Another day and another tour for you all to enjoy. I've been a cabbie for many years and I know the sights, I know the sounds and I know the smells of this great city.
Let me take you on a journey around the city, giving you my top picks for places to stay, places to eat and drink, and things to do. There's so much here, so whilst I can't promise I'll cover everything, I'll certainly let you know my favourites. Hopefully, you'll try out my recommendations, or at least it'll speak some inspiration to journey to some places not so well known and others away from the beaten track.
Today my minicab is taking you to Ealing...
Forget searching for a taxi today - jump in with me, sit down, get your seatbelt on and get comfortable. The cab engine is running and I'm ready and waiting to drive and do the talking. As always, with these special virtual tours, the meter isn't running and this one is on me!
A Little Bit of Background...
So, Ealing..located in West London and a tiny bit in North West London, this is a very busy borough. It's London's third largest borough in terms of population and is made up of seven major towns, these are: Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale and Southall.
I love Ealing for it's multiculturalism, it really shows what's great about London and that's all communities from all over the world offering what's great about their culture to each other. Ealing is home to a long-standing Irish community and with it, some superb Irish pubs. There's a large Polish community bringing many great delis, plus one the UK's largest South Asian communities in Southall, where there is some fantastic food available!
A few facts for your about Ealing:
The name Ealing developed from the Saxon name Gillingas, which means the place of the people associated with Gilla. This eventually became Illing (1130), Gilling (1243), and Ylling (1254) before finally being spelt as Ealing in the 19th century.
The first-ever Waitrose store opened at 263 Acton Hill in Acton in 1904, when it was known by its original name of Waite, Rose ad Taylor.
Scenes from the 80s films Aliens and Batman were filmed inside the disused Acton Lane Power Station
Ealing became a part of Greater London in 1965 (if you've been on my previous tours, you will know I never reveal my age...so I'm not telling you if I remember this or not!)
Ealing was the setting for Children's comedy show Rentaghost
Hugh Grant playing Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jone's Diary recited a poem about Ealing. It went like this..There was a young woman from Ealing, who had a particular feeling, she laid on her back and opened her...actually, I think you should go elsewhere for the rest as it's not exactly PG, here's a link to watch in your own time!
Kit Harrington, Emilia Fox, Alan Rickman, Jamal Edwards, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Nick Knowles, Joseph Marcell, Pete Townshend, Ella Eyre and Peter Crouch are all from the borough of Ealing
So, now you've had a few facts about the place, let's get to our first stop...
London Transport Museum Depot
Whilst the actual transport museum is in Covent Garden, this is the museum's working store and is a treasure trove of over 320,000 objects which are stored here when not on display in the museum.
As it's a working store, it's open to the public but only on selected open weekends. This is usually three time a year, in April, July and September.
If you're a bit of a history buff like myself, I really recommend this place. It's filled with all kinds of things relating to transport in London and as a cab driver, I love anything relating to taxis, minicabs and all other kinds of transport, really. It's got rare road and rail
vehicles from the past 100 years, signs, posters, ticket machines and all kinds of other weird and wonderful things.
During the open weekends, they put on talks, activities and tours, which are all great fun and a great way to learn for all of the family.
Address: 118-120 Gunnersbury Lane, Acton Town, W3 9BQ
Phone: 0343 222 5000
Let's stretch our legs and go for a walk..
If you like a good walk as I do, Walpole Park is a great place to have one. It's probably the largest green space in Ealing and it's a great spot to venture to when the weather is nice.
Set across 28 acres, it's a Grade II public park which was formerly the grounds of Pitzhanger Manor, the early 19th century home of architect Sir John Soane. In fact, the archway produced by the influential architect is still used as the entrance to the park. It's very impressive and a must-see, I think.
The Park has been open to the public since 1901 and today, it offers all sorts to see. There are rose gardens impressively landscaped garden, open flat grassed areas and ponds which attract a wide variety of wildlife.
Whilst it's great for a gentle walk all-year-round, particularly when the weather is nice, the park attracts most of its visitors when it holds a number of very popular community events. These include Ealing Beer Festival, which is usually held across 4 days in July and is organised by CAMRA. If you've read my other guides, you will know I'm partial to an ale or two. So this is a beer festival I've been to quite a few times, especially as it's the largest CAMRA beer festival in London - Don't worry, I don't drive my cab or get a taxi..I call on Parker and my colleagues are always there to collect me when I've had a couple jars!
Now in it's 31st year, the festival has over 500 real ales, ciders, perries, wines and foreign beer imported fro, countries around the world. Theres a great range of drinks with something for everyone who likes a drink, I'd say! And if you don't like a drink, then perhaps the food offering might tempt you. There's always a lot of BBQ type food, plus curries, fish, finger sandwiches and vegetarian option, for people like myself who don't eat meat. They also put on live music each day, which is great.
Other events held throughout the year in Walpole Park, include the Ealing Comedy Festival (which I reckon they should book me for next year!) and Opera in the Park.
Address: Mattock Lane, Ealing, W5 5EQ
Phone: 020 8825 6999
If there's not an event on, a visit to Walpole Park wouldn't be complete without going to Pitzhanger Manor too. Located within the park, as I said above it was Sir John Soane's home, however, last year it was refurbished back to Soane's original designs and now it's a great example of neoclassical architecture available for the public to see.
