millionreasons: (london)

When we were house hunting, we were looking in roads that were within ¾ mile of Forest Gate train station; we thought that we’d be getting around via the speedy train from Liverpool Street. The place that we found is a mile walk to Stratford and since the station has five lines, as well as national rail, it seems beneficial to use it instead and I find myself there most days.

Thing is, Stratford is weird. I don’t mean Westfield or the Olympic Park. Since the clocks went back, I have enjoyed turning off of the darkened canal path, past the welcoming Here East, and through the park with its neon cranes and blood moon Orbit and multi-coloured floodlights around the stadium as the twilight settles. But the other bit. The other bit is weird. First of all there’s a cereal café. In E15. There are no hipsters in E15. More bizarre, it is friendly, cheap and has comfy armchairs and little side tables, like a Victorian drawing room (it is in a Victorian house). What is it doing here amongst Wilkos, Wetherspoons, Bright House, Maplins, grimy-windowed lettings agents and 0 star hygiene rating take-aways? It should be on the other side.

Then you walk down a side road and find a wonderful, imposing dilapidated old building, once the court and the cells of the Old Town Hall, and a pub that used to be a tramshed: you can still see where the rails would have been. Just behind that is a games (both electronic and board) pub, but neither this Shoreditchy venue nor By 37 cereal café has ever been in Time Out or Londonist. In the summer, there was crazy golf on the roof of the Stratford Centre (not to be, never to be, confused with Westfield).

On Romford road, an undistinguished parade of shops is housed inside a red brick Edwardian Working Mens’ Institute. The UEL was the ornate Passmore Edwards museum that once housed the natural history collection of the Essex Field Club. There’s a 1700s timber-framed and weatherboarded building just stood there on Romford Road amongst the chicken shops and newsagents. None of it makes any sense.  If you go down Stratford high street there’s a string of coloured baubles that change colour when you go under them. But there’s always one that’s the wrong colour, like: We may have these fancy things, but we still rebel against them. If you walk through the Straford Centre at night, it turns into the Thunderdome, with kids BMX-ing up and down, someone setting up a route for rollerblading, boom boxes and body poppers, and homeless people stretched out on the floor. It’s unthreatening but weird.

There’s a meridian lazer that points over the bus station to Greenwich. There’s also a bronze meridian line on the ground. But it points in a different direction. There’s a stationary train in front of the station for no reason that I can fathom. Ther's a tiny picturesque Catholic Church on the Grove next door to a sauna-cum-brothel. There's a cafe called The Pie Crust that doesn't serve any pies.

What makes the least sense is the transport. Many many many more people travel to Stratford than they used to - to go shopping, to the Velodrome, Aquatics centre, West Ham stadium, or to the events in the park. But the transport doesn’t take this into account. More people live here now with the opening of East Village and lots more blocks of flats opening or almost finished. People moving from Hackney and Tower Hamlets into Newham’s Victorian housing stock are less likely to have cars and thus more likely to use transport. But the PT doesn’t take this into account. The Goblin line is shut for a year, but apart from the rail replacement, there are no extra buses to Leytonstone or Walthamstow. The line out of Liverpool street is shut until May next year at weekends due to Crossrail. But there are no extra buses going east. Given that West Ham fans tend to live out in Essex, this is pretty disastrous. In the near future, a new university will open. Where do students like to go out at night? Dalston. But the overground is run like a train service, even though people treat it as tube service. When I get on the central line to go west at Stratford, it’s half empty, but on the Overgound, the first stop, you can’t get a seat. I waited 18 minutes for a train in rush hour – no-one would accept that as good service on a tube line. A new skyscraper hotel is due to open, new museums in the park by 2020, meaning more footfall. Yet TfL’s solution to this is just to tell people not to travel through Stratford at rush hour, or to close down the central corridor so that you’re walking up and down stairs for about ¾ mile to get out.

No doubt in ten years time, it will be homogenised, dullsville (there's already a Starbucks). But for now, it's just odd.


Lundenwic

Oct. 30th, 2016 09:14 am
millionreasons: (london)
I have decided to nick [livejournal.com profile] diglett's idea and write about lesser known places of London that I like.

