Ever wondered what do those London neighbourhoods are like?

Have you ever flown into London Heathrow airport?
Unless you’re arriving from the West, thereby ruining the Queen’s sleep over in Windsor (because, like a particularly loud American once said within earshot of yours truly, Why have they built a castle next to an airport?), you’ll be spending the last minutes of your journey bobbing along the winds over the city, cruising from East to West. Those of you that are sat on the right-hand side will be treated to quite a spectacle: the palisade of skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, tailed closely by those in the City, with the Shard south of the river, then Tower Bridge, Westminster, the Eye and the big green blob of Hyde Park. Even at night, even if you don’t like London, it’s a sight to behold.

Then, between these lovely views and the bump on the runway and the usual Welcome to London Heathrow announcement, what remains is a seemingly endless expanse of, well, stuff. Mile after mile of houses, roads, train lines, green commons and the brown river, interspersed by the odd recognisable landmark. The Royal Albert. Westfield. Charing Cross hospital. Southall’s Gurdwara, if you’re Sikh. But everything else, well, what about it? You fly over it, then roll past it on the Piccadilly Line (or on the Heathrow Express if you don’t value your money too much), and as far as you’re concerned, it could very well be another planet.
Ever wondered what’s out there?
Well, let’s take for instance the corner of West London that has been my home for the past five years. If you’ve flown into Heathrow, you’ve seen it. Yes, we don’t score too high in terms of imposing landmarks, especially if you consider that the Overground overpass is one of the tallest points.
But we make up for it with a nice promenade on the Thames that comes with roaming dogs as a standard and is pretty much guaranteed to be a mud inferno, worthy of Passchendaele, between September and May, with frequent forays well into June.
But rest assured, it very much isn’t Little Britain here. Folks voted 75% Remain, here, and the average Joe won’t have a problem admitting that Somerset brie is just a pale mockery of the real dairy gold. Perhaps it’s because we’ve got places like the Business Park, built by none other than Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, who by they way used to be housed a little downriver in Hammersmith, before they went mainstream and relocated in the City, perched atop the Cheesegrater like a bunch of owls with pink trousers. But we’re not bitter, because they’ve left us with a beautiful Business-park-cum-Virgin-gym-and-Japanese-garden where we can work for oil prospectors, big dairy conglomerates, Saudi NGOs, TV outlets and, oddly enough, even the Pokémon company. Whatever they do.

So, here it is what you’re missing. Pleasant, perhaps a tad boring, confidently florid and moderately at ease with itself. Certainly neither artsy nor quirky. Until you meet the family living a few roads down from my flat, that is.

Yep. In my rather nondescript neighbourhood there’s space for a home entirely covered in mosaic including a mermaid, an octopus, a few skulls, a kind of Kali Goddess, Hokusai’s Great Wave and a denunciation of capital punishment (see the Keep the faith heart?), inhabited by a quirky family who I heard playing great acid jazz at 2 AM during a house party. And everyone else seem to be just happy that they are around.
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25 Responses to Ever wondered what do those London neighbourhoods are like?

  1. J.D. Riso says:

    I always wonder about the places between airports and the famous sights. Usually such a long stretch in between. The places where the real inhabitants live. I usually prefer exploring these areas. Sounds like you love your little corner of London. Good for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. MELewis says:

    Quirky indeed! Hard to imagine when you see the density from above how incredibly liveable it appears on the ground (at least in your area). Although however artsy, acid jazz at 2am would not fly with me!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that “your rules don’t apply”. I often feel like that but this person has really gone all the way with their message! 😄👍 I also always wonder about the areas I’m flying over, whether it’s Greenland, the jungle or a city… my imagination sprints ahead so fast it makes me delirious! Great post! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      They really went to town with that house… It’s taken them years! And they covered in mosaic even the pick-up and old Black Cab parked outside. I’m as you with regards to wondering what’s “down there”…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. richandalice says:

    Cool, a post about “real life” at home!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve shared the arty fighting mermaid on FB just recently. (Did I nick it from you? Do I stalk you there?) See me link here from my door post, just a bit longer, meaning an hour or two. It’s a good example of what you can do and do regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Well it wouldn’t take much to give directions to this house! If you were going to the jazz party!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dave Ply says:

    It does seem like with artists, it’s often “your rules don’t apply”. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my head in that loopy, creative space. It does seem like it adds color to otherwise staid neighborhoods.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. lexklein says:

    I’m a huge window seat starer while on the plane, the train, or whatever form of transportation. I’m sure I’ve looked down upon your very neighborhood at some point, but I’d have never imagined that particularly colorful house!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nothing like a quirky family to brighten up a neighbourhood!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. How fun that you live so close to a vibrant attraction! 🙂 I’ve enjoyed touring some of London’s neighborhoods, mostly for markets and pubs, but I would have loved to have seen this on my explorations.

    Liked by 1 person

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