Lee Van Cleef


Not only was today wet, but we experienced 40 m.p.h. winds, and it was cold.

Beetles and raindrops on poppy

The flowers were taking another battering. It was a day for beetles, not for bees.

Thinking that few people would visit the recycling centre today, we transported two bags of green waste there. We were so wrong. The queue was 45 minutes long. Still, we got rid of our clippings and came back with one terra cotta and two stone planters.

Here, therefore, is what Paul Clarke terms a rainy day post. I scanned the next batch of my Streets of London series of colour slides from May 2004.

Crane Grove N.7. 5.04

I couldn’t make my mind up about whether this elegant house in Crane Grove N7 is Georgian or Victorian. Neither, it seems, can the Estate Agent who has it on the RightMove website priced at £1,500,000, and described as period. The period of the inside looks to me like last week.

Highbury Corner N1 5.04

Higbury Corner zoom

We are told that Highbury Corner is within walking distance of this home. I zoomed in on the block of flats that had attracted my attention because Arsenal’s championship Year was being celebrated on the top floor.

Digswell Sterrt, N7 5.04

Even nearer is Digswell Street with its gross graffiti. This lies off the Highbury end of Holloway Road, part of the A1 running North from Highbury Corner. It may, of course, have been cleaned up by now.

Upper Street N1 5.04

Upper Street is a continuation of this major thoroughfare running South.

Clifton Gardens W9 5.04

From Islington we move back to West London in the form of Clifton Gardens W9, in Little Venice, which, I think, was being graced with new street lighting. That is a pretty mature plane tree in the front garden of the building behind the wall.

Clifton Road W9 5.04 1

Clifton's Restaurant 5.04 Clifton Gardens becomes the short stretch of Clifton Road before Maida Vale is reached.

Clifton's Restaurant 5.04 2

In a basement at that corner Clifton’s restaurant struggled to survive in the 1990s, eventually making way for an Indian restaurant which didn’t last very long. Well, it wouldn’t, being diagonally across the road from the Akash.

I was an occasional visitor to this rather good subterranean eating place with normally excellent wines. John, the proprietor, was keen on the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword. On learning of my sideline in such puzzles, he would sometimes seek my assistance.

This was in the time when people still smoked in restaurants. I smoked a pipe, but never in a restaurant. John had a ceiling extractor fan which he insisted had been installed for me to smoke my pipe. I did, occasionally when, as often, there were no other customers. The proprietor was prone to relate that Ringo Starr brought his family there on Sundays.

Observant readers will have noticed, the ‘normally’ in the description of the wines. The reason for this is that this is so far the only place where I had had to return a corked bottle. Poor John had to agree, and was rather upset at having served it.

On one memorable occasion a young gentleman behind me was introducing his lady companion to the joys of the spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. This was the trio of low budget films bringing Clint Eastwood to fame as ‘The Man with no Name’. It just happened that I was a fan, and have been known to join in other people’s conversations. I couldn’t resist it. I just had to turn, politely ask if I could add my two pennyworth, and upon being welcomed, observe: ‘Forget Clint Eastwood. Lee Van Cleef is the man’. This made my interlocutor’s day. He agreed entirely. I hopefully thought that with any luck the young woman was amused. I was being rather tongue in cheek of course, but Van Cleef had the looks for the part.

Hall Road NW8 5.04

On the opposite corner of Maida Vale, with Hall Road, stands one of the luxurious apartment blocks that line this part of the A5.

Vale Close W9 5.04

Vale Close, just North of this point, is a small private road. Who would place this within a mile of Marble Arch?

For dinner this evening, Jackie produced a wholesome heart casserole, with crunchy carrots, new potatoes and green beans, followed by scones. These latter were eaten like those in traditional West Country cream teas, that is, with clotted cream and strawberry jam. This gave us a problem. These cream teas are native to both Dorset and Devon. The trouble is in one county you put the cream on first, and in the other, the jam. We couldn’t remember which was which, but we did think we might Google it and follow the practice of the county which had supplied our West Country Clotted Cream.

The address of the distributor was in East Kilbride in Scotland.

