ANY Australian coming to London will know the hardest part of the whole move is not the bizarre amount of detail needed to set up a bank account (you want details of my five year plan, why?), or working out that Charing Cross is walking distance from Embankment, or the way English people think the way you say ‘Polo’ is really funny.
It’s not even finding a job in the cutthroat, recruitment company reliant, London job market.
It’s working out where to live. Despite grandiose plans to not be pigeonholed by your domestic arrangements it is inevitable once the weekend rolls around, it’s unlikely you’ll even get on the Tube, let alone traverse the city to see that exhibition or visit that friend.
As a consequence, you’ll know the perimeter of your block intimately, and those friends within walking distance to a shared local will be your new family. Your London experience will inevitably be influenced and affected by the neighbourhood you choose.
Therefore, in an attempt to reflect the diversity of London experiences Australians across this city are experiencing, as well as to help you get to know your Aussie Times team, we’re going to share with your OUR neighbourhoods.
Our top five of things to do, in our hood, each week.
Let me kick things off with, in my opinion, the best, leafiest, friendliest and nicest part of town — Newington Green.
1. Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington
Yes, you have read that correctly. My favourite place is a cemetery. Before you think I’ve got London cabin fever, this cemetery is more like an incredible, overgrown, historic wonderground than a cemetery. There are wild trees overhanging worn paths and broken headstones scattered amongst creeping plants reclaiming their natural habitat. Come for a wander, stay for a few hours, examining a unique part of London’s history away from the crowds.
2. La Belle Epoque Bakery
On a Saturday morning, after a weekly commute that takes me from the north-east to the south-west on a daily basis, there is nothing better than waking up late, walking down the street and picking up a loaf of deliciously fresh bread and a coffee from French patisserie La Belle Epoque. Most weeks I can’t resist the incredible window display of cakes, quiches, macaroons and tarts — and will usually throw an almond croissant into the mix.
3. Comedy night at the Duke of Wellington in Dalston
I love London pubs. And with so many to choose from, it’s often difficult to move any further than your favourite local. However, for pub comedy I can’t go past the monthly stand-up nights at the Duke of Wellington — a public house which has been on the same site since 1842.
In a comfy room off to the side of the well-stocked bar/casual general area is where a hilarious MC hosts an every changing line-up of established and up-and-coming comics all for £5. It’s like hanging out in your lounge room — but with alcohol and funnier friends.
Honourable Mention: Snooty Fox in Canonbury is always a rowdy, cosy, clamour of sounds, red wine and trivia nights.
4. Trullo in Highbury/Islington
If you haven’t been to Italy, then don’t bother. Trullo is an Italian restaurant near Highbury/Islington underground station that serves up the most amazing, heartiest, flavoursome Italian food I have ever tasted. Not only that, it’s reasonably priced and has that local, friendly, neighbourhood feel — as if all they want to do is welcome you in from the cold and stuff you so full of good food you can barely roll out the door.
5. Clissold Park
Parks. You can’t have a top five of your favourite places in your area without having a favourite park. Yes, Clissold Park happens to be the park nearest to me — but it’s also just, gosh darn it, a great open space. It’s got ducks, it’s got tennis courts, it’s got a climbing wall (not technically in the park albeit), and it’s got a church. It’s also got Clissold House, and although I’m not sure what’s in it, it does have a handy takeaway cafe attached where you can grab a cappuccino and lounge in the big grass patch in front watching dogs romping and kids frolicking in those rare patches of London sun.
So that’s my London! Next week our writer Georgia Dawes will share her favourite spots in Soho.