12 August 2022

Following a trail of bloody footprints between N19 and N4

Early this morning I made the effort to get out for a walk and back home again before it got too hot out there. I was doing well, having been up to Hornsey Rise and over to the Archway station area, then into Aldi for some groceries and by 9.30 I was walking back hown headed down Holloway Road laden with two bags of shopping. Halfway down the hill the blazing sun was in my face so I turned left into Alexander Rd, N19, to make use of the shady south side of that street. 

Looking up, down and around me, like I do, because there are always new things to see, I noticed a curved brown mark on the pavement that was clearly the outline of the front part of a shoe or trainer. And then I saw another, and another, and many more. This clearly had been made by someone with a bloody wound in their right leg who had been heading in the direction I’d just come from, towards Holloway Rd. 
Hmm. How intriguing. 
Where was this person going? Where had they come from? And what had happened to cause this loss of blood?
I decided to follow the trail to find the source of the incident. 
This took me across Cornwallis Rd to the end of Alexander Rd where it meets Sussex Way, then right into Tollington Way Second pic shows view looking east), then over Hornsey Road (but sort of diagonally, not using the crossings) to Tollington Park where, by the pillar box, I noticed that these earlier prints are surrounded by lots of little blood splatters which I guess were caused by the impact each time the foot hit the pavement. Oh my god, this person was losing a lot of blood. I also think, judging my the gaps between the prints, that he was  running.
My shopping bags were starting to cut into my fingers but I was hooked, intrigued. 
The trail continues along the south side of Tollington Park and it occurred to me, seeing as we haven't experienced any rain for weeks now, that these bloody marks that appear relatively fresh, dare I say shiny, could have been made weeks ago. There was a road sweeper so I asked him how long he'd known about them but he told me he’d only just started working in this area today as he was covering for someone else. 
We had a jolly chat about sleuthing and how it made me feel like an excited 8yr old finding hidden treasure, mysterious marks and secret spaces that nobody else knew about (they did, but they never said so!). I also recalled back in the '70s when, in the middle of the night, our dog Toby barked ferociously at the back door. We flew downstairs to see what was wrong but saw nothing to concern us and assumed it was a cat out there. When we looked again the next morning we found someone had left bloody footprints down the full length of our garden and, on the paved area by the back door, a semi-circular spray of reddish brown which must've been when he span round as Toby hurled himself at the window. The fella's tracks then went half-way back up the garden where he'd climbed over fence into next door's garden and exited into the street by their sideway, ending with a large bloody mess outside the school where, we deduced, he must've got into a car. I remember enjoying the sleuthing process. And here I was this morning repeating the process. The road sweeper likened me to  Miss Marple and I wondered if I should have told him about my Agatha Christie walks and talks
I continued along Tollington Park and found that the marks crossed the road and then crossed back again to continue down the southern half of Stroud Green Rd. Well, what I mean is, this is where the guy had come from. At this point I decided it was getting way too hot to be  out sleuthing, especially whilst carrying heavy bags, and I and came home and wrote this. 
I am guessing that some kind of horrible altercation happened near Finsbury Park station, or in the park itself, and the wounded guy fled to the Upper Holloway area. He may have been heading home, or perhaps he was going to Whittington Hospital?

I can't help myself, I really do need to find out more. Later this evening or sometime over the weekend before the much-needed rain arrives, I will follow the trail in both directions to see where they start and end. 

Update 1: Saturday 13th August. 
I went back to Alexander Road this morning to follow the trail to its end and there I noticed that the splatter marks are far greater than I’d observed in earlier parts of the roue, such as in Tollington Park. Stands to reason really. I also paced it out and, even though I take fairly long strides myself, I am pretty sure by the length of the gaps that the wounded fella was running (I am still assuming a male).   
At Holloway Rd he turned right. On reaching The Crown PH he crossed over to the other side of the road. The tracks stop outside No.517/519. I couldn’t venture into those gardens because it is private property and some men were hindering my sleuthing as they went in and out to those properties installing protective metal panels on the windows and doors. I asked one of them why and he said it was due to squatters, druggies and anti-social behaviour. Ah.

Having looked further along the pavement there in both directions, between Wedmore Rd and Tavistock Terrace, I found no more bloody shoeprints. But outside No. 517, near the back door of the SPS van shown above, there are a couple of naked footprints that also might be bloodstains. Whether these were made by the same guy, I don’t know. 