I put my cream on first. I don’t know which way the Culinary Queen voted.

Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Carles.


  1. I haven’t heard Van Cleef’s name in a mighty long time – and you’re right – he definitely had the looks for the part, and the voice!
    Terrific street pictures, you do good work.

  2. My husband was totally into spaghetti westerns – they watched them in Germany with dubbed voices. Not the same, but he has since watched them in English and is a huge fan of Van Cleef and Eastwood.

  3. That was interesting, as ever–I get to visit London (and other areas)!

    A very small, odd fact about our youngest daughter’s life: she is employed at a fine performing arts center located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA., a very pricey seaside town where several celebrities happen to live and visit. She runs into Clint Eastwood (who lives there) often enough that she now finds it rather uninteresting–on the beach, in the grocery, etc. She says he sometimes nods congenially or says “Hi”, then just goes on his way, no fuss or attitude. I have visited there–wrote a post abut the are in Marc–but did not, alas, see him or another favorite oldster, Doris Day.

  4. Thank you again for another tour, Derrick! I enjoyed your restaurant stories, too. 🙂
    I guess I’m not used to teas. I didn’t know there was such a thing as “West Country cream teas,” nor that there was an order to putting on the cream and jam. (It sounds delicious to me either way.)

  5. You chose wisely. Always cream first and then the jam, the Devon way!
    The wind has been ferocious today. My Verbena bonariensis is almost on the ground.

  6. Thanks for the tour, Derrick. I’m not a Westerns fan but I will certainly never forget Clint Eastwood. I think it’s easier to put the jam on first, then you can put a really big dollop of cream to cover it. 🙂

  7. Another very nice tour. But, don’t you just love those little seed pods in the middle of the poppy blossoms? They look like little hats. I think the combo of cream and strawberry jam would be good either way, but easier if the jam went on first, unless the technique is to drop a dollop of jam into the middle of the cream (not a bad idea).

  8. I have heard more than one argument, on TV shows out of Britain, about how to eat/serve cream tea. It seems like a more sensible topic for argument than politics, especially durable and endurable because no amount of loudness or logic will ever resolve it and it always finishes with delicious contentment all around.

    1. We don’t have “clotted cream” here in the US and I think it would be classified as a kind of airy butter. When we put cream on a dessert it is usually a light and airy whipped cream, and would collapse beneath anything, even jam,

      1. When my dad got out of the navy he drove a cab in LA and carried several celebrities. One was Rory Calhoun. The other was Lana Turner. For some reason the mention of Lee Van Cleef brought this memory to the surface. No connection, really.

  9. Your Streets of London photos make me want to visit the city again but since the bombing of the airport at Istanbul I am happy to stay put. Your photographs immortalise those graffiti for perpetuity. Perhaps that’s why they do it. 🙂

    I like it that your celebrity status is equal to that of Ringo Starr; perhaps above his at that establishment. I bet they didn’t install an exhaust fan just for him – though looking at it another way, it may not be a compliment 🙂

  10. I always enjoy when you hit the streets, Derrick. That’s a beautiful apartment building…I’d like to see the inside. I love Westerns…Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, etc. Did you ever see the show Gunsmoke with James Arnez?

  11. I prefer jam first on warm scones, otherwise the creme melts. I’m making some tomorrow for visitors ? so it’s called creme tea? Seems devon might have marketed it better cause here it’s kniwn as Devonshire tea.

      1. Just got last minute additions to guests (including an English friend) so i shall make even more and will ask her opinion- although she’s from Yorkshire – does it count? Thanks

          1. In the end the yorkshire friend couldn’t make it and in a last minute whim, i made cupcakes with creme cheese frosting and fresh strawberries on top instead. Still have ingredients for scones so that’ll happen at some point before the buttermilk’s use by date. Have a nice weekend ?

  12. Poor John. The only way to find out if a bottle of wine is corked is to open it. It can happen to the best wine folks.

  13. I’ve never heard of putting the cream on the scone first. Definitely not DownUnder in Oz.

    My Mother was a brilliant cook and one of the few things I could make better than her was scones 🙂 (and in later years……Pumpkin soup 🙂 ).

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