First up, I am somewhat biased: Forest G(re)ate. The first time i heard of E7 was when I was on jury service and the defendant was from the borough. It's now the new Hackney, or rather Hackney as it was 20 years ago, i.e. it's not full of fixie-beards and cereal cafes and has useful shops where you can buy rawl plugs. Unlike Stoke Newington, it has a smattering of chainstores (Superdrug, Gregg's a well stocked Co-op). There're are 3 (three) places to eat: an accidentally veggie coffee shop, a Portuguese place that does an excellent pastel de nata and has a nice sun-filled garden, and a new opening that's aimed at the yummy mummies who couldn't afford Walthamstow that does brunch in the day and pizzas in the evening. There's one good pub (the Forest Tavern) and one good venue (Wanstead tap). If you want owt else you'll have to go to Leytonstone. I like that lack of choice, it makes you loyal. It has its own football team, which is next door to a Tudor hunting lodge (now closed). I've been fascinated to read about the history of it, which isn't just murders and terrorism trials.

Further towards Upton, there's Green Street, a.k.a little Karachi with its sweet and sari shops, its Asian shopping centre and not one not two but three vegetarian Indians.

It has loads of green spaces, not just Wanstead flats but West Ham Park, West Ham cemetery, Forest lane park with its owl sculptures and Victorian workhouse (now flats) and further west, past Maryland, there's East village and Victory park, which can be a bit "lifestyle" - come and drink a flat white next to a man-made river, do some free yoga, have a gelato, go to the Sunday food market, but it feels like there's been a bit of effort put in - the restaurants are not the usual Carluccio's-Jamie's-Wagamama types and it was highly pleasant on a summer evening. I'm enjoying it now before a) the eateries close through lack of footfall or b) all the flats being built are finished and everywhere gets full up of twats.

There's also Wanstead, which I've only visited once, but is like Chiswick or Highgate plonked down in east London. I think the locals keep very quiet about it. "Yeah, Wanstead, zone 4, don't bother coming to visit, it's terrible."

Golders Hill Park

We used to go here at lot when we lived in West Hampstead. It's a part of Hampstead heath. There's a lovely pergola and sunken lake, and when it's empty and misty, you're basically in a Cure video. I'm not sure if they're still there, but there used to be flamingoes in an enclosure. It's the sort of place where you can imagine peacocks wandering about in.



Harrow on the hill

You come out of Harrow station and it's just like anywhere with a shopping centre and buses and people. But you walk up the hill to the village and you're in the countryside but fifteen minutes from Baker Street. Beautiful old houses, charming half-timbered high street an OTT tea shop, a lovely old church, Byron's favourite view, the place of the first fatality by car (bit grim, but i found it interesting). OK, you have to put up with lots of little posh boys hanging around, but you have to do that anywhere in London, if you swap posh for 'lairy'.

South east London

I don't mean Peckham. I'm thinking of Eltham Palace, an art deco extravaganza in Mottingham, one tree hill, where you can see a relation of a tree that QE1 once sat near, Nunhead cemetery, Crystal Palace with its dinosaurs and sphinxes, the gothic Sevendroog castle/folly in Shooters Hill, even Greenwich, which is no longer secret since the tube now goes there, but if you walk up the Maze Hill side of the hill, you can see the crazy Vanbrugh Castle house. There's a lovely vegetarian tea room and of course the fantastic Goddard's pie 'n' mash shop.

Sky Garden

It's hardly a secret, but I'm not sure why people would pay £25 to go up the Shard when you can do the sky garden for free. Or wait 'til Open House and do Heron Tower or Broadgate Tower instead - better views and Heron Tower has a gorgeous aquarium too.

De-cycle

Feb. 28th, 2016 12:25 pm
millionreasons: (london)
Yesterday to the Design Museum for their Cycle Revolution exhibition (a Christmas present from me - David). The first part of the exhibition was about professional races and featured Sir Wiggo's bike, Mark Cavendish's world championship jersey, Eddy Mercx's bike, Chris Hoy's helmet. Fetishised items. I was more interested in the history of the bicycle; there was no penny farthing, but an early safety bicycle, a 1960s Chopper, olde cargo bikes, the first Fixie (a repurposed steel frame cycle) and future bikes: ones with rubber chains, wooden frames, weirdly shaped foldable contraptions.

Design Museum - 2016-02-27 14:01:19 - 03

I watched the video of a day in the life of the Brompton factory in Chiswick, trying to spot Tanya's ex-boyfriend who works there, but it must have been his day off. It struck me how Arthur Seaton, at his lathe, having a good life if he dunt weaken, would not have recognised the Brompton works. Not the actual creation of bicycles, which is probably much the same, but the idea that it's gone from being a working class job which you forgot about in a haze of drinking and promiscuity, to a high status, creative, artisan (middle class) way of making a living.

