Welcome to Limehouse

 

welcometolimehouse

Welcome to the neighbourhood everyone! Today I want to introduce you all to Limehouse, the little section of London I’ve called home for the past two and a half years.

Straddling the line between the glossy skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and The City of London, Limehouse is a cosy community wrapped around a small basin full of canal and leisure boats.

Limehouse Basin

Limehouse Basin with Canary Wharf in the background.

Canal in Limehouse

Canal in Limehouse looking towards Canary Wharf

We Limehousians (that’s what I’m calling us) get our own little DLR station that connects us to Canary Wharf to the east, Greenwich to the south, and Tower Bridge and Bank to the west. These transport connections make the neighbourhood especially popular with finance folk (my other half included), who enjoy an easy 10-minute commute to the offices in either Canary Wharf or The City.

Among Limehouse’s many charms is its maritime heritage. The architectural aesthetic in this part of London, which extends out to the Docklands, Greenwich, and Wapping, is decidedly different from the prim and proper Victorian and Georgian town homes of West London.

In contrast to the leafy residential streets that sprung up during the height of Britain’s imperial might, Limehouse was a gritty rough and tumble area where ships docked to offload goods from far away lands. Narrow Street, a pretty thoroughfare running parallel to the River Thames, keeps much of this hearty history alive through its well preserved facades.

Narrow Street

St. Dunstans Wharf, Narrow Street

Narrow Street

Sailmaker House, Narrow Street

Limehouse Wharf, Narrow Street

Limehouse Wharf, Narrow Street

While the stevedores, sailors and opium dens (this was the site of London’s original Chinatown) are long gone, Limehouse still boasts one pub that can trace its origins back over 500 years. The Grapes, a watering hole teetering on the banks of the River Thames, is one of the city’s oldest pubs and was even mentioned in a Dickens novel. It’s front door almost entirely obscured by overflowing flower pots in summer, I’ll admit to slipping in for a weekday lunch here and there.

Limehouse, of course, isn’t without its flaws. Some would probably argue that the hodgepodge of modern apartment buildings takes away from the charm of the area. Others point to the lack of amenities in the area. Aside from The Grapes, there are only one or two other pubs in the area and very few cafes. There is only one major supermarket here, one dry cleaner, and not much else on the shopping front.

As a neighbourhood to call home, Limehouse doesn’t fit the London stereotype. It’s not as chic as Kensington, not as trendy as Camden, and not as artsy as Shoreditch. With easy transport links, water views, and quiet residential streets, Limehouse is, however, just right for me 😉

The Narrow

Gordan Ramsay’s pub ‘The Narrow’ on Narrow Street

Get into the Holiday Spirit! A Guide to Christmas Markets in London

 

Southbank-Christmas-Market-London-England

There’s no place better than London to count down the days until Christmas. If you’re looking for a festive holiday experience with great shopping, seasonal food and good cheer, then look no further than the Christmas Markets in London. They’re a fun spot to find unique gifts, handmade crafts and warm up with a mulled wine. From the biggest and boldest to the best views, check out my latest post for London Perfect for a roundup of the best Christmas markets in the city.

Inside Canary Wharf Crossrail Station During Open House London

 

At the start of every autumn, the great buildings of London open their doors to curious travellers and urban explorers. While most of these grand structures boast a long and illustrious history, others are architectural infants.

For those who don’t know, London’s Crossrail project is the largest transportation construction undertaking in Europe and will eventually link Stratford on the outer bounds of East London to West London, and all the way through to Heathrow Airport and Reading.

One of the largest stations on this network will be the Canary Wharf Crossrail Station. Located in the heart of Canary Wharf, it will share an interchange with the Canary Wharf Underground Station (Jubilee Line), and Canary Wharf DLR Station, thus transforming London’s financial hub into a transport heavyweight (property investors, take note).

While Crossrail itself won’t be operational until 2018, parts of the Canary Wharf Crossrail Station will be open to the public as soon as next year. During this year’s Open House London, I was able to get a sneak peak and how the station is shaping up.

Close-up of the roof

The station’s most distinguishing feature is its elaborate roof, which is framed by a lattice of wooden beams constructed in Austria. In many ways its facade is reminiscent of another famous building in London, the Gherkin. If I understand correctly, the two structures were designed by the same firm.

This wider view of the roof shows you just how close the station is to the office towers of Canary Wharf. There is a covered walkway in place that connects it directly to Canary Wharf’s existing shopping complex.

Ticket Hall

The ticket hall (pictured above) probably won’t be open next year considering the fact that there will be no trains running through the station. However, it appears to be shaping up nicely.

canary_wharf_interior

The photo above gives you an idea of what the main floor will look like. This part, which is something of an urban park, will be open next year and will have three retail floors below it.

