Autumn in the Heath.

If you’re familiar with the idiosyncrasies of English society, you’ll undoubtedly have encountered the odd phenomenon that, every time a major football tournament pops up, grips the entire nation. Chanting “Football’s coming home”, the entire England – from Hadrian’s Wall to Bognor Regis – will decide that this year is the yearand that their national team will bring home whichever trophy is up for grabs. Except that it never is.
The last few weeks have been pretty similar, from a travelling point of view, to the misfortunes of English football: work or private gallivants had been planned, sometimes even paid for, only to sublimate from solid reality to ephemeral desire in the space of a phone call. Resigned to stay in London, I resolved to get re-acquainted with a part of the city that I used to visit every day. West Hampstead.
Chances are that, no matter how often you’ve visited the city, you mightn’t have heard of West Hampstead, and of the Heath, the park that crowns it. This, it’s my firm belief, is because Hampstead wants it this way. You won’t find hedge fund managers boasting about the size of their portfolio; this is a place for viscounts with a passion for soaps.

Hampstead sits comfortably in the very top tier of London’s most expensive postcodes, together with other crème de la crème boroughs such as Belgravia or Kensigton but, unlike them, it’s not clogged with Chelsea tractors driven by Russian oligarch or footballers. West Hampstead is subtle, a place where the pedigree of those men and women in wax jackets and wellies is as long and illustrious as the one of the Wartburg dogs they take out for a stomp along the paths I used to jog through.

West Hampstead always inspired me sympathy for the eccentricity of its inhabitant, for its village feeling and for the constant reminder of that bygone era when everything was “Jolly good”; if ever there was a place where the days of Agatha Christie ever came to life, West Hampstead is it. So, let us start a journey through the Heath, from a side gate off Finchley Road to Parliament Hill’s belvedere. And let’s do it in company of some of the best and oddest newspaper titles coming from all corner of the countries collected by the Beeb, proof that eccentricity is still legion in this country. And guess what? One of these titles comes from Ham & High, Hampstead’s newspaper. But I won’t spoil the fun of telling you which one it is.
Dog gets stuck in TV cabinet
Fury after bus fails to appear
Toilet curse strikes again
Woman in sumo wrestler suit assaulted her ex-girlfriend in gay bar after she waved at man dressed as a Snickers bar
‘Smug’ swan attacks Dalmatian
Grass growing faster after rain
Granddad returns from Cornwall by bus

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27 Responses to Autumn in the Heath.

  1. J.D. Riso says:

    Those newspaper titles are hilarious. My guess for the Hampstead paper is the smug swan. Sorry to hear about your canceled travel plans, but it was a good excuse to explore closer to home, which is never a bad thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      You’re the winner of a smug swan! I suppose it was the fact that a) it was a swan and not a rat and b) that it was a swan that gave it away?
      My hometown in Italy also has some great titles; most are involuntary plays of words, but some other are just golden. Amongst many, some are: “Man arrested in a drug raid for having 1 gram of marijuana”, “Man hurts himself fighting imaginary tiger” and the splendid “Here is the proof that Corrado [male name in Italy] is pregnant”, above the picture of a handwritten note saying that Corrado is indeed pregnant. Note that, being from a doctor, looks like a seismograph.


  2. Anna says:

    I used to love hanging around hampstead heath back in the day. Not only because it would be rumoured David Beckham was there with his young family kicking a football. I enjoyed the park and spaces as well! Lol. I spent 6 months living in Belsize park on my “gap year” so walking up to the Heath was good exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bama says:

    There are tabloids in Indonesia known for their penchant for using bombastic headlines, mostly related to sex. But these days it’s the online media outlets that know how to grab people’s attention by using clickbait-y titles. Among the most absurd ones I happened to come across: “Two young men slapped by orangutans” and “Wife left at a streetside stall”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice! I too love a wacky


  5. I too love a wacky headline. The New York Post has historically had some doozies- Headless Body in Topless Bar.
    These days with a clown at the helm, their have been some doozies- with The Daily News trumping the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Yeah he’s really grabbing the headlines, but instead of causing me to grin, I find myself thinking “what a cocksplat” more and more (btw, swearword learnt from a Scottish protester’s sign shown at his last visit over there…)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the chuckle. The headlines are hilarious, especially the dog stuck in the TV, the toilet curse, and the sumo wrestler. Lovely photos – brought back memories of exploring the heath many many moons ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lexklein says:

    Small town headlines and news stories are the best (and these are brilliant). In my former small towns, there was never much truly newsworthy stuff happening, so the “smug swan” type of news dominated. One of my recent faves included “suspect’s overwhelming gas ends interrogation.” 🙂

    I visited this area once a long time ago – gorgeous place. Hope your travel plans can be resurrected!


  8. Dave Ply says:

    I vaguely remember staying in a youth hostel in Hampstead Heath back in 1980. I don’t actually remember the hostel, but I do remember sitting at the edge of a nearby park watching some lads play cricket, and wondering what possible rules could be behind such an odd game. They did invite me to join in, but I only had about 15-20 minutes to kill before I had to go and figured it would take more than that to figure out the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah Hampstead Heath I do have fond memories of a visit there, way back when I was 20 years old, leaving my home country of South Africa and en route to America for a year (turned out to be a permanent move), the lush greens and peacefulness of that huge park brought me much comfort and pleasure. Feels like yesterday.

    Lovely post. We have no Fall here in Sri Lanka, only wet and dry seasons and I do miss it. Fall is always such a pleasure to behold.


    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Yeah, from the little I’ve seen of Sri Lanka, it seemed that the seasons were either hot and wet, or hot and hot. Lovely to see how many people have memories related to the Heath!


  10. Hihih, these are excellent! 😀 Who says that nothing ever happens there? And the view is not shabby either.

    Liked by 1 person

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