This is Omri at Folkies Music, the instrument shop he runs in Kilburn. It's a wonderful place, stuffed full of instruments; it's a repair shop too and sells some second-hand vinyl (not mainly folk, in spite of the shop's name, and very much of my era).
I came across it by chance. One of those serendipitous discoveries that come with walking round London.
Folkies dates back to 2008. It's close to Kilburn tube station, where Kilburn High Road becomes the splendidly named Shoot Up Hill. There's building work underway, but I'm told that the shop's future here is not in doubt (for the moment at least)
The shop developed from the wonderfully named Accordions of London, the signage of which is still prominent - what a throwback to an earlier era!
And the shop - along with its accordions - features prominently in this affectionate film (made by Mark James and dating from 2012) about Kilburn High Road.
There is a real charm and magic about the place - and the instruments make it so entrancing. A bit like fish markets, you can't go wrong visually in a musical instrument shop.
Do, please, take a look! And here's the Folkies site: https://folkiesmusic.co.uk/
The cathedral at St Alban's - just twenty minutes by train out of London - is spectacular. It's an imposing Norman abbey built as a shrine to the first English saint, with some really magical medieval wall paintings.
St Alban was a third century English convert who lived here in what was then the Roman town of Verulamium. Bede mentions his shrine, and he was venerated from shortly after his death.
At the dissolution of the monasteries, Alban's relics were scattered and have not been retrieved. But the shrine to the man who converted him, St Amphibalus, was rediscovered in the nineteenth century, and what there is of his remains are now inside the cathedral.
The initial monastery here was built, it seems, by 800 CE, and the abbey which is the basis for the current church was completed in 1115. It fell into disrepair after the the Reformation, but was restored in the nineteenth century and became a cathedral in 1877.
It's amazing to think that some of these wall paintings are eight-hundred years old. Some are very faded; others remain vivid. And there are quite a few of these sacred images.
The cathedral has arches and coloured stone which remind me of the mezquita in Cordoba - see what I mean?
And there's a wonderful rose window and the biggest altar-piece I've ever seen in an English church.
While we were there, a choir was practising for a carol concert - they were rather good, don't you think?
Everyone thinks that their home patch is special. That's the way it should be. But excuse my parochialism, I am absolutely convinced that my local splash of green, Waterlow Park, is the loveliest in London.
It's been shown to best effect on recent sunny winter mornings. There's something bewitching about it. The park is just 26 acres, on the southern slope of Highgate Hill, looking out towards the City four miles or so away. It's gorgeous!
The park was given to the people of London as 'a garden for the gardenless' by Sir Sydney Waterlow in 1889. He was a business man and philanthropist, a Lord Mayor of London and the Liberal MP for Islington North (the seat now held by Jeremy Corbyn).
There's an imposing statue in the park of this public benefactor.
Adjoining the park is Lauderdale House, which dates back to 1580 and has a nice cafe and an outside seating area.
And the park has three ponds, all fed by natural springs. The photo below is of the middle pond where I have seen a kingfisher (just once, but how many Londoners have spotted a kingfisher in their local park!) and terrapins.
From the park you have an enticing view over high-rise Central London, which adds to the magic.
And fun fact: unlikely as it may seem, Mott the Hoople (remember those dudes?) wrote a song about the park entitled 'Waterlow'.
I remember very clearly the first record I ever bought. It was a single, of course, and was topping the charts at the time - Gerry and the Pacemakers, 'How Do You Do It?'
That would have been in April 1963. I was six.
As with all my other singles (and my, I do feel sad about this!), somewhere on my life's journey, my 45 rpm masterpiece has gone AWOL.
But today, at the local Oxfam shop, I found this! Not quite the same as the single I bought almost sixty years ago. But no matter.
This is the EP, or extended play, version, with four songs - singles just had one number on each side. And it has a proper cover complete with photo of Gerry Marsden, which my 1963 single most certainly didn't have.
I am well happy with my purchase. And if you don't know 'How Do You Do Ity?', well, here it is - I can't say it feels contemporary, but it is, I would suggest, endearingly dated.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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