Now housed with the former library building is Pitzhanger Gallery, which features contemporary exhibitions by various artists, architects and designers.
If you're impressed by exquisitely designed buildings, Pitzhanger Manor is a must-see with its rich history and impressive architecture. It's even better now that it is back exactly how Sir John Soan first envisioned it.
Address: Mattock Lane, Ealing, W5 5EQ
Phone: 020 3985 8888
I’m not sure about you but a lot of walking and exploring always makes me very hungry!
Sowa Restaurant & Patisserie
I said earlier that Ealing is home to a large Polish community and the next place I'll be taking you offers some fantastic Polish pastries, wonderful baked goods and some stunning cakes.
No Need for the minicab as it is just a few minutes away from our previous destination of Pitzhanger Manor, and the Sowa Restaurant & Patisserie is definitely worth the walk out of the park and onto the High Street. I love it for when I'm craving something sweet. Though it's not just all about the desserts, it is a fully-fledged restaurant. On the lunch menu are items such as white borscht, chicken Kiev, pork chop medallions, cauliflower soup and cod in tomato sauce.
When I go there, I always opt for a slice of the traditional cheesecake (sernik). It should be said that a Polish cheesecake is unlike the cheesecake which most people know but it is amazing. The difference being that a Polish cheesecake has a sweet pastry crust and is filled with dry curd cheese. It's so good!
Address: 33 High Street, Ealing, W5 5DB
Phone: 020 8567 7707
I also previously mentioned that Southall is home to one of the UK's largest South Asian communities and I love Indian food, so I always make sure I pay a visit to Madhu's in Southall, when I'm over this way. Showing the quality of the food offered by these guys, in addition to the restaurant, they also cater for events and have catered to the House of Commons, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace in the Past.
When I visit the restaurant, I like to start with chilli paneer, which if you don't know is an Indian cottage cheese marinated in a spicy chilli and garlic sauce. For my main, I often go for a tadka dal, which is yellow lentil curry with turmeric, garlic, cumin and chilli. I always have that with a few chapatis and basmati rice.
The menu is filled with all kinds of splendid Indian food including king prawn kadai, hadi keema, methi burgh, bhindi masala and various biryanis. If you like your Indian food, this is a must-visit.
Address: 39 South Road, Southall, UB1 1SW
Phone: 020 8574 1897
The Plough Inn
If Indian food is not for you, may I suggest The Plough? Here you can find a wonderful selection of food and a frequently changing menu which often includes pie and chips, chicken gyros and chips, a variety of different burgers and a fantastic Sunday lunch menu, which is often quickly snapped up - so get there early!
What I particularly love about The Plough is when the sun comes out, so does the barbeque. The barbecue menu is great and is perfect for enjoying on a sunny day whilst sinking a few pints. On the subject of pints, being a Fuller's pub, you will find a great selection of beers and ales on offer at The Plough. If you're not heading there for food, it's a great spot to just enjoy a drink. It's actually Fuller's oldest pub in the UK and is filled with character with comfy chairs in quiet corners, a roaring open fire in the winter and a great beer garden to enjoy when the weather is nice.
Address: 297 Northfield Ave, Ealing, W5 4XB
Phone: 020 8567 1416
When I'm over in Ealing and don't have my cab with me, I love to get a pint of Guinness from one of the area's many Irish pubs, and O'Brien's on the Uxbridge Road is a great place to grab a drop of the good stuff.
A lovely little traditional Irish pub, O'Briens has very friendly staff and is often highly praised for the quality of it's Guinness. You only have to look at the reviews for the place to know what's you'll be getting a great pint if you visit there. With comments like "Best Guinness in London" and "best pint of Guinness I have had outside of Ireland", the quality of this place and their Guinness is no see no secret.
It's somewhere I love to go, and especially on Friday and Saturday nights, as they often have a live band on and playing traditional Irish songs.
Address: 137 Uxbridge Road, Ealing, W13 9AU
Phone: 020 8567 5575
Another great Irish pub is The Shanakee, which is just down the road form O'Briens. It's about a 15-minute walk...so if you don't fancy stumbling between the two, as a minicab driver, I'm of course going to recommend you jump in one of our cars to get there! Never a taxi though ;)
I've been over to Ireland quite a few times and the reason I recommend The Shanakee is
because it is what I would describe as a good, honest pub, just like those you get over there in the smaller towns. It's a real 'what you see is what you get' kind of place and it's a great place for the craic...as they say in Ireland!!
Again, I find they do a decent pint of Guinness plus they offer all kinds of other drinks and have a good jukebox which is often blasting out the tunes.
Address: 9-10 Central Buildings, The Broadway, Ealing, W5 2NT
Phone: 020 8567 4737
Contact Us to find out more!
Sadly, that’s all I’ve got time for today. So this concludes my guide! I’ve been your cabbie and I’m here to take you in my car to anywhere you desire, whilst giving you a little bit of info about the local area. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read and would like to book one of our cars, you can do so by calling us on 020 8560 0000 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodbye and thank you. Can't wait to see you again!