|Kind of blue – a shopfront in the 'hood|
|Coronation party on my street, 1953|
Our terraced house feels huge to us after having dealt with the usual cramped London flats, and our last place, which was a tiny cottage. Property is still relatively affordable here (ah, London!) but that will probably change, as it is an area that is being regenerated as I type. There are lots of terraced Victorian homes, lots with original period features, some with unfortunate 1970s remodelling, some that have been done up and neutralised by developers.
There is plenty of greenery. Wanstead Flats is five minutes walk from my house, a huge green space with a big pond and marked walking trails. Connected to it is Wanstead Park, the grounds of the long-gone Wanstead House, built to rival Versailles and complete with ornamental lakes and grottoes. Beyond that is Epping Forest. There's so much, we've not even made it beyond the Flats yet!
Nightlife-wise, there is a great jazz night in a pub, East Side Jazz. I saw Bobby Wellins play here a couple of weeks ago in a proper old Victorian tiled boozer. Good local pubs include The Red Lion (I love the burger there and the Hornsea Pottery coffee cups); The North Star, where friends run a monthly Sunday afternoon social, and The Birkbeck Tavern, which has a really nice beer garden and jazz in the garden on sundays.
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is opening in a couple of weeks, promising a vibrant new park and venue for music and events. It's kicking off with the Barbican Open East Festival featuring Seun Kuti, DJs, lots of Malian music, the Art Car Boot Fair, plus a food festival.
|Char siu pork bunnnnsss...|
Food-wise, we had great dim-sum at the Dim-Sum Cafe in Leyton at the weekend; the chef stretched the noodles in front of us. There's a good Thai and a mediterranean meze type place, The Olive – the basics of what you need in your 'hood! And there are interesting local shops, from a polish bakery to a Viennese style coffee and cakes cafe, plus an organic food stall by OrganicLea every saturday outside St John's church selling food grown locally in the Lea Valley. They also do a delivery box scheme. (My daydream to open a health food shop continues apace!) Theres also a branch of the Turkish Food Centre – a huge supermarket that stocks foods from all around the world including a huge selection of fresh breads.
|Tasty bread at the TFC|
For those who have children, like me, there are good schools and nurseries in the borough. (Our local school has a Good Ofsted rating). There's plenty of green space and lots of mum and baby groups. Plus the local leisure centre has a creche! On our street kids play outside their houses. My neighbour told me this and I though, ooooh, no. But it has such a neighbourhood feel – kids riding their bikes up and down, (polite kids!) and playing pat-a-cake. Old school. Like all London boroughs there are local crime and social problems but so far so good. (I'm on the lookout for something I can do to get involved in the local community – particularly something for the bored older kids.)
|Peace tea on my street, 1919|
All of this and I haven't even mentioned that Westfield Stratford City is 20 minutes walk away! wahaca, Pinkberry, Franco Manca ... COS, Zara, Whistles ... not to mention John Lewis. I had a moment in the haberdashery section earlier this week when I realised how close it was to my house. The downside is that the shopping bug has bitten me. I may need to do a fashion post later in the week to get it out of my system...
Dim-sum photo by Mrs Lister