Design Museum - 2016-02-27 13:58:28 - 01

We went to the top floor which was celebrating design in 2015; the winner had already been chosen, but you could still vote for your fave. Most people had chosen a campaign to clean up the sea: it felt like they  were voting with their hearts rather than their aesthetic sense (then again, the votes hadn't been updated since 15th January). My choice was a lamp that dimmed automatically -  I am a practical person.



The exhibition also featured Windows phones which, by tapping them against a point, you could use to get further information on an exhibit. Unfortunately, Windows phones are not very well designed and half of the phones weren't working because the docking stations weren't charging them. There was also a very loud child running around shouting; "Momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma, momma", which started to grate. Correct me if I'm ill-informed, but the average four year old is less interested in cutting edge design than, I dunno, ice-cream. We need to find a way to design children out of museums: take them to see the dinosaurs, parents.

(Photos by David, apart from the one of the lamp).

Move

Nov. 24th, 2015 06:43 pm
millionreasons: (london)
We are moving house. Our flat has been snapped up and our offer on a house in Forest Gate has been accepted, just in time for the incipient housing crash, no doubt. We will finally have a garden (and a cat). Although I'll still be working here, it'll be odd not to be in Stoke Newington full time after 9 years of N16-existence, the longest I've lived anywhere - apart from Doncaster and I had no choice in that.

What I'll miss:

1) The long, south facing windows, spreading sunlight across the flat. Lying in bed in late May watching the swallows swoop.

2) Walking down Church Street of a Saturday afternoon.

3) Crossing over the main road to Springfield Park and then down the hill to the marshes, cows grazing in the summer, sheep on the reservoir roof. The magic fish and concrete Stonehenge.

4) The Hassidic Jews - Purim, Lag BaOmer, and Succot have become as part of the calendar as Valentine's Day, Shrove Tuesday, Easter.

5) Being able to get a bus to just about anywhere.



What I won't miss:

1) The upstairs neighbours and their incessant banging, DIY (I suspect one of their friends is using the flat as a workshop), shouting, arguing, choir rehearsal, prayer meetings, speaking in tongues, washing machine at 3 a.m., kids staying up 'til 4 in the holidays then crying every morning.

2) Hackney Homes and their incompetent laziness. Painting the outdoor railings thrice in two years but never re-touching the indoor ones, spending £6,000 on six shed doors, £36,000 doing some rewiring, never answering emails, holding meetings when people are at work, rude letters. I thought a council flat would have better management than a private freeholder; I was wrong.

3) The kids in the summertime. None of the children on the estate are underage drinking feral monsters, but the NOISE of them in the school holidays. In the playground, all day every day, shrieking. Their boredom by week three.

4) We live between two main roads so not a day goes by when I don't hear a siren. The aggressive driving, rat-running, and 4x4s skidding over speed-bumps.

5) The 253.

millionreasons: (london)
Actually we cycled The Line as it is quite a long way and whilst I like nothing better than spending Saturday wandering around industrial estates, I can see it might be problematic for other people. Also, there's a gap in the map where you're expected to take the DLR, which is a bit like taking the dog for a walk and then carrying it. And TfL's vaguaries mean that the light railway might be closed anyway.

Here are the sculptures:

1. Just south of the Olympic Park near Pudding Mill Lane, just off the canal.



2. Video installation at Three Mills, where we stopped for a sandwich made by the world's dodderiest cafe owners: "Was that on white or brown bread? And it was hummous and watercress? Oh hummous and beetroot, right. On white or brown?"



3 Just before Cody Dock. This was in the shape of a double helix, entitled Shopping DNA.



4. Just after Cody Dock. This is by Damien Hirst (I checked for formaldehyde, there was none) and is an enlargement of a 3mm piece of skin. Apparently. Cody Dock was delightful: an old gasworks site turned into a community garden, with a cafe on a ship, their own sculpture (a sea-goddess made from tyres) and an air of calm loveliness.

20150815_135507

There was nobody there though. Opposite, Millennium Mills slowly decayed.



5. Near the cable car. We eschewed the DLR and cycled through Canning Town, which is probably the new Stratford, and round the Excel centre where building work made it difficult for us to find our way. What they doing here? I queried, then saw a Crossrail sign. If there's work going on in London, you can safely assume it's for Crossrail. It's our very own Sagrada Familia. Round the front of the Excel centre were loads of gothy/skaty young men in three quarter length shorts, there for a magicks convention. This week: warlocks, next week: arms fair!



