Saturday, January 09, 2010

Hampstead Heath: My sanity restorer

I never meant to become a North London person. It just sort of happened. When I moved to the city after graduation up north, my mates Olly & Ahmed asked me to take the third room in their rented basement flat on Leighton Rd in Kentish Town.

It wasn't really a room. But then for £55 a week I should have guessed that in advance. What I got was a part brick, part glass roofed conservatory built onto the side of the kitchen. Christ it was cold: tiled floor, whistling draughts, leaking roof.

But, continual incipient hypothermia aside, I felt comfortable in NW5 and, after six months with my ex-boyfriend off Brick Lane, a year in Archway with four girlfriends, and a stay in Notting Hill (an area I loathed, cldn't even afford a coffee round there on a Condé Nast salary), my sister & I bought my first home together in NW5, in Gospel Oak.

And that's when I really discovered Hampstead Heath, just a few minutes' walk away. I grew up in the country and, much as I love metropolitan life, I need trees, open spaces and mud. The Heath has all that in abundance -plus a swimming pond and, after Posetta Baddog's arrival in our family, care of Dachsie Rescue, we really started to explore the Heath. As did she. (Mainly because she believes tennis balls grow up there.)

miniature dachshund Hampstead Heath NY09/10

There's a wonderful view up over London from Parliament Hill - although I only got half way up last Sunday as Posetta kept picking fights with Rottweilers and the like. Which shows optimism in a dog with legs only 3" high.

Hampstead Heath NY09/10

But it's the feeling of space


and of light


which is important to me. Yet we are just four miles from Oxford Circus - practically next door in London terms - and surrounded on all sides by the city.

These photographs were all taken last Sunday when Tara persuaded (ordered) me and Posetta up to Hampstead Heath for a morning constitutional.

Her husband artist Mo proved that you can still look handsome when wrapped up in the cold:

Maurice Citron

and whilst Baby C wore so many layers she cld barely raise a grin, my mate Little C proved that pulling faces can keep you warm: