Saturday, 26 December 2009

All the small things... 2. Shepherd's Bush Market

Shepherd's Bush Market is for me a little concentrated part of a forgotten London, or rather the London that many choose to forget. It's not a pretty market and doesn't have the over-priced vintage/antique/crafty stalls that many East London counterparts now have. It's a real market with stalls selling produce, fabric, household goods, knock-off CDs/DVDs and dodgy women's nighties.

Stretching from Goldhawk Road to Uxbridge Road parallel with the Hammersmith and City Underground line the rattling along of tubes adds to the many languages that fill your ears as you dodge puddles and rubbish underfoot and breathe in the not always pleasant smells of market trading.

As a budding beginner seamstress (I wanted to put sewer, but that is wrong, right?!) I love the many haberdashery shops that feature and as a lover (not buyer) of tack I marvel at the stalls of useless plastic household items and ornaments. You can also find cobblers, hairdressers, kebab shops and leather goods tucked away under the arches. Be prepared to find some of the best banter too from the green grocers at the Goldhawk Road entrance - when recently buying mistletoe there I was charged "50p and a kiss". I paid his charming toothless self £1.

They recently changed the opening arch sign for the market to a character deprived shiny new colourful one. I look forward to it fading and becoming a bit battered and bruised.

Shepherd's Bush Market is essential to Shepherd's Bush and not just economically. It (literally) feeds the diversity, mess and oddities I love the area for. It also provides the rest of us with cheap goods, a few laughs and occasionally something we need.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Picture This - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

It is currently snowing in the Bush.

I actually missed February's famous snowy week as I was in Dublin for work and the snow only reached Ireland as I made my way to the airport and rather than being home in time for tea I had tea, supper, a number of midnight snacks and 7 bottles of Magners waiting for a flight.

I've just been tweeted a lovely picture of Shepherd's Bush Green by a Bush Bloke after the snowfall in February and I thought I'd post it just in case we are disappointed by tonight's efforts.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Picture This - All I want is a room with a view...

This isn't the best picture in the world and in fact the cleverest thing about it is that I can quote another line from one of my favourite Blondie songs, however for me this picture represents a lot of what I love about Shepherd's Bush and it also happens to be my very own view from my own (rented) room.

This picture is colourful and scenic yet not necessarily beautiful, it is inclusive of many different things and is bright, but is certainly not everyone's favourite view of London.

P.S. Can you spot Wembley?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Picture This - a day in December...

I've long been meaning to start a series of posts with pictures of Shepherd's Bush because so much of what I love about the area is visual. However, I'm crap at taking pictures so have been putting off posting my own poor attempts at capturing the bright lights, odd sights and wonderfully unique juxtapositions I see in Shepherd's Bush every day.

Today I tweeted some cool pictures of Shepherd's Bush by @dadge (who isn't local but seemed to "get" the Bush well) and so I thought it was the perfect excuse to get this photo party started:

P.S.  If anyone else wants to send me some Bush Snaps for more "Picture This" posts then please do.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Spice up your life...Ajanta Tandoori

FYI I love curry. So when I'd arranged a mate-date with my good friend Mo it was also an opportunity to get my curry sweats on. I've been enjoying Indian food for as long as I can remember and for all the wrong reasons. i.e. too much alcohol & Indian restaurants were always open later more welcoming to drunk students, but since I've started cooking for myself my love of this cuisine has certainly blossomed beyond this.

Okay before we go any further it's time to fess up. I'm a really pansy when it comes to curry but really do want to get better and train the palette and I have seriously neglected the good Indian restaurants of W12 and surrounding areas so thus I can kill two birds (ouch!) with one stone - find the best curry house in the Bush and also "man-up" my taste buds!

So Thursday night I met Mo in Hammersmith where she works and after a few obligatory happy hour drinks in
Be At One (a long standing favourite for cheeky cocktails and even cheekier barmen) and then we shimmied up to Goldhawk Road for a meal at Ajanta Tandoori.

Ajanta has all the right front of house ingredients: comfier chairs than your average restaurant, dubious fishtank/artefacts, waiters in dodgy sailor-come-hotel porter-come-straight jacket shirts who move tables, chairs and the earth for you to sit down, and of course incredibly piercing at time uncomfortable off beat bollywood-esque soundtrack. I was in heaven.

Poppadoms were served after asking us "how many?" as opposed to "would you like some poppadoms?" (Tick) and the condiments to accompany them were the usual 4 (onion salad, mango chutney, hot stuff we don't go near, mint yoghurt yummy stuff) plus an old friend I hadn't seen in a while since an amazing curry in Bromsgrove (don't ask) - coconut chutney! (Big tick!). It's the surprisingly red stuff in the piccie below.

This was like eating the inside of a bounty bar as a starter - perfection. I got so carried away Mo had to stop me to come up for air with a perfectly timed quote:

"You've got poppadom on your boob hun". She wasn't lying.

