Describe your area in three words: London but not.
Coolest coffee spot: Ideal Espresso does the tastiest coffee by far. It’s a little coffee stall at Greenwich Market – a grab-and-go kinda place. The runner up is Buenos Aires Cafe, which does a mean Portuguese custard tart and croissant when you fancy (or need) a treat. For a more bourgie coffee experience, Peyton and Byrne offers good coffee and cake in a baby-friendly sit-down space just by Greenwich Market.
Best family-friendly restaurant: Viggo doesn’t have the patience for fine dining or even sitting still for more than two minutes, which means that food needs to happen pretty quickly these days. One restaurant that always delivers on flavour and speed is Pho Street, a friendly, modern Vietnamese place with staff who are smiley and helpful even when you drag your buggy in. There’s ample space to park up, plenty of high chairs, and plastic plates and cutlery so the kiddos can tuck in too. They do all this while serving up the usual suspects including noodle soups, vermicelli noodle salads and summer rolls, with the option of children’s portions. Viggo goes mad for the Vietnamese spring rolls. Their bubble teas and iced Vietnamese coffees are also great when it’s warm outside.
Favourite park or green space: Hello Greenwich Park – such an amazing park to have five minutes from the house. There is endless green space and undulating hills for picnics and play, and even on a busy, sunny weekend it doesn’t feel too crowded. Stroll around and explore the beautiful rose gardens, ponds and the ‘hidden’ deer park, and enjoy the beautiful historical heritage buildings dotted around the pathways – Queen’s House to name just one. And did I mention the view? It’s really something else. Walk up the hill to the Royal Observatory and see London and the Thames from a new perspective; it gets me every time. There’s also a massive and really nice play park for the kids to have fun in, so you can’t lose.
Best local museum or gallery: I completely wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be a regular visitor to the National Maritime Museum when I moved to the area, but they have amazing spaces for young kids to run around and explore. One section, the AHOY! gallery, is entirely dedicated to under-8s and has a miniature seaside play area, a pretend ship’s engine room, a fishmonger’s and other quirky little maritime-themed activities that make it the perfect spot for indoor play on a rainy or cold day. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it this winter. For an adult art fix, the small but perfectly shaped Now Gallery in North Greenwich showcases up-and-coming artists and is something Viggo and I have both really enjoyed.
Coolest kids’ shops: Greenwich is, unfortunately, lacking on the shop front – bar a small handful of record shops, vintage shops and fashion boutiques – so I was delighted when Taylor & Forge, a furniture and interiors boutique with nicely curated homeware, jewellery and plants, opened up recently. They also have a small section of baby gifting items such as teething rings, soft toys, books and babygrows, so go there for some grown-up eye candy and you’ll more than likely find something for the little nugget as a bonus.
Favourite under-5s class/activity: This very family-friendly area so there are plenty of playgroups and things to do with kids. Viggo has loved going to Hartbeeps, a sensory play and music group that’s lots of fun and available in many different locations around London. He also loves water and, conveniently, the Greenwich Centre has a nice new pool on the other side of the park. I’d also like to recommend Big Scream, which takes place Every Wednesday and Friday at Greenwich Picturehouse, with films that you’ll actually want to see shown in a baby-friendly screening room amongst other screaming – or, hopefully, sleeping – babies. Viggo was too old for this by the time we moved here so I wasn’t able to go with him (he started walking at 9.5 months so sitting down to watch a film was a no-go), but I’m dying to try it out with the next baby. The Cutty Sark has weekly toddler takeovers and Mudchute Park & Farm is only a few stops away on the DLR.
What makes your area great? So many things: the heritage and park, that villagey feeling, convenience and the proximity of the Thames. The little town can get very touristy at times but in the week it’s surprisingly quiet. Luckily West Greenwich where we live is just a 10-minute walk from the market and the rest of the commotion. It’s nicely tucked away with quaint residential streets and has a healthy selection of neighbourhood pubs, a community garden and a lovely row of shops on the corner of Royal Hill and Circus Street with a local greengrocer, a cheese shop, a butcher, a fishmonger and a florist. I just wish more of my close friends lived here!
What’s the best thing about living in London?: Diversity, choice, the energy and quick deliveries.
And the worst?: The distances, the pollution and the weather.
Follow Sofie at @sofie_eliasson-brown
Photo credit: Sofie Eliasson-Brown