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New Brackenbury tea house opens with a Sri Lankan accent

A familiar old friend in Brackenbury Village has been reborn with an enthusiastic new crew.

The battleship grey of the former Brackenburys deli has been repainted pale peach to mark last month's opening of the Pekoe Mellow Tea House at 22 Aldensley Road in Hammersmith.

It’s a first venture for Helen Deighan and Gobi Manoharan, a couple whose aim goes well beyond creating a tea and coffee hub. It’s also an ‘idea sharing’ centre, with monthly inspirational TED Talk-style evenings; the first a well-attended lecture by Prof Tariq Modood of the University of Bristol on Majorities, Minorities and Multiculturalism.

Gobi Manohoran and Helen Deighton have opened Pekoe Mellow in Aldensley Road, Hammersmith
Pekoe Mellow Tea House in Aldensley Road


The next two promise to be interesting; an exploration of current British politics, looking at all sides of the Brexit conundrum, and then a talk about Hamlet. “For both of us, it’s the first time running something like this,” said Gobi, 38, who spent his early years in Sri Lanka and also works as a pharmacist at Ealing Hospital. “I work weekends, and help open and close up; we’re learning as we go.

“Brackenburys was at the heart of the community, and we want to continue that feel.”

Helen, 36, a trained teacher, said the peach colour outside, and the clean white walls inside, were designed to create a warm, welcoming feeling for customers. And the name? Pekoe identifies the youngest, freshest leaves on the tea plant, while the idea is to provide a space where people can relax and mellow out.

Spacious and light, the interior is decorated by framed squares of exquisite sari material – part of an extensive collection of Gobi’s late mother. Some stools have been created from old tea chests. At its heart it remains a café, with leaf tea infusions and breakfast, afternoon and Earl Grey teas blended on the premises, and fruit teas made from scratch. There is also a good range of coffees from 80 Stone Coffee Roasters.

“We spent a year sourcing teas, including going round Sri Lanka, tasting,” said Helen. “By having a good relationship with tea growers we can buy tea that’s often half a year fresher than others can buy… and you can taste that freshness, that kick.”

Helen is an enthusiastic baker, creating options including shortbread, raspberry cake and vanilla and caramel henna cake, together with spicier alternatives and a Sri Lankan dish of the day. But you can still get bacon baps!

There are storytelling sessions for children (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Tiger Who Came to Tea have already delighted youngsters), with puppet-making and face-painting, and a book club and tea-tasting sessions will be starting soon. Once the drinks licence is confirmed, watch out for tea-based cocktail evenings too.

Books dot the walls. “It’s interesting,” said Helen. “Children just pick them up and read, but adults often ask if they’re allowed to!”

The Pekoe Mellow Tea House is open 7.30am-6pm daily, Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 9am-4pm. For more details, visit:

Our Patch People: Q&A with Bianca Sainty

Bianca Sainty, 42
Founder of Pod Fitness
Lives and works in Hammersmith

How long have you lived/worked in H&F?
I have lived in the Hammersmith area for 16 years. The fitness business has been going six years.

What attracted you to the area? What are your favourite bits? Least favourite bits?
Parks and river. Favourite bits: parks and river! Community around schools. King Street – always full of life.

If you had one magic wish how would you make H&F a better place to live/work/socialise?
A health hub – an inclusive and welcoming place where locals of all ages and walks of life could come together to socialise and share over coffee. Somewhere we could have the opportunity to learn about looking after our health, through talks and workshops as well as inclusive, all-ability fitness sessions.

If you were could have one superpower what would it be?
Read people’s minds to help them better. So often people are guarded and don’t say what they really mean or want, so it’s hard to offer the right advice or solution. 

Name three ideal dinner guests?
To me, all people are interesting and I’m fascinated by what makes us tick. So, I’d want anyone who is willing to be open about their story. If I had to choose three people in the public eye, then I’d choose: Fearne Cotton, Matt Haig, Amy Cuddy. They all seem authentic people, and honest about their life’s ups and downs.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or sports?
I like to walk by the river daily, soaking in the ever-changing sky and river views is good for the soul. I am a volunteer coach at Chiswick Rugby Club minis, where my son plays. I played rugby at university, so it’s really fun for me to get stuck in and there’s a great sense of community at the club.

