Friday 19 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - Q is for Quirky queueing

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter Q

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

One of the quirky things in our area is that we have a level crossing in the centre of town.  Trains run from Chingford (just to the north of us) to Liverpool Street in Central London.  Trains run every 15 minutes in both directions so the crossing closes at least 8 times an hour.  The warning sound goes, the lights flash and then the barriers come down.  And then we wait!



Not the best picture of the crossing and of course there's no queue as it's open.  However when it's down people and cars queue either side of the crossing.

It's not usually down for too long and actually pedestrians don't need to wait as there is an underpass that goes under the tracks.  Of course if the barriers malfunction you can be there for a while.  Sometimes if the trains are a little out of kilter the barriers can seem to be down for ages but in situations like that a few minutes can feel much longer.

It's been a bit chaotic down there this week because of this:

Photo from Facebook

Photo from Facebook

This is the other side of the crossing.  A circular hole approx. 2 foot wide opened up earlier this week and quickly became a major problem.  Apparently it's due to a burst water main.  Traffic is only being allowed across the level crossing in one direction and bus routes are on diversion.

It has been very chaotic and a major talking point on social media.  

The latest news is that the leak has been identified and fixed but they now have to fill in the huge hole.  Hopefully that won't take too long as we're currently experiencing a lot of extra traffic on our road plus 2 extra bus routes using it.

Still it could be worse - at least the hole was caused by a burst pipe and not a bomb.  

Thursday 18 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - P is for Park

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter P

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

Open space was a must for us as we had so much of it right outside our front door in Forest Gate but Highams Park has a large park area that meets our needs within easy walking distance.




There is a lot of open space for games, picnics etc and there is a small playground for the younger kids



There is also a café (Humphry's) with toilets.


The renovation of an unused building from disrepair into a popular, successful café was initiated by the Highams Park Planning Group.  More details about this can be found here.

Several large events are held in the park during the year, including a Spring Festival which will be taking place next month.

The other good thing about the park is that it borders the lake area.

I love walking around the lake and the surrounding forest area, even when it's iced over in the winter.




It has a resident pair of swans who are very territorial - every year since we've been here they've had 5 or more cygnets which they protect fiercely until they are grown and then they chase them off the lake - or in many cases the cygnets have had to be rescued and relocated elsewhere.  Mr Highams Park particularly is not to be messed with!


For anyone wanting more historical information about how Highams Park came to be click here and for more information on the lake and some lovely photos click here.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - O is for Optician

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter O

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

Phew I'm flying by the seat of my pants now as I'm preparing this post the day before it will be published and I don't have any other posts ready yet either.

But aptly today I had an appointment with the optician.


The optician is on the parade of shops opposite the station so just a 10 minute walk away.  I hadn't been since late 2021 so I was a bit overdue for my check up.  Fortunately it all went well.  In fact I'm less short sighted now than before which is good but of course meant new glasses.  I could have opted just to change the lenses in my current pair - I thought that would mean being without them for days but apparently they can fit new lenses on site and it only takes about an hour, maybe two.  But, as I have to wear them all the time, I felt justified in getting new frames.  That means I will still have the old pair for emergencies.

It was a very thorough check - as well as ensuring they prescribe the right lenses they also do an electronic scan, do a pressure test and an electronic test of peripheral vision.  

I'm thankful that everything seemed fine and hopefully my new glasses will be ready in about 10 days time.

Hubby has also been to this optician and they picked up a slight problem with his eyes and were able to refer him to Moorfields - a London Eye hospital that again is within fairly easy reach of us.  So far it is just a case of monitoring him but at least now if things change he will get the treatment he needs.

A good local optician was on our checklist when we moved here and thankfully we have one.


Tuesday 16 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - N is for Neighbours

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter N

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

Of course everyone wants good neighbours and we've been lucky on that front.

Due to the layout of our plot we only usually see the neighbours to our left at the front of our house.


We found it quite amusing that Jeff was cleaning his car on his front the afternoon we moved in.  Jeff likes to know what's going on and talks to everyone passing by that he knows.  No doubt he wanted to check us out lol.  Actually he's a lovely guy and we've been more than happy to leave a set of keys with him.  Sadly his wife Anne, died this New Year's Day.  She had respiratory problems for many years and gradually deteriorated.  We didn't get to know Anne that well because of that.

