Category Archives: General

Love NW6

Yes, yes, we all love NW6. This is hardly news, I’ll grant you that. But it’s still plain lovely to hear people say as much.

Well, over at Camden Council, they love NW6 so much that they asked photo supremo Jack Latimer to produce a series of videos  showing the world just how great it is around here. A smug Youtube pat on the back, basically.

The videos are a good 18months old, but their message is as true today as ever it was. Just take a look at these happy chappies and chappettes talking up our ‘hood.

Love Kilburn

And while you’re at it, Love West Hampstead

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Football: West Hampstead Wanderers vs Abacus Athletic

Wanderers rack up a point against Abacus

Monday night is football night here in NW6, and this week’s clash saw the West Hampstead Wanderers take on Abacus Althetic in a rematch of the first game of the season, which the Wanderers lost 7-11. But in a rich vein of form, could they steal the points in the reverse fixture. Dan reports: 

Match day 4. Monday 7th February. KO 6.30
West Hampstead Wanderers 9 – 9 Abacus Athletic

When Newcastle United came back against Arsenal from 4-0 down at half-time last weekend to eek out a 4-4 draw, many pundits thought that a more impressive comeback, and a more emphatic capitulation, could not be repeated. Not in our lifetimes, at any rate.

But last night, in a thrilling goal-fest at the Home of Football – Fortune Green play centre – the West Hampstead Wanderers faced an Abacus Athletic side with all the spirit, grit and determination to rewrite the history blogs.

The Wanderers took an early lead after @Talalb01 surprised the Abacus keeper with a long-range effort. The “Mathematicians” equalised, but the Wanderers, brimming with confidence and playing the kind of tiki-taka football that would have Lionel Messi salivating, kept their heads and kept scoring. This reporter’s memory isn’t what it used to be, but the score was somewhere in the region of 5-3 as half-time approached.

Abacus did brilliantly to close the gap, and if not for some outstanding keeping by @DJVectra in the West Hampstead goal, may well have taken the lead. Thankfully, superb goals from @ThomHoffman, @DomChristie and @Talalb01 meant that the Wanderers always had their noses in front.

A close-fought and well-deserved 9-8 victory looked to be a certainty but, with what would turn out to be the very last kick of the game, one of the Abacus players completed a great solo run and shot into the bottom corner of @DJVectra’s goal.

Final score: 9-9. Another strong performance from West Hampstead Wanderers, who really do seem to be going from strength to strength. It’s a long season – and a game of two halves, etc – and there’s still all to play for.

Goal Scorers:
@ThomHoffman x2, @Talalb01 x2, @DomChristie x2,

@MatthewMargot@NickHudgell@NWSixDan 

League standings:

Kilburn Wizards                              P4 W4 D0 L0 GD +14
Abacus Athletic                               P4 W1 D1 L2 GD -1
West Hampstead Wanderers     P4 W1 D1 L2 GD -4
The Gym Utd.                                   P4 W1 D0 L3 GD -9


I wrote this match report for the West Hampstead Life blog. To read the original, or to catch up with past Wanderers results, click here.

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Review: Zeytoon (NW2)

In the 25 years that I’ve lived on the boundary between NWs 6 and 2, I’ve managed to build up an unrivalled un-knowledge of Cricklewood. I have absolutely no idea why this is the case, but Shoot Up Hill has been a kind of no man’s land that I didn’t dare cross.

But last night, struck by hunger and propelled by a new-found sense of adventure, I decided to take the plunge into the murky depths of Cricklewood Broadway.

Now strictly speaking, of course, the Afghan/Persian taste-fest that is Zeytoon isn’t in NW6. But what with it being a 10 minute walk up the road from Kilburn underground station (I’m a fast walker), and considering that dining there was a darned pleasant experience, I think it’s worth the review.

Zeytoon is decorated beautifully with tapestries and tassled rugs, painted murals and Middle Eastern bric-a-brac. The colourful surroundings, the friendly staff and the table lay-out – with long extended-family-sized tables in the centre of each of the two well-lit dining areas – create a warm and relaxed atmosphere.

Freshly baked flat bread

Every few minutes the smell of freshly made Persian flat bread, baked in a traditional Tanoor clay oven in the dining room, drifts through the restaurant. The bread, made to order, arrives at our table warm and soft, and is eagerly devoured.

