Wandering in Wandsworth (and Fulham and Victoria)

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Sign outside The Paradise Cooperative in Wandsworth

I rarely give myself time to wander; often my time is planned and filled with tasks from my ToDo list. I’d forgotten how magical life can be when I give myself a time boundary with no plans.

I was in London at the weekend, staying with a friend in Wandsworth and she was busy all morning. After trawling the internet for an hour (a whole hour of time wasting in a not good way!) I decided to go for a walk and see what it’s like in Wandsworth.

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I’d barely walked five minutes when I came across The Paradise Co-operative – a community garden. The gate was open so I wandered in and was greeted by a friendly couple who told me the history of the garden.

They invited me to stay so I did; I harvested some beans and tomatoes, some of which they insisted I take with me. All the veggies and fruit are organic and tasted amazing. I had the biggest smile on my face as I picked tomatoes.

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I left the garden and made my way to Fulham, this time in search of a vegan cafe – The Sanctuary on Fulham Road. It wasn’t where the Happy Cow map said it would be. Instead, there was a new cafe – Simply Vegan, which opened its doors a couple of days ago. I was after a savoury lunch, despite the tempting array of beautiful cakes and the owner directed me to a vegan pizza restaurant, Pickywops.

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Andrea and Cristiano, founders of Pickywops, and me

Oh my! It was amazing! I had the award-winning Vegan Temptations pizza, which had Violife mozzarella, kale, broccolini, almond ricotta and blueberries on it. I savoured every bite of each slice, especially the last because of saving the blueberry til the end, for the exquisite burst of sweetness. Yum.

If I hadn’t given myself time without plans, I would not have found either of these places, both of which promoted a healthier lifestyle and made me think about food, where it comes from, and my own buying habits.

Later, when I bought veggies from Sainsburys, I wondered about buying organic veg from farmers at local markets in Brighton, and about volunteering at a local community garden.¬†Research turned up both options: the Upper Gardner Street Market and the Phoenix Community Centre Garden. I’m going to visit both at the earliest opportunity.

As I arrived at Victoria Train Station to catch a train to Brighton, I saw I had an hour’s wait so I looked on Google maps for a coffee shop and headed off to find the one I chose. It was closed, so I wandered in the general direction of the station and stumbled across¬†Places for NOVA, an art installation by Saad Qureshi. I slowly made my way around all six pieces, photographing them from angles that I hoped would make nice photos. Then I sat on a bench and ate the vegan doughnut and drank the Earl Grey with soya milk that I gleefully bought from a cafe in the centre of the exhibition.

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I left London full of wonder. It’s quite a child-like feeling and it’s stayed with me almost all the time. I think it’s my favourite feeling.

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