Stoke Newington High Street

 This is Stoke Newington High Street, in London. We stayed in a flat just off this street while we were in London. Before we arrived it was sold to us by our friend who owns the flat that it was just like Brunswick St, Gertrude St, High St Westgarth all rolled into one.

When we arrived, however, the street was nothing like that.

High St is a long strip of shops with a two lane, one way road running between. It is an eclectic mix of ethnic speciality stores and more general, less culture orientated stores.

A Turkish coffee house, complete with TV playing Turkish pop songsand Turkish ads for recognisable products nestles next to a African hair extensions and dreadlock shop, which continue down the road with dry cleaners, small corner marts and off-licenses.

It appears it’s a place for locals to shop but doesn’t seem to have anything that would bring in shoppers from outside the district. There are no clothes shops, no antique or vintage shops, no art supply or art stores, only one bookstore that doesn’t appear to stock anything that you wouldn’t find in every other bookstore in the western world.

The store fronts are a little old and run down but the shops inside them still appear to be doing brisk business. There are a number of 1 Pound shops and between that and the people I pass on the streets I surmise that this is a slightly poor part of town but not distressingly so.

The street is a mix of residential and business with all buildings having between two and four floors of residences above the street front shop.

The road has quite a lot of traffic on it, however not so much that it’s a constant stream, occasionally there is 5 seconds or so of no traffic going by. It’s smoothly flowing traffic, little to no beeping of horns or shouts of road rage from cars. Sirens blare occasionally as police cars race past from the station down the road but the normalcy is quickly restored and life moves on.

There is a huge visible diversity of nationalities and religions here, Muslims, orthodox Jews, siks, all thread in and out of people who are not wearing their religion so openly.

There’s a lot of restaurants here, mostly Turkish but I am informed that this is a mainly Turkish area. There are some hairdressers and shoe shops, a nail salon (empty at this time of day)

Most people are in a hurry going somewhere. Some stand and chat but there’s few places to sit. The only bench I’ve come across is outside of the council flats, which are occupied by a number of elderly gents, sitting in the shade of the tree and chatting in another language.

The council flats were probably built a few decades ago, they look neither well cared for nor neglected, however the big empty expanse of concrete out the front is a little cracked and broken up. The rest of the front of the large apartment block is grass with a single tree, which provides shade for the single bench placed between the fence and the path.

Across the road from the council block is an amazingly intricately patterned building, created from thousands of blue and white tiles. Looking up it has two distinctive domes with small thin spires topped with crescents. This has to have been a mosque originally but is now a halal butcher. I wonder what on earth happened that the mosque closed down but the building remained and reopened with a business inside.

On the whole people are not friendly, I’m being ignored or eyed with slight suspicion. I don’t really feel welcome here and it’s not a place I’d choose to travel too and hang out.

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