Salt Fish and Twig Pencils

We had a pleasant evening on Saturday at the curious new space for creatives in an ex-carpark off Station Road now called Blue House Yard. Sitting on a handcarved bench outside the wood shop, we ate delicious Creole spicy salt fish with salad in a crispy ‘bun’ (rather like a puri) and drank dark Czech lager (brewed in Myddleton Road N22). Children dashed around in a cheerful fashion, some queuing up to get their twig pencils sharpened with a penknife by the woodman (who seemed to be a source of fascination …).

The food market and picnic tables in the centre of the ex-carpark are surrounded by ten tall, narrow wooden huts, each with just room enough for a tiny shop/workshop downstairs, and storeroom upstairs. I remarked that they reminded me of the tall black huts in Hastings where fishermen used to hang up their huge nets, before the age of nylon – and was told that these were indeed part of the inspiration for the architects, who both designed and built them. The huts in N22 are, however, multi-coloured, each one slightly different from the next.

Some of the huts are shops, selling vintage and retro clothes, art, wood products, cakes ... while others are workshops producing goods for sale elsewhere, including kilts and superior stationery. It is all a bit ad hoc at the moment, with some of the workshops still being set up, and opening hours not established (we were told that most open when the food markets are functioning – Wednesday-Friday 11am-3pm, and Saturday evenings in July 5-10pm ). The cake shop had opened for the first time that day, and the café in a London bus is not open yet. But the bus is there, and the blue café tables made of recycled cable-reels on legs are set out next to it, ready for customers.

The eponymous Blue House (poster-paint blue from ground to roof-ridge) was not open that evening, so I will have to return another time to check out the ceramics studio (which runs classes) – there are also other studios in the house.

I think this is a great space, and hope that Haringey Council will ditch the planned development for it, and instead allow the units to operate permanently – not just for the 5 years ‘meanwhile time’ allocated to them. The stallholders certainly have plans for the future – one of the Guadeloupiennes from the Creole food stall had given up her job as a marketing executive for a telecoms company only the day before, in order to co-run their stall in markets around London, and the cakeshop proprietor is looking for premises locally in which to run classes in cake-baking and decorating.

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  • I went there on Friday lunchtime but got there a bit too late for food (the interesting stuff had sold out). But I got a twig pencil for my present cupboard and very much like the Hastings inspired units.

    • Is the cafe-in-a-bus functioning yet?

    • No, it still needs quite a lot of work before it can open. People were busy doing carpentry on the lower deck when I was there. But it's a really nice idea and I look forward to it opening.

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