I ordered the Chicken Jalfrezi and Mo wanted to try the Chicken Tikka Makhani which was a dish I'd not heard of I have to admit but she seemed to think it meant mild and I quickly learnt she was as much of a pansy as I was! Indeed the waiter taking our order (who had a black straight jacket on so therefore must be well important) squared me with his eyes and told me the Jalfrezi would be hot. "How hot?" I gulped. "We make it milder." "Thank you." I beamed my bestest grateful "I-will-tip-you-well" smile at him.

I've since Wiki-ed it and
Makhani is a term used in Punjabi cuisine and literally means "with butter" and indeed it was deliciously mild yet full of flavour and funnily enough buttery/creamy so I guess we got lucky as the term "with butter" isn't necessarily a guarantee that it would also be "without tear inducing heat". Phew. We shared both dishes and I was pleasantly surprised by the Jalfrezi too. It definitely still had a kick (a very oniony kick I found out afterwards as did my work colleagues the next day) but it was rich in flavour and worked well with the Makhani which to be honest could have been a creamy Tikka Massala, though still delicious.

One odd thing about me and my love for curry is that I don't like rice. It's all based on a weird childhood thing about it being like maggots that I've never got over. I know, I know I need talking therapy about it. Anyway I often think it works in my favour as I'm perfectly happy with a Peshwari naan and a shared portion of Sag Aloo/Bombay Aloo (one or t'other - am not THAT greedy). And on this occasion Mo actually chose not to have maggots, I mean rice, also and we got our hands nice and messy mopping up sauce with our naans.

They let me take all the leftovers in a doggy bag (another tick!) and the total cost of the meal was 20p over £30.00 which is more than fair enough considering we were both full to bursting and with our over-zealous poppadom order got best part of two courses each plus 1 massive Cobra for me (Tick) and an "all right actually!" glass of white wine for my mate-date.

Mo lives just off Brick Lane so I knew she would be a good co-judge and she was indeed pleasantly surprised that a W postcode could produce such a great value Indian meal with a few of the extra trimmings E1 throw in there (often halfheartedly) to attract tourists. For my Twitter followers I can also report that Ajanta Tandoori also passes the 24 hour test with flying colours! This was the first stop in my hunt for the best Indian restaurant in the Bush and a good standard has been set!

Overall I'm going to give Ajanta Tandoori a rating of 7 out of 10 poppadoms. It was in many ways just how a good Indian meal should be - cheap in cost and cheerful in flavour. My only criticism was there could have been more atmosphere (I think it was too bright/light wheras I prefer dining in a room where a few bulbs have blown) and there was a serious lack of ("verrry hot") hot towels and those handheld table crumb hoover-brush gadgets!

Monday, 9 November 2009

All the small things... Location

I am hereby starting an on-going list of all the small and not so small things I love about Shepherd's Bush.

1. Location, Location, Location.

It is in Zone 2 (for anyone that thinks this is no big deal try commuting from/affording trains from Zone 5 for a week not to mention the drunken run for last train this entails).

It is a 17 minute bus ride to Oxford St (and 31 seconds, approximately).

It is 21 minutes on the Central Line to the trendy bendy sites of East London (if you really wanted to/had to).

It is walking distance from the River Thames (get off your arses and walk people - worth it on a sunny day and you're wearing sunglasses so Thames does look quite so poo brown).

It is a mile and a bit away from the M4 which on the right day at the right time can take you well out of la-la-la-London very quickly (which, dig deep and admit it, we all need sometimes) and on a lucky day at a lucky time you are in Heathrow within 30 mins (on a normal day it will take you this long to get off M4 at Jct 4).

And that's enough of the geography lesson for today...

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Round my hometown...

I recently twittered (tweeted? twitted? twatted?) about applying for my I Heart Hammersmith privilege card after seeing the posters and also getting a leaflet through our flat door. They, Hammersmith London, claim they deliver a business improvement district (BID) to the area. Now don't ask me what this is but it seems to be a not for profit get-up involving (presumably being financed by) local businesses. I'm not going to lie, it caught my eye because the leaflet said something about getting discounts and free stuff and I am my bargain bin loving father's daughter.

However it got me thinking today, despite a hazy hangover, about community and what this means. Now the scheme itself is business backed and business focused which is understandable in current credit crunched climate, however I'd like to think that the initiative isn't solely about business but is ultimately about community - i.e. creating jobs, making it a safer place to work and live and encouraging pride in our area.

London is a very easy place to feel very lonely in. There are too many people here, too many different languages, cultures and social backgrounds. Not to mention the sheer size of the city. I'm soon to go on a city break to Stockholm and still can't believe Rough Guide that I will be able to walk from one side of the city to the other in half hour. It's impossible to walk across an eighth of London in that time. Because of the size, diversity and overwhelming concept of London, it's incredibly heart-warming that all across the capital you can find little but proudly defiant communities. All over there are people, businesses and council initiatives who aim to include, involve and encourage local residents to appreicate, enjoy and share where they live. I could bore you with my personal take on this but hopefully my blog in itself tells you what I think about the community I live in. What I do want to say, before I go back to talking about boys who do or don't call me and the fun I have nightbuses, is how valuable these communities can be to people for any number of reasons - so I applaud any attempt to strengthen them.

Ironically I am actually not within the area specified for this BID so I will take that opportunity to be a voice from outside looking in - also Primark Hammersmith is an all too regular haunt for me and my running routes are all around on the Smith (it's flat near the river innit). As soon as I get my card and abuse all the discounts I will keep an eye on the positives I am optimistic this scheme could mean for the area...

Monday, 5 October 2009

Nothing in this Tiny Town can bring me down...

And who says I can't commit? Week one of this blog and I'm crumbling against a corrupt hard drive on my laptop, a busy work schedule and broadband connection flakier than finely shaved hard mozarella.
But I hope this post will make like Craig David and "Fill you in"...

Last week I was a corporate slave to the job until Thursday rolled around and nibbled me on the butt cheek and my good Northern Monkey friend Kelly came to stay as she was in la-la-la-London for work. I had booked for us, my flatmate Lady and our good friend Bella to go to a gig at Bush Hall, one of my favourite music venues not only in the Bush, but in London, UK and possibly beyond. The attraction was a Dutch musician I had been cyber stalking for sometime, Wouter Hamel. His albums have been produced by Benny Sings, another musical fellow from the Nederlands I've long been obsessed with - in a purely musically appreciative way. I don't know where either of them live (but Holland is small right?).

I'm no music critic, which is just as well as we arrived long after the support act finished. However Wouter (not that I've confirmed we're on first name terms) and his 5 merry men of incredible musical talent stole a small piece of my heart that night. Wouter's voice alone (Sinatra meets Jamie Cullum and has coffee with John Mayer and Michael Buble) could have charmed my socks onto his bedroom floor and yet there was more to his appeal. Dare I say it, there was a strong influence of good old fashioned romance-loaded jazz and swing. Wouter and his oh so subtle accent were surprisingly uncontrived, sweet, warm and sincere and his music was that and much more. Highlights for me were the barber-shop quartet style "March, April, May", the generously jolly song about a friend who parties too hard "Breezy" and then a moment of poignancy when he sang "Tiny Town", supposedly about a small village in Holland where he writes a lot of his songs. I've always fallen in love with places, cities, views, hence this recent compulsion to blog about She Bu, so I understand and admire writing a song about somewhere instead of the usual someone.

Now seems a good a time as any to inform you that I'm not adverse to a foreign male, and Dutchies are certainly not bottom of the list. I left the gig feeling giddy about the music and the man and yet somewhat frustrated as I didn't have his CD to listen to at home as both his albums have yet to be released in UK.

An altogether different feeling was literally just around the corner as we four somehow (ahem) stumbled into Walkabout on our way home. I went from bopping to high quality 40s style croon-along swing to ending the night dancing to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" with an Australian who had an actual shark bite scar. A true "I love the Bush" moment...

Monday, 28 September 2009

Knowing Me, Knowing You...

I am Bird. I am female. I am twenty-something, but certainly not twenty-nothing. I have lived in Shepherd's Bush since 2007. Over two years later I still marvel at the many benefits this Zone 2 hub of activity boasts; the transport links in and out of town, the 24 hour groceries and chaos of Uxbridge Road, the Irish Meat Market (I was disappointed when I realised this is actually a butchers shop) not to mention Shepherd's Bush Market, the fabric shops of Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush Empire and of course recession-defying Westfield.

I also continue to be surprised and intrigued by how many so-called odd balls and "characters" accumulate here (and not just the winos on the Green). At the risk of sounding far from politically correct I'm talking about the unwashed, poorly dressed but incredibly well spoken man in the Post Office queue a few weeks ago who loudly told himself all about his recent trip to Germany, and the woman who wears very little in February and walks into bars openly offering hand jobs for money, or the sweet black blind man who nearly every day walks down my road arm in arm and deep in conversation with a young white guy. They interest, shock, amuse, disturb and sadden me in equal measure. But they play an unexpectedly important role in my life. They bring me back down to earth with a thump. I believe every young, middle-class, fortunate, la-la-la-London-loving, Home Counties raised citizen of the world needs that on a regular basis.

Moving on (i.e. back to me), I work outside of London, am very single, have wonderful friends and family (who are all far too sensible to want to be blogged about so therefore their identities will be hidden with silly names) and I spend far too much money and time on having fun.

And that's all you're getting. For now...

Friday, 25 September 2009

A mush from Shepherd's Bush.....Bush, Bush, Bush, Bush, Bush

This isn't die-hard painfully trendy, up and coming (still?!) East London. It isn't where the beautiful graduates of Clapham live. And though it is West London it isn't Maida Vale, Hampstead or Notting Hill. This is Shepherd's Bush. It is black and it is white, and every colour in between. It is full of mixtures and mixing, character and charm, energy and potential. It hosts an abundance of Polish and Antipodeans and BBC workers (but not for long). It is unapologetically rough around all edges. It caters for the most extensive and satisfying people watching. It is the backdrop for sad and happy sights alike. And it is home.

I am not a writer, a journalist, nor am I a predictable Carrie Bradshaw wannabe (much). I am a virgin blogger (a vlogger if you like). And I am totally enthused, inspired, stimulated, delighted and only infrequently a little dismayed by where I live and the things I do.

And I care to share....