So I made my way further east along the Central Line until I found somewhere I could. Back then most people didn’t know where Leyton was; even until the Olympics, if you said (with a little sulk) that it was only one stop past Stratford, you’d be met with a shrug.
And then there’s the thorny issue of whether I live in Leytonstone or Leyton; locals will know that it’s not as clearcut as you might think. My nearest tube is Leyton, and yet my postcode is E11, Leytonstone all the way. So who knows? At least such a neither-here-nor-there location makes me qualified to write about the wider district as a whole – and allows a nice ambiguity with our name.
And the good news is that, as a title, we won’t stop at these two postcodes, either: we’ll happily – and unapologetically – snoop into surrounding areas we love, from Wanstead to Walthamstow, Stratford to Hackney Wick and Upper Clapton. Not to mention Epping Forest, that massive green space on our doorstep.
Anyway, back to the story. Soon after I moved here, lots of my friends joined me too and we idled away many a happy evening at the Birkbeck Tavern, often at the Sunday night pub quiz. We only won once, finally beating a team called JJ Lyons who, until then, had always taken home the cash prize (that night is up there with the best moments of my life.)
Another favourite hangout from way back then was Tepa Thai, a restaurant and takeaway that served well-priced, high quality dishes in a cosy interior with dark wood floors and, I think, green walls. It smelt of jasmine, as if you actually were in Thailand. I still miss it now.Sadly, most of my original friends here have since left the area, and London for that matter, in order to provide their children with, I’m not sure what…fields? But recently a new influx is looking to move in, because, well, it’s still cheaper than many other parts of the capital, although could no longer be considered actually cheap.
They’ve realised (as I did all those years ago) that it’s less than half an hour to central London and, as well as being close to Hackney, the Olympic Park, Stratford or to be more specific, Westfield, Victoria Park and so on, there’s a growing number of great local cafes, restaurants and pubs.
I’ve lived in my little flat off the High Road longer than anywhere else. I’m fiercely proud of the area, and one of its biggest fans. E11 and I have grown up together: it might not be as fancy as other areas of London, but that’s one of the things I like about it. That said I’m happy to welcome new additions to the area like Marmelo Kitchen and Wild Goose Bakery. And I’m sure it will continue to change, but hopefully it won’t lose its slightly scruffy soul; and I’m looking forward to sharing some favourite places, both old and new, with you on this here site.
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