Finally, here’s a shot of the southern view from the main level. The line of track you see is the DLR. To the left (not pictured) is Canary Wharf DLR and on the right edge of the photo you can see West India Key DLR. If you look very closely, you can see the Gherkin in the background of the shot.

One of the great things about living in Canary Wharf is that you are close enough to Central London (10 min from Bank, 15 min from Waterloo) to enjoy the old bits of town, but you also get to witness what is practically a whole new city spring up from the ground.

Falling for Clapham Junction

 

Modern flats, a bustling high street, and a short commute to the City – could there be such a place in London? Up until I visited Clapham Junction a few days ago, I thought not.

Clapham Junction is a major rail and overground station in Southwest London (Zone 2). It’s located roughly across the river from Chelsea and Fulham, and is just 8 min. from Waterloo by rail. Total commute time to the City and Canary Wharf is 20 min. and 30 min., respectively. While getting to Heathrow is a bit of a challenge, Clapham Junction benefits from direct trains to Gatwick.

“Battersea Reach” between Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Town

To the north of the station along the river are a series of gorgeous modern flats surrounded by pedestrian walkways and lovely landscaping. Back towards the rail station, Lavender Hill acts as the neighbourhood’s high street. There you’ll find an enormous Debenhams (like Macy’s, for you US folks), TK Maxx, Whole Foods, Little Waitrose, Asda, and Lidl, in addition to all the usual high street shops.

Lavender Hill – I love the architecture.

What I really loved about the area was that while it had nice modern sections like Canary Wharf, Clapham Junction has a lot more soul. Lavender Hill in particular stole my heart with its shops, cafes, and pubs. I also love how Central London is just 8 min. away and, if you really felt like it, you could walk (or bike) just 2 miles to reach South Kensington via Battersea Bridge. How awesome is that?

Now that I have myself convinced, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: PRICE.

Debenhams on Lavender Hill

Compared to Canary Wharf, my current part of town, the flats in and around Clapham Junction are ever so slightly cheaper. It should also be noted that council tax in Wandsworth is considerably lower than in Tower Hamlets, so even if the rental rate between flats in the two areas were the same, the Clapham flat would end up being cheaper due to its lower council tax rate.

So . . . Clapham’s slightly cheaper and has loads more charm than Canary Wharf. The only thing it loses out on is commute time. Right now I’m 5 min. away from Bank and less than 5 min. away from the centre of Canary Wharf. That’s pretty tough to beat considering the fact that my other half works in the City. I’m also currently in a lease and while I have the option of breaking it without penalty, moving is a huge hassle. Without a valid reason (other than liking one neighbourhood more than the other), I probably won’t be headed to Clapham Junction anytime in the near future. However, it will certainly be high on my list of places to check out once my lease does expire at the end of the year.

 

 

London Neighbourhood Guides: Canary Wharf

 

Canary Wharf

Image Credit: http://fineartamerica.com

One of the most popular areas for expats and working professionals, Canary Wharf and the Docklands in East London is the city’s new financial centre. The gleaming futuristic neighbourhood feels more like North America than England, and offers great transportation links, shopping facilities, restaurants and more. What Canary Wharf lacks in history and culture, it makes up for in convenience.

Advantages – Modern living, good infrastructure, 5-10 min to Central London, generally safe neighbourhood

Disadvantages – Costly, 30+ minutes from West London, 1+ hour from Heathrow and Gatwick airports, fewer cultural attractions

The Basics

Borough: Tower Hamlets
Postcode: E14
Average Price for a 1-bedroom flat: 350/wk
Best For: Professionals and couples without children working in Canary Wharf or The City

Transportation

Canary Wharf and the Docklands is serviced by the London Underground, Docklands Light Rail (DLR), Thames Clipper, and numerous buses.

Underground:
Canary Wharf (Jubilee Line)
Docklands Light Rail (DLR):
Canary Wharf, Heron Quays – Direct access to shopping facilities and restaurants
South Quay – Popular high-rise development area within walking distance to shopping, restaurants, parks.
Crossharbour, Mudchute, Island Gardens – Popular low-rise development area, close to a large ASDA, parks and Greenwich.
Thames Clipper:
Canary Wharf Pier – Access to Greenwich and Central London (Westminster, London Eye)
Buses:
Many

Attractions/Things to do

Shopping:
Canada Place/Jubilee Place/Churchill Place/Cabot Square Mall – Large underground shopping mall with numerous High Street stores (Reiss, Jaeger, Topshop, Accessorize, Hugo Boss), supermarkets (Waitrose, Tesco) and restaurants (Pret, Nandos, Wildwood, Wagamama, GBK).
Cinema:
Cineworld – West India Quay
Parks:
Jubilee Park Gardens
Mudchute Park and Farm
Millwall Park
Culture:
Canary Wharf is a private estate that hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year. These include comedy nights, dancing lessons, special exhibits at the Museum of the Docklands, car shows and farmers markets.

Map:


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