Five memories of Kensal Green

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....

Greenwich and the Old Royal Naval College

This guest post comes from Dan Perdomo, a blogger who enjoys discovering underrated parts of London. Enjoy!  I was lost in London; and not for the first time. This was my fifth time in London since moving down south and I had decided to wander around Canary Wharf. I was walking along the Thames Path which should have led me to the O2 Arena… but I must have gone in the wrong direction. Ending up in Isle of Dogs (I had no idea where that was in relation to The O2’s location) in a park called Island Gardens, I stumbled upon a view across the river that made my jaw drop. Little did I know I was looking at the Old Royal Naval College. The grand buildings looked enormous, even from across the Thames. I looked up and down the river but couldn’t see a bridge in sight in which I could cross to get a closer look at the palace. Heading for the exit to try and find the nearest tube station, I saw a domed entrance with a sign saying Greenwich. I entered, not really knowing what to expect, and after walking down some stairs I found myself in an eerie tunnel with no light at the end in sight! Luckily, there was an end. I exited through a similar domed building and laid eyes on a huge ship – is everything huge in Greenwich, I wondered. I had heard of Cutty Sark but did not know it was a ship – and it’s a beautiful one at that. Towering above me, it reminded me of something...

Not just curry – Brick Lane’s food scene

With aromas spicy and sweet mingling in the air, crowds thronging around us, shouts and sizzles coming from the stalls, it was almost impossible to make a decision about what to eat. Indian dosa, Chinese noodles, Spanish paella, Moroccan tagines, each one looked as attractive as the last. But then we spotted the Venezuelan stall and, minutes later, I was digging in to my first arepa, a corn pancake, laden with slow-cooked chicken, salsa, beans and guacamole, grinning at the sheer deliciousness of it. Before I moved to London, the only thing I knew about Brick Lane was that it was famous for curry. Then I arrived here, began exploring, and discovered all its Sunday market, graffiti-covered, multicultural glory. Far from just being a street of curry houses, Brick Lane is an utter mish-mash of cuisines and people, from the old Jamaican man, with the deep, infectious laugh and lewd remarks about his excellent sausages, to the Venezuelans serving up the arepas I’d just discovered. My digital nomad friends Kit and Nick were in town, so we’d gone together to Brick Lane’s Sunday UpMarket, a mostly art and design market held in the minimalist, warehouse-like Old Truman Brewery, but which also includes a substantial food section, which, with stomachs growling, we’d made a beeline for. Once we’d admired the jewellery, clothes and works of art on display in the rest of the market, showing admirable restraint by merely looking longingly at the incredible cartoon bags and not actually buying anything, we returned to the main street, pausing to grab coffee from a Canadian-themed van, decked out like a ski...

Friday Photo: Evening

The nights are drawing in and the clocks go back in the UK this weekend, so it is apt that the #FriFotos theme is Evening. As the days get shorter and shorter, and skies become overcast, you have to be quick to catch a beautiful sunset, but it’s worth it when you do. That ‘golden hour’ of dying light, which infuses any landscape, is understandably a photographer’s favourite, and at this particular moment of the year, for the briefest time, it’s just right to catch sunset-painted skies on the way home from work. This photo was not taken in the depths of the countryside – it was at London’s Hampstead Heath, with the view of the city just a few degrees to the right. On a perfectly-lit, autumnal evening, it really is a wonderful place to be. Where’s your favourite place to watch the sun go...

A Walk on Hampstead Heath

I have been living in London for a month now, and while I love the rush of the city, after one trip too many on an overcrowded tube, pounding from dreary pavement into sweaty metal box, I needed some fresh air. So to Hampstead Heath I went. On a sunny Autumn afternoon, it was the most glorious place in all of London. I had heard of Hampstead Heath of course, even seen it in films, with that iconic view of London in the background. But what surprised me, as I walked up a track, kicking through the first of the Autumn leaves, is how so much of the ‘Heath’ is actually much more like a forest. To me, a heath conjures up sparse, open land with maybe the odd scrubby plant, but the area called Hampstead Heath is mostly woodland. It took hardly any time at all to be completely lost among trees, squelching through mud, not a single sound of the city to be heard. Birds chirruped, leaves rustled, the odd twig snapped underfoot. Occasionally, I would meet somebody else along one of the muddy trails, but they too were dressed in suitable attire for a woodland walk, and it felt like I had been transported back into the deep English countryside. With golden rays of late afternoon sunlight filtering through the trees, it was almost impossible to believe that I was still in the middle of a metropolis. It bears no resemblance to any kind of city park – it is natural and wild. Finally, after tramping round the woodland with little sense of direction, I emerged...
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