Tuesday, July 7, 2015
A Walk Through Ilford
I've been feeling a need to do some exploring, so I took a photo walk yesterday through Ilford, an area of East London that I'd never visited before. It's a busy, immigrant-dense neighborhood, with many South Asians, Middle Easterners and West Indians. It made for some interesting photography, but I wish I had more courage about photographing people directly and at close range. I saw several opportunities for incredible photos but I just couldn't bring myself to take them. Sometimes it just doesn't feel right, you know? And you have to go with your instincts.
Anyway, I started in Gants Hill and walked south through Ilford to Barking. I was out for several hours and I stopped for lunch at the cafe above. I'm a sucker for anything Titanic, even though the theme wasn't hugely evident inside -- just a shelf featuring a model of the ship, some related books and nautical bric-a-brac. (Curiously, this is not the first Titanic Cafe I've found in London!)
While wandering around a residential neighborhood, I found a sad, battered, wilted hydrangea lying on the ground in a damaged plastic pot. It looked like it had come from a nursery and then been run over, stepped on or crushed in transit. I thought, "I bet Dave can rescue that!" So I picked it up, and just as I was about to walk away, a man came out of a seemingly vacant nearby house and stopped me. "Oh, is this yours?" I asked, thinking, "Have I gone so daft that I picked this up out of his front garden without even realizing it?" But he said I could have it, no problem. So I hauled it back to West Hampstead. Dave pruned away the damaged bits and we'll put it in the ground today.
I also chatted with two older gents outside an antique shop who talked at length about the neighborhood and how it had changed. They'd both been there for decades and remembered it as a white and Jewish area. "There are streets here named Bengal, Madras and Khartoum, and when the newer immigrants saw that they thought they were home," one joked. (There are also streets named Britannia, Jersey, Norman and Saxon, but I didn't press the point.) Anyway, to hear these guys tell it, antiques are a hard sell in Ilford nowadays.