Can you tell us an amusing story?
I find the little things in life amusing. When you’re in a place where you can take notice, they’re everywhere. Recently, I was making breakfast for the kids and I cracked an egg into the frying pan and it was a double-yolker! First time in my life – aged 42! I found it immensely amusing, in fact it made me smile for the rest of the day.

What’s your USP?
I’m a great listener. The USP of my business is to be outdoors all year round in all weather in small groups, so clients get individual attention within the fun group setting.

Has your business won any awards?
Yes! The Hammersmith & Fulham Brilliant Business Award for Best Health & Beauty Business in 2017.

Pod Fitness, Ravenscourt Park, London W6
020 3974 6667

Twitter: @podfitnesslond1 @biancasainty

Instagram @podfitnesslondon @biancasainty

Bianca’s Bitesize Blog: Embracing Bracing Weather

Join Bianca for a Monday lunchtime river walk. Open to all, no Pod membership needed. It's an easy-going 30 minute walk by the river. Sets off from Furnivall Gardens at 12.30pm every Monday.

Another full house to watch BBC documentary ‘Two Sides of a Street’

The screenings helped raise more funds for the Grove Neighbourhood Centre in the heart of Brackenbury Village.

It was another full house at the Grove Neighbourhood Centre on Tuesday night (27 February) for the return screening of BBC’s real life documentary, Two Sides of a Street.

A Royal Ballet star, a man who owns a share in a race horse, and a peer’s daughter now live side by side with old folks who’ve rented their houses all their lives. This was the basis for the acclaimed BBC TV documentary, which was first broadcast in 1989.

Back by popular demand, the film was another chance for Hammersmith residents to check out John Pitman’s reflections on life in Cardross Street almost 30 years ago. A double bill was screened at the Grove Neighbourhood Centre earlier this month – but local residents who missed the first showing asked for another showing.


The hottest ticket in Hammersmith attracted in another 70 viewers to enjoy the performance about ‘Brackenbury Village – this little backwater of Hammersmith’.

Horton and Garton sponsored both events. Founder John Horton said: “It’s been great to see the excitement surrounding this intriguing film about life in Brackenbury Village. We’re very happy that everyone has enjoyed it.”

The screenings were organised by lifelong Brackenbury Village resident and GNC committee member Dede Millar, with help from the whole team at GNC who pulled out all the stops. 

Dede said: “These screenings have been great fun and raised almost £2,000 for the centre. On behalf of GNC, we’d like to thank Horton and Garton for their sponsorship and the wine.”

While John Horton added: "These performances would not be possible without Dede’s commitment and dedication. And I’m sure Dede’s old friend and neighbour John Pitman would have been impressed with the turnout."

The screening served as a tribute to John Pitman, who produced and narrated the documentary. John was a long-time resident of Brackenbury Village, who sadly passed away last year.

For more details about the Grove Neighbourhood Centre, visit: 

New cinema finally on its way to King Street after town hall plans approved

Finally! A cinema is returning to King Street. …

The new four-screen cinema is part of larger plans to build new affordable homes, offices, shops and transform the historic Hammersmith Town Hall that were approved this week.

The cinema – likely to be run by Curzon – will see four new screens built on the site of the old Cineworld site. It’s directly outside our office Horton and Garton office in King Street so we promise to let you know when the silver screens are flickering again! We’re told construction work begins next year.

The council will kickstart the ambitious project by demolishing the ugly brutalist town hall extension. Which is a loss that will be mourned by few in Hammersmith – especially the council workers who work inside the crumbling building, we’re told. Demolition work is expected to start this summer.

The cherry on top of the scheme is the planned rooftop bar and restaurant to be perched on top of the town hall. Architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have designed a slick glass ‘crown’ to sit on top of the Grade II-listed building, which should offer incredible views of the Thames and the setting sun past Chiswick.

“The new four-screen cinema, new genuinely affordable homes, new public rooftop bar and restaurant and new public square are some of the factors that will rejuvenate the area and create a new Hammersmith neighbourhood,” said H&F Council’s Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan.

The scheme also includes:

-204 new homes, of which 52 per cent will be classified as genuinely affordable for local residents

-New community art and event spaces

-New affordable, flexible office spaces for start-up businesses

-New public space for performances and events in front of the restored town hall

-New homework spaces for children and students

-Inclusively designed buildings to ensure full access for disabled people

-Eco-friendly buildings to minimise our carbon footprint and cut fuel bills.

