The NW8 postcode of St John’s Wood has recently been ranked by Forbes magazine as the fifth most expensive in London, with an average property price of £2 million.
An hour spent meandering its streets one Saturday lunchtime made me see why it’s an ideal place to live for successful London families.
On my last visit here I had walked along these streets but hadn’t been able to take anything in.
The cafe culture is in evidence everywhere, with an attempt at Parisian chic that, in spite of the grey gloom of a March morning in London, still somehow manages to almost pull it off.
Well, the British are a hardy lot, and are generally happy to sit outside in coats and scarves. Especially when faced with tempting arrays of pastries in the shop windows.
Families were out on the streets, and the cosmoplitan atmosphere is reinforced by the abundance of bicycles.
Not just the Boris bikes which seem to be gradually permeating the city, but some more family-friendly options too.
For a Saturday lunchtime, it was surprisingly quiet, emphasising perhaps the more village atmosphere.
On the other hand, it’s not a typically English scene, with an international feel and the fact that it’s only a stone’s throw away from several tourist attractions and some beautiful architecture.
Flower Stalls Everywhere
For some reason, everyone in St John’s Wood likes to buy flowers. I have no idea why, but everywhere you look, there’s a flowerstall, and they always seem to have customers.
Even the pharmacy has its own flower stall, for reasons that are beyond me. Maybe they’re encouraging you to make your own natural remedies?
Or maybe it’s so that while buying the medicines for your sick relative, you can also get them a bunch of flowers. Makes sense. In fact, why don’t more pharmacies sell flowers?
The Beatles Zebra Crossing
There can’t be too many pedestrian crossings that are world-famous landmarks. Yet, on the corner of Grove End Road and Abbey Road in northwest London, the zebra crossing that served as the iconic backdrop for the Beatles’ 1969 Abbey Road album is still drawing in visitors from around the globe.
It’s an odd experience, visiting a famous piece of tarmac. This becomes especially clear when, as a group of tourists spend a little too long trying to recreate the Famous Four pose, a car horn blows to hurry them up because they are, effectively, just standing in the road!
So that you don’t make the same mistake as thousands of tourists, it’s important to note that ‘Abbey Road’ is closest to St John’s Wood tube station – confusingly, it’s nowhere near Abbey Road station, which is on the opposite side of town!