There’s a rumour around London that wherever you land in the city when you first arrive is where you’ll end up staying. I’m not sure that’s true since I long ago swapped my original stomping ground of Kensington for the lure of southeast London but it IS true that once you find your spot, it’s hard to lure us Londoners (adopted or otherwise) away. I can’t imagine I’ll be as happy anywhere else in the city as I am right here but I do love to explore. More than 17 years since I first arrived and there’s still so much to see.
A couple of weeks ago I headed off for my counterpart north of the river, Walthamstow Village. It’s funny to think about this part of London and how much its seen a rapid gentrification, since Mr D is originally from this area and said it’s not somewhere you would have imagined being desirable back in the day. Although I suppose the same could be said of so much of the city, including where we live and neighbouring areas such as Peckham and Brixton…
I was intrigued though, having seen it pop up so many times on Instagram and knowing that one of my recent new independent discoveries Smith & Goat had set up shop there so I set off to check it out. After all, if there’s one thing I should be doing whilst I’ve got a more flexible working schedule, it’s getting out and about and taking advantage of the time.
The first thing to report is that Monday isn’t possibly the most sensible day to go and check out a new area. I guess in these smaller ‘villagey’ parts lots of places either don’t open on Mondays or open quite late. And bearing in mind I’m someone who loves to head out early, it felt a little bit like a ghost town when I first arrived.
Walthamstow Village itself is around a 10 minute walk from Walthamstow Central station and is mainly a little triangular area of quaint independent shops and cafes centered around Orford Road. A little further afield lies Gods Own Junkyard for all your neon art needs (which I need to go back for, I knew it was only open on the weekends) and a few people recommended a trip to the William Morris Gallery, again not open on Mondays (see my mistake here?!)
But back to the village and firstly, here you will find the most bouji Spar you’ll ever come across. Well, I mean I haven’t been to every Spar in the country but I’ve never seen one like this before. It’s very much got an emphasis on bring your own containers for zero waste which is fabulous, as well as partnering with local venue Eat 17 (love it!) for locally produced high-end ‘convenience’ meals. There’s even a refillable wine station, I mean!
Food and drink wise, residents of Walthamstow Village and visitors are spoiled for choice but be warned you’ll be competing for space with many, many, many mums and babies or mums and toddlers. I’m not sure I’ve seen such a concentrated collection of parents in one place. I stopped at Froth & Rind for a little beverage refreshment, but their true speciality looks to be a huge variety of cheese toasties at very reasonable prices considering the area. I also spied The Village Bakery which looked more like a traditional café with an original Hovis sign still outside.
There are a couple of pubs which line Orford Road and Eat 17 mentioned earlier was just opening as I headed home but when I go back I’ll go later and stop here for lunch. An emphasis on locally produced and sustainably sourced menu items is right up my and I’m sure all of Walthamstow Village’ street and since they’ve been going strong since 2007 they must be doing something right.
The piece de resistance really for me though and well worth making the pilgrimage for was Smith & Goat. They shop-share with Word Store London, a beautifully curated family lifestyle boutique who if I’d still been running my online kids clothing business would have been SO jealous of all their lovely stock. It’s brilliant to see small independent stores doing so well and if that means more planty goodness then so be it. I came across Smith & Goat at Green Rooms Market a couple of months ago and loved their combination of concrete accessories and beautiful plants, taking a couple of pieces home with me. It’s a must-visit if you’re in the area, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
So what else would I do? Well a weekend visit would mean stopping off at Wildcard Brewery for micro-brewed craft beer and street food all from a car park. Knowing how well my local Brockley Market does every Saturday morning in another car park, they’re definitely ripe for being taken over by local initiatives. I hear too they even have their own local little cinema showing films at the Orford Social Club – what more could you want?
All in all I loved it (even though the many many many parents was a little bit overwhelming). I definitely want to go back so I can explore more and catch all the things I’ve missed. Would I swap it for my beloved southeast? Of course not. Not that I could afford it – a 4 bed terrace, with a small, overlooked garden was on the market for £995,000. I’ll take my 4 bed semi with a comparatively massive not overlooked garden for half the price any.day.of.the.week thanks very much! (Plus, I’m closer to Central London so ya know, minus points Walthamstow Village for being just a little bit too far away for my liking 😉