After five months of living in London, I’m leaving to set off on a peripatetic few months through Europe. In that funny trick that time plays, it feels as though I have been here for much longer and shorter than five months; rhythms and routines feel so familiar that I might have been doing them forever, but at the same time there are hundreds of places I still haven’t seen and so much which still feels new.
For now, I’m just bidding farewell to Kensal Green, my London home, but I know that this city will call me back time and again to experience more of what it has to offer.
Five memories of Kensal Green
1. The small-town, independent high-street atmosphere, so close to the centre, and the cute little tube station I could call mine. It has no boring service notices, but instead an inspiring quote to welcome weary souls home. Telling us to dream, succeed, to be kind and thoughtful. I always loved looking at the latest words of wisdom after a long and sweaty tube journey, and they always made me smile.
2. The neighbourhood deli, Minkies, where classical music soothes the spirit and encourages work. For their gluten-free cakes, gorgeous displays and guilt-free coffee (guilt-free, because of various coffee facts, which make it sound like the drink of the gods, scattered around.)
3. Lazy Sunday mornings, wandering the Portobello Road Markets, picking up a locket or trinket for a couple of quid, engaging in banter with the silver-tongued salesmen, finding lost childhood treasures in the tat at the back of dusty old shops.
4. The proximity to Queen’s Park, where autumnal and winter walks were had, where moments of solitude were sought in its peaceful gardens, and where I had fun taking photos on crisp, sun-dappled days.
5. Galicia, the restaurant at my end – the Spanish end – of Portobello, presided over by a rotund and lavishly moustachioed Galician who speaks with the soft, northern lilt. Inside, the wallpaper, pictures and worn tables inside give the impression of dining in a Spanish home. The waiters bring plates of tortilla, olives and bread ‘from the kitchen’ then later – much later, after plenty of wine and conversation, the huge dishes of seafood paella come out.
An independent neighbourhood with community spirit and cosmopolitan London flair, Kensal Green will always be my London home.
Do you have any favourite neighbourhood spots in London?