Wood Green has never had the greatest press - a Guardian article a couple of years ago extolling the virtues of living in Hornsey stressed that readers should make sure they were on the right side of the train tracks (literally) in order to avoid being ‘condemned’ to a Wood Green postcode - and the last couple of days haven’t exactly improved matters.
Following a protest that spiralled out of hand into rioting in Tottenham on Saturday night, Wood Green High Street was vandalised and looted, with cars set on fire and shops ransacked, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Thankfully, Kate and I were safely tucked up in bed, too tired out post-Field Day to be disturbed by the helicopters circling overhead, and were blissfully unaware of what was going on until we got up on Sunday.
It’s pretty shocking and saddening as, while Wood Green is a bit scruffy in parts, it’s been our home for the past four years and we’ve never felt anything less than totally safe here.
Unfortunately it’s by far from the only area affected in recent days - but these mindless attacks have led me to thinking about the nicer things about the area, and why we like living here.
It’s not all concrete round here - Haringey has more green flag parks than any other borough and there’s lots nearby.
We have the lovely Russell Park just round the corner from us, Bruce Castle park up the road, and Finsbury Park isn’t too far away.
Our favourite for a weekend walk or cycle however is Alexandra Park - fantastic views of north London (once you’ve puffed up the hill), boating/fishing/duck ponds and nice cafes.
If you look beyond the dreary high street and shopping mall (although I can’t pretend it’s not handy to have a big Boots, Topman, Wilkinsons etc nearby) there are a few gems.
The covered market behind the mall has a decent fishmongers and Kate’s fond of the cheap haberdashery and wool stalls. Further down on Green Lanes is the brilliant Baldwins butchers plus legendary grocers/bakery Yasar Halim.
Tucked away off the high street is the Big Green Bookshop, a lovely independent booksellers who in addition to an imaginative selection of books run numerous events (and also wrote an excellent blog article themselves about the Wood Green looting).
And best of all, on Turnpike Lane is Shake’n’Brow, possibly the only shop in London to notice the glaring gap in the market for a milkshake bar that also does eyebrow threading.
Eating & Drinking
Probably not what people flock to Wood Green for, but it’s not totally bereft. For a special occasion, we love Mosaica @ The Chocolate Factory, possibly the most surprising restaurant you’ll ever find hidden away on an industrial estate.
Nearby is cafe/art space Karamel, which we’ve yet to visit (it was closed last time we tried) but have heard excellent things about.
You’re spoilt for choice for cheap but top-quality Turkish food both on the High Street and on Green Lanes - I still lament the demise of my beloved Lavas, but there are plenty of other options.
For drinks, we like the Duke of Edinburgh on Mayes Road, where on a hot day in the back garden you can almost believe you’re in Turkey, or the enormous Salisbury on Green Lanes.
Local Events & Fairs
2009 saw the first Harringay Food Festival on Green Lanes, due to be repeated next month, which was a brilliant day out with food and drink stalls, music, children’s activities and lots more.
We also had a great time at last year’s Annual Tottenham Flower and Produce Show (sadly not being held this year as the park’s being refurbished) and even walked away with 1st prize for Kate’s marmalade.
In addition, there’s a weekly farmers market at Alexandra Palace, named by Time Out as one of the best in London. Ally Pally also hosts all sorts of events from concerts (we saw LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip there last year) to the darts championships and all sorts of obscure-sounding exhibitions (Dolls House and Miniatures Fair, anyone?)
Stuff For Parents
Not something we had a clue about until fairly recently, but it turns out there’s a Children’s Centre and breastfeeding cafe (a cafe for mums to get help breastfeeding. Not a cafe serving breast milk) just round the corner, pregnancy yoga down the road and numerous babies and children’s playgroups and drop-in centres within walking distance.
And all sorts of other plus points too - great transport links, cheap house prices, friendly neighbours, and if it all gets too gritty then Crouch End and Muswell Hill are just a bus ride away. In short, it’s not all bad, so don’t be afraid to come and visit us.