We shared the Mixed Starter (a selection of any 5 starters, £13.50) between the three of us. The highlight was the Kashk-e-Bademjan, a warm dip consisting of fried aubergines in olive oil mixed with walnuts, herbs and spices. The hummus was disappointing – a little too garlicy for my liking – but the Burani Spinach was a creamy delight.

For mains you are basically faced with the choice of either kebab or stew. My dining companion TC opted for the Chelow Kebab-e-Koubideh, two skewers of fine minced lamb served with rice (£5.95). TC is a greedy so-and-so, but even he was defeated by the generously sized portion.

The Baqoli Polow with Lamb, a speciality served only on Saturdays, was also a huge success. The lamb, so tender that dining companion WC could only assume that it must have been slow-cooked for the best part of a week, was buried in a mound of steamed rice. At £9.95 it is one of the pricier items on a pleasantly affordable menu, but by all accounts well worth the additional pennies.

Lamb and aubergine dominate the menu, and my main was a stew combining the two: Chelow Khoresht-e-Qeimeh Bademjan (£6.95). Packed with flavourful spice, it was just the right side of fragrant – I’d initially feared that I might find it a little soapy by the end. Not so.

Pot of tea, £3

I’m loath to describe the experience as “authentic” because, to tell you the truth, I have no idea what dining in Iran or Afghanistan is like,  but I imagine this is a pretty close approximation, and well worth the short trip up the A5. Good food, good value, good stuff.

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On the Kilburn question

On the tiring daily commute from the hands of one of its anoraked distributors to the train seat/street floor/bin where it will end its journey, the London Evening Standard is dispassionately fondled by tens of thousands of Londoners. And if you were one of its bleary-eyed, inky-fingered readers yesterday evening, you may have already spotted that the property section’s ‘Spotlight’ was shining brightly on our very own Kilburn and Queen’s Park.

The article mentions that property prices in Kilburn are 25% lower than in neighbouring Queen’s Park, and several assertions are made, by the paper and the consulted estate agents alike, that are undeniably true: the area is family-friendly, ever-gentrifying and on the up (read ‘increasingly expensive’).

But one comment in particular, from one Alan Isaacs, of the Queen’s Park Partnership, caught my attention. Alan made the somewhat ominous prediction that, “within a few years, Kilburn won’t exist. It’ll either be Queen’s Park or West Hampstead.” Now, although it is a matter of some consensus that the borders between Kilburn and its slightly posher neighbours are blurring, with the area’s traditional communities being replaced by legions of young professionals, this is, nonetheless, fighting talk from Alan. But there are those who would proudly defend Kilburn, and seek to fight fire with fire.

West Hampstead, I mean East Kilburn, I mean... I don't know what I mean anymore!

Last month, a Facebook campaign to rename West Hampstead and Queen’s Park stations East Kilburn and West Kilburn respectively, did the rounds on the blog- and tweetospheres. This proposal supposedly makes sense, geographically speaking, and is backed-up by a ten-point manifesto, which contains such gems as, ‘7. This will make residents of Queens Park (West Kilburn) and West Hampstead (East Kilburn) feel more “edgy”.’ And ‘9. Having got used to their new West Kilburn or East Kilburn address Kilburn High Road will not be as scary to our more delicate neighbours.’

People got talking, support started building. On March 31, the Ham & High reported that the Facebook group’s numbers had ‘already swelled to 287 members.’ But maybe it’s time that everyone held their horses, proverbial or otherwise. Bearing in mind that 5,000 signatures are needed before TFL will even consider a proposal to rename a station, and that the group has now, a few weeks on, ‘already swelled’ to an almighty 385 members, there is some way to go before the campaign – or ‘bit of fun’ as it should probably be labelled – succeeds in its stated mission.

One thing’s for certain (or at least possible): the battle is being fiercely fought by both sides; on the one hand, the strong arm of tradition, backed by estate agents, with their insatiable thirst for high ceilings and cash-money. On the other, a handful of graduates armed with laptops and a little too much time on their hands. Oh well, at least they tried.

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A walk in the park

Finally, the sun has come out to play! No, I’m not talking about Rupert Murdoch and Co. bringing round their Twilight figurines – seriously Rupert, stop calling – but the actual sun, giver of light and life, shining proudly over NW6 for the second day in a row.