Sue and Stuart are the neighbours to our right.  We chat over the fence sometimes and she's been good at giving us surplus veg and fruit from their garden which is so much better than ours - and probably bigger.  It's laid out beautifully.  

Across the road we're now on first name terms with 4 households.  We all tend to keep an eye out for things like lights left on in the car or parcels being delivered when someone's out or putting dustbins back into the front garden after they've been emptied.  Just little things like that.

We might not be in and out of each other's houses but I'm sure we'd be there for each other in an emergency and I'm happy with that.  

Monday 15 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - M is for Music

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter M

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

One of Hubby's pastimes is playing his guitar.  In Forest Gate he would meet up with other musicians for jamming sessions in the local pubs.  Although we've only moved a short distance away the journey back to Forest Gate is not that easy by public transport.  I hoped he'd find something similar here but actually he's become very involved in the Open Mic  sessions that take place in various locations nearby.  He can get to many of these by bus or train and he often gets a lift home.  He's made some new friends and it's something he really enjoys.

There are also quite a few venues near enough to us that have live music acts and The Waltham Forest Music Society is based in Highams Park. 

We also have our own local community radio station hSpark Radio.

Plenty of music then to keep Hubby happy.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Friday's Fave Five - 12/4/24


Well I'm a day late here but it's still good to look back on the week and find the blessings and then share them with Susanne and other like minded bloggers here.

1)  Warm weather.  We've still had some rain showers this week but we've also had some lovely spells of sunshine.  Plus it was a lot warmer!  I went for a walk today in just a short sleeved top.  Well I started out with a cardigan on but that soon came off.  It was lovely to be out in the sunshine, smell a few BBQs and hear lawnmowers with the lovely smell of freshly cut grass.

2)  I've completed the Diabetes Prevention Programme.  The last session was last Monday.  Thankfully my last test results show I'm no longer in the pre-diabetic range so it's been worthwhile doing the programme.  We started with a group of 15 but only 5 of us stuck it out to the end.  

3)  We've had a few quiet days this week after having family here last week so it's been nice getting the house straight at a leisurely pace.

4)  A lovely morning with Granddaughter Ella on Wednesday.  She was very happy to come to our house.  She enjoyed helping me refill the bird food containers in the garden.  Then we had a good session with Playdoh



Followed by a lunch of plain pasta which she finished and then quite a big banana.  She can be a bit fussy about food but she was obviously hungry.

5)  As well as getting the house straight I also sorted out quite a few things this week and Hubby did 2 trips to the local recycling centre on Friday - we had a few bits and pieces in the garden that couldn't go in our usual rubbish bins so it was good to get rid of them.  I have quite a few items that I'll probably try to sell or give away on Facebook marketplace plus several boxes of things to take to charity shops but it feels good to have things a little bit more organised than they were.  I'm thankful that Hubby does trips like that.  And he cut the grass!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend all.

A - Z Challenge 2024 - L is for Library

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter L

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

A library that I could walk to was high on my list and thankfully we were able to tick that box - I can walk to the library in 10 minutes.


Known as Hale End Library it is one of 8 libraries in the borough.  

It has a computer area and 2 community rooms available for hire and they also have a range of activities going on - especially in school holidays.  It certainly meets my needs and if I can't find a book in my library I can reserve it from a large network of libraries.

It's closed on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays but open from 10-6 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10-4 on Saturdays so plenty of time for browsing.

I love my library - I love reading!

Friday 12 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - K is for Knitting Group

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter K

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

Moving into a new area during the pandemic didn't make it easy for getting to know people or making friends.  Once restrictions eased I looked to find ways of meeting people and one way I found was to join a local knitting group.

I'm not a prolific knitter by any means but I do enjoy it and I have found a nice group of people that meet twice a month in the evenings.  It's not a big group but everyone is friendly and we have done a couple of trips to knitting shows.

We also did a yarn sale recently combined with a cake sale as a fund raiser which was fun.

