I have lived in London for several years – always in and around the Clapham area. It’s friendly during the day, bustling in the evening and on weekends and an absolute dream in the summer when you have to wrestle for a place in the grass to soak up the sunshine.
The first port of call on a Saturday is Venn Street Market. Located in an unassuming street close to Clapham Common tube station, an abundance of stalls spring up just outside the local cinema, the Clapham Picturehouse. Selling everything from organic produce, local cheese, bread and jams, farm-grown meat and dairy, freshly caught seafood, as well as Portuguese, French and Iberian delicacies. Sometimes local artists are selling their pictures or ceramics and of course you can taste your way through the most outrageous brownies.
The Manor Clapham is a Modern British Bistro run by the owners of the similarly successful The Dairy. This vibrant place serves excellent, imaginative food, colourful and cool, textured and tasty and their homemade bread and pastry products are to die for. Chef Dean Parker’s years at the Ledbury and Copenhagen’s Amass are certainly tangible.
For a rather unique curiosity, nip down to the WC right underneath Clapham Common tube station and visit this 100-year-old former public convenience. Converted into a venue full of character by restoring the original features, the local owners serve quality wine and charcuterie. It’s not easy finding a place in this intimate space so arrive early. Alternatively, in summer a large outdoor area at street level on the island of the tube station makes you feel a bit like a super stylish picnic.
In the heart of Clapham is the Common, a triangular space of green linking Clapham South, Clapham Common and Clapham Junction, famously the UK’s busiest train station. The park has ponds for fishing, boating and ducks, cycle lanes, heavenly serene and seemingly remote patches of just trees and meadows, and an old-fashioned bandstand in the middle, in fact the largest in London. It can be the most peaceful, but also the most exciting place, when rock events like the Calling Festival attract thousands on weekends in the height of summer. Every morning and evening sports groups meet up for runs or gruelling-sounding boot-camp-style exercising, come rain or shine. And the Italian café at the bandstand is a favourite with families day in, day out.