Update 2: Sunday 14th August
OK, I’ve worked out where it started… 
Every Sunday there’s a Farmer’s Market in the playground of Stroud Green School, N4, here at the junction where Perth Rd meets Ennis Rd opposite The Faltering Fallback public house. I wonder how many of the people there today sipping their Fairtrade coffee, buying their organic veg and Italian wines, enquiring about the vegan cheese, etc, have noticed the very clear bloody prints that run around the school, let alone are aware of any trouble in the area recently? 
I have deduced that whatever happened to cause the loss of blood occurred on the pavement near the school’s main gates at the other side of the building on Woodstock Rd because there I found prints of varying strength in pointing this way and that. The wounded guy looks to have at first headed south towards Finsbury Park Station and then changed his mind at the end of the school fence and decided to turn round and head in the opposite direction because, bwteen there and the scholl gate there are two clear trails heading in each direction. Then clear, now very bloody, marks continue along the pavement around the school, over Ennis Rd, past the pub where he ran along the double yellow lines and then into the middle of the road before crossing over to the pavement on the east side of Stroud Green Rd.
And then it's as I have written above... he turned westward nto Tollington Park, crossing to the north side diagonally at Charteris/ReginaRd before crossing back again at the next junction, Evershot/FonthillRd. Then he went all the way to the end of Tollington Park, diagonally over Hornsey Road into Tollington Way, north/right into Sussex Way, left into Alexander Road, then over Holloway Roadd, to what I’m guessing was home. 
I've tried googling to see if this has been reported online but, even though I’ve found a couple of other incidents in the area these past few years, there’s nothing on this. I will send a tweet to Stroud Green Police and report back here if anything comes back from them.

3 August 2022

Mudlarking with Thames21 at Broomhouse Dock

In my last post I mentioned I recently visited the foreshore at Broomhouse Dock, right (Google Streeview pic). 

This event was an initiative created by Thames21 with the idea to get people involved with the river and local history. A few months before, I'd lead a similar event for Thames21 and Frames of Mind in North Woolwich, which was delightful success. 

When the date was set for this Hammersmith location as Saturday 16th July, when the tide would be at its lowest between 11.30am and 1pm, we had no idea that it would end up being one of the hottest days on record. And here we were planning to be on the southern-most top of Hammersmith, on a beach, with no form of shade at all apart from the shadow made by The Hulingham Club's thin boat access ramp.

Nevertheless, behatted and fully dressed, with any visible area of skin slathered in factor50, I donned a pair of the provided wellies and some gloves, picked up a bucket and made my way down to the water's edge through what must be the muddiest, slimiest, gloopiest access slope I have ever had to use to get to a foreshore. Some of the Thames21 crew and volunteer helpers were busy doing a litter pic and I was saddened to see the vast amount of nasty wet wipes* they collected that morning. If you'd like to join these clean-ups find out more at Thames21.

The pic below shows the marvellous view across to Wandsworth's recycling plant, but today there is no ferry boat at Broomhouse Dock to take us to the south side as there would have been +200 years ago.

About twelve people of all ages came to join us on the day. We had hoped for more, indeed the cool box was well-stocked with plenty of ice lollies, but the hot weather was aagainst us. Once I'd moved the group to a cleaner part of the foreshore it was lovely to see how interested people were in the whole experience. It's the possiblitly of finding hidden treasure, I think. But it wasn't a good day for finds. We found old bits of metal in the form of nuts, bolts and nails, some small animal bones and some late 1990s electrical components(!) but I didn't see a single piece of broken clay pipe stem or any sherds of pottery worth sharing with the group. However, you could go back to that same location on another day and the shore could be completely different depending on the tide and recent weather conditions. 

As I explained to everyone that day, when not with an organised group like this, in order to go mudlarking on the Thames foreshore, you need a licence, and these can be obtained from the PLA here. But there are restrictions as to what you can do even if you have a permit, such as you cannot start digging holes (you don't need to – just walk slowly and look carefully) and certain sections of foreshore are out of bounds.

In Broomhouse Lane at the corner of Daisy Lane, I noticed that the lovely building there is covered in scaffolding. Argh no, I thought. Oh phew – they are converting it into a care home, see here

*People seem to think the word 'disposable' means it will decompose. Realistically, everything is 'disposable' whether it's a car or an apple core. In this instance, 'disposable' tends to intimate that the product is for single use – just use it and throw it away, ta da!  Victorian era magazines were full of ads for disposable items, but the products back then were made of glass, paper and other components that were easy to separate and repurpose. Our plastics, especially since the 1950s, not so. Products such as wet wipes weren't on the shelves a few decades ago yet mothers the world over managed to cope ably. So, if these things are evil waste, literally clogging up the planet, why aren't they simply removed from sale? Why are companies still being allowed to manufacture them? And note, they are packaged within mostly non-recyclable plastic. Don't worry though, the children of the future will fix all this.