January 28th, 2008

Canary Wharf

Neighborhood Shopping

We've been neighborhood shopping for the past few weekends. We've put together charts of housing prices and lists of roads and statistics about neighborhoods and lists of commuting times and methods. We don't know where we're moving to in six months, but ideally C.'s commute won't be more than an hour as a result. We've driven or walked around Catford, Bexley, Bexleyheath, South Woodford, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton, Seven Sisters, and Wood Green. fjm and chilperic spend Sunday afternoon showing us around their neighborhood. We've made charts for Barking and Ilford, but not yet visited.

Catford convinced us that we wanted off-street parking. Loughton made us realized that really, we just wanted to be able to remember where we'd parked our car and neighborhoods of more sedate on-street parking situations would be just fine. I'm not that much of a cook, in the scheme of things, but find myself drawn to housing ads featuring capacious and nicely done-up kitchens.

I have learned more about where the parts and pieces of London are in the past few weeks than I have all the rest of the time I've spent here. I know where Watford, Billericay, Harrow Weald, and West Byfleet are. I love my Ordinance Survey map of East London. It reduces that half of the city to basics: parks, rivers, forests, A-roads, motorways, train lines, Underground lines, sprawl, and area labels. It shows me how London is connected, its geometry, its rivers, its arteries.

In a moment of hasty recording, I didn't zoom in closely enough to a house map to correctly write down a street name. As a result, on Saturday, we found ourselves on a single-lane road which degenerated into dirt, Woodbury Hill. It backed onto Epping Forest, and each house on it was lovely, spacious, well-maintained, tranquil. Birds sang and the air was fresh. We walked down the dirt road, passing more exquisite-looking houses. It was very, very quiet by London standards, although, over the forest's quiet, we could still hear the low, distant roar of traffic. Nothing we could ever afford, but oh, was it lovely!