In idle moments, you may have wondered where exactly I live and what it’s like…and well, if you haven’t before now then I hope you’re interested, because this entry is going to be an overview of life in Leyton, which is the place I fondly call home…for now. (And thankfully it is a temporary stay because my neat-freak Czech housemate is driving me up the walls…)
This my house on Sedgwick Road in Leyton, an outer East London suburb – it’s otherwise known as E10. Put simply, I really like the area, and from the moment I arrived in Leyton I felt like I could easily live there. It’s a pretty convenient location for one thing, being four stops from Liverpool Street station on the Central Line (there will be more about train travel in a future post, in true Londoner style…I’ll explain later).
It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a place where you can hear children singing off-key through the walls and have neighbours’ cats crawling into your home via an open bathroom window…but it hasn’t been too hard to adjust given I lived in flats in Lakemba and Wiley Park once upon a time. Attached houses are really common in London which is short on accomodation and space. (The picture below is of a house on my street which has been solely included here because of the blossoms – yay spring!)
One thing I’ll definitely take away from my experience of living in London is renewed appreciation of low-density housing and wide streets, even if does cause massive planning problems later on! The picture of the electric pole below may suggest to you how close together the houses are. I took the photo on Colchester Road in Leyton, which is where we lived for a month before moving to Sedgwick Road which was closer to the Tube station.
I think of Leyton as being a bit like Ashfield in Sydney, which is solely based on the fact that, like Ashfield, it’s quite multicultural – though as a matter of fact, it’s a lot more multicultural than Ashfield so actually it’s nothing like it at all…
On Leyton High Street you’ll find amongst other things: Somali net cafes, a mosque, South African shops selling stuff like ‘biltong’ (jerky), Polish and Lithuanian shops, Turkish-run off licenses, dodgy Anglicised Chinese, excellent Indian diners, Pakistani supermarkets, a cosy public library, Afro-Carribean takeaways where you can get jerk chicken with peas and rice and johnny cakes (yum!), around 30 fried chicken/pizza shops (I kid you not), Portugese and Algerian cafes, fantastic kebab shops which use naan bread instead of Lebanese bread, half a dozen African hair salons, a Pentecostal church… which all sounds quite exciting but actually it’s not at all. People who live in Leyton would probably never remark upon the cultural diversity as a positive, even though it is. Leyton is basically a convenient, low-key kind of suburb which is easy to feel at home in. It also has a supermarket the size of football stadium – it’s mad living in a place where if you go grocery shopping too late in the day, you’ll find no fruit or vegetables or flour because about ten thousand people would’ve come and gone before you. However, it is quite exciting every now and then when you spot a Hasidic Jew doing the grocery shopping – hat and beard and curls and all.
There are a couple of other notable features about Leyton. The local football team, Leyton Orient, has a reputation for being the worst professional football team in London but has been having quite a good season lately, even beating Fulham FC in a recent FA Cup match (Fulham are in the Premiership and Leyton are third division so it was quite an upset). Leyton really perks up when there’s a match with lots of people on the high street in the team colours. Whenever there’s a home match I can hear the crowd roar from my house through an open window…which is a really thrilling and wonderful sound that makes me wish that I gave a shit about football, heh.
There’s also Epping Forest which is a huge expanse of semi-wild greenery. It’s lovely for duck watching and walks, and now that the weather is improving, we may be able to go walking once again…after a three month hiatus. (Imagine three months passing where it was basically too unpleasant to go for a walk in the park!)
And last but not least, Leyton Town Hall on the High Street is a ridiculously majestic Romanesque-Byzantine style building, which really stands out in an architecturally humble area. Quite bizarre really – but a lovely sight to behold every morning on the way to the train station.
PS. I found out a bit more about this building last night. A blue plaque on the side of the building stated that it was built around 110 years ago. It’s based on a design from a competition that ran because the original council offices burnt down. So this is the grand vision of the winning architect.