Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Where is home?
I was born in Northolt but have lived in Hanwell for the past 7 years, so I know Ealing and Hounslow quite well. I was lucky to have great role models at school, and a family who actively encouraged me to try new things such as becoming an RAF Cadet and completing my Duke of Edinburgh award. These are things a young South Asian teenage girl might not have been expected to get involved in, but they were a turning point for me. It gave me the confidence to feel I belonged anywhere, particularly within the natural world and our local green spaces.
What are the favourite things about where you live?
I have always liked exploring and this part of London is a wonderful area for a walk or a bike ride. When I was younger, we'd cycle along the Grand Union Canal, and sometimes go for picnics on Horsenden Hill, a lovely green space with ancient woodlands, ponds and meadows. You can be completely surrounded by nature, in Perivale!
My Brompton bike (made locally in Greenford) was a real blessing during lockdown. With less cars on the roads it was a great way to explore new areas and get our one hour of daily exercise. I cycled into central London, and around Ealing and Hounslow regularly, visiting beautiful spaces like Gunnersbury Nature Triangle, Warren Farm, Osterley Park and Hounslow Heath. One of my favourite trips was to Minet Country Park, a nature reserve on the edge of Southall filled with trees and a cycle track, which is tucked away between the Uxbridge Road and some big busy dual carriage ways.
Photos showing Gunnersbury Triangle, Hounslow Heath and Minet County Park
I enjoy cycling through Hounslow to Bedfont Lakes to visit the Chattern Hill Community Orchard Lake (known as The Haven) for an outdoor swim. The team at Open Water Swimming have been operating swimming sessions in this lovely little secluded spot throughout the summer and well into autumn. The staff are amazing, and there's even a hut to pick up a buoy, or a cuppa post-swim. As a lover of nature and open water swimming, I can't recommend The Haven enough.
As well as pockets of nature, west London has a brilliant array of art deco buildings. The Hoover Building is spectacular, especially at night when it glows green, and Hounslow has its own Golden Mile of modernist architecture in Brentford. No matter where you live in London, I would recommend grabbing a copy of Joshua Abbott's Guide to Modernism in Metroland to help you explore the art-deco gems where your London borough.
What do you want people to know about your area?
I think it’s really important to be a tourist where you live - its a great opportunity to connect with people, nature and the community. I don't think I will ever get bored of this part of west London and so much of the stuff I love doing is free. Initiatives like Open House, websites like Ian Visits, and local Facebook groups have allowed me to keep exploring and finding new things all the time. I love encouraging people to get out there and find their own local favourites too.
Whilst Ealing doesn't reach down to the Thames, its full of canals and little rivers which are great for a stroll. You can even go canoeing on the Grand Union in Southall with an amazing local charity called The Sharks. And there's a zoo! Hanwell Zoo has meerkats, lemurs and explores and promotes equality and equity.
In addition, west London is filled with history, including a long tradition of activism, fighting for the rights of the borough's South Asian community who also happened to bring some of London's best food to our high streets in Southall and Hounslow.
What is your favourite part of London for nature?
As a Northolt native I have to go for Northala Fields, which our family calls the Northolt Mountains - it looks like Tellytubby Land and is made of old bits of Wembley stadium. It’s a really unexpected space along the A40 and it’s not just the hill as there is also a cycle track, a café and is a Park Run location. This summer I also discovered the cycle lanes along the A40 aren't as scary as I thought - and there's lots more pockets of greenery and beautiful examples of underpass mosaic art to discover.
My usual mode of exploration is on two wheels, but I would like to give a shout-out to the good folks at Ealing Eagles who helped me see another side of the borough, on two feet, My workplace collaborated with their running club on a beginners running course for staff as part of a wellbeing scheme. I'm a reluctant runner, but built up to completing a 5K comfortably around Ealing, with a lovely group of supportive volunteers and colleagues.
Hounslow's Bell Square is also worth mentioning - their brilliant public arts programme brings a variety of performances and works to the town centre throughout the year, free of charge. This summer we saw Gaia, Luke Jerram's giant globe based on detailed NASA data, which was completely beautiful.
Krishna is the Outreach Manager at the University of West London
Krishna lives in Hanwell, close to many of the points of the North and Grand Regent line on the #GreengrounMap
Find the full Greenground Map here