Great Get Together Weekend – Jo Cox would have been proud of West Hampstead

It was a hot weekend in West Hampstead but with the ‘Big Lunch/ Jo Cox Great Get Together there was some really cool stuff going on. On Saturday night it was cycle-powered outdoor cinema and on Sunday a number of Big Lunches in the ‘hood.

By popular demand the first outdoor screening of the summer, organised by the Friends of Fortune Green, was back to cycle-power. The film was ‘Arrival’, which overall proved a popular choice although the audience of over 325 either loved it (“it was best film I’ve seen in ages”) or didn’t (“what was that all about?”); but even those who didn’t quite get the film enjoyed that fantastic atmosphere. Normally, by the end of the film it’s sweaters and blankets but not this time as it was still 23 degrees at 11pm.

Outdoor film - a cool thing to do on a hot night.

Outdoor film – a cool thing to do on a hot night.

Before the film started MC Simon Inglis thanked FOFG for putting it on and electric pedals for the system, and wished a speedy recovery to Councillor Flick Rea, in the audience with her arm still in sling. He also asked for donations to help fund the film, and the audience responded generously giving £925; so next up the kids-friendly film on August 12th (date for your diaries).

After the late-night film screening it was a gentle start for the Big Lunches on Sunday. Down in the Iverson Road Space, Monica Regli from MILAM reported that “It was sweltering hot so we had to keep moving the tables but we had a really good turnout. She heaped praise on member Carlotta Fiocchi-Sassoon the main organiser, although “everyone chipped in (and a special thank you to Sidings)” Monica was especially pleased that there was a great community spirit, “you could hear everyone networking and swapping information. Just what the country needs right now – a really positive effect.”

Mingling on Iverson at the MILAM lunch.

Mingling on Iverson at the MILAM lunch.

Up in Fortune Green ward it was take your pick. Probably the award for best village fete atmosphere was the Ravenshaw event on Glastonbury Street – although with a street name like that you can’t but help have a great atmosphere. It was a really well planned , but their secret weapon was their paddling pools! Popular on a hot day with the kids … and eyed enviously by the adults.  Their raffle raised a tidy sum for a local charity and #Grenfelltower.

Jimmy the juggler kept the kids entertained

Jimmy the juggler kept the kids entertained

A short walk away Hillfield Residents Association had about 75 adults and kids turn for their Big Lunch. Co-organiser Sandie Evans said “I’ve met the nicest people – and how did I NOT know Neil and Amanda – they live practically opposite and we’ve both lived on the Street for over 15 years”! Hillfield’s secret weapon was resident Jimmy who just happened to be juggler and kept the kids entertained for hours, although thankfully for him given a brief break by the arrival of police horses.

Everyone loves a police horse!

Everyone loves a police horse!

For the cultural historians among you that old buffet staple potato salad is out (there was none), pasta salad came in second place but the winner by far was couscous salad – there was enough to resurface the M1. Hillfield’s raffle was for #troysmission, the West Hampstead toddler with cerebral palsy whose mum is seeking to raise £50,000 for a potentially life changing operation for him.

Couscous the new potato salad

Couscous – the new potato salad

And a short walk away from Hillfield, neighbours Gondar Gardens and Agamemnon, 65 of them, sat down under four massive gazebos (on a very hot day) for their lunch. Their secret weapon was magician, Tom Grubb, who kept the (admittedly by this stage slightly boozy) residents bamboozled.

Tom the Magician bamboozled the boozy residents of Gondar

Tom the Magician bamboozled the boozy residents of Gondar Gardens (although some were on the water!)

Chairman David Yass said “There was a very nice community feel – one of my neighbours said to me I’ve lived here 30 years and met someone who lives across the street who I had never talked to before – isn’t that wonderful.” WHL can’t really put it any better than that.

Property News: West Hampstead tenants’ extra expectations

I’m worried that I’ve started to sound like a broken record. Every two months I write about the rental market for West Hampstead Life, and every two months I say the same thing: demand for rental property in West Hampstead is sky high.

I promise you that this isn’t laziness on my part. Demand for rental properties in West Hampstead continues to grow, especially for one and two bed flats. These flats are regularly on the market for just a matter of days before contracts are signed and a move-in date is set.

Although demand has been continuously high for many years, not everything remains the same though. One thing we have noticed over the past year is that our applicants now have an excellent knowledge of the local rental market. They do their research, they understand how the market operates and aspirational levels are rising too. They’re familiar with the property specifications found in new build developments and they expect this standard of presentation from all rental properties. We regularly feed this information back to our landlords and encourage them to treat their rental property as a business, by injecting regular investment into the property by way of new carpet or a new kitchen if needed.

Demand might be strong but applicants won’t accept a property if it doesn’t match their expectations. In order to let property as quickly as possible so we can avoid void periods, we advise landlords to present the flat to the best of their ability. Presentation is key when attracting tenants, and that includes communal areas as well as the property itself. The entrance of a residential building is equally important, and landlords who own flats in a period conversion should consider joining forces with other owners to smarten up communal areas if necessary.

Feedback from tenants in 2015 highlights that proximity to an underground station is high on most of their wish lists. Properties further than 10 minutes from the tube are slower to let and applicants would rather compromise on square footage if the location is good. It’s always been about an applicant’s lifestyle choices, and proximity to excellent transport links is more important than ever.