Originally we met in a an upstairs room of the local pub but now we meet in the newly refurbished rooms in the station building that are available to hire.  If everyone turns up there is just about room for us!

Our WhatsApp group used to be Knit and Natter but now it's the Railway Ravellers.  

My current WIP is a blanket from knitted squares - I've made all the squares and now I'm working on the edging.  Then I just have to sew it all together!

Thursday 11 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - J is for Just drawing a breath

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter J

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

Well today is the letter J and I have nothing prepared.  (Just for info I have nothing prepared from this point forward although I do have ideas in my head for the rest of the letters.)

I really wasn't sure about taking part this year.  I did have the idea for my theme a little way in advance but my blogging had been so erratic that I wasn't convinced I could get back into blogging every day.  So far so good.  (Although I'm not sure the quality is great this year.)

However scraping the barrel I've come up with J for Jazz - there is a Highams Park Jazz Club which meets at The County Arms Pub.  Phew!

And.....exhale.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - I is for Independent Shops

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter I

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

One of the things I do miss is not being close to a decent shopping mall.  Previously we were a bus or quick train ride away from Westfield with its huge selection of shops.  We can still get to Westfield from here but it's best to do it by car.  

Our town centre does not really have any chain stores when it comes to anything but food (we have a Tesco store and a Subway).  As I posted under C we have a lot of Cafés and we also have quite a few restaurants which I'll come to further down the alphabet.  In the main our shops are independents - I wrote about Grace & Albert yesterday.  

Another that is worth a mention is  V and A Books & Gifts, Highams Park’s own village bookshop which also sell gifts and children’s toys. 

We also have a bridal shop:

Best Dress to Impress

Plus we have:

An upholsterer

A mobility shop - selling mobility scooters and other equipment that hopefully I won't need anytime soon!

Some small convenience food stores

Dry cleaners

Estate Agents

Hairdressers

Nail bars

Community Larder 

Several take away food outlets including Fish & Chips

A phone shop 

Several Newagents 

and a petrol station.

There are no bank or building society branches though but we do have a Post Office.  There is also quite an upmarket furniture store.

These shops are all within walking distance and most of our needs are covered but for some things we need to go further afield.

And, I noticed at the weekend, that the appliance shop finally looks set to be re-opening soon - the boarding is down and a new frontage is in place - it's been closed for quite a while because this happened:




Back in January 2022 a bus crashed into the appliance store causing significant damage.  Several people were taken to hospital including the driver who had to be cut from the wreckage.  

As far as I'm aware there were no fatalities or life threatening injuries but there were quite a few school children on the bus at the time.


Tuesday 9 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - H is for Hub

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter H

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

Moving into a new area during lockdown in the UK was challenging.  We didn't know the area very well.  We didn't have friends here and of course the pandemic made mixing with others tricky.

Luckily I'm quite a home person and with the arrival of 3 grandchildren in the first 3 months we were here (one on our actual moving day!) I've been kept busy.  But of course as time has gone on I've wanted to meet new people and get involved in the community.

One way that I've done that is to get involved with the local Community Hub by volunteering at one of the two Foodbank sessions they run on Thursdays.

The Hub is based in All Saint's Church and is just a 10 minute walk away.  Highams Park Food Aid was set up to provide food to people in Highams Park and Chingford who needed support in obtaining food supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has continued to provide a food bank on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as a free café session on Wednesdays.  

As pandemic restrictions eased the Hub has continued to provide these services to the community but have added in many more, for example:

Debt advice from Christians Against Poverty

Free haircuts

Access to a Podiatrist

Access to outreach sessions from organisations such as Citizens Advice and Shelter

Advice from The Heet Project on how to:

  • Save money on fuel bills
  • Stay warm & healthy at home
  • Save energy & cut carbon emissions

Access to a group of electrical "fixers" who will do their best to fix broken electrical items.

The aim is to involve the local community by bringing them together through The Hub.  There are also other ways to be involved - a knitting group meets at the Hub on Wednesdays; a gardening group has been set up using the outdoor space behind the church and there are other activities going on e.g. chair aerobics sessions.

I really enjoy volunteering at the Thursday Foodbank session.  I've met a lot of nice people and it feels good to be giving something back to the community.