In typically British fashion, hordes of Londoners will be flocking to the city’s many open spaces this weekend, to soak up as many UV rays as possible, sunglasses on and can of ‘original Irish cider’ in hand – shame on anyone who returns to work on Monday morning without a sufficiently lobster-pink hue. And when it comes to selecting a nice nearby patch of green on which to lounge away the afternoon, those living in NW6 are spoilt for choice.

NW6 top pick: Kilburn Grange Park. Tucked away between the High Road and West Hampstead, this little park is a real community gem. It’s got a basketball/5-a-side court, three tennis courts and one of those fluorescent open-air gyms, but most importantly, it has a large green space, perfect for picnicking and lovely for lounging. I couldn’t tell you how many Olympic-sized swimming pools or double decker buses it’s equivalent in size to, but if pushed, I’d estimate two football pitches. And if all the outdoorsiness gets too much for you, the park is an underarm stone’s throw from the Black Lion pub.

Less charming, but actually much more impressive in terms of both size and facilities, is Queens Park, resting in the south-west corner of the postcode. You can play a round of pitch-and-putt golf, take a stroll around the ornamental garden, or just enjoy a coffee (yawn) or an ice lolly (whoopee!) from the cafe.

But if what you really want is to ditch NW6 and sunbathe in close proximity to some celebrity types, then I’d recommend the short trip down to Primrose Hill. The C11 and 31 buses will both be glad to take you – not that they have much choice – and the views from the top of the hill are as famous as the area’s residents, and for good reason.

Alternatively, Hampstead Heath is but a short walk away from West Hampstead, or you could just hop on the 328 bus and alight at Golders Hill Park, where you’ll find kids and adults alike cooing over the deer, flamingos and other resident beasties.

Wherever you choose to enjoy the sunshine this weekend, make the most of it; you never know how long it’s going to last…

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I <3 NW6

It should come as no surprise to learn that I love NW6. If you are in any way shocked by this revelation, then you have surely misunderstood the entire point of this blog.

But we, the enlightened NW6-loving few/many (delete as appropriate), are not alone in our postcodal obsession. In fact, there’s an entire movement – well, an online store/blog combo – dedicated to this kinky hyperlocal fetish.

"my boyfriend moved to NW6 and all I got was this AWESOME t-shirt"

The chirpy people over at ilovemypostcode.com asked both myself and my fellow NW6 blogger @WHampstead if we wouldn’t mind contributing to their growing catalogue of postcode guides. Time-rich (but money-poor) as we are, we obliged.

To see the fruits of our labour, just click here. Magic.

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Déjà vu? That’ll be the local papers

For those of you unfamiliar with the rather snappy little term ‘churnalism’, it refers to the modern practice by journalists of re-using pre-packaged stories, generally from press releases or news wires. It stems from a perceived need, in our age of round-the-clock news, for publications to be completely up to date with all the latest stories, and all on the cheap. It has been estimated that even in the quality press here in Britain, as many as 80% of stories are not original, and that only 12% of stories are generated by reporters.

It might come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that our local papers here in NW6 are practising these same methods. I can’t help but be disappointed, however, as local papers are not in direct competition with the quality dailies. In fact, here in NW6, they’re barely even in direct competition with each-other; the Hampstead & Highgate Express, the Kilburn Times and the Camden Gazette are all owned by the Archant media group and run out of the same Swiss Cottage offices.

On 3 March, I read a story on the To the Commons blog about how Tamsin Omond had stood up to some kids sitting at the back of the bus who were disturbing fellow passengers with their mobile phone-produced music. She had asked fellow passengers to raise their hands if they felt action should be taken. They did, and it was. A small victory for Tamsin and for community-led initiatives. Also a blatant piece of PR, reported as it was on the blog of the political party for which Tamsin is the only parliamentary candidate. So when I read an online article published by the Camden Gazette on 16 March, almost two weeks later, reporting this story under the headline ‘Tamsin makes a stand for peace on the buses’ I was a little disappointed, to say the least.

That was nothing, however, compared to how I felt this morning (19 March) when I read a newly published article on the Kilburn Times website with the headline, ‘Silence is golden for Tamsin’. The same story, with the quotes directly lifted from the original To the Commons blog post, only now a full 16 days after the event.

Whilst I understand, if not approve of churnalistic tendencies, I feel that the point should at least be to keep consumers up to date with the latest breaking news. Copying and pasting pieces of PR, two weeks late, strikes me as plain lazy. The papers named (and shamed) above do contain plenty of excellent articles of local interest. I just wish they’d leave out the churno-padding.

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