As I mentioned earlier, applicants have a better knowledge of the local property market than ever. The internet is key for sharing information and it’s great to see more and more people aware of what is happening in the local market. Perhaps because of this applicants are very sensitive to price, and they are prepared to negotiate to reach an agreement that is acceptable to them. Landlords who are also prepared to negotiate a bit will find their property lets more quickly.

In order to provide the very best service to applicants, tenants and landlords we’ve needed to expand our business. I’m thrilled to welcome two new Lettings Negotiators to the Paramount team, and I look forward to sharing their experience of working in West Hampstead with you over the coming months.

Spencer Lawrence
Lettings Director
Paramount Properties
150 West End Lane
West Hampstead
020 7644 2314

request a lettings valuation

Sponsored article

Win a pair of tickets to The Tricycle Theatre’s new show!

Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts Tricycle

A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts puts the audience in charge, exploring the mighty failures and great triumphs of human endeavour. Each night the audience helps choose the protagonist and the rest of the Secret Theatre Company puts them through their paces as they try to achieve the impossible in this riotous and uplifting show. Read our review here.

The Tricycle Theatre has kindly given us a pair of tickets so that a lucky West Hampstead Life reader can go to the 7.30pm performance on Thursday January 22nd.

To enter, just email with the subject line “A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts”, and include your name and mobile number.

The closing date for entry is midday on Monday 19th January 2015.

The winner will be selected at random and notified by email on Monday January 19th 2015. If no response is received within 12 hours, another winner will be selected.

School, 106 flats and workspace: Liddell Road planning application is in

Liddell Road from Maygrove Road

The Liddell Road mansion block from Maygrove Road

The council’s controversial plan to build a school, flats and employment space on the Liddell Road industrial estate took a step forward on Friday when the planning applications were submitted. Yes, applications plural.

Although all the documentation that accompanies the applications is presented as a coherent set of documents, the applications themselves are split into Phase 1 (the school) and Phase 2 (the residential and employment). Given that the school is contingent on the apartments being built and sold, this seems strange. One thought is that that council expects it might run into some problems with the residential part of the plan – which is what locals have objected to most – but doesn’t want to jeopardize the start date of the school.

The final applications are to build 106 residential units, of which four are designated “affordable“: three intermediate and one social housing for a wheelchair user. These will be split across an 11-storey tower block of 40 flats and a 5-storey “mansion block” fronting Maygrove Road of 66 flats. The school will be a two-storey infant school that is an extension of Kingsgate Primary School in Kilburn, and will house 420 pupils. The employment space is a 5-storey managed workspace falling under class B1.

B1 building use is use for all or any of the following purposes:
(a) as an office other than a use within class A2 (financial and professional services),
(b) for research and development of products or processes, or
(c) for any industrial process, being a use which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.

Liddell Road mansion block

Liddell Road mansion block

There are a lot of documents to wade through if you want to get an overview of the scheme. As always, the Desgin & Access statement is the best place to start, but it runs to 246 pages. The appendix of views will be of particular interest to many locals. You can access all the documents from Camden’s planning website, but West Hampstead Life has merged all 246 pages together, which you can download here (large PDF file).

Locals have objected to the scale of the residential development, specifically the height of the tower block (which at an earlier consultation stage was going to be 14 storeys), and the lack of affordable housing (which was initially zero), when the council is expecting to make a £3m surplus from the development and has received a further £6.7m central government grant for schools.

There is one section of the document that many will find especially galling. After setting out a perfectly valid case for the low affordable housing quota (by Camden’s own standards, there should be ~50% affordable housing), the developers (remenber, that’s the council) then try to pass blame onto campaigners who wanted a lower tower block.


The precise number of flats intended for the site has always been fluid. At one point it was 120, at another 100, at another, 105. We’ve now ended up with 106. Amid all the documentation, WHL has yet to unearth the viability calculations that explain precisely how the affordable housing quota has been determined. Apparently the housing market can be thanked for this sudden largesse although quite what role it has played is of course unclear. Many will also be irked by the implication above that the council would love to have had more affordable housing if it wasn’t for those pesky locals demanding a lower tower, given that the council’s original plans had no such units until locals started clamouring for them despite a bullish housing market at the time the plans were first drawn up. There are no doubt some who would like to know how many affordable units would be possible if 14-storeys had been retained in order that people could make an informed trade-off.

Liddell Road tower block from Maygrove Peace Park

Liddell Road tower block from Maygrove Peace Park

In response to the objection that such a low affordable housing quota runs contrary to Camden’s own policies on vibrant mixed communities, councillors are keen to say that the development of 156 West End Lane will deliver 50% affordable housing. It’s a bold promise they may find difficult to keep, and it is unclear how West Hampstead residents are expected to judge one application on the basis of another development, especially when the latter is not even on the drawing board after Camden “deselected” the developer last month.

Residents have also objected to the siting of the tower block at the eastern end of the site, where it most overshadows the Sidings Estate and Maygrove Peace Park. Newly-formed residents association MILAM has challenged this several times but the architects and the council have decided to retain it in the east. Their argument can be found in its extensive Q&A document. There will also be a new main access road into the development, although the existing access road will be retained.