Monday 8 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - G is for Grace & Albert

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter G

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

Of course being able to shop was an important factor and although we don't have a shopping mall that close, we do have some nice shops.  One of these is Grace & Albert.

I'm ashamed to admit that I only visited it recently - we needed to replace the glass jug from our cafetiere which I'd clumsily broken.  Hubby insisted that Grace & Albert would be the place to go.  And yes they were.  It will definitely be my go to place for gifts in future.  Predominantly it is a homewares shop but they have diversified into all sorts of other items that would make lovely gifts, including plants and all the plant holders you could need and so much more.  I spent ages in there just browsing.


Their website is a work in progress but they have a Facebook page here and I also found this informative article on the local authority's website.

If you want cheap and cheerful mass produced stuff this is not the place to go.  (Unfortunately neither is IKEA as our local store was recently sold.)  However if you have someone that's difficult to buy for I'd be surprised if you couldn't find something in Grace & Albert to suit.

Saturday 6 April 2024

A - Z Challenge 2024 - F is for Forest

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter F

This year I'm blogging about my local area.  

My area?  Highams Park which is in the borough of Waltham Forest in North East London, (UK) a little known place that nestles between Chingford and Woodford that most people only come to if they have a specific reason to - if not we usually get bypassed.  Suits us.

Having lived in Forest Gate in East London for 36 years (and for my husband 65 years!) moving was a big deal for us.  But we've been in Highams Park since September 2020 so I feel I know enough about it now to fill out 26 posts! 

We've only moved just over 5 miles but we didn't know this area at all before moving here.  Although of course we did have a good look around when looking for a house and there were a number of things we wanted on our check list.

One thing we wanted was to be near woodland or open space.  Our former house looked out onto Wanstead Flats - open space that's part of Epping Forest.


We used to joke that we had an enormous front garden.

Where we are now does not have the same outlook but we are just a 5 minute walk from the actual forest area around Highams Park Lake which connects to other parts of Epping Forest and this view is pretty good too.


The main bulk of the forest is to the north of us but there are pockets of woodland within walking distance in various directions so we are never short of somewhere to walk.

It's quite nice just to do a circuit of the lake.  The only slight problem during the winter months is that the ground can be quite wet and muddy.  You definitely need good walking boots or wellies (Wellington boots/waterproof boots)

At just over 6000 acres, Epping Forest is the largest open space in London and is managed by the City of London Corporation.  Within walking distance of our house is the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge that was built on the orders of Henry VIII in 1543.


I think we have the best of both worlds where we are now - we have all the amenities we need and easy access into the centre of London but with all this open and green space on our doorstep.


Friday 5 April 2024

Friday's Fave Five - 5/4/24


It's Friday so time to reflect on the week and find the good things.  Our host Susanne who blogs here is great at reminding us to do this each week.   Here are mine:

1.  Family time on Saturday - we had all the family here - total chaos but I do love seeing all the little ones having fun together.


So hard to get them all looking at the camera and smiling!

Post Easter egg hunt!

2.  More family time - grandson Nathan turned 7 on Sunday.  The parents took all the children to see a film in the morning and then we joined them for lunch at The Big Easy in Canary Wharf.




3.  The library.  A recurring thing here but I do love that I can walk to my library, it has a good selection of books and it's easy to request books from other libraries when I need to.  This week I also visited with grandsons Noah and Miles to give them a bit more variety of books to read.  

4.  Extended time with grandsons Noah and Miles - they arrived last Friday and will go home tomorrow.  My DIL went home on Wednesday so my son has been single parenting since then.  I love watching him interact with his kids - he does a great job.  (All my kids do actually although I may be a little bit biased here lol.)

5. A great team of volunteers at the Foodbank.  We all have our individual skills but we work well as a team and this week we helped a lot of people - it was busy!  We had a visit from the CEO of our council and I think she was suitably impressed with what we do whilst acknowledging it's sad that the service is needed.

Plus I had some tulips from son and DIL and although we've had quite a few showers there has been some sunshine.  And more daylight - our clocks sprung forward last weekend.  All things to lift your mood.

Have a good weekend all.