Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hello Harrow

I've finally done it.  I have moved to London.  Harrow to be exact.  Well, to be more exact, Rayner's Lane - or that is the closest tube station anyway, at just 6 minutes walk from my house.

Chosen for convenience of location above any other factor, it is just 35 minutes, door to door, to Baker Street, and 45 minutes, door to door, to work, in Amersham.  Rayner's Lane has the added advantage of not only being on the AIR CONDITIONED Metropolitan line, but also on the Piccadilly line.

Sure the area isn't cool or edgy like Dalston, Peckham or Hackney are (or Shoreditch used to be) - it is generally quite suburban with the odd rough edge.  There are only two pubs - one is a Wetherspoons, the other a quite rough looking Irish pub - apparently the best gaa pub in town, whatever one of those might be.

One of the first selling points was the street where the house was, all white-painted fake-Georgian style houses, terraced into groups of 6 or so houses, trees on the street, manicured gardens, driveways - all very pretty and welcoming.  Like England is supposed to be.  Pretty much the opposite to where I lived in Bracknell.

Just around the corner, is the main high street, complete with tube station, a Sainsburys local, an Iceland for when I have the desire to eat anti-food, a Romanian shop with hotties and occasional house music playing (no minimal, yet), a determinedly disappointing Tesco Express, a handful of chicken shops, a fish restaurant that might be good, 27 other local supermarkets/off licenses in a row and a variety of Indian-themed places, such as the Indian wedding shop.

And a special mention to the cake shop who told me off for photographing their cakes.  I am delighted that you have put me off from eating buying any as a lot of pounds could have been lost, and kilograms gained.

The area has a very mixed ethnicity as you may imagine.  Predominantly asian, particularly Indian, but a mix of white, black, English, Romanian, Polish all featuring quite highly in the mix of cultures too.

No hipsters, there are very few beards, no unicyclists - in fact, hardly any cyclists despite the provision of actual cycle paths.  They also have outdoor gym equipment in the area.  No I haven't used it.

I was quite pleased the other day to note that there is a cricket ground very close to my house.  A really thumping 6 might even reach my garden.  In fact it is a sports ground but I may well end up watching the odd game there next season, all being well.  They have tables with alcohol-sponsored umbrellas so I hope that means that they also sell alcohol.

Further away from my house, within walking distance, is a Waitrose.  In the opposite direction, a shopping street that Bracknell would be proud of - Argos, Poundland, Primark - everything.  Though as I was walking back through the tunnels under the overpass, and I noted that they had a TV screen before this ugly barbaric 1950's tunnel structure.  I wondered why - it is a view of the other end of the tunnel.  Slightly disconcerting.

Parks are close by, trees are aplenty in the area, and some areas of Harrow are very nice indeed - I haven't ventured to them yet but my landlady did show me on her guided tour that she gave me.  Harrow boys school looks posh, and some of that area looks like a quintessential English market town.

I live in a 3-bedroom house with just the landlady (currently).  The front garden is just a drive, the back garden is mud - to the back of that is the Piccadilly line - quite comforting to hear tube trains, unless one has had to leave the windows open overnight - they are quite a wake-up call.

The house certainly could do with some modernisation in places, and a few little repairs, but it is perfectly imperfect for me - I could have moved into an ultra-modern place that I looked at but I just felt that I would be stepping on eggshells a lot there.

The best part is my bedroom.  Lots of space, a large wardrobe, under-bed space - everything I own, and I own a lot of shit, fits in.

I can see myself being happy here.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Goodbye Bracknell. And Thank You?

It was with excitement that I left Bracknell.  I'm not entirely sure whether I was more excited about leaving Bracknell or moving to London.

The house I lived in wasn't the best.  6 people crammed into a terraced house, thin walls and fire doors, people that would leave washing up for weeks and deny it being them, things that would break - I did live with some decent guys though so it wasn't all bad.  But the amount of times those fucking doors would bang at night when I was trying to sleep.  Not to mention the cat next door that tried to stare me out at the beginning.

There were almost no hot women anywhere.  Whenever I saw someone attractive I really had to double take.  In fact, much of Bracknell is fairly ugly - I say much as not all and I will qualify that later.  I could be snobbish about some of the layabout whales I'd see but I should try not to, I'm not exactly Mr Thin.

There were no pubs worth visiting and almost no culinary scene.  Some of the roast dinners I had there were abominable, others average at best.  At work we tried to find somewhere nice to go for lunch on occasion - nowhere, even in the posh nearby villages was good.  Though Blue's Smokehouse, which I went to on my last weekend was excellent - miles better than the BBQ place in Reading.

Culture was non-existent.  Almost.  There is an arts centre in very nice grounds, but the offerings were fairly unspectacular from what I saw.  Certainly nothing ground-breaking or edgy.

They are actually trying to do Bracknell up.  The centre does look less shit and once the shopping centre is finished with all the predictable shops and restaurants that it will offer, it will at least have something there.

It was at least just a 20 minute walk to work.  And there were nice places to go for a walk nearby.  Despite all the cheap 1950's council housing, Bracknell had loads of parks, lots of greenery, lots of trees - I wish I had had the foresight at the beginning to do a photo album - Bracknell: Beauty And The Beast.

One of the things that pissed me off most was the connection to London.  1 hour and 10 minutes on the stopping everywhere train, after a 30 minute walk from my house - so nearly 2 hours to Waterloo - rarely my final destination.  And not forgetting the amount of times the trains were cancelled or delayed.  The connectivity of Bracknell by rail was poor - dreadful, in fact, when compared to Reading.  Even Reading would take an hour to get to including the walk from my house.  And the last train was something shockingly early like 11pm from Reading (later from London) - I certainly did not trust the last train to actually run.

So nights out in Reading were often curtailed.  But this brought an advantage in that I did manage much more studying on a weekend than could have been the case otherwise.

And that was the point of living in Bracknell - to cut out the commute, and spend more time studying during the weekdays.  It worked.

And for that I thank Bracknell.  Begrudgingly.  It wasn't as bad an experience as I expected.

But it was crap.  Time to live again.