Consultation on the applications has been extended to take account of the Christmas holidays, so anyone who wants to comment on the application has “at least” until January 30th to do so. The Neighbourhood Development Forum, whose draft plan is quoted many times in the application documents, is also running a survey to try and get as comprehensive a view as possible on locals’ thoughts. You can fill in the survey here.

Given Camden Labour’s overwhelming majority on the council, it is hard to see how this plan would be refused by the development control committee when it comes to a vote. There could still be some tweaks here and there of course, but it is a stark example of the problem in the planning system when councils are both developer and ajudicator of the same proposal.

Liddell Road tower and workspace looking east

Liddell Road tower and workspace looking east

Liddell Road mansion block from Maygrove Road artist impression

Artist’s impression of Liddell Road mansion block from Maygrove Road

Liddell Road development masterplan

Liddell Road development overview

Liddell Road colour scheme

The Liddell Road brickwork will be mostly red

View of Liddell Road from Black Path

View of Liddell Road development from the Black Path

What have I missed since October 20th?

A fire at the Brondesbury Medical Centre on Kilburn High Road on Tuesday night caused the Tricycle Cinema to be evacuated. Although some damage was done to the upper floor of the GP practice, no-one was hurt and the surgery reopened on the Thursday.

Camden granted estate agent Foxtons the change of use permission it needed to open in the former post office on West End Lane. This prompted a flurry of interest in a 2013 piece that sought to find the collective noun for estate agents.

The Area Action Group meeting (the first public meeting since the council election) was suitably lively, with the usual complaints about council services and mixed reactions to the proposed Overground station. WHL live tweeted proceedings.

Pimp my bins via @HandyAndyNW6

Pimp my bins via @HandyAndyNW6

This Thursday we’re hosting WHalloween Food Fest at the streetfood market. Find all the sign-up details here.

A date was set for the start of the 24hr tube service on Fridays/Saturdays. But what about the noise for people living near stations?

Waitrose opens on Tuesday – having caused considerable excitement among (almost) everyone. The ribbon will be cut at 7am(!) by the chair of trustees of the West Hampstead womens’ centre. The bench outside Waitrose that has been removed during the works is to be replaced.

A former England cricketer cut the ribbon at the official opening of Aqua Pharmacy’s new premises on Mill Lane.

The Gallery’s refit started. And Mill Lane Bistro is closed until Wednesday for a refit.

Kilburn chippy Fin City tweeted a plea for more customers.

Some curiously possessive stickers appeared around the area.

There’s always a petition to sign – the latest one is for a pedestrian crossing on Shoot Up Hill.

The London Review of Breakfasts tried Café Bon.

Police were alerted to a man who exposed himself just off Lymington Road.

A local Labour faction have lambasted the (Labour-dominated) council’s plans for Liddell Road. Much of what they say resonates with some residents’ comments, though completely ignoring the school being built rather weakens their argument.

Meanwhile, a Nora Connell has been writing the same letter to all the local papers (a hard-to-decipher ramble about UKIP). She claims to be a parliamentary candidate for Hampstead & Kilburn representing the “Connell Canto Party”.

Apparently, Hampstead & Kilburn is the 8th most pro-immigrant constituency in the UK and the 12th most pro the EU. Doesn’t bode well for UKIP’s chances here next year. [paywall]

The Wet Fish Café’s wall-mounted guitars are all made my a local luthier. A relaxed gig earlier in the week showcased the instrument.

An inquest heard that a former Broadmoor patient died after slitting his wrist at his Maygrove Road flat in a supported housing block.

It was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles second ever performance at the Kilburn State. They were paid £850.

A new teacher training institution opened at the Kilburn end of West End Lane.

After The Economist looked at Aldi in Kilburn last week, this week the Financial Times covered the High Road’s Afghan restaurant Ariana II.

Fury is our Film of the Week. Read our take on all the local film offerings this week.

REHAB Halloween at Love & Liquor is our Gig of the Week.

Lots of local businesses are in the running for Time Out’s favourite places awards. Click on NW6 (Kilburn) to see the categories and contenders. Monday’s the last day of voting.

The premises that used to be Helena’s Hair Care at 78 Fortune Green Road is apparently destined to be… another salon.

Tweet of the Week

Election Special: Hear the candidates in their own words

As people gathered outside Emmanuel School on Monday night for the hustings, we were inside trying to get microphones to work. Despite one or two technical glitches early on, the message still came across loud and clear – people remain interested in what their politicians have to say.

Excitement builds (photo via Richard Olszewski)

Excitement builds (photo via Richard Olszewski)

The livestream of the event sadly failed (note to the school: Get a better Wifi connection!), but we do have a record of the whole evening, with just over a minute missing.

If you’re not hardcore enough for the whole thing, then here’s how the evening played out in bitesize pieces.

First up we had the three-minute party speeches.

Keith Moffitt for the Liberal Democrats focused on their record as councillors across the two wards

Ian Cohen for the Conservatives stressed their candidates’ expertise and focused heavily on the local issues

Philip Rosenberg for Labour talked about the party’s record in the Town Hall under the pressure of budget cuts

Juan Jimenez for the Green Party (apologies to the Greens, but this is where we lost a minute of the recording)

Magnus Nielsen for UKIP talked a lot about his family history but less about what he’d do for locals.

