Continuing in our mini series of where we live, we are going from Nat’s post in exotic Singapore (see here for that post) to our corner of South West London: Tooting. Like Rosie, we had always planned an Escape to the Country (see here for her story), but it never quite happened. We swore we’d never bring kids up here, they’d never go to school here, they would certainly never go to secondary school here. We are now looking at secondaries in the area for our oldest …
So, why did we stay here? A multitude of reasons. Lots of people think that by living in a big, busy, city you have a diminished quality of life, but I actually think quite the opposite. In this post, I will take you around my local area and explain to you why I love it so much.
Surely living in London there are a lack of open spaces for your kids? I can debunk that theory immediately. We live a short walk / bike ride from the wonderful open spaces of Tooting Common. Anyone who follows us on Instagram (@tmkuk), you will know how much I use the common: I run there, walk the dog and often the kids and I go for a play in the playground and an ice cream. I love it throughout the seasons, and it is definitely my happy place. It also holds so many memories for me: I pushed the children there as babies in prams, they took their early steps on the grass, my son rode a bike with our stabilisers for the first time there, both kids mastered the monkey bars and they both proved they could climb trees despite their inner city up bringing!
On a sadder note, I lost my Dad a couple of years ago, and he loved nothing more than taking the children to Tooting Common – on his computer, his screen saver was of my kids on the swings in the playground. I know my mother treasures her and Dad’s time with the kids at the common.
Of course, the fair also visits at least once of year which is of great excitement for my kids. Me less so …
Tucked in the corner of the common, is the beautiful Tooting Lido. Tooting Bec Lido is an open-air fresh water swimming pool in South London. It is the Second largest swimming pool by surface area in the United Kingdom, being 100 yards (91.44 m) long and 33 yards (30.18 m) wide. (Source: Wikipedia). It’s often used as a shoot location for TV and films – even Brad Pitt visited here to shoot a scene for Snatch!
With its painted changing room doors, and turquoise waters, it is a simply stunning place to be. As you are swimming in the fresh water (even during the heatwaves, it is only 23/4c) with the sun light glinting on the water, I can think of no better place to be. Obviously, the children adore it here – there is a smaller children’s pool to splash about in, and a large field to run around maniacally as only kids do. As it is so local, you can guarantee you will someone there you know, and there’s always some play mates for the children.
Tooting Lido was also the location for my daughter’s fabulous victory last summer in the Junior Aquathlon!
Vibrant Food Scene
Tooting has a large Asian population, and Tooting is home to some of the best curry houses in London (even better than Brick Lane!). Many have won awards and entice their custom from all over the South East. Should you visit, Vijaya Krishna, Lahore Kahori, Mirch Masala and Apollo Banana Leaf, are all worth a look. Added to that there are restaurants serving modern European, Italian, Lebanese, Moroccan and a couple of gastro pubs – all within a ten minute walk of my house. And if that wasn’t enough, there is the best little cocktail bar at the top of my road and a fresh juice bar in the nearby covered market – our little town really does have it all!
Access to Central London
We are only 30 minutes tops, to central London, travelling by tube or overland train. We love being tourists in our city: We have strolled down Southbank on a sunny Friday afternoon; on a whim, hopped on a tube to The British Museum or The Natural History Museum; strolled in Hyde Park and walked about the city on a deserted Sunday. You can never get bored of London and there is always something new to discover in every season. I feel immensely lucky to have museums, theatres, great parks and fantastic architecture on our doorstep – the children benefit hugely from all London can offer, and no exorbitant hotel bills for us when we visit – we just nip home on the tube!