That was my (Chiswick) week that was – from cocktails to bibliomania
It was a recharge-our-batteries kind of week, which was good as the last few weeks have been manic.
On Wednesday I went out for cocktails in the city, with my best friend (who’s also my son’s godmother). We were celebrating my birthday from the previous week.
I don’t go out very often any more – but when I do I love cocktails. Quality over quantity when it comes to drink.
This is a porn star martini with prosecco shot. Isn’t it beautiful? (And just think what it will do for my Google ratings.)
We were at Zebrano near Aldgate. The City is a funny old thing – every where goes silent after 8pm. By 8:30pm we were the only people in the bar, slurping down the last bits of our mai tai:
So we headed opposite to the Alice, which is a bit of a cross between a bar and a pub – more pub really. No fancy cocktails here so I opted for the humble old gin and tonic:
We’d started off our evening at The Still & Star because it’s soon to be knocked down by a property developer. Doubtless for luxury flats. Because there’s too many olde worlde pubs in London and not enough luxury flats.
There was a great piece in Time Out last week about the gentrification of London, and the old pubs and clubs that have been closed down to make way for property developers.
I know it’s the kind of thing old people say about the town they live in – but London ain’t the city it used to be.
When I first moved here, fresh faced and broke straight from my Oxford finals, London had an indefinable edge about it. No matter what type of music you liked, there was a club scene for you. Charing Cross Road was filled with bookshops. Denmark Street was filled with guitar shops. Soho was filled with strip clubs.
And even if you didn’t like books, or guitars, or strip clubs – you felt as if London was ‘real’ and that there was space enough for everyone.
Perhaps it’s inevitable that as you get older you begin to think that things aren’t as good or authentic as they were when you first discovered them. Maybe for the next generation of graduates who move here they will think London is everything they dreamed of – that it’s teeming with life, and possibility, and affordable housing.
Village life in London
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I like my little area of London so much – because it still retains much of its authentic character.
Of course I’ve only been living in this neck of the woods since 2010 – so perhaps I haven’t been here long enough to see deep set changes. Although even in this short space of time I’ve seen beloved shops go. Remember Dada anyone – the DVD and music shop on the high street?
But the great thing about this bit of West London is that there are still lots of independent shops to visit.
One of our favourite things to do on a free weekend, is do a little bit of a circuit of the book shops and charity shops, stopping off for coffee along the way.
Bargain books and treasure troves
Bookcase on Chiswick High Street has been one of our favourite haunts since we first moved here. We never call it ‘Bookcase’. We’ve always called it ‘Chiswick bargain books’. I don’t know why – it’s not its name. But it sums it up perfectly: it’s a treasure trove of new, bargain priced books.
Chiswick Boy heads straight for the kids corner and sits reading books before settling on his selection for the day.
It’s a great place to pick up reasonably priced Horrid Henrys, Wimpy Kids and Beast Quests to augment or complete your collection. (Why do modern day children’s writers write in series that go on for 100s of books?)
Fosters Bookshop is another bookshop that tempts you to get lost for hours. It’s a smallish shop, but crammed with antiquarian and second hand books. (There are signs peppered throughout the shop reminding you to take your gloves off before handling.)
I used to work in an antiquarian bookshop on Charing Cross Road – my first job after university. And the joy of being surrounded by mysterious tomes and tottering piles has never left me.
Special mention must also go to some of Chiswick’s other wonderful book emporiums: Chiswick Books and the Oxfam bookshop – both on Turnham Green Terrace.
While such great independent shops exist – I hold out hope for London.
What are your favourite spots in London? Which long gone bits of London do you miss?