high street

Until Monday night, I hadn’t realised how much I love where I live. I knew I liked it here – that I wanted to live in /Nunhead – but I hadn’t really delved into the soppy, emotional side of things.

When I came back from Ireland last year, I felt lost in for the first few weeks. I started to think that my time as a Londoner must be up. Then, at a loose end, I wandered down Rye Lane and my heart began to knock. The foolish smile of a traveler who’s made it home crept across my face. This, I realised, is where I belong.

I found a home 8 minutes walk from Rye Lane and 2 minutes from Evelina Road – what I think of as Nunhead High Street. And as soon as I saw the high street, I knew I had to live close by it.

The Pyrotechnists Pub

It has everything a high street is supposed to have – butchers, baker, greengrocer, fishmonger, pubs, even a funeral parlour. Nunhead has side-stepped the 21st century’s hollowing out of the high street and carved out a community in the middle of London’s rush and noise.

On Monday night, I stood on my street and watched the smoke heave itself up over the rooftops. The anger and the fear I felt didn’t make me want to run. It made me want to dig myself in. To sink my toes under the paving slabs and curl my fingers around the bricks in the walls. I belong here and I want to be an active, vocal part of it, rather than loving it secretly and at a distance.

So this is my high street and these are the places I love.

Crossways Cafe

Crossway Cafe, 93 Evelina Road
This is my local greasy spoon and for a hangover-killing breakfast there’s nowhere better. Sausage, bacon, egg, chips and beans, 2 doorstep slices of crusty white bread and a mug of tea strong enough to dissolve teaspoons – perfect.

Spices, 91 Evelina Road, 020 7277 6000
A wonderful Indian take-away that does a mean sag paneer. It has all the usual staples, plus a page of chef and house specials. I like the green chilli chicken masala.

Rudds, 121 Evelina Road
A traditional greengrocers and fruitiers, they do a good range of British basics. They’re my stable foundation onto which I heap the global treasures I find on Rye Lane.

Ayres The Baker

Ayres The Bakers, 131-133 Evelina Road
Ayres is my local bakers and I adore them. They open at 6am and sell the breads that modern, artisan bakeries normally ditch in favour of fougasse and focaccia – farmhouse, split tin, crusty rolls, baps and French stick (and they do also make some of those fancy breads, too). There are trays of bread pudding, baskets of jam doughnuts and a hot counter with sausage rolls. They also sell flour and fresh yeast.

FC Soper, 141 Evelina Road
One of the best fishmongers in London, Sopers is open six days a week and they have the most fantastic selection of fish and seafood. The service is brilliant and they’re always ready with advice on cooking and storing the fish.

P&J Bakers / Naz the butcher, 147 Evelina Road
The faded sign still says P&J Bakers but locally this is known as Naz the butchers after, er, Naz the butcher who runs it. He sells free range pork and chicken, Scottish beef and makes his own Sicilian sausages.

Naz the butcher

Astar Fish Bar, 98 Evelina Road
The local fisn’n’chip shop, also able to satisfy your kebab and fried chicken needs. I like them for the occasional chippy tea, although I wish they did cans of shandy. A chippy tea isn’t complete without a can of shandy.

Nunhead Express, 2 Kirkwood Road
Our 24 hour shop. I’ve been there at 2 in the morning buying a sandwich and crisps, gone on Sunday afternoon to get tea and biscuits and called in after work for 1 onion and some freezer bags. They sell everything, from probiotic yogurt and flat peaches to tubs of marge and cans of cider. A high street essential.

Old Nun’s Head, 15 Nunhead Green, and The Pyrotechnists Arms, 39 Nunhead Green
There are two pubs in Nunhead I go to for different reasons. The Pyrotechnists is an Irish pub, with plaster saints under the optics and racing on the TV, that reminds me of pubs when I was growing up. The Old Nun’s Head is my aspirational pub, where I go for houmous and pitta and a nice glass of Rioja. They have quizzes, spoken word nights, table tennis and real ale festivals. What more could you want?

The Old Nun's Head

Tagged with: LondonNunheadPeckham

18 Responses to The best high street in London

  1. Helen says:

    Agreed. I often wander up there as I am obviously on the junction of Evelina and Rye Lane (if you get what I mean). I love all these places too – the only thing I would say about Sopers is that it’s definitely over-priced which is a bit of a shame. Other than that though – great monger of the fishes.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      The last local fishmonger I visited regularly was Steve Hatt, during a brief and unsuccessful attempt to live North of the River. Compared to the knuckle chewing prices I sometimes experienced there, Sopers is a breeze. But I suppose that’s what I get for trying to live in The Benighted North.

  2. Sally says:

    Love this post, I love my local highstreet too, hope yours has stayed safe!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      It did, thank you! We’ve successfully hidden from the death of the High Street and now the looters, too. We’re magic like that.

  3. Lovely post, Jassy! Wonderful to see some high streets with old school charm remaining.

  4. EffBeeee says:

    Naz’s lamb shoulder is bloody awesome too. I LOVE going into Ayres and staring at all the fancy, fancy cakes and then just buying a split tin. Also, the £ shop is ACE. Last time I went in I came out with plastic champagne glasses, cleaning products and an alien in an egg. NUNHEAD, we love you.

  5. Sharmila says:

    I do loves the high street in Nunhead, it does have a proper old village feel. It’s funny, 5 years ago I was living on Lordship Lane, and all my mates were in East Dulwich. Now I’m on the Nunhead side of the Rye, and most of my mates live in Peckham and Nunhead, and I’m pretty sure my next move will be over to Nunhead proper or Brockley. It’s obviously where it’s at 😉

  6. chloe says:

    Lovely post! I love Ayres, such a fab traditional bakery, we had one for a while in Beckenham & I miss it lots. They used to do the most gorgeous little fondant iced, individual sponge and cream cakes….

  7. Lizzie says:

    I love Nunhead (despite being mugged there… but hey, I get mugged all the time!). I often run from New X Gate through Nunhead to Peckham and back, and the smell of freshly baked bread from that baker’s makes my run torturous. Wonderful.

  8. Wow amazing that places like this still exist, I mean, I live in Canada where places like this barely if ever existed. And if they do they soon go out of business when the faceless chain store or big box store moves in. This is especially true in small towns where there might not be any, mom and pop stores, as we call them, left. So sad.

  9. Great post and I agree with your attitude – the riots just made me treasure more what I love about London and made me get angry with the people trying to destroy that! Well said Jassy.

  10. colleen says:

    Hoorah for the local London high street!

  11. ginandcrumpets says:

    @eatlikeagirl Thank you – kind of amazing to find a real high street still in existence!

    @Effbeeee Ah, the £ shop. How could I forget the £ shop? Mind you, I’m quite a big fan of Mighty Pound on Rye Lane, so maybe I haven’t given the Nunhead £ shop the attention it’ due.

    @Sharmilla Join us in Nunhead! You won’t regret it 😉

    @chloe OK, now I want a fondant fancy.

    @Lizzie What if you carried a loaf of bread back with you when you ran? Sure it would count as working your upper arms or something, and then you’d have bread. Or would that ruin the point of the run?

    @Melanie I know, it’s amazing it’s still going strong.

    @Gourmet Chick Yes, completely my reaction. I love my London!

    @colleen Exactly!

  12. DR says:

    Just linked to your blog at the new Nunhead & Peckham section of the forum for South East London – it’s called http://www.southeastcentral.co.uk and here is your direct link for the Evelina Road SE15 review:


  13. Shelly says:

    Found your blog on south east central so put this page on my FB group. We love Nunhead too!

    This is the link to the group (hopefully!): http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2228373845

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