Dave Pearce for TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) talked about cuts, jobs and housing security.

We then went on to discuss:

Rubbish – with issues of costs, enforcement and the contract with Veolia coming to the fore

Schools – specifically the different parties’ view on whether they support the proposed free school in the area.

Mansion tax – where much was made of the LibDems’ U-turn and there was an entertaining heckle!

Camden’s complaints procedure – would Sainsbury’s do a better job of managing the process?

Cycling & parking – is a wholesale review of parking restrictions needed?

Delivery lorries – everyone’s in agreement that Tesco lorries are a problem, what are the solutions?

Support for the Neighbourhood Development Plan – almost – almost – universal!

Getting the vote out – here’s where UKIP talk about removing the vote from some people

156 West End Lane – school? Community venue? What do the parties think?

Affordable housing – what does it mean?

And finally, how the candidates would fight our corner in the Town Hall (which led to one or two very odd replies).

If you want to watch everything in one go to get more of the atmosphere and hear what gets applauded and what doesn’t, then settle back with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

And a closing word:

Magnus Nielsen, UKIP

Hustings hoo-ha takes away from real issues

Monday night’s hustings for West Hampstead & Fortune Green wards in the local elections turned out to be popular. Some 150 people turned up to Emmanuel School hall to hear what 21 of the 26 candidates across the two wards had to say.

One of those candidates – UKIP’s Magnus Nielsen – took all the headlines the following morning after a peculiar answer to the question of low voter turnout where he mused that perhaps all the efforts made in the 19th century to extend the voter base might have been misguided.

The audience reaction – more laughs than gasps – tells you how little it resonated with voters. Yet, with one headline grabbing soundbite, the rest of the candidates’ efforts to discuss the issues that actually matter to local residents have been subsumed.

It was fairly clear that Nielsen was playing to the gallery with this and other bon mots throughout the evening. What West Hampstead voters – and quite possibly UKIP itself – might have found more disappointing was that Nielsen clearly hadn’t prepared a meaningful three minute pitch to voters unlike all the other candidates.

A lengthy intro about why someone with a Danish name was standing for UKIP means that half of his three minutes was about the war, and the other half consisted of a few digs at the EU.

There was nothing about West Hampstead, or even Camden and it rather felt as if it had been dreamt up at the last minute. Such a lack of respect for the audience and the electorate suggests that, despite the occasional bout of political hubris (“when I’m elected councillor”), the likelihood of Nielsen sitting in the council chamber for the next four years is even slimmer than it might have been at the start of the evening.

Eight week Mill Lane closure

Mill Lane closure

Part of Mill Lane will be closed for eight weeks starting on Tuesday May 6th. There has been surprisingly little notice of this. The work is to replace metal gas mains with plastic mains.

The National Grid says

“The closures and restrictions will be introduced in phases as the work progresses from Shoot Up Hill towards Westbere Road.

Mill Lane will be closed between Shoot Up Hill and Fordwych Road with access maintained via local diversion routes

Fordwyich Road will be partially closed at the junction with Mill Lane, with access to properties being maintained via local diversion routes

Mill Lane will be closed one way Westbound between Westbere Road and Fordywch Road with access being maintained cia local diversion routes.

Some areas of parking will need to be suspended to facilitae excavation operations and traffic flows around our work areas.

It’s not clear whether these closures are just the first phase of closures or all the closures listed together. More information as we get it!

What have I missed since March 10th?

The much anticipated new smokehouse restaurant, One Sixty, had its soft launch. Preliminary reports (including from yours truly) were very positive. Walk-ins start from Tuesday.

Jimi Hendrix didn’t just play West Hampstead; the woman who brought him to the attention of his manager was from Cholmley Gardens!

Edward de Mesquita, Hampstead creperie owner and erstwhile Tory council candidate for West Hampstead, is in a very serious condition in a Paris hospital after a car crash.

“This house in West Hampstead always puts on a lovely floral display”
by Mairéad Roche

As Camden undertakes its annual tree removal program, cutting down dead or dying specimens, it may have inadvertently solved the area’s litter problem.

The Metro’s property section had a big and very positive piece on West Hampstead (and some kind words about West Hampstead Life).

The new greengrocer on West End Lane, replacing Picasso’s, has eschewed a fancy, clever name.

Fortune Green’s Nautilus featured in Time Out as the best fish & chips in north London.

Talking of Fortune Green, this Sunday is Love our Green Sunday – more on this and other Friends of Fortune Green events here.

West Hampstead Women’s Centre celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The Accurist building on Blackburn Road may well be turned into a block of 25 flats (mostly one-bed).

UKIP is expecting to field council candidates in all local wards in May’s local election. In 2010 it had just one candidate in one ward (Swiss Cottage).

The 18-storey tower blocks in South Kilburn are coming down as part of the huge redevelopment there.

It’s like Hampstead without the wankers“, local author Susie Steiner on West Hampstead.

Back in 1949, the Kilburn Empire tried to stage a boxing match between “Battling” Barbara Buttrick and Bert Saunders. The fight was pulled, but Buttrick went on to pave the way for women boxers. Sadly for up-and-coming boxers male or female, there’s a strong rumour that Gloves Boxing Club is closing.

