Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Location, location, location

It's not just the title of a brilliant British TV show I really missed in the States. (Selling New York did soften the blow). It's also an important topic of discussion as we plan our hunt for a nest.

Now, I should admit that I have been accused of being a little closed-minded in the past, when it comes to London neighbourhoods. It's all about North London for me. By which I mean, the area around Hampstead Heath. And I say 'the area around Hampstead Heath' but really I mean, quite specifically, Dartmouth Park, which before Ed Miliband moved in was a hidden gem of a neighbourhood. It's close to the Heath, has a couple of excellent gastro pubs, and is leafy and quiet.

I like West London, and East London perfectly fine. I know there are good people, pubs, and parks there too. I even go there sometimes. But I lived so long and was so happy in what one ex called my 'NW5 comfort bubble' that I can't really imagine living anywhere else.

TLOML is far more open-minded (though even he wouldn't seriously entertain living south of the river, thank goodness). Occasionally, to fend off pangs of conscience I look at rental ads in London Fields, or St John's Wood, just to see what's out there. But I quickly scuttle back to the NW5 / NW3 / N6 listings.

A few weeks ago I helpfully printed out and marked up some maps of the area around Hampstead Heath for TLOML. Just so he could apply the same filters as I do to the London landscape. Green are the twenty streets I would most like to live on. Yellow I could, reluctantly, deal with. If the flat was a palace. Red is a no-no. And if it's off the map? Well, it's off the map.
Hmm. Perhaps those accusers have a point. I guess I am pretty narrow-minded.

In my defence, moving to London isn't about going on an exciting voyage of discovery. It's about going home. And home is, well, somewhere up near Hampstead Heath.

I'm not ruling anywhere out yet. As I stayed at the Gambler's pad last week, in the heart of the Eastern yellow zone (that's not an official Ordnance Survey term, but just refers to my map above), I opened my mind to the charms of Kentish Town proper. But it's almost a ten minute walk from the Heath, and I know that sounds silly, but when you're used to being just across the road from it, a ten minute walk sounds awfully far. So my fingers remain tightly crossed we can find a suitable nest somewhere in the green zone.

Meanwhile, TLOML's visa application is safely in the hands of the good people at the UK Border Agency, and he, marooned without passport, is kipping on our favourite New Yorker's sofa. I am in a hotel on Copacabana beach, gazing past Rio's palm trees, daydreaming of grey-skied Kentish Town.

Admittedly my situation is more fun than his, but still, we're both in limbo. And I'm trying to be patient, but oh! I can't wait for the flat hunt to begin.


  1. I had a similar map when we moved here - the difference was I'd never seen any of the places! I did it on local schools and SN, plus affordability (and avoiding guncrime). We spent a dutiful day looking around other suburbs, then arrived in the one we both really wanted already, and bought the first house we saw. Literally!

  2. >And home is, well, somewhere up near Hampstead Heath.<

    So it's OK if I change the lock on the front door of your northern nest now????

  3. Cumulus, I think your search sounds rather more rigourous than mine! And weren't those lipservice viewings useful for exactly what they didn't achieve (finding a home): giving you license to go and look just where you always wanted to end up anyway. Now you can say 'well we did look at other places, but we still ended up here'.

    And Pater-Peter, not just yet please... You are still my official UK residence...