Most interesting is how the council has engaged with local disabled people and asked the architects to make it more accessible. This is believed to be the first major scheme of its kind in London to have involved disabled people in the design process from the beginning. 

Mark Rintoul, Project Architect at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said: “The council’s pioneering collaboration with multiple stakeholders and local amenity groups has defined this truly community-led development to deliver a civic campus with access for all.”

More developers should take note.  

Double sell outs for screenings of ‘Two Sides of a Street’

The screenings raised funds for the Grove Neighbourhood Centre in the heart of Brackenbury Village.

A Royal Ballet star, a man who owns a share in a race horse, and a peer’s daughter now live side by side with old folks who’ve rented their houses all their lives.

This was the basis for the acclaimed BBC TV documentary Two Sides of a Street which was broadcast in 1989 and was screened twice at the Grove Neighbourhood Centre on Tuesday (29 January).

After the screenings, GNC committee member and local resident Dede Millar paid tribute to Horton and Garton for sponsoring the event.
"On behalf of the GNC, we are hugely appreciative of local independent estate agent Horton and Garton for their generous support in promoting and sponsoring the double SELL OUT performances of Two Sides of a Street, a humorous and nostalgic look into the lives of the Brackenbury community filmed 30 years ago," she said.
"Everyone loved the film which brought our local community of Brackenbury together, which is at the heart of the GNC and supported by John and all the staff at Horton and Garton."
While John Horton added: "These performances would not be possible without Dede’s commitment and dedication. And I’m sure Dede’s old friend and neighbour John Pitman will be here in spirit nodding his approval and enjoying the replay of his BBC documentary."

The screening served as a tribute to John Pitman, who produced and narrated the documentary. John was a long-time resident of Brackenbury Village, who sadly passed away last year.

All funds raised will go towards the GNC, based in Bradmore Park Road.

Two screenings of ‘Two Sides of a Street’ will raise funds for the Grove Neighbourhood Centre

A real-life soap opera is unfolding in Cardross Street in the heart of Brackenbury Village.

A Royal Ballet star, a man who owns a share in a race horse, and a peer’s daughter now live side by side with old folks who’ve rented their houses all their lives.

This was the basis for the acclaimed BBC TV documentary Two Sides of a Street which was broadcast in 1989 which will be screened twice at the Grove Neighbourhood Centre (GNC) on Tuesday 29 January.

Two Sides of a Street (40 minutes duration) is a humorous and nostalgic glimpse into our community, of which the GNC is at the heart.

The screening will also be a tribute to John Pitman, who produced and narrated the documentary. John was a long-time resident of Brackenbury Village, who sadly passed away last year.

All funds raised will go towards the GNC, based in Bradmore Park Road. The event is sponsored by local independent estate agent, Horton and Garton.

Screenings are at 4pm and 7pm. Tickets are £10 and include tea and cake (4pm) or a glass of wine (7pm). And to keep the celebrations rolling, The Andover Arms is offering 20% off bottled beer, house wine and food.

Tickets are available at the GNC now. For more details, call 020 8741 3321 or email:

Piazza Progress

Calling green fingered locals…

Having spearheaded the successful Chiswick Timeline under the arches near Turnham Green tube station, Abundance London has come up with another innovative idea to revitalise the area. After consulting local residents on their proposal to create a piazza style area at Chiswick Common corner, Abundance received an overwhelmingly positive response and preparation is now underway, with flower beds, bike racks and benches being installed in the coming months. The project is a collaboration between Friends of Chiswick Back Common and Abundance; funding has been secured to get things off the ground. The Chiswick Piazza project is now underway with the disused, unsightly double decker bike racks removed and attractive new Sheffield installed. The broken benches will be replaced with curved timber benches which will encourage locals to sit and take in views of both the Terrace and the common. Broken bins will be replaced and the pink granite fountain, originally installed in 1902, will be restored and returned to working order under the indomitable Councillor John Todd’s watchful eye. We can look forward to a glorious Abundance London flower bed full of perennials, annuals and bulbs which will be beautiful year round. The area will most likely be entirely unrecognisable! Karen Leibreich of Abundance says, 'We hope to try and reintroduce some beauty to the area; to reclaim it as a place for lingering, meeting, traversing, enjoying.'