A man was stabbed in the leg in a “mass street fight” in Kilburn.

Scarlet Johansson’s Under The Skin is the Film of the Week. All the local screenings listed here.

The gig of the week is raising funds for UNICEF. Check out this and all the local music events coming up in the area.

The first #whampsocial was a big hit (not least the £5 cocktails). The next one is March 26th at Frida’s bar.

Whampdinner at Guglee was also great success, though quite what The Black Lion thought it was when they reserved us space in the bar beforehand is anyone’s guess.

Building work on St James’ to give it a dual use as a post office will start on March 24th.

The Crediton Hill pebbledash drama was put to bed as the planning inspector overturned an appeal. The pebbledash must return.

Tweet of the Week

What have I missed since December 23rd?

You missed Christmas for a start! Happy New Year and all that. If you didn’t get a chance to read our various reviews of 2013, then I suggest you focus on this one (which links to all the others).

Oh yes, and West Hampstead Life‘s changed. Hope you like it. It’s still in testing phase and we know it’s a bit on the slow side, but we wanted to get it up and running. There’s lots more to do with it, but you’ll need to bear with us for a few weeks.

New West End Lane hairdresser Headmasters opens very soon and has two weeks of offers to get kickstarted. Still need to change the awning though.


A 17 year-old girl from Kilburn went missing. Police are very concerned about her.

The rumour from December was true: A smokehouse is opening in the Me Love Sushi site, with a big name backer.

In the stormy weather of Christmas Eve, the West End Green Christmas tree blew over. If you haven’t got rid of your Christmas tree yet, where can you recycle it?

We announced the winners of Tweet of the Year and Photo of the Year

Local councillor Russell Eagling’s impending marriage to former parliamentary candidate Ed Fordham made it onto Channel 4’s Big Fat New Quiz of the Year.

On New Year’s Eve (after an suitably amazing final sunset of 2013) buses were held up on West End Lane when an Audi drove into a parked BMW outside La Brocca. No-one was hurt.

Angela Lansbury was made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours. She was educated at South Hampstead High Schoool.

It’s the New Year, so TfL prices are going up – and there are proposed changes to station staffing. What does it mean for locals?

The NDF will publish the proposed final draft of the Neighbourhood Plan this week (with the consultation running until the end of February).

We’ve got more on the Kilburn thunderbolt of 1877!

Tweet of the Week

Mandela for NW6 Film Club Jan 5th

If you’ve been super organised and got your 2014 diary already then here’s a date for it: NW6 Film Club on Sunday 5th Jan.

We’re kicking off the New Year with what should be a great start: the biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. There couldn’t be a more appropriate time to look back at the life of this unique leader – the film’s London premier was on the very day of Mandela’s death.


Despite the subject matter, this film is another triumph for UK talent. Its director (Justin Chadwick), writer (William Nicholson) and stars (Idris Elba and Naomie Melanie Harris as Nelson and Winnie) are all British. The film is based on Mandela’s autobiography – and his life certainly has enough drama to compete with any Hollywood script.

But is the movie the tribute such a great man deserves? Or is it impossible to capture his epic story in a mere 2 1/4 hours? Come along and find out.

We’re returning to The Tricycle in Kilburn, where the film starts at 7pm.

We’ll meet at 6:30 in the Tricycle Bar, which also does light food.

As usual, we have a reserved block of seats so if you book by phone (020 7328 1000) or at the box-office, mention the Film Club if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to!) Unfortunately you can’t book a seat in that block online – but the film is unlikely to sell out so you should be able to just turn up on the day.

As usual, follow @NxNW6 and we’ll let you know if it’s filling up. If you can, drop us a tweet to let us know you’re coming. Hopefully everyone will have recovered enough to go for a drink and discussion after the film.

Hopefully see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

Tweet of the Year: Your chance to vote

It’s that time folks… Forget the Oscars, the Grammys, BAFTAs, Bookers, Pulitzers and Nobels. There is only one award worth winning in West Hampstead – Tweet of the Year.

This year we have two categories: Tweet of the Year and Photo of the Year. All entries are anonymous – I’ll reveal all the nominees’ names after the results are in. There are prizes for the winners.

Voting ends on New Year’s Eve at 5pm. I’m going to trust you all to play nicely – I don’t want to have to bring in UN inspectors to oversee this!

Photo of the Year is a slightly trickier affair. I’ll show you all the photos and then there’s a poll at the end to vote for the one you like most. OK, not that trickier.

Cafe Bon gone

Cafe Bon gone

There's a lot of tartan at WHampstead this evening. Good banter. #EngvSco

There’s a lot of tartan at WHampstead this evening. Good banter. #EngvSco

Just posted a photo at West Hampstead

Just posted a photo at West Hampstead

#whampsunset Mill Lane 5.34pm, putting the west into west hampstead

#whampsunset Mill Lane 5.34pm, putting the west into west hampstead

Went to Dylan's to complain about ants in my son's donut and saw that they had bigger issues with animals.

Went to Dylan’s to complain about ants in my son’s donut and saw that they had bigger issues with animals.

The photocopier at my local Post Office really knows how to tell it like it is

The photocopier at my local Post Office really knows how to tell it like it is

Possibly worst example of fly tipping at Minster Rd recycling. I complained, council cleared but it goes on.

