Updated: Nov 15
Where is home?
Originally Romania but I moved to London 9 years ago. I’ve been living in Islington for 4 years. Prior to that I lived in several different locations across London.
What are the favourite things about where you live?
I haven’t commuted for almost 5 years as I am located really close to work meaning and that has been really life changing. In addition, being located so centrally means I don’t generally travel much more than 20 minutes in any direction.
I am 2 minutes away from Whitecross Market where you can find food from all over the world, although it’s been closed for a while now. I wonder how those businesses are doing and if they managed to survive this hit.
I often head to Columbia Flower Market on Sundays as it’s only 10 minutes away and seeing the vibrancy of the flowers is wonderful. Whilst it’s no secret, my tip is to get there towards the end of the day is great as you’ll find things are discounted. The flower market tends to have more of a local vibe with lots of cute independent shops although I do also go to Spitalfields and Brick Lane that are much more touristy.
I cycle to the canal and I am 20 minutes from Hackney Marshes. This is such a wonderful place to escape to, as whilst there are lots of small green squares, Islington only has 1% green space. One of the difficult things about the area is that I rarely see wild animals, but lockdown meant that I would see lots of birds, squirrels, butterflies and insects on my balcony, and even ducks in front of Old Street station which was an absolute first. The wild animals have also been coming to my house because I left my balcony to rewild itself so it’s full of weeds and wildflowers. I have a feeling my neighbours don’t really like that and even my landlord thought it’s just an excuse to be lazy. We’ve been so used to Victorian groomed gardens and balconies that we forget to appreciate those wildflowers and beautiful plants emerging from the most unusual places without our intervention.
Islington is very built up with a great deal of traffic. I found that during lockdown there were significantly less cars, so I cycled a lot more than usual and felt like a queen on the streets. It was great whilst it lasted, but I feel it’s even worst for cyclists now.
What do you want people to know about your area?
I love Abney Park Cemetery, although it’s not really in Islington. It’s a beautiful place that has been allowed to rewild itself. This means that it’s one of the wildest places in north London with an incredible amount of birds, flowers and trees.
Hackney Marshes is also not in Islington but I go there often. I love that it is so big that even when it is busy, you don’t feel that there are a lot of people around. It’s also wonderful for foraging which I am learning more about. Broadway Market and the farmer’s markets in Victoria Park and Angel are also wonderful places to go to and are very popular with the people that are local to them.
This part of London has lots of cafes and galleries. Candid café is a lovely space behind Old Street station. I particularly like that there is no WiFi meaning that people aren’t all engaged in tech which is so lovely to see. It makes it a much more relaxed community space.
Finally, DeBeauvoir is an area of Islington where I tend to cycle to. There are so many houses, plants and beautiful buildings so it’s a lovely place to get lost and explore.
What is your favourite part of London for nature?
I love Hampstead Heath as it is filled with ancient trees and an area so vast that you can get lost in it. It has spectacular views of London, such a great amount of biodiversity and even hosts silent discos. It truly is an amazing space and doesn’t feel as central as it is.
I find cemeteries amazing places to be in. Perhaps it’s because I grew up near one, but I have always been fascinating by the solitude, they tend to be very diverse and left to be wild or at least, more natural. Of course, these aren’t places that people are naturally drawn to but I highly recommend visiting them. Especially during lockdown, they were great places to be without worrying they will become overcrowded.
I also love being in a city where you can also forage. I doubt people commonly think of London as being a place where you can get free food but here is so much around. It’s definitely something I am wanting to learn more about, but it is easy to start with some commonly known leaves and plants. I also love making Elderflower lemonade in the summer and have a weakness for wild garlic.
Part of my work has been working with indigenous people in a very remote area of Ecuador. I have learnt so much from living with them: how to live in a community, how to relate with other people, how to raise children, how to connect with and appreciate nature and what love is. I feel I connected with the true human essence. I’ve also learnt about natural healing techniques and how to work with medicine plants. Unfortunately, they are starting to see the impact of biodiversity loss, climate change, deforestation and oil extraction.
This makes me sad but also drives me to reimagine a different future, to try to be part of the alternative where we respect our environment, our communities and are open to learn from ancient wisdom. As Vandana Shiva says:
we need to be part of the attractive alternative.
I wish we could learn to be indigenous protectors for our cities and I guess some of my work feeds into that. I currently work part-time with London National Park City as a Ranger Coordinator. The Volunteer Rangers are a network of passionate people with a wide range of experiences and talents who will help make London healthier, greener and wilder, contributing to our shared vision to make London a city where people, places and nature are better connected. The Rangers will work in their local communities and across the Capital on projects to tackle the climate & ecological crises, scale greening initiatives and conservation activities, run education and youth programmes, improve access to green and blue space and inspire Londoners to eat better, get outside to exercise, explore and have fun!You can read more about our Rangers here.
Floree is a freelance coach and facilitator with a focus on people and organisational development, innovation, co-production and community building. She is also a National Park City Ranger co-ordinator. Twitter: _floree Instagram: @floree33
Floree lives in Islington which is on the Bee line on the #GreengrounMap
For TFL, it can be reached by train with good access to buses.
Find the full Greenground Map here