Five things

For Sherry. Five things you can do in my home town. Scratched my head a little; what’s my home town? Is it Kingsbury, London NW9? Or is it London Town? No matter, I’ll do both.

Enjoy Thai iced coffee whilst people-watching at Oriental City, NW London.
(Taken with cameraphone)

Five things you can do in London NW9:

You can immerse yourself in the life that is our High Street. Start at the Kingsbury tube station end on the right hand side and walk up and pop into all the interesting little shops: grocers, meat shops, pound shops, sari shops, party stuff shops, haircut shops, fast food shops, key cutting shop, Internet shops, pots and pans shops, school uniform shop, Iraqi shop, Sri Lankan shop, Gujurati shop. When you get to the second hand cars shop – cross the road and walk back down the High Street on the other side. When you get back to near the station you can pop into the tiny little run-down arcade that accommodates even tinier little shops – and right at the back you will find a little gem of a place called Udupi Palace where you can sit at a tiny little table in a tiny little room and order yourself the yummiest masala dosa in the West with a cup of tea for under 4 pounds.

You can experience the best view in the whole of London from the very front of the top deck of the Route 79 bus. Take your music player with you, to the southbound bus stop on Honeypot Lane near Kingsbury Circle. When you get your seat, put your music on and watch real London scrolling by. If you don’t have a music player, you could instead try to count how many security cameras you will have been captured on as you make your way through Preston Road, Wembley and Ealing Road. Get off at Alperton tube station.

You can escape to the Far East by popping into the food court at the Oriental City shopping mall. There, you can lunch on a choice of over a thousand different dishes; Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Indian, Thai, and eat your choice on very ordinary tables and chairs in a big communal area where you can spend the whole day just watching all types of people.

You can get a very good feel for a typical London suburb, where typical Londoners live, and the types of houses they live in, by being driven around the London NW9 neighbourhood on your way to a the local ASDA supermarket. If you take a video camera with you, you could film the view from the rear windscreen, and then sort of time-lapse it afterwards and load it up on YouTube for everyone to see.

You can get Internet for free if you choose to live here. 6 different unsecured Wireless LANs detected from my computer desk in my bedroom.

And In London Town:

You can experience a “white-knuckle” ride on the tube on the Eastbound Piccadilly Line between Acton Town and Hammersmith. Hold Tight! When you get to Hammersmith, you can get off and walk down to the riverside and sit on a bench and just watch the river and people passing by.

You can take a leisurely walk down Piccadilly towards Soho, soaking up all the history, grandeur and glitz that is Central London and end up at the New World Chinese restuarant where you can enjoy fantastic Dim Sum at great price. (Take a Cantonese-speaking friend with you though.)

You can go to a place where the tourists are gauranteed not to go: Woolwich. There you can grab a stodgy donut at the very first McDonalds restaurant to open outside North America before making your way to the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, where you can take an eerie (strange effect on your ears) walk under the river Thames to a place called North Woolwich, which is the most depressing place in London. However, strangely you can catch a train here (North London Line) and end up in Richmond.

You can go to a little sanctuary in the middle of Richmond Park called Isabella Plantation where you can have yourself a very nice picnic.

You can enjoy a breathtaking car journey on London’s best urban highway: the A40 Westbound from Hanger Lane Gyratory all the way to Junction 2 of the M40 – where you can pass through Slough towards Maidenhead and find a little village called Dorney, where you can find a spectacular man-made rowing lake called Dorney Lake. There you can just sit by the water’s edge and meditate.

Favourite elements

A young family of four on the top deck of the 79 bus the other day. The conversation started by the not-quite-teenage young boy who had obviously just learned about the Periodic Table of Elements at school. His younger sister, perhaps not quite 8 years old sitting next to him:

Boy to Father: “Dad, What’s your favourite element?”
Father: “Oxygen.”
Boy: “Why?”
Father: “It’s what I need to breathe and stay alive.”

Daughter: “My favourite is Calcium, ‘cos I like Yoghurt”
Boy to Mother: “What’s your favourite Mum?”
Mother: “Diamond. And Gold.”
(Father tuts and raises eyebrows.)
Father to Son: “So what’s your favourite?”
Boy: “Xenon”
Father: “Why?”
Boy: “Because it sounds cool.”

Oh, to be young again.

Murder board

It’s not very pleasant to come across them when out and about in London. Especially not when you do so in your own neighbourhood:

Not very nice to see this sort of sign practically on your own doorstep.
(Taken with cameraphone in my local North West London High Street.)

Some time back Londonist referred to them as “murder boards” – although in my case above it’s not a murder as such. That was when there was talk that the Metropolitan Police were going to scrap them because they caused too much public anxiety. As far as I’m aware there seem to be more of them than ever. Perhaps it is a sign of the times. Perhaps so. Because a little bit of digging around the website of my local London Borough Council (Brent) provides some clue as to the state of behaviour on the streets round here. It does make very disturbing reading:

From Police witness appeals for last week: Woman manages to bite the hand of a hoodie who attacked her. 17 year old gets beat up by 15 hoodies who steal his Nokia 8310 mobile phone.

From the week before: Pizza delivery guy gets gashed in face by hoodies who stole his Nokia 6280 mobile phone. Young Spanish tourist had her rucksack stolen, in it were loads of money, camcorders etc. Italian tourist gets punched after having had a tomato thrown at him and demanding his mobile phone. Teenager on bus gets punched in face by hoodies who stole his Nokia 6230 mobile phone. Bloke gets punched and kicked by gang who stole his Apple iPod and cash. A man caught up in a “large” disturbance in Ealing Road area will lose his arm after enduring serious injuries – numerous weapons, baseball bats, sword, axe, recovered by Police.

More from the week before that, and the week before that.


Walk to school

Today was the first day of of the Autumn term for many primary school children in London. And predictably, the traffic levels on the roads spiked considerably as many parents ushered their kids to school in their cars and MPVs during the rush hour. The last 6 weeks of summer-holiday heaven for car-commuters has come to an end. And although I try to avoid driving to work if I can, today (for specific reasons) I had little choice but to join the school-day traffic on my way to work. So it’s kind of nice when, as you’re sitting there in a traffic jam in the suburbs, to notice that not every parent is unnecessarily clogging up the roads taking their kids to school, and walking them to school instead.

Nice to see some parents walking to school instead of driving …
(Taken with cameraphone whilst stuck in a traffic jam in Greenford West London.)

I have to admit there are many people who also have no choice but to drive their kids to school, but since I live practically next door to a bunch of schools myself, I have personally witnessed too many who do so, who really do not need to. (Sigh.)