Fifteen minutes…

22 February 2015
Ben Pentreath

It was springtime at Columbia Road.


(that’s a little photo from my instagram posts. If you are not familiar with Instagram, may I just tell you how addictive, and fun, it is?  Like looking at everyone’s visual diary; and unlike anywhere else I’ve encountered on the internet…with the possible exception of the comments section of this blog… entirely without malice).

Here’s Carl Grover, his usual cheery self.  Carl only sells “Top Quality” flowers.  We sometimes tease him about the inverted commas.  Are they really Top Quality, or just “Top Quality”?  Well, I’d say the former.  You can read all about Carl on The gentle author’s post over at Spitalfields Life, hereP1080302

I couldn’t resist buying a couple of trays of Tiger Stripe primroses, that I’ve always known as gold laced polyanthus. Although with minor variations, perhaps.P1080306

Arms laden, Maggie and I made our way back to the car and home. We’d decided to pop into Granger for breakfast.

“Ooooh”, said the smiley guy at the door when we walked in… “I’m afraid we’re not open just yet.  Can you come back in 15 minutes?”.

So Maggie and I had a little fifteen minute wander around Clerkenwell Green. It’s amazing what you can discover if you take 15 minutes off to look.


We walked down beautiful Seckforde Street, which I’d walked down before, but had never lingered to look at the details:P1080314 P1080315 P1080316 P1080319

Can I admit to being a bit sick and tired of Clet Abraham sticker attacks on No Entry signs? Do you know what, Clet? I think clever irony has had its day.  Can you try something more interesting?P1080320

Okay, so that said: if you want to get your front door on the blog, can I suggest painting it bright apple-leaf green?:P1080321 P1080323

We loved the cool, crisp facade of the Finsbury Bank For Savings, Instituted A.D. 1816, Erected A.D. 1846. Safe.

P1080326 P1080329

And I loved the austere brick warehouses on St. John Street:P1080331

Turning the corner on to Woodbridge Street:P1080332

And onto Corporation Row, where we found this sign. Are you a Special Girl?P1080333

Or just a Girl, or Infant?P1080334

I’ve always loved the church that towers over Clerkenwell Green, but I’ve never really stopped for a second look. This morning, we had time.P1080340

It is austere in a slightly menacing way. And very large. I was reminded of some of the streets we visited in Liverpool, a couple of years back.P1080341 P1080342

We stepped inside.  It’s a beautiful space.


Loud pop music filled the interior.

We spied a young guy mixing the music on a bank of computers at the back pew.

“Are you the DJ?”, I asked.

“Nope”, he replied. “I’m the junior minister”. He was a fun guy.P1080344

Beneath the war memorial, was a drum kit and keyboard.


It may not be your thing; it may even not be my thing; but this place did have energy.

I’m not sure I didn’t find the earlier music machine more beautiful.P1080347

England Fecit 1792:P1080348

I loved the cool, gray lobby.P1080350

Where we found old framed photographs of street parties past.  My type of image. Happy.P1080352

And we loved the beautiful, simple oval glazed panels in the doors, still complete with incredibly fine late Georgian glass:P1080353 P1080355

On one corner was a plaque to the Fenian Conspiracy.  I’d never heard about it. Luckily, thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to do a bit of research.  Which is the intelligent sounding word for looking things up on google.  P1080361

You can do the same here.  Reading the story teaches me one thing. There’ve always  been people who, for one cause or another, want to blow up parts of London. They may succeed, or they may not. But life will probably carry on just as it always did, when all is long forgotten.

I liked these finely lettered plaques in the entrance to the church.

It’s a plain, straightforward kind of place, with no great sense of deep history, and no frills. Which made their approach to the modern worship no bad thing, I concluded as we were walking away.

There is a beautiful view looking down to Clerkenwell Green from the raised steps of St. James’s.P1080363

I rather like the slick art deco building that Granger finds itself in. We had a very good breakfast.P1080364

And I made my way back to the office, to pot up the polyanthus, and put some daffodils in water.P1080368

I love that poster by Andy Warhol, which I bought on our trip to Stockholm last spring.P1080369

It pretty much sums up my life.  And hopefully, just hopefully, the real raison-d’etre of this blog.

I hope that you can find a bit of time to take 15 minutes to discover a bit more about something you walk past every day, but never have time to look at.

16 comments on this post

Nice inspiration, excellent for incoming spring.

beautiful blog, thank you so much, Ben
Barbara 🙂

Kate Hsays:

My father used to grow Gold Lace primulas every spring (and SIlver Lace) and found them quite tricky but he and I both loved them and were rather delighted when they worked out. Don’t know how I feel about seeing them at £3.50 a tray! Pleased, I think.


Hi Ben,
Echoing an earlier commentator, you must absolutely go ahead with putting your lovely photos into book form – at least, two, in fact, e.g., Town (esp. London) and Country (and how exciting to think of the many possible chapter titles – windows, entrance ways, roof tops – let alone gardens!). Many thanks for all the pleasure you share with us each week.


I wonder if those Special Girls were “Special” or merely Special?
My two cents, but I’m quite sure the earlier music machine is much more beautiful.

Thanks, Ben.



I can’t tell you what a joy it was to see a photo of daffodils yesterday morning when I checked your blog. It was -6F; with wind chill it was -20F. I was cheered by your glorious photo.

My absolute favourite blog. So glad I follow this one – every one a gem. Lived in London through the 60s and though lucky enough to be in beautiful Bath, it is such a delight to be reminded of it through your skill with the camera and delightful descriptions

albert quintanillasays:

well.its lovely here in Newport Beach Calif.I love your photographs of the lovely stuctures.Historical.beautiful architecture.Yes its pretty here,but we have no architecture of any note.We look forward to your photos here stateside.

Thank you for the Monday inspiration. Looks like you had a wonderful day.
xo, Lissy

What a beautiful polyanthus – and a lovely photo tour.


I moved to Buffalo, NY 15 years ago and have spent 14 of those years saying that the winter weather is not nearly as bad as people think…this year it is. We have had many days when the daytime temps are in the minus degrees farenheit. The snow is piled up so high it’s obscuring buildings and the icicles are so long that spring, should it ever come, will be a dangerous time to walk. The architecture here is amazing since Buffalo was the most electrified place in the country in 1900 and everyone who could afford it had a place here-and what places they are. That said, I’m going to have to wait for spring before taking my 15 min outside! Thanks for that shot of sunny, daffodil yellow. It gives me hope.

Nichola Jeanssays:

I always feel calmer after reading your blog, thank you for your gentle words and insightful images.

The Gold Lace is one of my favourites too, they merit very close inspection, so intricately beautiful.

Spring! Hurray!


15 minutes each day is all it takes to have a different life

thanks, and enjoy your week

sx 🙂

Oh yes please to a photography book! Love that idea. X

Rose in Ohiosays:

I can always count on you to come up with photos that take my breath away. Please start writing that book about how to take photos like you do. Always, thank you so much.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Wonderful. Thank you, Ben.

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