Volunteers are needed to help care for the flower bed, under the guidance of the Abundance team, as the council cannot help with the bed’s maintenance. The planting will be low maintenance but weeding, trimming and general care is required. If you have green fingers or would simply like to keep the piazza looking its best, get in touch with Karen or click here to fill in a contact form. 

Julian Dobson, a research associate for improving well-being through urban nature at the University of Sheffield, wrote recently that urban green spaces — including parks, woodlands, riverbanks, and gardens — are ‘an essential part of a web of physical and mental well-being’. Dobson explains that they provide ‘spaces to socialise and opportunities to connect with the natural world, and are restorative enclaves in stressful cities’.

We look forward to enjoying spending time in the new piazza area!

Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right…

The two most important questions to ask your estate agent

When you consider selling your home, you’ll begin the process of selecting your estate agent by checking their Google reviews and asking friends and neighbours for recommendations. You’ll pour over Rightmove and Zoopla. You’ll then make your shortlist and begin the interview process. You’ll have many questions but here are two you should always ask:

What percentage of the properties you listed in 2018 were reduced in price?


What was your average price reduction?

Chiswick sellers continue to be hammered with significant price reductions as a result of ill-advised overvaluing by our competitors. We valued a property this week which has been reduced by the seller’s current W4 agent by a staggering 25%. Chiswick Sales Director Paul Cooney notes, “We have access to invaluable statistics courtesy of Rightmove so we can see exactly what is happening with asking prices. In September, we sold a beautiful family home in a prime residential road just off of Chiswick High Road to a cash buyer after just three weeks of marketing. Another agent listed a similar house in the same street which has lingered on the market for 4 months and been reduced by over 17%. It is still for sale! Empirical research conducted by independent watchdog Which? categorically demonstrates the damaging effect the practice of overvaluing has on the final price achieved for your home. Poor advice on the price of your property can have a five or six figure impact on your bottom line.” Associate Director James Liggins adds, “The average high street agent in Chiswick reduced the asking prices of one in two properties they listed in 2018. The worst offender, who we won’t name, reduced the asking prices of 64% of their properties. Overvaluing has shambolic consequences for the seller: their homes end up selling for less than their true value.”

Paul advises, “When you are considering selling, always ask your agent about their record on price reductions. What percentage of their listings did they reduce in 2018 and by what an average of what percentage? In 2018 we reduced just over a quarter of the properties we listed by an average of just 6.8%. These small and sensible tweaks in price resulted in fresh interest and sales agreed; we’re incredibly proud of our record. Estate agency is full of dubious characters who will say just about anything to list your property only to hammer you for price reduction after price reduction until your home finally sells – for significantly less than its real value. For us, honesty, integrity and achieving the very best result for our clients are paramount. Overvaluing is a practice we will never employ here at Horton and Garton. The combination of keeping our clients’ requirements at the heart of each transaction with precision pricing means we’ve been able to achieve fantastic results across the board. For an experienced, professional and honest approach to your property, we’re at your service.”

“Paul is someone who I have and will continue to recommend to friends, something I rarely do. He is an extremely hard working individual and his passion for Chiswick property clearly comes through.” -Glebe Estate seller

“Paul did an amazing job helping me to sell my Chiswick flat in a tough market. He’s a fantastic agent!” -Bedford Park borders seller

“Paul is certainly the best agent in Chiswick and, very probably, in London. He offers a service that is both professional and personal and gets results. He’s streets ahead of the competition.” -Chiswick Park seller

L’Amorosa in Hammersmith retains coveted Michelin award

Behind a restrained King Street facade is a temple to fine Italian dining that has been recognised by the ultimate food authority for the third year on the trot.

L’Amorosa’s Bib Gourmand award (the ‘bib’ refers to Bibendum, the cuddly Michelin Man) means it is now the only restaurant in Hammersmith & Fulham so honoured, delighting chef Andy Needham, the jovial Yorkshireman who made the borough his home 12 years ago.

Unlike formal Michelin stars, Bibs reward well-cooked meals made with seasonal produce in more laid-back surroundings and, crucially, represent value for money. A three-course lunch is around £25... but you’d easily pay double that for comparable quality in other establishments.