6. Next to the cable car. Onto Princess Dock we found loads of families out for the day, sitting outside cafes or on benches with an ice-cream. I didn't realise this area was such a big draw. There were long queues for the cable car, so we didn't bother going over the water to finish off the trail at the Dome, instead taking the DLR back to Stratford to cycle back along the canal.

millionreasons: (pankhurst)
I wake at 5, thinking that there's been an explosion as the thunder cracks and roars.

Last day of school. The tension thickens with the storm clouds before the children burst out of school into freedom. I stop in the doorways of large cold stores, pretending to window shop to get the false breeze of aircon, like the way the Spar's wares become very interesting in a rainstorm.

But at night, it's a different world:

2014-07-12 22.47.57

2014-07-18 22.23.36
millionreasons: (london)
At the end of May, we did our third lost river walk along the path of the Fleet. Once again, we started at Hampstead, this time at Kenwood House, walking down the slope of the gardens where the river bubbled up to create boggy patches to the ponds (created by damming the Fleet), and the entirely fake ornamental bridge, down through Dartmouth Park and Kentish (originally Kenditch, a settlement on the banks of the waterway) Town, where we sat in a tiny beer bottle strewn park under the railway arches for chainstore sandwiches. Down through Camden, along the canal to St Pancras, past the mental health hospital that used to be an asylum with separate "imbecile" and "lunatic" wards. Over King's Cross, once known as Battlebridge (for Boudicca's battle and the bridge crossing the Fleet) and, one of the best things about these walks, down a road less travelled. I’ve walked several times down Pentonville, Gray's Inn and King's Cross roads, but never the tiny tenement backstreets that run parallel to them.



Past the old Fleet prison, now the Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, which looks far more attractive from the back, a post palace, then through Clerkenwell, where the Riceyman Steps have been covered by a Travelodge, and across Fleet Street, once a bridge over the river.

The Fleet empties out at Blackfriars bridge. On the site of the old monastery is now the beautiful Black Friar pub, which is impossible to get into but has a beer garden of sorts out front. On the other side of the bridge stood the Whitefriars, but the book doesn't report whether the two friaries got on or not.

Big Bong

Aug. 4th, 2012 10:10 am
millionreasons: (Default)
Yesterday, I climbed Big Ben. Or rather, I climbed the Clock Tower; as every trivia fan/pedant knows, Big Ben is the nickname of the bell that strikes the hour. The tour is free, you just write to your MP to request it, although you don't get much choice over the time and date and you have to give all kinds of personal info and no photos are allowed. The guide was an entertaining, knowledgeable cockney who congratulated us every time we'd climbed a hundred steps. Two breaks were included, the first in Room 1 which was once an MP's prison, housing the unruly overnight until they'd learned their lesson. I thought it would be good for those taking cash for questions or fiddling their expenses, but the last person imprisoned was Charles Bradlaugh, the atheist MP for Northampton who refused to take the Oath of Allegiance in 1880.

The second stop was actually behind the clock faces, where we could see the minute hand moving every 2 seconds. I had to resist the urge to jump through the panes of glass a la Downey-Holmes. The top point was in the belfry where, at 3 p.m., we witnessed the famous bongs (we also heard the quarter chimes and the fourth bong sounded a bit flat to me). We learned that when the Whitechapel Bell Foundry delivered the clock, they found that it was a foot longer than the door. Some years later, a hairline crack was discovered that made the hour BONG half a tone flat. The bell was silenced for three years whilst the Foundry and the Clock Tower argued about who was to blame until the Astronomer Royal suggested turning the bell a bit to the right so the hammer hit a different part of the bell. It's good to know that even at the height of British engineering prowess, we were still a bit crap. Big Ben is thought to be named so after a robust MP, Benjamin Hall, who was in charge of overseeing the bell's construction and had his name inscribed upon it.  We also learned that the government employs two hawks to keep pigeons, gulls, starlings, house-martins etc away from the tower. I bet those birds over-claim for their bird seed and flip their nests.