Possibly worst example of fly tipping at Minster Rd recycling. I complained, council cleared but it goes on.

Sky writer sunset

Sky writer sunset

Parking enforcement leading by example as usual

Parking enforcement leading by example as usual

Sun setting at the end of my street!

Sun setting at the end of my street!

Ho Ho Ho – Aldred Road’s festive spirit

by Simon Inglis

Whampers on the Fortune Green side of town will be aware that the coming of Christmas means only one thing.

Lighting up time in Aldred Road.

Children coo. Taxi drivers make detours. Cholmley Gardens bathes in reflected glory.

But how has this happened?

‘The short answer’, writes an Aldred Road resident, ‘is that about fifteen years ago one of the residents, an actress with the voice and command of Miss Jean Brodie and a brilliant sense of fun suggested some of us put up lights – white only, nothing showy (blinking Santas verboten) – and none of us dared say no. Especially as it was a good excuse for a street party.

As the years went by more people in the street signed up, and so here we are, nearly a full strip, some curly, some straight, some even slightly coloured (we became more relaxed about that sort of thing once B&Q started doing special offers).

Some of the newer residents have said that the Christmas lights were one reason why they chose to move here.

Estate Agents please note.

We’re on until January 6th.

Coach trips welcome.

Favourite Christmas scenes from TV this year

Sponsored post

It may be too early to think about Christmas for a lot of you, but we’ve already chosen our favourite festive scenes for 2013. That’s right, we’ve watched them all a few times, shed a tear, laughed out loud, got choked up, and totally got hyped up for Christmas.

The Christmas TV scene is a massive milestone; while people moan that it’s way too early and they don’t want to begin thinking about preparations, some of the big brands and TV clips are dictating this for you. When you see the Coca Cola truck for example, Christmas is here. This is the point of no return.

The companies are so competitively trying to create the biggest emotional connection with the audience that their scenes are created by movie directors, cost millions and end up looking cinematically brilliant. So sit back with a mulled wine in your Christmas jumper and embrace our top Christmas ads to look out for this Christmas.

Sainsbury’s crowd-sourced documentary
This year Sainsbury’s have gone above and beyond the call of duty and created a full-length feature film. The have teamed up with Academy Award winning director Kevin Macdonald to create Sainsbury’s Christmas in a Day: a documentary following the lives of British people on Christmas Day 2012.

Macdonald called on the public to film their day, from the extraordinary though to the ordinary, to make this honest, funny and emotional film. The Sainsbury’s film teasers are trailers for the full-length feature, which will be released on November 29th online. The snippet of other people’s lives on this unique day of the year shows what is really important to us all: family and friends (and the Christmas spreadsheet). Stock up on tissues, and watch the video now.

Sky Magical Moments advert
Sky have released a series of adverts this Christmas all centring on their ‘magical moments’ tagline. The airport, family and love storylines are all set to the beautifully evocative piano composition by Jonathan Goldstein.

Watch as aeroplanes are delayed, lustful eyes meet across a crowded room only to be rejected, and a teenage daughter feels left out of family festivities. Then witness the moving moments that bring everyone back together at the end with a few Sky Movies playing in the background. This tugs at the heartstrings throughout, making it a winner in our eyes.

Boots secret gift bringer
There’s always something touching about a determined gift-giver. We all fell in love with the small boy in John Lewis’s 2011 advert, ‘The Long Wait’, who couldn’t handle the wait to give his parents their present. And in this Boots advert it’s no different.

We watch a moody hooded teenager storm out of the house, only to run around the snowy streets giving anonymous gifts to unexpected recipients.

He hides behind walls and hedges as he leaves gifts on doorsteps and watches for a reaction. Giving reasons for the gift such as: ‘because you looked after my Nan’ and ‘because you helped me get a B in Maths’, you can’t help but love the cheeky chap.

And with a great upbeat soundtrack of Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy, you may feel more of a warm tingle than choked up emotion, but it certainly does the job of bringing festive cheer.

Cinema listings Dec 13th-20th: Hobbit Special

The Tricycle ¦ Everyman Belsize Park ¦ Everyman Hampstead ¦ Everyman Maida Vale
Finchley Road Vue ¦ Swiss Cottage Odeon

There’s only one game in town this week: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released on Thursday and is showing in five of our six local cinemas in a mind boggling four different formats. As well as the standard 2012 dilemma of deciding whether to see the film in 2D or 3D, there is also the option of seeing it in a higher frame rate of 48fps (24 is the standard). Screenings at the HFR all tend to be in 3D, are limited to the multiplexes and tend to be more expensive. As always, do tweet me your thoughts on this or anything else cinematic @NxNW6.

Film of the Week

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
(2012, adventure fantasy, 169 mins, 12A)
Early reviews have been split down the middle. Some have called it tedious and have criticised the decision to make three films from the one text, others say it is a worthy prequel to the Lord of the Rings films.
  • Tricycle 2D £9.50, £6 (£4.50 for Brent residents) on Mondays.
  • Everyman Maida Vale & Belsize Park – 3D only £15
  • Finchley Road Vue 2D £11.80, 3D £15 and 3D HFR £17.50
  • Swiss Cottage Odeon 2D £11.50, 3D IMAX HFR £14.50 week, £16 weekend (only HFR IMAX screening in London)

Hampstead Film Society
Hampstead Town Hall – 213 Haverstock Hill, £7
The Artist (2011, comedy romance, 100 mins) Tue 18th 7pm. Hampstead Town Hall.
The Best Picture winner is a crowd-pleaser, so if you missed it during all the hype now would be a great chance to settle back and enjoy this gem of a modern silent film. And yes, the dog really does steal the show.

