I’ve decided that my London, Love Story should start with Woolwich.
Woolwich is the place where I live now with my family, and it is fantastic, regardless of what some people may say.
We moved here in 2016 after an extensive and emotionally draining journey called “hunting for a place to buy”. Buying a property in the UK is an exercise in persistence, goodwill and sheer determination. It takes ages; the sellers can change their mind any time and walk away even on a day of exchange. Most properties are chain connected, which means that if someone along the chain fails to complete you are fucked and out of thousands of pounds spend on your lawyer’s fees, which you will never see again.
After months and months of searching high and low, (it is not easy to find a right size property in London) we finally exchanged on our third property (two previous ones fell through).
But by some mysterious miracle we ended up in Woolwich with our own parking space (so grateful), quiet neighbours and sort of community, in which people collect your Amazon delivery for you, and I think this is as much as you can expect from London at this moment in time.
Woolwich is very diverse and colourful with people from all over the world still finding common ground.
Woolwich, for those of you who don’t know, lies in South East London, in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. This part of London is going through massive revitalisation project, and new buildings are popping out on every corner; the Cross Rail that is opening at the end of 2018 is a vast magnet, especially for the city bees. Of course, revitalisation developments like that brings money to the area but also create massive financial divisions between people. On the surface, you won’t see much at the moment, but if you are willing to dig deeper, you will see a typical situation of pricing the unwanted communities out of the area. It has been happening for years all over the city and now has crept into Woolwich.
Currently, from where I’m standing and looking, Woolwich has been divided into two halves, the posh one and the much less posh one (the one where we live) with less flashy buildings, less expensive pastry shops, and more people carrying Lidl’s shopping bags than Waitrose. Division in the community makes the community dissolve and die a slow death or evaporate until the last native moves out, which to me is sad.
But before all that happens and the Woolwich I got to know disappears let me tell you about our lovely, still diverse street. On our street, we have a school, one corner shop that we regularly visit, three bus stops. The closest Co-op is just opposite a gym where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out back in the 1970’s, when he still was a relatively unknown bodybuilder from Austria.
From my flat’s windows, I can see greenery. Ok. I’m exaggerating a bit. I can see a couple of trees in my parking lot. However, mostly while working or teaching Little M. (he is homeschooled at the moment), we have a considerable honour to look at the rubbish bins and sometimes to tell people off for putting non-recyclable waste to the recycling bins (why people are so unaware and careless when it comes to Mother Earth?).
But we don’t mind the bins and the flies (it’s nothing comparing to the Polish countryside). Renting was so stressful, cramping in tiny rooms and even smaller kitchens with carpets everywhere (No More Carpets!!!) and dealing with dodgy landlords (our last landlady was a bit on the off side). And now we own. I feel very grateful for our corner ground floor flat, which is my window to colourful Woolwich with its diversity and authenticity that is becoming harder to find in London.
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