lunes, 6 de agosto de 2012

London calling: Hampstead

Everything you come across on the BBC website is fine. Not long ago I bumped into a series of video clips called London Calling, from the  BBC World Service, which show some of the quirkier areas of the Olympic city.

In this episode, Seva Novgorodsev  visits Hampstead, a prosperous area in north London with strong literary connections.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip by clicking on the picture below and answer the questions about it.

1. What other name is Hampstead referred to as?
2. Hampstead has always been a favourite place for...
3 How long has Keith Fawkes owned his shop?
4 What did Dick Turpin do in The Spaniards Inn?
5 What does Heather do?
6 What's the reason why she goes to the Heath?
7 How often do swimmers swim in the Heath?
8 What four professions does Chris Roucco mention?
9 What do the West Hampstead mounted police force use the Heath for?
10 What does Seva Novgorodsev compare the Heath to at the end of the clip?

You can read the transcript below.

1 Hampstead Village 2 Artists, intellectuals and writers 3 Forty-two years 4 To rob people (the gentry) 5 She is a professional dog walker 6 To walk dogs 7 All year round 8 Celebrities, judges, painters, road sweepers 9 As a training ground 10 An island of countryside

Welcome to Hampstead, an affluent and elegant part of North West London that it is often referred to as Hampstead Village due to its quaint atmosphere and expensive surrounding parklands. It is the area’s natural beauty and stunning architecture that has made it one of the most exclusive and expensive parts of London to live in.

Hampstead has always been a haven for artists, intellectuals and writers. Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie and George Orwell all lived and worked in the area. Today famous residents include Tim Burton, Ricky Gervais, and Sting.

Hiding among the many independent shops and boutiques it’s this enchanting antique bookstore, one of Hampstead’s oldest businesses. The inside is piled from floor to ceiling with books and oddities. Owner Keith Fawkes is a passionate and proud Hampstead resident.

I’ve had the bookshop here for forty-two years. We’ve had many famous people coming into the shop, of course, Peter O’Toole, Emma Thompson. We’re very lucky in Hampstead to still have some extremely important houses, we’ve got Keat’s house, Offenshinly Road, we have the Freud Museum, where Freud lived when he came to England. Another great local character, of course, was Dick Turpin, probably the leading highway man of his time, and of course the Spaniards Inn, which was one of his great places to rob the gentry.

Set on 320 hectares of sprawling fields and ancient woodland, Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most popular open spaces and maintains an atmosphere quite unlike any other of the city’s parks. Heather is just one of the many professional dog walkers that can be seen walking on the heath.

I have come walking on the heath for thirty years. Fourteen to sixteen dogs a day. What’s the point of going for a walk without a dog with you? It’s not much fun. If it wasn’t for the Heath, I probably would live in London. You can go sort of in the open fields, bump into people, hang out, or you can just come into the woods and listen to the birds, and just get away from it all.

Some of the Heath braver characters are the all-year-round pond’s swimmers who take to the water come rain or shine, and in the colder months often have to break the ice in order to swim.

My name’s Chris Roucco. I swim over, I get ponds every day. I’ve been swimming there for sixty years. The people who swim over the ponds, they come from everywhere. There are celebrities, judges, painters, road sweepers, all sorts of people. Three years ago they asked me to find fifteen people for the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy swimming with Gary Oldman, which I thought was really good. The best time of the year to swim, I would say every time is lovely, I mean you’ve got summer, you’ve got spring, everything is quiet, you go over there, it’s beautiful.

But the Heath so vast in size it offers the West Hampstead mounted police force a valuable training ground, particularly now during their vital preparations for the Olympic Games.

For the Olympic Games, the horses are probably one of the most visible police presences you get. They’re great security patrols, high visibility, you work with an animal day in day out, you put your trust in the animal, ‘cause ultimately your life is in each other’s hands. Now definitely I’ve got a big partnership with this one. I hope I still go on for years to come.

Hampstead has a rare and quaint essentially English charm to it. But it is the Heath that makes this part of London so special. Like a beautiful island of countryside, it offers protection and relaxation, and it’s important not just for the residents of Hampstead but of whole of London.