There is a plaque with words written for the Cambridge chimes* erected for the 100th anniversary of the clock tower's completion in 1959 and also a 150th commemoration plaque erected in 2009. In 2059, if I'm still around, I intend to be boring people about how I went up when the clock was still mechanical - because I can't see how the mechanics can go on forever. The engineers keep the clock on time by adding or taking away an old, pre-decimal penny to or from the pendulum rod. Jeez. I know we British are famous for our tradition and heritage, but really, can that kind of thing go on for eternity? In 3059, will they still be doing it? I do wonder if the Houses of Parliament were designed in a Mediaeval style to create a feeling of permanency, like a Tudorbethan house.

We also were allowed to look (a little bit) around Portcullis House; our chirpy guide pointed out the room where Rupert Murdoch gave evidence to the Leveson Enquiry and was almost face-pied.

* The tune is apparently because the clock's designer, Edmund Denison, liked the chimes from St Mary's church in Cambridge, where he studied. The church in the village where I grew up is also called St Mary's and plays the same tune, but we used to sing different words to it at Brownies.

millionreasons: (wine)
Thursday, I travelled over a mysterious land known to brave travellers as "West London" to eat at Veggie Vegan, which is a nose-to-tail barbecue not-too-healthy vegetarian restaurant. Leaving the cold air on Seven Sisters road into the Piccadilly line, tucked in with warm people, pre-commuters, Canadians providing travel advice to an Italian who wanted to go to Alperton, folk minding their own but not insensible to the others around them. When I got out at West Kensington, checking my map to make sure I was going the right way down North End Road, a woman asked me if I needed help and told me where the restaurant was. Yes, Londoners are all unfriendly, rude and would rather pick your pocket then lend a hand. Unlike people from, let's say South Yorkshire, whose "openness" and "friendliness" leads them to think they can say absolutely anything they want to sans consequence.

The meal was delicious (you wouldn't think a raw vegan chocolate torte would be good, but oh, it was, it was), but led me to think about George Orwell's comment about fellow socialists (the bearded sandal-wearing vegetarian nudists). I'm a vegetarian who doesn't want to eat meat but am lumped in with raw fooders, macrobiotic folk, relics from the 80s who think donkeys are more important than everyone in China, people who don't eat yeast or onions, teetotallers, and Heather Mills.
millionreasons: (wine)
Last weekend we duked it out for a table with the yummy mummies at Fred and Fran's coffeeria before making our way up to the Lesser Stoke Newington, Crouch End, for El's birthday party. Fireworks and cocktails were on the agenda, but I took too much notice of the latter and woke up with a banging head rather than memories of pretty explodey things. We went to the pub, where Ange outlined her spin-off from The Only Way is Indie - Strictly Come Indie. You can fill in the details yourselves.

On Sunday, 6 people came 'round to ours to swap DVDs. We now have The Changeling, an Audrey Hepburn box set, and Hidden Agenda to watch. I'm not sure how we chose these as most of my attention was on stopping the youngest of the two visitors smearing his chocolatey hands on my settee and swallowing safety-matches. Children are not great in enclosed spaces. After an hour, we put on the Spongebob Squarepants DVD and all was silence. How did people cope before TV? Bible stories and corporal punishment, perhaps.

This weekend, well, in October I narrowly avoided taking part in a friend's 40th birthday Celidh by going to Blackpool, but on Friday my luck ran out as a work colleague, who has decided that Harare is preferable to Hackney, decided she wanted her leaving do to feature dosie-dos and strippings of the willow. I spent my time by the cake table avoiding the lure of the dance-floor. A fellow refusenik considered making requests to the Celidh band, namely Dancing Queen. Another colleague talked of his recent trip to NYC, specifically how his attempt to go into a gay sex shop was thwarted as the man behind the counter told him he wasn't allowed to let in Jews, not because he was anti-Semitic, but because his boss was Jewish and didn't want other Jews besmirching themselves in there. My colleague, who is not Jewish, told him that he was a part-time Holocaust denier. This did not, as you can imagine, go down well.

Yesterday, we took the worst ever 73 bus into town (after an hour, we had gone the two miles to Angel, where the bus driver decided he was going no further. I think he was either having a nervous breakdown, or this was his first trip out after passing his bus exams and had realised that bus-driving was not for him. All my pre-menstrual rage was directed at the next bus-driver who did not want to let us on without a continuation ticket. He let us on) to go to the NPG Photographic Prize. I preferred the photo that won fourth prize to the winner. The model is standing in front of her entry to the NPG's sister summer show, the Portrait Prize.



I also liked this awkward pre-teen beauty queen:



and one of a boy in a shower which doesn't seem to be on the internet, probably because of Daily Mail reasons.