The Tricycle Cinema
£9.50 adult, £8.50 concessions, Mon £6 adult, £4.50 Brent resident
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* (see film of the week)

The Everyman Cinemas
Prices vary, but expect to pay ~£13 (~£10 for a concession). Booking advised.
Belsize Park
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* 3D (see film of the week)

Seven Psychopaths (2012, crime comedy, 110 mins, 15)
The follow up to the modern classic In Bruges, sees a struggling screenwriter become entangled in the LA underworld. The cast includes Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. I found it to be deriative of Quentin Tarantino’s films, and Charlie Kaufman’s writing, misogynistic and ultimately a disappointment.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012, romantic comedy, 122 mins 15).
Ignore the terrible marketing campaign and the confusing title – this is being talked up very seriously as the rom-com of the year. Don’t be surprised if it picks up Oscar nominations across the board, not least for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. Perfect date movie material, and has received very positive local word of mouth reviews.
Argo (2012, thriller, 120 mins, 15).
Great slice of American cinema. Limited screenings only (Sat, Sun, Thu).
Life of Pi (2D from Thurs 20th only – more next week).

Maida Vale
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* 3D (see film of the week)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992, family comedy, 85 mins, U).
Classic Muppet caper based on the Dickens novel gets a timely re-release for its 20th anniversary. Difficult not to love.
Silver Linings Playbook
Life of Pi (2D from Thurs 20th only – more next week).

Finchley Road Vue 
(click here for pricing)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* 2D, 3D 3D HFR(see film of the week)
Seven Psychopaths
Rise of the Guardians
Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!
The Silver Linings Playbook
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Other films show in Kids Club slots

Swiss Cottage Odeon
(click here for pricing)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey* 2D 3D IMAX HFR (see film of the week).
Rise of The Guardians 2D 3D
Great Expectations (limited)
Argo (club)

Dec 21 – The Life of Pi, Pitch Perfect.
Dec 26 – Jack Reacher, Midnight’s Children, Safety not Guaranteed.
Jan 1 – The Impossible, Quartet, Playing for Keeps, Texas Chainsaw 3DAll times correct at time of publication.
*new release.

Contact Mark via Twitter or .

Afro-Caribbean sunshine in West Hampstead

Tomorrow night, St James’ Hall in Sherriff Rd (next to the church) hosts what is apparently an annual African-Caribbean night.

The fun kicks off at 7.30pm and is in celebration of Black History month. There’ll be delicious national dishes such as curry goat, plantains, and, rum punch.

I am also assured that you will also get a chance to show off how to look good on the dancefloor with some reggae and cheesy disco music. That’s why there’s rum punch.

Tickets are £5 for adults and £3 for children – you can buy them on the door.

Gold medallists to appear on stamps

It’s the Olympics this summer. In London! Who knew, right?

The Royal Mail has announced it’s going to produce a stamp to commemorate all the British Gold Medallists. But not months later after we’ve all forgotten about it. No, no, no. These stamps will come out the very next day after each medal win. The stamp will feature, wherever possible, photographs of the Team GB athlete or team in action from their gold medal winning final.

This will be the first time any host country has used action shots for Gold Medal stamps and issued them immediately, during the Games. So you could lick Chris Hoy (except stamps tend to be self-adhesive now don’t they – spoiling all the fun).

The Be The First concept was launched by Sally Gunnell, Olympic gold medallist in the 400m hurdles at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

The stamps will be on sale by lunchtime the next day at 500 selected Post Offices across the UK. The special stamps will then be distributed three times during the Games to a further 4,500 Post offices operating as normal across the UK. This is the first time Royal Mail has ever issued next day stamps.

At the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Team GB won 19 gold medals and obviously aspirations for London are high.

Moya Greene, Royal Mail Chief Executive, said: “Royal Mail is proud to be involved in this once in a lifetime event and to recognise the success of Team GB. Our Gold Medal stamps will be unique souvenirs of the Games, marking the great achievements of our talented athletes. They will be a special way for people across the country to celebrate Team GB’s gold medal wins and help mark their amazing achievement. We look forward to issuing many Gold Medal stamps to honour Team GB’s victories.”

The next day challenge
During the Games, picture editors, graphic designers, printers and drivers will swing into action, working around the clock when Team GB strikes gold to meet the challenge of getting the stamps on sale by lunchtime the next day, even if a Team GB medal win is late the previous evening.

Many of the selected 500 Post Offices will, for the first time, open on Sundays during the Games, so fans can celebrate Team GB’s achievements and start a unique and special 2012 Olympic souvenir collection.  Details of the 500 Post Offices will be announced later this month. I don’t know if West Hampstead post office will be one of the 500 sadly, although I can’t say I’m overly hopeful. The stamps will also be available the next day at GB supporters will be able to buy the stamps individually or as part of a special sheet.

