“Souf” London Living


This weekend, I was talking to my Memom who had been watching the golf tournament taking place over here in Surrey.  She said they showed just kind of an aerial shot of London and she made the remark that she knew London was big but she didn’t realize that it was enormous!

And she’s right!I’ve always been in awe and flabbergasted by how huge this city really is.  The fact that I can go from way south London all the way up to north London on the Tube in about an hour boggles my mind.   Oh, and don’t even get me started on what London looks like from up above as you’re flying into Heathrow… beyond your wildest dreams.So I’ve been thinking the last few days about London in general and about how I’ve been all over the city, backwards and fowards, above ground and below and how there’s one area in particular that I favour over the rest of the city… South London (or Souf, as it sounds). London is broken up into eight postcodes like so: Starting with the green N area and working our way around clockwise:

  • N – North London
  • E – East London
  • SE – South East London
  • SW – South West London
  • W – West London
  • WC – West Central London
  • EC – East Central London

Each of these postcodes has its own appeal and noteworthy “thing to see”.  In North London you’ve got places like Hampstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery and Camden.  In the East, towards the inside, you start seeing bits of the financial district.  South East London has London Bridge, and Elephant and Castle.  (Skipping the SW area for now) West London is where all of the theatres are… London’s West End…. and Piccadilly Circus.  In the WC and EC postcodes you find “The City” and all of the big businesses and banks and investment firms—think Canary Wharf (which I can see from my balcony!)

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Let’s come back to the SW post code now—or as I like to call it, my London.  The SW is where I live, work, play, shop and spend 99% of my time.  You’ve got touristy stuff along the river like Parliament and Big Ben and Westminster, but I avoid all of that muck.  For a start, I work in the SW7 area and live in the SW17 area.  But that’s just a smidgen of SW London!  The SW area is the place to be, regardless of its shabbiness the further south you go and the crime rate and all of that.  Look past all of that.  Let me break it down for you.

  1. Possibly one of the most important parts of the SW London area… Sloane Square which is the beginning of shopping heaven.  You’ve got Peter Jones right there in the square to kick things off and then the King’s Road trundles along with its gorgeous shops and boutiques.  Partidges in Duke of York Square is where I get me (albeit expensive) American goodies fix and I can’t stay out of LK Bennett to save my life.
  2. Wandsworth Common is a gorgeous and very underrated greenspace.  More often than not N and I wind up here with a picnic lunch on a sunny weekend.
  3. Wimbledon Park, also very gorgeous and has the added value of being located near the famous tennis courts.  If you’re in the park and there’s a match playing, you can hear it plain as day.  N and I used to live right down the road from Wimbledon Park.  See item 7.
  4. Because of the whole anonymity thing with this blog, I’ve been pretty vague with number four… this is the area I work in.  There’s lots of French patisseries around and there’s always something going on.  Apart from all of the tourists, it’s a pretty cool place to be.  Wouldn’t want to live there though.
  5. Battersea Park (can’t you tell I love my parks?) is also a gorgeous one, though a bit more mainstream than Wimbledon and Wandsworth.  I like it simply because Battersea Power Station is there and that’s where Hanson filmed their “Where’s the Love” video back in the 90’s (Pink Floyd who?)
  6. Ah, Clapham Junction… we have a love/hate relationship.  I pass through CJ every day to and from work and traffic’s hell and there’s always crap tons of people around and it’s not the nicest area.  But there’s a Debenham’s.  And a TK Maxx.  And a Costa Coffee and Jamie Oliver’s Recipease and a Waterstone’s book store.  So even on a weekend when I don’t have to be there, I usually end up making a trip out for some retail therapy or a coffee.  Love it or hate it, CJ is a daily part of my life.
  7. Southfields—where N and I lived together (with his mum) for the first time.  I’m really sentimental about Southfields… it’s a cute little area and it has this village-y vibe to it even though it’s a London burb.  There’s a few good restaurants about and it’s super easy to get to Wimbledon.
  8. The Clapham Common area is pretty up and coming these days–lots of little swanky bars and fantastic restaurants (especially Bodean’s which does American ribs and such).  The common itself is okay but the surrounding streets remind me a lot of Bardstown Road/Baxter Avenue.  And I absolutely adore the Clapham Picture House.
  9. and 10.  I couldn’t get Wimbledon and Tooting Broadway to fit in on the map but they totally merit their own section.  Wimbledon’s nice except for all of the teenagers loafing about.  Good shopping and coffee there.  Tooting Broadway, however, is a world of its own.  It’s Little India, Little Pakistan and Little Iran all rolled into one.  And you wouldn’t think it would work but god does it!  I haven’t seen so many different types of spices/foods in my life… I’ve seen sheep’s head in the butchers’ and pretty much every spice known to man.  I LOVE Tooting.

I live amongst all of these different places and I love it.  I think if I had to live in London (which I do right now) I definitely wouldn’t choose any other area.  I like being “souf” of the river–people are a bit more chill and laid back here.  Things are much more unique and one off.  And sure, the crime’s a bit crap but I think it’s worth it to live here.  And actually where we live is 10x better than five years ago… so I’m cool with that.

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3 thoughts on ““Souf” London Living

  1. Yay for Tooting! The only place where I’ve seen pensioners get into a fight outside the bingo hall that’s so bad the police have to break it up. Or you’re at a crappy pub comedy night and then the owner comes upstairs excited cos he’s cornerd Stephen K Amos, who was enjoying a peaceful drink downstairs and now you’re enjoying a professional for £3. Or, most importantly, where my 5’2″ self is considered a normal height and clothes are sold to reflect that 🙂

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