display | more...

In Notting Hill, Hugh Grant's character describes the eponymous district as "[a] small village in the middle of a city". If that's the case then it's the first village I've ever seen that has multi-storey tower blocks. If there's any part of London that could be described as a village, it's Parson's Green. Even its name sounds villagey.

Alighting from the District Line at Parson's Green tube station (just past Fulham Broadway and before Putney Bridge) on to Parson's Green Lane, you'll see a fairly standard London street with a couple of trendy wine bars. Novello's features a regular Elvis impersonator, and The Pen, which attracts everyone from the scum of the earth (namely myself and my colleagues) right through to the Mayor of London himself. There's also the inevitable coffee shop and estate agents, and a supermarket.

Keep walking south for a little while longer and things start to change. The road opens up onto the Green itself, a broad triangle of grass about 150 metres long, with the New King's Road running along its furthest edge. On one side is a row of terraced houses. The other side is fronted by the local walk-in clinic, a girl's grammar school, and a block of 1940s council flats, still looking pretty good even after all this time.

The effect of this arrangement is to create the impression of a village green, complete with school, pub and church. Traffic around the Green is relatively low for London, and some of the offstreets are almost free of traffic noise, although this is slightly spoiled by the overhead traffic heading towards Gatwick. Look upwards at a quarter past five every day, and you'll see Concorde flying very low (and making an enormous noise) as it approaches the airport.

There are a couple of pubs on the Green. The White Horse is a large and extremely busy place that has a reputation for being very hard to get served in, but they have a large seating area on the pavement in the summer and often have a barbeque smouldering as well. Around here, it's nicknamed the "Sloany Pony" due to the preponderance of Sloane Rangers amongst its clientele.

The Duke of Cumberland is a large olde-worlde style pub managed and staffed exclusively by Aussies - what a shocker there - and serves excellent food at lunch, but you might want to get there early since they always seem to run out of chips. I recommend the Cumberland sausage and mash. Alternatively there's a greasy spoon a couple of doors down.

Once you reach the New King's Road end, you can either head east, past my office, towards Fulham, via Eelbrook Common, another large open space (which incidentally hides an abandoned underground nuclear bunker). Keep an eye out for some famous faces on this stretch - Paul Merton lives nearby, as do a few other notables. New King's Road is buffered by wide grassy stretches giving it a boulevard-esque feel which is very rare in London. Heading west will take you towards Putney Bridge, home to the Craven Cottage and the starting line of the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

I'm not much of a city type - I commute into London every day from Kent - and I find Parson's Green to be the least objectionable part of London. It's a shame you need to be a millionaire to live there.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.