Mar 102011

Hampstead Garden Suburb

Some people┬áthink Hampstead Garden Suburb is a bit twee, but I like it. What’s not to like about an estate that was created with green spaces and social cohesion in mind? When the estate was created in 1907, two fruit trees were planted in every garden and community allotments were built into the design. Mature trees were kept to give a sense of maturity and hedges were used as boundaries to give a rural feel. You don’t see many estates created with an ethos like that nowadays.

HGS has strict rules about everything from fences to satellite dishes, but presumably there’s nothing in the regulations that say that you can’t do something a bit different with a privet hedge. My friend Naomi tipped me off to this one. As she points out, it’s got real depth to its curves.

Jan 182011

Euston Road, London NW1

There are often mysterious goings-on at the deconsecrated church next door to my office. Sometimes lasers light up the building for no apparent reason, and then a red carpet and some bouncers appear. At other times it seems to turn into some sort of gallery, and it’s never clear whether it’s open to the public or not.

But there was no mistaking Malcolm Maclaren’s funeral there a few months back. Black-plumed horses pulled a sparkling carriage bearing the coffin and black-clad mourners (including Vivienne Westwood and Tracy Emin) spilled onto the street. A green double decker bus blared out punk as the cortege set off for Highgate Cemetery. It was a gloriously sunny day and the ultimate send-off.

Today was another gloriously sunny day – the first, seemingly, for weeks. This time the event at the church was more prosaic – a B&Q press do. The steps of the church were adorned with topiary box and bay and the guys setting up the display were enjoying their lunch in the sun. The Euston Road is one of the busiest and greyest roads in London, but this oasis of green made it seem a little less manic.