through an online topping up system. With the Oyster card, every trip on a bus or tube costs 90p, no matter how far you go. (Okay, not strictly true - if you catch a 45 minute overground train to the very outskirts of the city, it costs more. But for getting around in the centre - which is a big centre - it's 90p.) You swipe your card when you get onto a bus. You swipe your card on your way into and out of the tube. The swiping machine tells you how much money is left on your card.
Just about everyone in London has an Oyster card (or a Freedom pass - free travel for everyone over 60). You virtually never see anyone get onto a bus and have to pay. It makes everything so much easier, faster and more convenient. Why Sydney can't get it together to have something like this, I don't understand.
Here's the swipe machine in a bus. Each bus would have a few of these so people can get in and out of every door.