Saturday 17 February 2018

The Saturday List #165 - Ten reasons why I love living in Mill Hill!

I've lived in Mill Hill since 1962, when my Mum brought me home from Edgware General Maternity Ward (apart from a short spells in Stockholm and Queensbury in the 1980's). I went to Primary school in Mill Hill and I run a business in Mill Hill. I love living in Mill Hill. There are many reasons, but here are my top ten. I've been saving this list up all week!  After what is mentioned in number 8, I was moved to put finger to keyboard. I hope the suspense of reading the first 7 is not too much

1. Great links into London. Mill Hill is 12 miles from central London. We probably have the fastest and best route to Central London of any equivalent suburban town centre. Much as the Thameslinks service can drive us mad at times, it is fast, modern and clean. A fast rush hour train has you at St Pancras in 16 minutes. You can get connections to anywhere easily. It will soon get even better in terms of connections when Crossrail opens. This will mean we have a far more painless route to Heathrow, which is the one place we don't have an easy route to. As a business owner, I also benefit from the great bus links, which mean my customers, many of whom are students etc, who don't have cars, can arrive from far and wide. It is one of my bugbears with the Council that they don't promote Mill Hill as a great place to run a business! Mine has thrived and this is in no small part due to the easy transport accessibility. One excellent way to use those excellent transport links will be to hop on a Thameslink train to Hendon next Saturday evening and nipping up the stairs to the Midland Hotel. My Band, The False Dots will be performing live at the Save London Music Campaign Birthday party. It will be free from 8.30pm. Here's a snippet if you wonder what we're like (and it was all filmed in Mill Hill) - ;)

Snapped on a walk through Mill Hill Park last year
2. Great walks. I've got a dog, which means that come hell or high water, I have to have a walk every day. I doubt that there is any other place in London with a better selection of decent walks. Totteridge valley, Darlands lake, Arrendene, The Ridgeway  or even up the road, over the Motorway to the Railway pub for a swift half. All are in there way, great walks. As a kid, my brother used to take me to the footbridge that crosses the motorway, from Millway to Hale Grove Gardens. We'd stand and watch trains and cars pass underneath. I still enjoy it, especially when the Wembley Arch is lit. I featured some of these images in a short video I made of an instrumental song written by our dearly departed Bass player. I know motorways aren't everyones cup of tea, but I still enjoy a pause gazing at the cars and trains passing underneath, on my way for a swift half.

3. The Mill Hill Music Festival. Ok, I'm biased, I am on the organising committee, but it is a highlight of the year for me. We have it every two years, so this is a year off. We have some truly awesome artists and Mill Hill really does come to life. Here is a clip of The Alan Warner Band playing at last years festival. Although there won't be a festival this year, you can see Alan Warner tonight at The Three Wishes in Edgware (as short bus ride on a 240/221/251 from Mill Hill).

4. Mill Hill's restaurants. We are blessed to have an amazing selection of top notch restaurants in Mill Hill. The Good Earth is arguably the best Chinese restaurant in London, certainly the best suburban one I've used. It is not cheap but it is exceptionally good in terms of food and service. My family will always feel a special affection with the restaurant. In 1984, my father, who was a pensioner at the time, was helping out at his former business, collecting the wages from Lloyds Bank (remember when we had banks), as the new owner was on holiday and he was being paid a retainer to assist,  , when two men armed with baseball bats attacked him and tried to steal the dosh. The owner of the Good Earth saw what happened, followed the men back to their car, took their number and reported them to the Police. When they arrived back home, the Police were waiting and both got 18 months. Kiyoto is a top notch Japanese restaurant, Pizza Express does very good pizza, Hudsons are decent purveyors of burgers. We are rather partial to a takeaway from Cannons Fish and Chips (try the Halloumi if you are a non meat/fish eater). Kobains kebabs in Station Road are good and if you are vegetarian,try their falafel kebab. Then there is The Mill Hill Tandoori, that is almost my second home.

5. Fishmongers. If you haven't got a great fishmonger in your locality, then you are not in a good locality. Elias Fish at Mill Hill East are fantastic. This week was Valentines Day. We never eat out on Valentines day these days, it is too busy. So I always good a feast for my beloved. She doesn't eat meat, so Elias fish is a godsend. I bought some of their giant prawns for starter and sea bass fillets as a main. They were absolutely delicious. Their smoked salmon is also excellent. Fresh fish is so much better than the frozen, tasteless stuff we find in so many supermarkets. It really is worth the effort.

6. Butchers. In Mill Hill we are lucky to have three excellent butchers. The one I use least is Highland Organics, in Mill Hill East. They are great, but are less convenient. They are great for barbeque packs and speciality meats. My brother in law is Kenyan, so I will pick him up some Biltong when he's visiting, which he loves. Cooksleys Butchers are at the bottom of my road. They do fine steaks, joints and turkeys. They also do a brilliant range of pickles and chutneys. My dog is particularly keen on them as they supply tasty bones! Then there is Gerards Boucherie on Daws Lane. More of a boutique butchers, they do some superb sausages, I thoroughly recommend the Choriso Sausages. They also do amazing Shallots. They stock Caramelised Red Onion Chutney by The English Provider, which is surely the finest relish you can possibly find. They also do marvellous pickles.

7. The University of London Observatory. This is located next to the A41 Hendon Way. I've yet to visit (one for the bucket list), but it has always fascinated me. The adjacent subway is decorated with Murals of the planets, which sadly get regularly vandalised. It is worth a trip through the subway, just to appreciate them.

8.  Our great community spirit. Last Saturday, we had a cross community memorial service at The Sacred Heart to mourn Mr Vijay Patel, the shopkeeper killed in Mill Hill Broadway, following an altercation with youths who he refused to serve alcohol and cigarette papers. The service was incredibly moving. Afterwards, the whole community came together to meet each other over a cup of tea and some snacks. Without people, a district is a plot of land. I am proud of our community.

9. Mill Hill Wines. I spare no chance to plug Mill Hill Wines. As I mentioned above, I made a rather special dinner for my beloved on Valentines day. Of course I bought the accompanying plonk, a rather good Malbec, from Mill Hill wines. It is a family run business. Last night, as I walked past at 9pm, on my evening hound pound, they were locking up. As they are dog lovers, Bruno was most excited to be given a tasty gravy bone and get a big fuss made. That is Mill Hill for you.

10.  Mill Hill Music Complex. Ok, I confess, this is my business. I miss no opportunity to plug it, as it is also my life. We have over 1,200 musicians and artists a week passing through our doors. We've seen some of the UK's top artists pass through our doors and two Brit Award winners, Amy Winehouse and Kate Nash started their career rehearsing in our studios. I even sold Amy Winehouse the Blue Fender Strat she played when she made her first TV appearance on Jools Holland. We opened in 1979 and we are seeing the third generation of local musicians coming through.

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