As we may be moving shortly, I wanted to write a list of our favourite things about living where we do at the moment; Crystal Palace in south east London.
OK, so it’s not all perfect. Everywhere is up or down a hill, and the one thing that drew us seductively into the warm bosom of the community three years ago is ultimately what’s casting us out into the cold (house prices). And speaking of cold, it exists in a Narnia-like microclimate up here in the winter and there’s often snow when there isn’t anywhere else in London. Which has made for some interesting calls to work when the trains grind to a halt.
Thinking about moving here? You should, we’ve been really happy here and will be sad to leave. So here’s our ode to SE19 – the 51 things we love about living in Crystal Palace;
2-6. …including the museum, the farm, the two Sphinxes and the dinosaurs
7. Central London is a mere 20 minutes away on the train (and it’s close to Brixton for the market, Dulwich for the Picture Gallery and park, Forest Hill for the Horniman Museum, and is easy to get to The Tate)
9-10. Apart from the supermarket, two of our favourite place to spend time on maternity leave were the Living Water Cafe (really positive community initiative, space for prams and lots and lots of cake) and Domali (again, cake, they don’t recoil in horror as you approach with a child)
12-14. Three things in surprising places; Vintage Hart – a retro clothes shop in a pub, an amazing flat in an old public toilet, and the beautiful old subway under the bus station
15. Celeb spots. While not much can match the calibre of Bob Geldof in Herne Hill and Paul McCartney in Tulse Hill, I have seen a Labour ex-cabinet minister in the bank, and Eddie Grant in a furniture shop. Take that, Heat magazine
16-17. The mast. Although it’s never laid an egg like its French counterpart, it regularly changes colour and does have a magazine named after it
18. The cinema. OK, so there isn’t one, yet, but there should be (it’s something that the community continues to campaign about)
19. London transport is notoriously tricky to navigate with a pram, but Crystal Palace Station now has lifts to every platform, taking it from a complete no-go area to one of the most accessible stations in London
20.The new Crystal Palace food market
21. And while it’s not strictly CP, the lovely West Norwood Feast is very close
22. This ranks pretty highly on my fantasy house shopping list
23. It’s been on a lot of property programmes including at least two Location x 3’s (the opera singers and the young couple with a baby)
24 – 30. Our favourite Crystal Palace pubs and bars: The Sparrowhawk, The Paxton, The Alma, The White Horse, Westow House, the cocktail bar under The Exhibition Rooms and Beer Rebellion (the pop-up beer bar)
31-37. And our favourite restaurants: Crystal Palace Market, Joanna’s, Mediterranea, Exhibition Rooms, Tamnag Thai, Numidie, the Indian Dining Club
38-40.There’s often chat about the commercialisation and same-yness of the UK high street. Not in CP, where Cafe Nero and the pound shop are pretty much the only big chains. There’s Crystal Palace Antiques (where Grannie Gill once bought a table and chairs that resulted in building an extension on her house to put them in, true story) all the furniture places on Church Street and around the triangle, and the Haynes Lane market
41-47. As well as my personal fave the Shelter charity shop, there’s also a whole host of independent shops including Smash Bang Wallop, Glitter and Twisted and South of the River. A shop that sells a lot of cheese. And then there’s the brilliant Bookseller Crow, where I bought all of the first birthday presents
48. The space
49. The annual Crystal Palace Overground Festival
50. On a personal note, we’ll always love it as it’s where we bought our first house, it’s the only place our daughter has ever lived, and it’s where lots of our friends are
51. And finally…the view over London, especially on New Year’s Eve, and at night.
Thanks for having us, Crystal Palace (and let me know if I’ve missed anything from the list).