Alongside the Regent’s Canal at the slightly rougher end of Islington, some cheerful violas perk up the entrance to a Victorian commercial building.

The alleyway beyond the bright blue door is dim but wonderfully atmospheric; vines and wisteria clamber over the rusted steel girders, pittisporum, fatsias and ivy burst from tiny pockets of soil. And everywhere – balanced on factory doorsteps, kerbs and old sewing machine tables – are pots of geraniums, busy lizzies and forget-me-nots.

Bicycles with willow baskets, polished letterboxes, the quiet and the lack of artifice combine to throw the visitor back into a bygone era. What an unexpected little urban pocket of green!

Canal courtyard
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