Writer and blogger Emily Steer shares the things she loves about her north London neighbourhood.
I live directly opposite Holloway Prison. The neighbours are surprisingly quiet and on the surface, the 'hood doesn't appear to have much going on. To the south is Camden Town, crammed with incense and weed-flavoured cans of pop, often on the same shelf. To the south east is King's Cross, a hub of rapid development, a plethora of bars and restaurants that appeared to spring from the ground overnight; and to the east is Islington – wealthy, leafy and out of reach for the majority of Londoners. Holloway and Caledonian Road form the land in-between and even though it's not the obvious touristy destination, here's why it's worth exploring:
Philosophically, the area seems to begin halfway up Camden Road, just above the junction with York Way where the brilliant Brecknock Road intersects. Crammed full of shops, you can get pretty much everything you want. There's the natural food shop Bumblebee that has three outposts; one selling fruit and veg, another selling herbs, natural supplements and beauty products, the third selling breads, nut milks, food bars and possibly the most heavenly vegetarian sausage roll you will ever taste. On the same stretch you will also find Salvino, an Italian deli packed floor-to-ceiling with cured meats, marinated artichokes, giant green olives, spreads and nougats.
Cally Park – just off Market Road, Holloway – is home to an old and very beautiful clock tower. Opened in 1855 as the Metropolitan Cattle Market, this square is a high-fenced, (apparently built to hold the pressure of a potential bull stampede), 18-acre park, surrounded by trees. It's an unexpected quiet spot.
The Big Red
Heading back up Camden Road to Holloway, you'll find Big Red, an American-themed dive-bar which claims to have the personality of a voluptuous red-headed woman. If that sounds like your kind of thing, it probably is.
Bargains in Holloway Road's antique shops
As you head down Holloway Road towards Islington, the prices start to rise, but there are still plenty of good finds on this stretch. Ooh La La is a favourite. As the name suggests, it has a boudoir feel to it, all dark wood standard lamps, beautifully whittled tables and fantastic hats.
Proper good nosh
There are plenty of choices packed into the streets that connect the two prisons, Holloway and Pentonville. Most importantly, many of these are the real deal. Try Indian Ocean for Indian, Menelik Restaurant and Bar for Ethiopian and Crystal Charcoal for Turkish.