Introducing Real London: Shepherd's Bush

This is where it all began; my blogging journey that evolved into my writing journey that is transforming into whatever happens next.

I am so proud that my blogging life began as Bird in the Bush.

An hour is not enough time to cover all the ground I wanted to cover in Shepherd's Bush but that's all I had yesterday so I squeezed in a quick exploring of the drastically changed (and improved, I think) Green, a nosey in Traid and FARA charity shops (but alas, I discovered Age Concern has gone!) and I stuck my head inside the cafe area of Bush Theatre to see an alive space full of activity and conversation. How I wish this place had existed while I was still living around the corner.

I then walked the length of Shepherd's Bush Market because if any part of Shepherd's Bush would make you feel like you haven't been away it would be there. And I was right. By the time I emerged at the Goldhawk Road end to the loud bouncing beats of the Reggae and Dancehall CD stall that has stood there for as long as I remember my autopilot had kicked in and I had to stop myself from turning down the street towards my old flat past the countless numbers of fabric shops, that seem to have multiplied.

These photos may not mean much to those of you who don't know Shepherd's Bush - a small pocket of London that will get overlooked by tourists unless you have tickets to a concert at the Empire or you are tempted by Westfield's retail charms. The things is, if you're visiting London, I would love you to go to Shepherd's Bush but I am not going to say you have  to. The reason being is that most people don't "get" Shepherd's Bush and we all know why. It's noisy, dirty, edgy with more than its fair share of crazies and petty criminals (sadly). That was what made it so special to connect with other people who did get Shepherd's Bush on my blog and on Twitter. But I can understand if you've paid hundreds of pounds (or more) to get to London of course you're going to choose gentrified Notting Hill over raw and real Shepherd's Bush, an expensive but impressive West End show over an intimate performance at Bush Theatre or Bush Hall, a noisy but convenient meal at any one of London's too many chain restaurants over a character- and flavourful meal in one of London's best Polish restaurants or in  a former Victorian gin palace. I understand this and I'm not here to persuade you otherwise.

But if you've been to London a few times, find yourself wondering what real life in this chaotic city looks like and you want to see, smell and taste this "melting pot" that you hear London is, then you could do a lot worse than beginning this journey in Shepherd's Bush. (I have created a small list of places worth seeing in Shepherd's Bush on Foursquare and you can also get an overview of things to do and places to eat and drink in this post (though it may be a little out of date), which includes many survival tips too! And feel free to email me if you are ever local and want more advice or information.)

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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