Why I live in Drayton Park: The Witcher’s Anna Shaffer on the foodie neighbourhood she calls home

·4-min read
Anna Shaffer on the ‘dream street’ Highbury Terrace Mews, set just back from Highbury Fields  (Adrian Lourie)
Anna Shaffer on the ‘dream street’ Highbury Terrace Mews, set just back from Highbury Fields (Adrian Lourie)

I live in a one-bedroom flat with my husband, Jimmy, on a Victorian terraced street. It’s quite leafy and suburban despite being parallel to the hustle and bustle of Holloway Road.

I love that our neighbours have all lived here forever and there’s a real sense of old-school community (and old school nosiness).

We only moved in last year but both grew up down the road; me in Hornsey and Jimmy in Angel.

When we were looking for places it was important to be close to Hector’s, our wine bar in De Beauvoir that opened last June, so Jimmy could dart back and forth.

Queues for a reason: Le Péché Mignon on Ronalds Road (Adrian Lourie)
Queues for a reason: Le Péché Mignon on Ronalds Road (Adrian Lourie)

Best eating and drinking

One of the most exciting things about moving here was being so close to Xi’an Impression, the cult Chinese restaurant opposite Emirates Stadium serving all-killer-no-filler dishes in a modest canteen.

Walking distance in the other direction is Westerns Laundry, which has been one of my favourite London restaurants since it opened in 2017. For take-out it has to be Sambal Shiok on Holloway Road; the Malaysian laksas will blow your head off.

For breakfast there’s Le Péché Mignon on Ronalds Road, a French cafe serving pastries, sandwiches and very bitter, very strong coffee. There are queues for a reason.

Anna Shaffer at Hector’s wine bar in De Beauvoir which she and her husband Jimmy opened last June (Adrian Lourie)
Anna Shaffer at Hector’s wine bar in De Beauvoir which she and her husband Jimmy opened last June (Adrian Lourie)

For a culture fix

I don’t think anything could be more deeply embedded in the cultural identity of Drayton Park than football. Emirates Stadium has been home to Arsenal for the past 25 years and before that they were a stone’s throw away in the Arsenal Stadium.

You can hear the chants reverberating on match day and it’s impossible not to get swept up in the joy of it all. Just don’t tell my dad — I am technically meant to be a Tottenham supporter.

Take in a game at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium (Adrian Lourie)
Take in a game at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium (Adrian Lourie)

To commune with nature

We’re lucky to have Highbury Fields and Clissold Park close by. In the summer they come alive with people and the sound of ice cream vans but I prefer it in the colder months, wrapped up warm and doing laps around the green, eyeing up the terraced houses that could be straight out of an Austen novel.Where I work out

The parks are perfect for running in but I usually need someone screaming at me or exercise is not going to happen. I’ll hop on the train from Drayton Park to Moorgate for Barry’s Bootcamp or walk down to Angel for Rebel 1. I love hot yoga at Hotpod in Hackney, too, which is a few stops away on the Overground.

Da Mario deli, a walk across Highbury Fields from Drayton Park (Adrian Lourie)
Da Mario deli, a walk across Highbury Fields from Drayton Park (Adrian Lourie)

Grocery shopping

Provisions on Holloway Road is a one-stop shop for European produce. Opposite there’s a brilliant Chinese supermarket called Hing Yip to keep the freezer topped up with dumplings. Further down the road there’s a Sainsbury’s Local for the weekly shop and satiating my addiction to their taramasalata. On a sunny day, I’ll walk across Highbury fields to Da Mario deli to marvel at the handmade ravioli behind the counter, then loop back home down Blackstock Road to earn second helpings for dinner.Getting around

I love walking. I think in London anything less than an hour’s walk is doable and you’ll always have some sort of adventure on the way. The only problem is my terrible timekeeping, which means I rely on the Tube a lot. Luckily, we have Highbury station, Holloway Road and Drayton Park close by. We’ve got the Victoria and Piccadilly lines so it’s easy for me to get into town for meetings and auditions and I can also walk down to Hector’s in about 20 minutes.

Dream street

Highbury Terrace Mews is just set back from Highbury Fields with covetable houses that often appear in The Modern House. When we weren’t living in the area I’d walk down with stars in my eyes. I guess we are edging closer.

Something you only see in Drayton Park

Walking against the flow of thousands of football fans marching down your road can be intimidating, but if you leave the flat just as food stalls are setting up you can’t beat the smell of fried onions. Escaping back home you can’t help but think, ‘God I love this bonkers place’.What’s the catch?

The house prices, but I think that’s true of everywhere in London. We’re renting and it’s hard not to feel resentful of being priced out of where we grew up.

In three words

Warm. Playful. Buoyant.

Schools

There are several primary schools in Drayton Park rated good, including Drayton Park Primary School and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School. For secondary education, Highbury Fields School is rated outstanding whilst St Mary Magdalene Academy, which catersto primary and secondary education, is deemed good by Ofsted.

What it costs to live in Drayton Park

Buying

  • Average flat price: £716,078

  • Average house price: £1,766,486

Renting

  • Average flat: £1,834 pcm

  • Average house: £3,888

Source: Savills

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