Autumn walk in Alexandra Park

View from Alexandra Palace towards the Shard and the City

View from Alexandra Palace towards the Shard and the City

Part of our weekend itinerary was a visit to a nearby garden centre which we combined with an extended walk around Alexandra Palace and the park.

It seemed only a short time ago that the park was filled with sun-seekers spread about on bathtowels with the smell of suntan-lotion faintly hanging in the air. But now, even as the sun is warming our back as we ascent the hill via Alexandra Palace Way, we can feel the chill of winter is just around the corner.

However, the plant life, in a last desperate defiant gesture, displays its most dazzling colours. Sensing that the sun will soon retreat to hibernate for several months, dogs with springs for legs are jumping about everywhere, chased by hyperactive children which are trailed by weary, but smiling parents.

On our way up we can see the palace to our right through the trees, and ahead of us we find a smattering of the most amazing golden leaves with a sprinkling of red berries.







old tree

"Roots like a snarl of coiled snakes."

After leaving the garden centre we turn west toward the Grove Cafe for a well deserved hot beverage. The cafe is run by an opera loving Italian chef and you can hear classical music playing from some way off.

We leave the path and visit the wood carvings that have been created here to celebrate the Olympic games - a diver, a cyclist and somebody throwing a discus have been roughly hewn out of tree trunks.

The ground all around is still has a thick cover of wood chips which, in combination with the damp earth, provides an elasticated surface to walk on, a welcome illusion of having a spring in your step.

We take the short cut through a congregation of old trees. Some of their magnificent roots are exposed and form an impressive wooden tangle, a bit sinister looking in the shadows like a snarl of coiled snakes.


Grove Cafe

Grove Cafe

But in front of us is now the cafe, with an even mix of dogs, toddlers and adults. The adults are queuing up to get drinks for the toddlers which are in turn throwing tennis balls for the dogs which, ears a-flapping, leave sprays of muddy puddle water in their wake as they rush to retrieve their bright yellow prey.

A happy noise fills the clearance in front of the cafe mixed with the sound of opera and the clinking of spoons in latte cups.

After our refreshments we set off to complete our climb towards the palace. Again golden leaves are sprinkled generously along the paths.







The palace hosts a bewildering variety of events, darts, organ music, weddings; one day you may arrive to see hordes of goths queuing early to get into a concert in the evening, on other days you have a knitting and needlework exhibition.

'Other days' was today, so flocks of happy knitters were weaving their way through the crowd outside, proudly showing off shawls and jumpers of many colours and in various degrees of holey-ness. We carefully entered the light and airy foyer with its beautiful cast-iron and glass roof construction. In the centre was some kind of 'knitting grotto' adorned with knitted objects which all radiated fluffiness and warmth.

The main hall required an entrance fee, but we had already seen enough crocheting for one day, so we went outside to enjoy the view towards the city, and got ready for our descent down the steep hill side towards the waterworks.

A young singer entertains a group of fans

A young singer entertains a group of fans

We climbed down taking the direct route, carefully and slowly, to avoid slipping on the muddy surface beneath the grass.

In mocking contrast to our struggling descent, we are treated to the spectacle of a gaggle of teenyboppers fluttering about around a young man who appeares to be Muswell Hill's answer to Justin Bieber, strutting and playing guitar while  soaking up the adoration of his swooning fan base without the slightest hint of embarrassment.

You read it here first, the next teen sensation may just come from these hills.



lots of sky

Quite a lot of sky

Back on level ground we closed in on the waterworks, which seemed to have more sky above it than usual.

Leaving the park we had a quick look at a tree that seems to be the favourite hangout for the areas crows' massive.

I call it, half-jokingly, the 'gallows tree' to myself as it is always occupied by some spooky looking birds which seem to wait for carrion to appear, perhaps a hare struck down by a straying cricket ball from the nearby playing fields.






The "Gallows Tree"

The "Gallows Tree"

To cheer us up after this harrowing sight at the 'gallows tree' we leave the park, turn to walk back towards friendly Hornsey, where we decide on a turkish breakfast in one of its many cafes, slightly weary and in need of sustenance, warm hospitality and a cuppa.

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