Afterwards, we wandered into Covent Garden and saw a nativity film in a shed - and - bonus reindeer.



Covent Garden doesn't look very "austerity Britain"; there's a giant Xmas tree, a giant topiary reindeer and giant baubles in the market. I dislike this time of year as people wankers people are still setting off fireworks whilst others have already got their decorations up in their front rooms. IN NOVEMBER. I blame John Lewis.

Then to Les Deux Salons for afternoon tea. Which was suitably delicious - they even brought us extra sandwiches as an apology for us being vegetarian, along with a gut-busting six cakes. The couple on the next table were unconsciously entertaining, instead of just ordering, they delivered a narrative to the waiter: "What we're going to do is have some toasted sandwiches and wine and then afterwards, we'll have a tea and a cake but we haven't decided on the tea yet. The green tea, is it green tea or mint tea? Oh, just green tea. And what wines do you have? French wines? Do you have a New Zealand pinot noir, because they are better than the French ones. You don't. Oh. We'll have a carafe of Burgundy. Red Burgundy." We couldn't eat all the cakes, so they wrapped them up in foil for us to take home to our pretend dog.

Then an attempt to catch a bus which wasn't going the Lord Mayor's Show route. 25 minutes later and we ended up just getting one which more or less skirted Stoke Newington. This is like the bad old pre-Ken days when you could wait 40 minutes for a bus. Under Boris, a single bus fare (on an Oyster) will have gone up 64% by January and the transport seems to have got worse and worse. Yet people will vote for him next year because he is jolly and fun and has amusing hair. Cunts.

Even later, we go out to the other end of Stoke Newington for a party at the flat of a friend of Dave's from school whom Facebook has brought back into his life. There were other East Midlanders in the room, one of whom had a theory that everyone moves down to London to get away from their boring small towns or villages and ends up in a pseudo-village like Stoke N. People nearing 40 seem to have an exit strategy from London. I want to live here until I can no longer swear at bus drivers.
millionreasons: (Default)

23) London. This July marked my 10th consecutive year in the Smoke. My first London memory is being scared by the pigeons in Trafalgar Square and throwing the birdseed all over them to make them go away (I still don’t like the rats-with-wings). When I was a teenager I’d be allowed to go round Camden Market or down the Kings Road - London was just so much freedom. Later, I started going to gigs and entered that indie-flexi-letter-fanzine world, making friends with [livejournal.com profile] richardbajorwho let me stay at his house whilst we travelled up to North London to go to Euston Rails or the Powerhouse or the Camden Falcon. It was all about excitement and liberty, and after my second year at University I sneakily signed on the dole and rented a room in New Cross, trying to
eke out my money by fare dodging, baked-bean eating and drinking tapwater in pubs but it was oh! so much better than a summer in Doncaster. The fact that I could be in the middle of the city (the literal centre, Charing Cross) within 20 minutes, could take bus journeys past international landmarks, could see a band every night instead of every month was amazing. I think I fell slapbang in love with London when crossing (the old) Hungerford Bridge and the Thames swirled about with new rain and old memories. I sat in the Poetry Library in the Southbank Centre and contemplated how lucky I was.

I moved down permanently with a big bag of possessions in 1995, and during the first year lived in Bethnal Green, Hackney, Walthamstow, Kingston and Shepherds Bush, before acquiring a flat in Camberwell and staying put for the next 5 years. That year showed me how terrible London can be with no job, income support, lack of decent housing, horrible neighbours and zone 3 travel. But still I was autonomous, I could still become….whatever. Never mind the American dream, that Dick Whittington thing is still here, searching out the gold of the soul. Knowing that everyone fits in, from those who’ve never left Kensington, to the folks in E9 who’ve only just left Somalia. The starter-home suburbs of Forest Hill and East Dulwich to the ultra-urban enclaves of Soho and Clerkenwell with nary a corner shop. I like the green open spaces of Hampstead Heath and Clissold Park and the quietness down by the river. The city farms. I love the buildings and the City on a Sunday. I like the anonymity, but nodding to the neighbours. I love the secret bits (Love Walk, Bonnington Square, St Andrew’s by the Wardrobe, Golders Hill Park, Dolphin Square) and the constant serendipity. I like how you can move to a different postcode and suddenly everything’s shiny-new again. I like how everything you could possibly want is so near, I like being in the centre of things. I like living here. The good always outweighs the terrible. [profile]

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