"When Lois from Home Base Holidays first sent me the Guardian article, 'In praise of Tooting, south London', about my little corner of London and suggested I write something, it seemed a bit odd. I always write about the places I visit, not the place I call home. But why not? It's a gem and I have unashamedly stolen the title my house swap friend *Bea from Switzerland used after she spent a fortnight here.
The first indication we got that we might be on the wider London map was when the Standard ran an article entitled 'Is Tooting the new Shoreditch?' and people started turning up trying to find places on their mobiles. No. It's not the new Shoreditch. It's unique, another article recently naming us the friendliest place in London and another one of the ten coolest places in London.
I first came to Tooting as a student in 1972 and bought a house here, the one I still live in, almost 30 years ago when I became deputy head of a local primary school. Tooting has changed and developed in a sustainable manner. Since Edward VII visited (his statue is outside one of our two tube stations) when a new social housing scheme had been widely praised, it has been a diverse and vibrant area. At the risk of sounding like an estate agent we have an amazing common and the largest open air pool by surface area in the UK. And an indoor pool too! Great public transport links, bus, rail tube, mean it's an ideal place to live and visit.
I think it's the old in perfect harmony alongside the new that is marvellous. Harrington's is a traditional pie and mash shop, a family business since 1908 and still busy. The shops are varied with chains alongside charity shops and one-off concerns. There are plenty of bars, pubs and restaurants, a few known names but mainly independent.
But I think it's the vast covered market that typifies Tooting's success story. New businesses have opened alongside the old, rubbing shoulders and getting along just fine, the artisan baker and the man who sells giant suitcases, the tiny traditional pub and the trendy gin bar, the modern dining experience and the greasy spoon. My friend and I, serious wine tasters, regularly attend the weekly tastings at Unwined, a wine and food bar which is run by knowledgeable young people. One of the many interesting wines they sell is Chateau Tooting, a rose made mostly from grapes grown, yes, you've guessed it, here in Tooting. Tooting Market is a busy and interesting place by day and by night. So here's to the next thirty years. Don't think I'll be moving anywhere else." - Sandra (London)
- Check out Sandra's home swap offer in Tooting
- Also check out *Bea's article, 'Touting Tooting' and tips from a wonderful summer home swap in London.
Sandra's article could be sub-titled, 'Looking at the attractions in your own area as a home swap destination'. It's useful to do this to send to potential home swap partners; and we'd love to publish your personal take on what makes your little corner of the world a great place to live and to visit. Contact Home Base Holidays if you are interested in sharing your local attractions story.