Many dishes at L’Amorosa trace their heritage to the Michelin-starred Zafferano restaurant in SW1, where Andy made his name as head chef for 15 years. But he prefers cooking for Hammersmith than for Belgravia’s ‘gold-plated Bugatti’ brigade.

“Seriously, it’s ‘real’ here,” he said. “I love it here; I like the feel of the place. It’s homely. I got to the point in Belgravia that I needed a change. I live in Stamford Brook, and before that I was in Brackenbury Village; my kids are at the local schools.”

Andy said that it used to be possible to recognise award inspectors as they’d sit alone, and only drink water. Now it’s harder. They often turn up as couples and have a glass of wine!

Value for money is the key measure for qualifying for a Bib Gourmand. Meals must be under £28 for three courses, bringing the restaurant into the affordability bracket of a wider public.

L’Amorosa, midway between Ravenscourt Park and Stamford Brook tubes, was opened in a former coffee shop. “I look forward to the changing seasons,” said Andy. “As a neighbourhood restaurant, that’s important. It means that each time people come back there are [menu] changes.”

Salad days

Now 46, he began his culinary career as an apprentice chef at the Savoy, chopping veg with 110 other chefs, including the young Marcus Wareing.

His cookery education took him to Paris and St Tropez, where he learnt the discipline of French cuisine. But his real love was ‘seasonal, refreshing Italian food’. He learned the cookery and the languages and, at the Michelin-starred Zafferano, employed 25 Italian chefs under him. The regional style of Italian cooking fits well with England’s regions, he argues.

He’s completely at home in H&F. “I’ve lived here 12 years, and I love it. We see a fascinating mix of people. I know people from my children’s schools. You get to know people in a way that you didn’t in Belgravia,” he said.

With just 40 covers, there’s an intimacy to L’Amorosa, which is split over two levels. “It’s small enough for me to come out and meet people,” he said, adding that the Bib Gourmand award was a tribute to the tight team he has around him.

“It’s a team effort, and it’s about the whole package,” he said. “Food should be served with a smile and a conversation.”

All about the ingredients

Ingredients are, as every chef will tell you, key. Homemade pasta such as the canoe-shaped cavatelli go beautifully with a coating of rich tomato, meat and herb sauce in this little centre of excellence in W6, especially after a cured meat starter, drizzled with balsamic. And the panna cotta and honeycomb dessert merits an article on its own.

The Michelin inspectors describe it as “a warm, sunny Italian restaurant; one that we’d all like to have in our high street”, praising the produce quality.

L’Amorosa is located at 278 King Street. Call 020 8563 0300 or visit

We sold more homes in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush than anyone else

It’s official. Our expert independent team sold more homes last year in W6 and W12 than any of our local competitors.

The figures – just released by Rightmove, the UK’s leading platform for home sales – show that 2018 was once again a stellar year for our Hammersmith-based firm.

“It’s clear that our clients still trust our honest advice amidst all the political and economic uncertainties in London,” said John Horton, founder of Horton and Garton.

“There are still tough times ahead – but if you want to buy a home or take the first steps to becoming a landlord, there’s still time to give us a call.”

Rightmove statistics

According to the Rightmove sales figures, Horton and Garton clearly outperformed its local competitors.

In the Hammersmith post code area W6 0 (which includes Brackenbury Village, Hammersmith Grove, Ravenscourt Park and Stamford Brook) our team sold more properties in 2018 than the second, third and fourth place agents combined!

Widen the map, and Horton and Garton again outperformed its competitors across all of Hammersmith – selling 33% more homes than their closest competitor.

Widen it even further, and Rightmove declares Horton and Garton the outright local champions by declaring us ‘the market leading agent for properties sold in W6 and W12 combined’.

See for yourself. Here are the just-released results from Rightmove:




What’s the difference?

The main difference between Horton and Garton and its local competitors is their unrivalled knowledge of the area and their extensive training.

John insists that his staff live locally. And makes sure all his team are fully accredited with the NFOPP, NAEA and ARLA schemes.

“Ultimately, it’s the people that make an area,” John added. “And I hope residents think of us as the trusted local agent that’s an important part of the fabric of Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush. If we can continue to achieve that, I’m happy.”