We moved to the area by complete accident. I grew up in Acton and Shepherd’s Bush but after being gazumped twice in Shepherd’s Bush we found our first home in Kensal Rise and have never lived far away.
We have lived around Kensal and Queen’s Park for a decade. It is a friendly, fun area with a great energy.
There are a lot of cooks, writers and creatives living around us; also two wonderful cemeteries and a canal. I love the food, the farmers’ market and how green and leafy the area feels.
It has a really strong sense of community with thriving schools and it is brilliantly located to whizz into central London for theatre, galleries and restaurants, or out to east London on the Overground.
Lonsdale Road has become a hotspot for good food thanks to Milk Beach, which is a great all-day diner with Aussie-influenced eating. There is also Carmel, which has just opened. Wolfpack is always buzzing, too. Jesse Dunford Wood has done great things at Parlour.
I cycle all over London to keep fit but there is also a great swimming pool nearby at The Maqam Centre and masses of keep fit groups in the park. A friend has just opened Absolute Studios on College Road, which is an incredible pilates studio. There is also a martial arts studio in Kensal Green and a brilliant volunteers football club for girls and it’s incredibly inspiring.
We have two great libraries, Kilburn Library and Kensal Rise Library, and the Kiln Theatre is nearby in Kilburn.
I love Paddington Old Cemetery but early in the morning I sneak into the golf pitch in the middle of Queen’s Park to let my dog off the lead so he can really run. It is the most beautiful spot full of trees and long grass. I hope one day they may let dogs in there in the early mornings when there are no golfers in sight. Just a wide open space full of trees to watch the sun come up and let the dogs run free.
The new Sonora Cafe & Kitchen on College Road is fantastic, as is the locally run Kensal Grocers, also on College Road. It was set up in lockdown with every type of bread flour, biscuit, yoghurt, tea, baking ingredient or pulse that you could wish for.Advertisement
L’Angolo Delicatessen on the corner of Liddell Gardens gets great produce from Italy and there is a Planet Organic for nuts and seeds. Brooks is a brilliant butchers in Chamberlayne Road that sources wonderful produce and line-caught fish. You can find everything you need for serious recipe testing and cooking here. We are just missing a really good cheese shop.
Queen’s Park Farmers’ Market is every Sunday and won best British market a few years ago. It is a bustling place to have a coffee and find producers who really care about how they farm, supporting nature rather than working against it. Since how we produce food contributes a third of greenhouse gas emissions, how we shop can have an increasingly important role in combating climate change.
I love that by shopping at the market once a week my money not only buys delicious, nutrient rich food, but that it supports people who are doing their farming better. Plus, it is a fun way to spend a Sunday morning, gossiping with friends and neighbours, with the kids running around.
I walk, scoot, cycle and run. Places are fairly close together so it makes it very easy to get around. We rarely use the car unless buying lots of bits and pieces — if we are visiting the local garden centre, for example.
I love Chamberlayne Road for its mix of shops but also College Road has a few really top grocers and delis.
Stanley Johnson and Zadie Smith both cycling around; one looks suitably dishevelled but incredibly friendly and one makes cycling look glamorous.
It’s sometimes a pig to cross the Harrow Road to get to Portobello. Can we please dig a tunnel, Sadiq Khan? It’d be genius.
Foodie, creative, collaborative.
Thomasina Miers OBE has just launched her first online cookery course, How to Streamline Your Cooking: Building Blocks of Flavour (createacademy.com)