A Walk Down Memory Lane

 
A Walk Down Memory Lane

A Walk Down Memory Lane

 

It’s not often that I make it to West London these days, and when I do, I scarcely head further west than High Street Kensington (unless I’m off to Heathrow, of course). So visiting my old neighbourhood of West Kensington is a rare treat indeed.

Since moving to the Canary Wharf and Limehouse area almost four years ago, my journeys take me back to West Ken once or twice a year when I pop into the local dentist’s office for a checkup. Normally I have a morning appointment and am off to work straight away. This last time, however, I booked a leisurely 4pm time slot and took the afternoon off.

Perham Road in West Kensington

Perham Road in West Kensington

After getting my teeth thoroughly inspected (they’re in good shape, btw) I decided to take a little walk down memory lane and stroll past our old flat. Long time readers of the blog will know that I wasn’t particularly fond of our old West Kensington flat, but it will always hold a special place in my heart as our first real place in London.

Perham Road West Kensington

I lived in the top flat of this building

The street, Perham Road, has held up pretty nicely over the years and many of the Victorian-era buildings have received a bit of a facelift since I lived there. The building housing our old flat looks like it still needs some sprucing up though – nothing a little white paint couldn’t fix.

Leafy street in West Kensington

Leafy street in West Kensington

West Kensington is largely a residential area. It’s about a 20-minute walk from High Street Kensington and another 20 or 30-minute walk to Hammersmith. It’s quiet, leafy, and I’ll admit there are times when I miss living there. It feels very “London,” whereas my current neighbourhood has more of a generic urban feel.

Gandhi’s former flat

Before heading back on the tube I turn onto a street about a block from Perham road and happened across a Blue Plaque I had never seen before. For those who don’t know, Blue Plaques are pretty common around London and mark the place where a famous person (or people) lived and/or worked. This particular plaque marked where Mahatma Gandhi lived as a law student. How cool is that?

Walking through West Kensington brought back a lot of great memories of my first year in London. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I have a chance to visit again.

London Neighbourhood Guides: West Kensington

 

west_kensington

West Kensington

This shabbier end of Kensington actually belongs to the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Consisting mainly of Victorian-era flats, West Kensington is popular with those who work in The City of London and other parts of Central London. West Kensington residents enjoy lower rents than their neighbours in Kensington, but are still only a few minutes from all that Kensington has to offer.

Advantages – Good transportation links and proximity to Heathrow Airport, fairly affordable accommodation, distinctly ‘London’ neighbourhood.

Disadvantages – A bit shabby-looking in some places, older flats*, limited greenery and parks.

The Basics

Borough: Hammersmith and Fulham
Postcode: W14
Average price for a 1-bedroom flat: 370/wk
Best For: Working professionals, families, students

Transportation

Underground:
West Kensington (District Line) – Residential area close to Queen’s Club, several pubs, and a Tesco Superstore.
Barons Court (Piccadilly Line, District Line) – Residential area close to Queen’s Club.
Buses:
Numerous buses to Hammersmith, Wandsworth, Heathrow Airport, and King’s Cross.

Attractions/Things to do

Shopping:
High Street Kensington – Located in neighbouring Kensington, this top London high street is just a 30-minute walk or 10-minute bus ride from West Kensington and has a multitude of major international brands, chic restaurants, and several grocery stores.
Tesco Superstore – Large, ‘American-style’ supermarket within a short walk from the West Kensington Underground Station.
King’s Mall and Kings Street – Located two tube stops in Hammersmith. Together, King’s Mall and Kings Street has numerous restaurants, cafes, high street brands, and discount shops. It is also home to the famous Lyric Theatre as well as a weekly Farmer’s Market held each Saturday.
Cinemas:
Cineworld Fulham – 10-minute bus ride from West Kensington Station. This is a large cinema that shows all the latest blockbuster films.
ODEON Kensington – In Kensington, the ODEON is a major cinema showing blockbuster and special interest films.
Parks:
West Kensington does not have any major parks, but is fairly close to Holland Park and Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park, both located in nearby Kensington.
Culture:
Two major exhibition spaces – the Olympia Exhibition Centre and the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre – are within the vicinity of West Kensington and host all kinds of events throughout the year. In addition, West Kensington is very near major museums, including the V&A Museum, Natural History Museum, and Kensington Palace

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*I used to live in West Kensington. Specifically, I lived in this *lovely* flat.

My First London Flat: Victorian Ickiness at its Finest

 

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was packing my bags in my brother’s condo in Las Vegas for the move of a lifetime.  After 12-hours on a shaky British Airways flight, I staggered off the plane into the welcoming arms of Heathrow Airport and the bitter cold of a record-breaking London winter.  That was 2.5 years ago now and a lot has changed since then.

I stumbled across these photos of my first real London flat after Flickr unveiled their fancy new revamp. Technically, my first flat was in South Ealing, but I only stayed there a few weeks.  These photos were taken in an awesomely rundown Victorian-era flat complete with original, single paned windows.  I can’t believe I stayed here almost a year and these photos definitely remind me of how thankful I am to finally be in a modern flat.

Photo 1: The views. Oh, the views.

Sexy?

Mmmm. Mmmm. 140+ years of living has resulted in windows like these. To be fair, it does appear that someone in the last century attempted a paint job (though I doubt it was my landlord).  It’s just unfortunate that they fell short in this instance.  I’m not even going to get started on the grime.  I don’t want to ruin my dinner.

Photo 2: Why you should never attempt DiY plumbing

:(

I can’t begin to imagine how many building and safety codes this would break in the US.  Not only is this tiny copper water pipe haplessly thrust into the tile wall of a shower, but it happens to be a HOT water pipe.  There were burns.  So. many. burns.

Photo 3: Let’s spruce this room up . . . with some awesomely 80s curtains!!!

There are no words.

London landlords aren’t kidding when they advertise their flats as “furnished”. They really come with everything, including their grandmother’s drapes. I didn’t have the heart (or stomach) to photograph the flip side of this floral masterpiece, which was tattered and stained with a mysterious brown liquid . . .

Photo 4: No wonder London used to be a maritime capital. Everyone who lives here has to be a sailor!

Luxury Living.

All joking aside, this is the actual knot contraption needed to keep my laundry rack up. “Don’t you have dryers in London?” people ask me.  My answer? Not really (actually, I have a shitty washer/dryer combo now. Lucky me!). Instead, we have drying racks.  This flat came with a drying rack in the bathroom, where we all know it’s always SUPER dry.  In order to move your clothes out of the way so you could use the sink, you had to hoist the rack up like a sail and tie a figure 8 knot around a handy knob to keep it from crashing on your head.

Don’t get me wrong, I love living in London and I actually forged a lot of great memories in this flat. It’s just that sometimes I find it hard to believe what landlords here will try and pass as livable apartments.  Believe it or not, this was not the cheapest place in the area (West Kensington), so I’m guessing this is also not representative of how bad older flats can get here.