Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Creative walks: Acton Central to Hammersmith

Walk from Acton Central to Hammersmith and get surprised

Independent shops and cafes, well supplied charity shops, lots of green spaces and stunning houses – that’s what 4 km from Acton Central to Hammersmith is full of. You can find it everywhere, you will say, but it’s not just that. It’s about nice surprises that those inconspicuous neighbourhoods hold.

The walk starts at Churchfield Road, an inspiring street that left me with lots of things to think about for the rest of the way. That day I went out for a walk after spending morning and early afternoon at home, so seeing Churchfield Road in its fullness was a real pleasure and changed my mood instantly. Acton Central station is a dividing point between Churchfield Road and East Churchfield Road but it’s the first one that is like a big box with lots of different gifts inside. Its variety of shops and cafes is amazing. You can start with a coffee in Lavelli Bakery or Cafe Oak Tree, have lunch at The Station House or The Rocket, dessert (pancakes and ice cream) at Bake Me, and fresh juice at Angela Malik Delicatessen. If that’s not yet enough you can buy a bottle of wine to take home at Park and Bridge. There are also a flower shop, butcher and lots of different second hand shops that sell furniture, jewellery and other home stuff. In Cape Charity Shop I bought one of best deal of charity shops ever – black, perfectly tailored Massimo Dutti blazer for... ₤10! If you’re looking for a gift, especially for a kid, there is The Village Trading Store. 
One of second hand shops in Churchfield Road
The Village TRading Store
Getting dizzy from just reading about them? Go and unwind in nearby Acton Park just on the opposite side of Acton Central Station. Looking at its vast green space and having a calming tea in the park cafe will help before setting off on the rest of the walk. In this fairly big park there are hills, lots of benches, playground for adventurous children and ponds which are a rare place to observe wildlife in the middle of London. There is a hedge, a large pond and wildflower meadow area as well as many significant trees. Early summer, when Acton carnival takes place, the park gets full of stalls and colourful attractions. All year round you can play tennis on the courts in south side of the park, close to the ponds. It’s free and works on first come, first served basis. Refreshed? Let’s continue. 
Entrance to Wendell Park
Once you leave the park, the area becomes more industrial. You can choose to go east via Uxbridge Road and turn to Askew Road, again full of shops (another Lavelli Bakery here). There is a butcher, couple of cafes and some other places worthwhile. Despite all those attractions, I prefer to walk at the back of Uxbridge Road, via Warple Way, parallel to Askew Road. There are some pretty buildings with lofts and offices to rent. Turn to Cobbold Road. After few minutes you will get to Wendell Park, small but full of people. It’s squeezed in between two streets full of stunning houses. A perfect place for a local community to get together. Cross the park and turn left to Wendell Road where a big surprise is waiting for fan of food and drinks - Leiths School of Food and Wine. I was completely shocked when I saw it there and couldn’t really believe that I stumble upon it in such a random way. How many times I saw products marked with their name in a supermarket but never thought it really existed. I thought it was just a marketing trick. They offer courses for professionals as well as for enthusiasts of cooking. You can learn how to prepare food and drinks but also how to write about them or manage a food business. It doesn’t matter whether you are 13 or 30 there is something for everyone.

Walking through those little streets in residential areas got me to Ravenscourt Park. Not that I didn’t know it was there but I never expected such huge green space in that area. I walked quite fast but I think it took me about half an hour to cross it. It was a beautiful sunny summer day, so kids were splashing the water in a pool, lots of young mums was strolling through and it was like I was outside of London – very idyllic. Next time, I’ll be looking for a park to go to on a weekend I’ll know where to head to. On my way, I noticed a little monument. I read what it said: 
In memory of

Giles Vernon Hart

A lifelong campaigner for freedom and human rights

Honoured by NSZZ “Solidarnosc”

As one who supported Poland in her hour of need

Born 20 November 1949

Killed in the Tavistock Square bombing.

London 7 July 2005

“Be the change you want to see in this world” – Mahatma Gandhi.

I pondered for a moment on life of Giles Vernon Hart whom I’ve just met. I am Polish and leaving away from my country brings different kinds of feelings. I never was a patriot, in a traditional sense of this word, but I can say I love my country and I am grateful to people who shaped it to be the way it is now. I can add one more person to that list and say thank you, Giles. I am sorry I got to know you in such circumstances. Rest in peace. It left me with something to think about for the rest of the walk and I am still coming back to that memorial. There is still so much to learn and discover. 

Leaving Ravenscourt Park behind I walked King Street towards Hammersmith where my walk was ending. The biggest joy of that part was finding an organic shop with good supplies and decent prices – Bushwacker Wholefoods. What I’ll remember from there is that I bought tahini to make my first home-made hummous.
-Joanna Sopylo-Firrisa


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