Updated: Sep 9
Where is home?
Originally from Ickenham, I moved to Perivale 9 years ago due to a family link. Coincidentally both areas I have been located close to the Grand Union canal.
What are the favourite things about where you live?
Initially, I really enjoyed the fact that I lived in an area that was located close to a tube station and making it easy to get into central London. However, more recently, I have really started to appreciate the nature and wilderness of my neighbourhood.
The area is amazing as it has water in the form of the Grand Union Canal and the River Brent. There are also meadows, ponds and ancient woodland meaning that I am completely spoilt for choice.
Funnily enough, as a child I remember going to scouts and didn’t last more than a few days there. I never wanted to be wet or cold and was not really sporty and I absolutely hated the rain. I was definitely more comfortable being indoors reading books.
I have gradually developed a positive relationship with nature. I realise how much more hopeful I feel about the future when I am within it. This area is great for that as whilst Horsenden Hill and the surrounds are managed land, it has an essence of wilderness which I feel is missing from the rest of life. It provides a real insight into another world – that containing insects, moss, fungi and animal life.
The decisions around wildlife management are really fascinating. Recently, I was talking to some of the rangers and they were telling me how the eggs of a rare butterfly has been found on the blackthorn, so they’ll be leaving some blackthorn patches intact just to help those butterflies. This really highlights the balance between managing the area for humans and animals.
I find the area is really community focused. There seems to be so much in terms of volunteering. I am a member of the Ealing Wildlife Group FB Group as well as the Friends of Horsenden Hill. There are always lots of things to get involved in which satisfies my desire to be closer to nature while also getting to know people in the neighbourhood.
Just after lockdown, I started volunteering at Horsenden Farm. They have created a market garden and also have a baker who sells freshly baked bread and Perivale Brewery brewing small batches of local beer. Since going there, it has encouraged me to start growing my own veg, even though I have a small patio including growing herbs. Some of these things are so much easier than I thought.
What do you want people to know about your area?
There really is so much that this area has to offer, but I really do want more people to know about the farm. I started out there on one of their ‘apple days’. This is when volunteers pick the apples and then help out in juicing in the traditional way.
When lockdown happened, the bakery started doing home deliveries. Once we came out of lockdown, I asked if they needed any help. Since then, I have gone from helping out in the shop to getting involved in the overall upkeep and maintenance.
On the whole, it is run by volunteers and it really is a lovely group of people who really care about the place and constantly welcome everyone that visits, be it customers or volunteers.
It has been wonderful seeing the farm grow. We often get queues of 20+ people from regulars that I see weekly to people just passing through from visiting the canal, Gruffalo Trail or walking the hill.
What is your favourite part of London for nature?
Naturally, Horsenden Farm is on the list, but I do also love Kew Gardens. Being such a well-established botanical institution, it contains such expertise including being a centre for scientific research and a training academy for gardening and farming.
Over the past 18 months, I have visited regularly as I am enthralled by the varied habitats, temperatures and differing soil conditions. There is so much I love there from the Mediterranean rockeries where in the right weather you can close your eyes and the smell of rosemary and olive wood can transport you to Greece, to the Japanese Gates, jungles and the Lilly pad garden with some so vast that they could support the weight of a small child! Even having visited so many times already, there is still so much more to see.
In addition, Perivale Woods is a really special place. It is a private ancient woodland, managed by the Selbourne Society. You can get membership to go and visit it.
I love the immense history that can be found in this area. From the Victorian Horsenden Hill Farm to the canal that was built in the Victorian period for transporting goods across London. The Hill, through archaeological digs, has been found to date back to Neolithic times and be the site of Saxon and Tudor settlements.
St Mary’s Church is also a wonderful site that people should visit. Dating back to the 13th century. It had a lovely little church yard but what is so wonderful, is that concerts are regularly performed here.
Justin is the manager of an online, second-hand bookstore and can be found in and around Perivale and often, down at the farm!
Justin lives close to several points on the Grand Regent, Brent and North line on the #GreengroundMap.
Find the full Greenground Map here
For TFL, Perivale is in zone 4, on the Central line with good access to buses.