Sunday, 27 April 2014

Highgate pubs

Before I came to live in England, whenever I thought of the country, it was in black and white. Maybe because when I visited aged 6 (my mother was English and we came over to see my grandparents - in those days, there was none of this jetting back and forth for shopping weekends: It was a huge undertaking, cost a lot of money and was on a par with, say – I was going to say, 'visiting the moon', but that isn't true, as people don't actually visit the moon. It's also not true that it would be like going to the other side of the planet from New York, because even that's pretty straightforward these days. The simple truth is, that if you're under 40, you probably can't conceive of how big a deal international travel used to be, but suffice to say, that as a family we only ever made the trip once) and, when we got here, TV was only in black and white. Or maybe it's because the photographs we took of our trip were all in black and white. I don't really know. All I know is, that as I lay in my childhood bed before coming here to study, thinking about how soon I'd be in London, I pictured everything in black and white. So my black and white picture, looking out over the plain of London, is my homage to that preconception.

Now, London is full of color. Mostly green, as all the trees are in fresh leaf and the park I live by is at its best. I was thinking last night, as I looked out my kitchen window at it, stars (yes, even in the city) twinkling above, that I'm very lucky indeed to be in a capital city, but surrounded by so much greenery that it feels positively suburban.

On a completely different note, the other evening, we visited the Gatehouse Pub ( for the first time. So what? You may be asking. Well, I mention it because I've been to every single one of Highgate's other pubs - some many times - but for some reason have never been to the Gatehouse before. So, we made it our mission. It's one of those places that look bigger from the outside than they are once you're in, and it has the knotty-pine decor of pubs refurbished in the '90s. Having said this, it feels more like a 'local' than many of the others, which are often filled with barking youths who want the whole place to know they speak yah (as in, "Oh, yah, it was, like, so amazing..."). So, small groups of friends – one playing cards – older folks having a quiet pint, and the TV showing football with the sound down. Best bits: the semi-private booths round the edge of the room; change from a tenner for three drinks. Back story: claims to be the oldest pub in the village (possibly 14th century, though clearly heavily remodeled in Victorian times) and a ghost has been seen there. For the record, it didn't give off any spooky vibes. Recommended for: a quieter pub for when you actually want to talk to the people you're with.

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