Day 4 – 27th of March 2020
In which our intrepid hero girds his loins and braves the journey into W6
“The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.”
So, after yesterday’s longer and more sombre post I return to the subject of local shops but with a twist. Now, there are many people in Chiswick who consider the space between Goldhawk Rd and Hammersmith Mall the way Victorian explorers thought of the Upper Congo. However, living as a do, down that end of Chiswick I turn left out of my flat and head into W6 as often as I turn right. In fact, I have to say I find the shops and cafes friendlier and more welcoming along that stretch of King St than I do on the High Road. With the exception of the smiling faces of the ladies of Parle Pantry, without a shred of doubt my favourite Café in Chiswick, I much prefer the amazing choice in that easterly direction. From the Goldhawk turning to the Polish centre, about half a kilometre there are a dozen coffee shops or cafes and, trust me, I have tried them all. There are also any number of excellent restaurants in the 4+ and 5 Trip Advisor categories.
However, today’s ‘virallybuggeredBoJo’ licensed shopping/exercise walk was a continuation of my attempts to post my book to the waiting Swedish student mentioned in my first post. Having given up on Chiswick’s unwelcoming Post Office I thought I would give the smaller one on King Street (No 168, not the main one in the soon to be Ikea Mall). What a difference! Whereas Chiswick have reduced their hours, the chap here has increased his. It is a small premises with just enough room for 2 or 3 people inside at properly distanced intervals and was apparently busy early on but at about 12.30 there were just three people ahead of me.
After I successfully sent my package off to Scandinavia I took a short walk to Turkey.
The joy of turning left towards Hammersmith or into Shepherds Bush is the variety of different cultural offerings. One of my ‘can’t do with-outs’ is my morning tea and rather than bags full of dust I use the full loose leaf Orange Pekoe of Alwazah Tea. This is not available in the major chains so I happily wander to Istanbul pictured here or the amazing Damasgate on Uxbridge Road. As can be seen above, Istanbul and the nearby small Levantine shop (below) are both fully stocked, not just with fresh fruit and veg but with tins, dry goods and Middle Eastern breads. Why join the longer queue at Sainsbury’s?
Incidentally, I love the sign above the shop. Out in the Middle East it is Sunni vs. Shia, Turk vs. Kurd, Iran vs. Iraq and so on but in West London it is business comes first.
Strolling back there are many cafes and restaurants closed but many keeping open for deliveries or collections. Of the ones I have used and enjoyed in the past that are open I offer you FishXChips and Sugarcane Thai.
Just time for a quick rant before I finish. I understand the reasons why Hammersmith & Fulham have closed all the parks but is it really necessary to completely shut the gates? Surely, it would be easy to cordon off children’s play areas, tennis/basketball courts and such but allow space for people to exercise in a responsible socially distanced manner. Like me! So even though I knew Ravenscourt Park was locked I bought a take away coffee (more of this below) in the hope that I could sit on a bench or walk slowly in the normally empty little jewel that is the garden in Westcott Square. It was not to be. I did chat, properly separated, to a couple of local residents who were taking in the sun on their front door step (because their aforementioned garden was closed) and they assumed the square was shut to prevent the ‘overspill’ from people who could not get into Ravenscourt. Hmmm, what can I say?
So, finally, where did I get my coffee? I have two regular spots in that area. The Ritz Café run by Ali (and, I think, his Mum) is where I would have my usual tinned tomatoes and scrambled egg on toast (or even treat myself to a bacon roll). They are completely closed at the moment. Opposite there are two Italian cafes that are both open for take-aways. My favourite is Divina where Massimo serves his extended selection of pastas – usually with a choice of taking out or eating in. Today, a simple pasta with tomato and vegetable sauce will save me from cooking this evening. My take away coffee I just had to sip slowly as I strolled gently back to my flat.
Having just got home, I have just been invited to my first Zoom-based virtual cocktail party, which will test my technical skills. I think mine will be a glass of a decent red wine or maybe a bottle of Nigerian Guinness. After I get home (what do you call leaving a virtual party – any suggestions?) from the cocktail I hear BBC4 have a programme on this evening about Eel Pie Island. When I was at school some of the older boys got busted during a drug squad raid on The Island. Hmmm, might share a few memories of the West London music scene one of these days.
In the meantime. Be kind. Stay safe.