Heard in Maida Vale
History, Eat, Art, Refresh and Discover...Maida Vale
I have lived in this delightful part of London for almost ten years now, and there's a reason why I'm in no rush to move away.
Still in Westminster, this place really does have the best of worlds. It's just a short journey on the Bakerloo line to Oxford Circus for example, but it's still nice and quiet and does have a nice "out of London" feel about it.
This is the first in what I hope will be a series of blog posts in the different areas of London; so expect a bit of History, a place or two where to Eat, perhaps a piece of Art to marvel over, where to Refresh yourself and grab a beer, a glass of wine or a coffee, and lastly Discover something a little extra about the area. I hope you enjoy!
I think it's always nice to start off with a bit of history about the area, and luckily the history of Maida Vale is really rather fascinating! First of all let's deal with the name, Maida Vale does seem quite a strange one...
The name actually comes from a pub called The Maida, named after General Sir John Stuart which was situated on the corner of Edgeware Road. It was under his direction that the British expeditionary forces triumphed over a First French Empire division outside the town of Maida in Calabria, Italy, during the Napoleonic Wars on the 4th of July 1806.
Today it's probably best known for its red brick mansion blocks, dating back to the Victorian and Edwardian times, but we do have a few notable residents and of course have our fair share of Blue Plaques! From the likes of Alan Turing, the pioneer of modern computing, to the actor Alec Guiness. And just round the corner from me, we have a green plaque dedicated to Vera Brittain, best remembered as the author of the Testament of Youth.
There are plenty of places to eat in Maida Vale, but to be honest most of them are just mediocre, so I do find myself eating out in other places around London more often. But, saying that I do have a few favourites which I visit once or twice a week, with one of my absolute favourites being Le Cochonnet on Lauderdale Parade. It's always buzzing, full of locals enjoying there thin and crispy pizza, alongside their pasta, fish and meat dishes, plus quite an impressive wine list! The restaurant opened back in 1985 as a French Bistro and has become a bit of an institute here in Maida Vale. A real highlight for many is the fact that they have numerous TV's high up in the corners always showing football!
Ok you won't find any museums or art galleries here, so for your art fix I would head down Elgin Avenue to see this wonderful piece of street art on the shop Day True. Produced by the Irish street artist Fin DAC, it caused quite a stir when it was unveiled as the council weren't too happy! Just a few doors down from here, you'll find another Blue Plaque remembering children's book illustrator Edward Ardizzone who lived at No. 130 (you'll recognise his design for the front cover of Stig in the Dump!).
First off I will recommend my local which also happens to be my favourite pub in London. The Elgin, right by the tube station is probably the only pub I personally consider visiting when in the area. Friendly staff, great beer on tap which is always changing, and a really good menu from breakfast right through to dinner. It's also a great place to come and have a coffee in the daytime too. If it's wine your after I would love to recommend Flora Fine Wines. It's literally just opened (it was a wine shop many years before hand), and it's great to finally get a wine bar here in Maida Vale, so if you are in the area please do pay them a visit. If you're after a bottle of something a bit special, why not pop along to The Winery on Clifton Road. I get a lot of my wine from here as they specialise in Riesling which just so happens to be my favourite grape!
And finishing off with something extra to do in the area, for me I think a visit to Maida Vale wouldn't be complete without a wander around Paddington Rec. I feel so lucky to have this great open space just a few minutes walk from home, and at 27 acres, it's the largest area of parkland within the City of Westminster, and was actually the first park of its kind in London (1888). Just have a walk around the nature trails, observe a game of cricket which normally is taking place, there's also a running track, an indoor and outdoor gym, tennis courts, artificial turf pitches, a hockey pitch, bowling green, children's play area, a bandstand, several gardens, and a lovely cafe too. It's also here that you will find another Blue Plaque honouring the success of cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins, who apparently learnt to ride his bike here as a child!
Heard in London