Royal Mail and the Olympics
The Gold Medal stamps form part of a special line-up of Royal Mail’s Olympic products. On 27th July, the day of the opening ceremony, Royal Mail’s ’Welcome to the Olympic Games’ special stamps will go on sale. On 29th August, Royal Mail will also become the first postal administration, whose country is hosting the Games, to issue a set of stamps to celebrate the start of the Paralympics Games.

In January, London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games definitive stamps went on sale, marking the Olympic year. This followed the issue of 30 stamps reflecting all the sports competed at the Games in a three-part series between 2009 and 2011. All the Olympic collection series can be purchased from the Be The First page.

Although this is the first time Royal Mail has issued stamps to mark Olympic victories, the company issued its first Olympic Games stamps in 1948, with four stamps bearing the five Olympic Rings. Olympic stamps were not issued to mark the 1908 London Games as Royal Mail stamps then bore images of the reigning monarch only.
To find out more Register your interest now

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West Hampstead Community Monday

Anyone interested in all things #whamp was pulled in three directions on Monday. At one end of town there was an anti-Tesco group meeting in Walnut. A little further down West End Lane, many #whampers were tucking in to some lovely food and wine at The Wet Fish Café, and raising money for #whampforgood cause The Winch. And then further down still, Tory PPC Chris Philp was hosting an open meeting for residents to talk to representatives from TfL, TubeLines, and Network Rail about the various #whamptravel problems facing the area.

Of course I couldn’t be in three places at once and as I was understudy for The Winch’s Paul Perkins at The Wet Fish (plus I can’t say no to some decent wine), I was there. But never fear… where there’s a #whamper there’s a way and Nick (@fac203) was at the travel meeting and took excellent notes, which are distilled here, with a focus on the tube rather than the rail issues (none of which were new).

The panel included Kevin Bootle – Jubilee Line Manager for London Underground, and Richard Hoare – Jubilee Line Project Manager for TubeLines. Brian Coleman, Conservative London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, was also present

The Jubilee line is the fastest growing line, in terms of passenger numbers, on the network. The existing signalling system constrains the network and is the key element being replaced in the current programme. The new system will allow for 30 trains/hr each way.

TfL stated it has an obligation to provide the closures required for TubeLines to complete its work. The weekend closures are for testing the new signalling system and software, along with driver training. Tube Lines accepts that the works are being delivered late and blames problems with its signals sub-contractor. It is now aiming for a May completion date but says it has October as a worst case. The weekend closures are set to run until early April 2010.

The proximity of the Metropolitan and Jubilee line tracks is causing some of the Met Line closures on the same weekends. Therefore, if the Jubilee Line programme is delayed further, the Met Line will suffer too.

Questions from the floor:
On co-ordination. There is an Optimising Group within TfL that co-ordinates all line closures to minimise impact. This response was met with some derision from the audience. TubeLines has a budget for “lost customer hours” which it says has not been exceeded, even with the overruns. [Ed: this seems strange. Suggests that buffer in the PPP contract is far too generous].

On step-free access. This is going nowhere, due to the shortfall in TfL’s budget, which was put by Brian Coleman at £3 billion. He also stated that fare revenues were down by 10% in 2009. [Ed: see this article by BorisWatch about the shortfall, although since that was written last month, it has apparently mushroomed]

On compensation for passengers & businesses (from Cllr Keith Moffitt). This was to some extent deflected but generally the answer seemed to be that as the replacement buses had to be run and this cost money, no offer of compensation would be made.

On why works are not carried out in the evening like on the Victoria line (from Cllr John Bryant) : Both TfL and TubeLines said they had looked at this, but it was not economically viable on the Jubilee line. [Ed: at my meeting with TfL, they also said they’d looked at this, but the time/cost of moving equipment on/off track meant it wasn’t an option. Although if it’s mostly signal/software testing at this stage, does that still hold true?]

On Northern Line closures based on recent press coverage: TubeLines has requested 82 weekend closures, plus early closing in the evenings. There was no comment on the reported 15-20 weekends that TfL has actually granted.

On why more leaflets not provided: TfL said it didn’t think they were useful to customers as they were generally discarded. [Nick: maybe the information isn’t provided in a useful way or answers the questions they have]

On Easter closures: The Jubilee Line will be closed for the whole Easter weekend (Easter Sunday is April 4th)

TubeLines pointed out that they were “not the right people to ask” for a lot of the questions being raised. They also stated that TfL had not given them the closures requested to comply with their programme [Nick: sounds like the internal problems are rumbling on]. TubeLines said it now has all the closures it needs to complete the work. [Ed: then why still the mystery over whether it will be May or October!?]

Nick’s summary: Although some interesting information came out of this, TubeLines were not the right people for a number of the more general questions and certainly regarding questions about the Overground, Met and Bakerloo lines, which do not fall within its remit. Overall, plenty of good questions and very few good answers.

Separately, there may be major roadworks on Finchley Road coming up soon, which will have an additional impact on travel in the area, especially if they are not properly co-ordinated with the tube/rail work.

Big thanks to Nick for reporting on the meeting. If anyone else was there and has anything to add, please get in touch. You can read Chris Philp’s blog about the evening too, which contains some other details about what was discussed.