Why I live in Willesden Green: By Alice founder Alice Wawrik’s local tips — from antiques stores to new farmers’ markets

·4-min read
Why I live in Willesden Green: By Alice founder Alice Wawrik’s local tips — from antiques stores to new farmers’ markets

I grew up in Willesden Green and then rented in various places as an adult but I moved back about five years ago to buy my two-bedroom flat. You get more for your money here.

I also like that feeling of familiarity I get walking down the street; it hasn’t been torn down and turned into something different, it still feels like it did when I was a child.

Eating and drinking

There’s a really great Italian deli called La Bottega di Anna on Walm Lane. They make lovely coffees and sandwiches and they have expanded to make home-made pasta and pizzas.

Sushi Masa on Walm Lane used to be owned by a Japanese family and had amazing five-star reviews. Sadly the previous owners moved on but the sushi is still delicious, really authentic.

Delice Cafe, also on Walm Lane, is a little spot where they do a lovely array of Ottolenghi-style salads that you can take away.

The first Beer and Burger restaurant opened here on Walm Lane. Now it’s a small group with branches in Dalston and in Notting Hill but it started here.

Where I work out

There is a man called Dusty Hall, who runs The Bunker Gym in a converted Second World War bunker at the entrance to Gladstone Park. He does boxing, personal training and he’s a dreamboat.

Gladstone Park has transformed into such a beautiful space, there are tennis courts and there’s Stables Cafe, which is in some converted stables. They make amazing cakes so if you’re going for a jog you can stop off for a snack there. That’s balance, isn’t it?

Gladstone Park has tennis courts and Stables Cafe (Matt Writtle)
Gladstone Park has tennis courts and Stables Cafe (Matt Writtle)

For a culture fix

Kiln Theatre is a stone’s throw away in Kilburn, a lot of their plays transfer to the West End and it has got a cinema. The pub quiz at The Queensbury on Walm Lane is hosted by the Dark Destroyer from The Chase.

To commune with nature

Mapesbury Dell is a pocket park looked after by local gardeners. I’ve recently started going to Brondesbury Bowls, it’s over 100 years old and has a clubhouse where you can get a rum and coke for £2.50, and a green where you can bowl.

Bronesbury Bowling Club is over 100 years  old (Matt Writtle)
Bronesbury Bowling Club is over 100 years old (Matt Writtle)

Grocery shopping

There’s an Irish family-owned butcher called O’Farrells, they’ve just moved into a new spot on High Road and they make the best food to slap on the barbecue.

A new addition to the high street is Walnut, a whole food store with loads of fruit and veg. Cricklewood Munro’s Store on Temple Road sells Sean’s Loaf bread. He’s a local baker who makes amazing sourdough and he delivers bread and croissants to your door, too.

A farmer’s market is opening in Willesden Green in August, at the moment I make the short walk to the one in Queen’s Park every Sunday.

O’Farrells at their new home on High Road in Willesden Green (Matt Writtle)
O’Farrells at their new home on High Road in Willesden Green (Matt Writtle)

Shopping

Westland Antiques on Willesden Lane is one of the best antique stores in London, selling beautiful chandeliers and fireplaces from stately homes. It’s like stepping into Narnia. Lily King is a lovely homeware and gift store.

Alice Wawrik at Westland Antiques on Willesden Lane (Matt Writtle)
Alice Wawrik at Westland Antiques on Willesden Lane (Matt Writtle)

Getting around

It’s 11 minutes on the Jubilee Line to Bond Street, Brondesbury station is on the Overground, which is handy for east London, and I take the bus to my studio in North Acton.

Dream street

There are some magical houses in the Mapesbury conservation area but there’s a group of streets named after places in Devon: Dartmouth Road, Teignmouth Road and Exeter Road, that are really leafy with beautiful Edwardian houses. I love it in the summer when all the front gardens are in bloom.

Something you only see in Willesden Green

Zadie Smith is from round here. In White Teeth she wrote about this woman with a stick on the bus and I remember her from when I was growing up.

Elsewhere in London a lot of those characters are ousted by gentrification so it’s good to live somewhere where you still see people from all walks of life.

What’s the catch?

There’s nowhere you could have a late-night drink or a nice beer garden. I tend to walk to West Hampstead or Queen’s Park for a bit more life.

In three words

Cosmopolitan, quiet, leafy

@by_alice_home

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Schools in Willesden Green

“Good”-rated state primary schools are frequent in Willesden Green and there are multiple faith schools in the area too.

Manor School is an outstanding primary while other options include Mora Primary, Anson, Leopold, Newfield, Donnington, and Northview Junior and Infant School.

What it costs

Buying

  • Average house price: £823,980

Renting

  • Average one-bed pcm: £1,360

  • Average three-bed pcm: £2,400

Source: Hamptons & Land Registry

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