Latest Blog Posts

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: www.facebook.com/pg/pekoemellowtea/posts/

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
hello@pod-fitness.com
www.pod-fitness.com
020 3974 6667
www.facebook.com/PodFitnessLondon/

Twitter: @podfitnesslond1 @biancasainty

Instagram @podfitnesslondon @biancasainty

Bianca’s Bitesize Blog: Embracing Bracing Weather
https://www.pod-fitness.com/pod-news/2019/2/25/biancas-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.

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.  

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!

An update on Manjit’s recovery


An update on Manjit's recovery from her son Inder:

Manjit, who fell down the basement stairs in her shop - The Tipsy Toad - has broken her neck. She can wiggle her toes so thankfully she is not paralysed. Manjit has had three major operations to date. The first was to set a bone in her neck, the second was a tracheotomy to assist her with breathing and the third was for a pace maker to regulate her heartbeat. She is not yet able to speak and needs to rest her lungs and throat muscles before attempting a conversation, but she can mouth words. Manjit is likely to remain in hospital until the autumn for a period of about three months.

Inder says she is conscious and recognises family and nursing staff, is in good spirits and is aware of and grateful for the overwhelming response from the people of Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush who have been sending their well wishes, keeping her in their prayers and donating generously. Inder asks that we all pray for her to have positive energy and hope for a speedy recovery.

Cards and greetings should be sent or delivered to Tipsy Toad at 91 Hammersmith Grove, London W6 0NQ. The shop has now reopened with its usual hours. If you haven't yet donated, please do consider helping Hammersmith's beloved Manjit and her family in their time of need.

Chiswick Timeline Project supports local schools and libraries


Read on for an update from Chiswick Timeline Project Coordinator Karen Liebreich regarding the success of the educational book and art trail that accompanied the Timeline's launch...

 

"The book that accompanied the launch of the new mural at Turnham Green, The Chiswick Timeline: A History in Art and History, has proved very successful.

Several free copies were sent to all the schools in Chiswick, along with map sheets for project work, and a copy of the art trail showing relevant locations of the art works around the area, the latter kindly sponsored by local estate agent, Horton and Garton. Every library in Hounslow also received a free copy of the book, as did local history archive resources in Hammersmith and Richmond. This was made possible by the generosity of people for the mural project, and we have to say again that we were overwhelmed by the community support. Every person who helped with the mural – whether financially or by clearing flyposting or helping to make ceramic houses etc should by now have received their free thank you copy.

The art trails are available at the library and at St Michaels & All Angels, or you can contact us should you want a pack for your community group or school.

The books are on sale at Foster Books in the High Road, at the Local Studies department of Chiswick Library, from the local history group or via our website at chiswicktimeline.org. They are very nearly sold out, so we recommend you hurry if you want a copy."

- Karen Liebreich MBE

ESTAS Shortlist Success!


Horton and Garton Shortlisted For Best Estate Agent London West

Horton and Garton's two offices have both been shortlisted for prestigious ESTAS awards, in association with property search portal Zoopla. Our West London Estate Agents are shortlisted within the London West region for Sales, Landlords and Tenant feedback. We've also been shortlisted within the Estate Agency Group category on a national level! The ESTAS Customer Service Awards, in their 15th year, are unique because shortlisted and winning firms are selected purely on ratings from their clients. Thanks to our wonderful clients we've been shortlisted for this year's awards!

The ESTAS Awards

 The ESTAS awards determine the best agents in the UK through research carried out amongst clients who are asked a series of questions about the service they've received during the sales and lettings process. This year saw record entries making the competition the toughest yet and one of the biggest surveys in the UK property industry with 36,000 clients competing ESTAS surveys. Agencies have been shortlisted in 30 regions across the UK. Regional and national winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair on the 20th of April. The awards, presented by TV property expert Phil Spencer, will see 1,000 property professionals from across the country gather under one roof. Spencer adds, "Any firm that enters The ESTAS has already sent a clear message that they are passionate about customer service so to make it onto the shortlist is a huge achievement." 

Proud To Serve West London

Founder John Horton says, "To be shortlisted across each category we entered is the highest honour and speaks volumes about our team's genuine and wholehearted commitment to client care. What a fabulous way to celebrate our tenth year of service to West London!" Chiswick Sales Director Paul Cooney adds, "My clients are the reason for my passion for property. I wake up in the morning with the singleminded conviction to do the best by them. I'm truly honoured to be shortlisted within my first year of trading here in Chiswick."

 THANK YOU to everyone who voted for Horton and Garton! For more information on the awards, visit theestas.com

Looking to buy, let or sell a property in West London? You're in safe hands, call us today on 020 8819 0510 or contact our friendly team.

Best Estate Agent London - ESTAS Awards

Diary of an Estate Agent: Managing March Madness


Diary of an Estate Agent

Ashley Clements, West London Lettings Manager

Monday
Our weekly planning session morphs into a lettings quiz - low scorer washes up the coffee cups. This starts the day with with a fun energy but also imparts some key legislation updates to the team. Fortunately I'm not washing up…. The benefit of writing the questions of course! My first incoming telephone call is from a landlord who has just completed a large-scale, high spec refurbishment on a Brackenbury Village house... and I have been invited to visit them later today. Having peeked inside many times walking past during the last year it promises to be a very unique property and after a debrief with the team we already have a particular family in mind for the next tenancy...

Tuesday
Team Lettings had a blinder yesterday with evening viewings resulting in two offers on the same property. As a local and independent agency we have been able to create a competitive but open and honest environment for our team. We work for one person - our client - so instead of choosing the quick or easy option, discussions are held at length about each offer, the suitability of the individual tenants and their positions. We then put the two different tenants to our client because, even though I offer my informed opinion, the choice is theirs. On a side note, I am feeling flash today with a new pair of cufflinks courtesy of my future mother-in-law. I'm convinced they help me type emails quicker... the same feeling you got lining up in new shoes as a child, facing the start line of the dash across the concrete from water fountain to bike shed, safe in the knowledge your new trainers would help you set a record time.

Wednesday
The lettings industry is far from dull; thanks to ever-changing legislation no day is ever the same. What you learned last month has been rewritten with new legal documents to pore over and fresh challenges to overcome. Today I attended a seminar on legislation updates. With a mountain of information to absorb, breaking it down within the seminar certainly helps! It is however reassuring to realise that Horton and Garton is already doing everything as we should, whilst we now have several new ideas to implement within our current systems and procedures. So much sitting today means I need to move so it's time to hit the Hogarth Health Club in Chiswick for a wind down with a swim and a steam.

Thursday
A full diary means I am helping to cover viewings for our lettings negotiators. I grab the brochures and keys before hitting the road. I spend the majority of my time with new and existing landlords and landladies, which I really enjoy, but I'd forgotten how much fun it is to help tenants find their new home! One offer received and a second viewing booked on one of our riverside flats, not a bad day at all… I may be a little greyer and older since I was last a full time lettings negotiator but it's been no trouble hopping back on the bike!

Friday
As usual there is plenty to do on a Friday with recapping on any outstanding points from the week before arranging the jam packed Saturday diary. A fantastic treat arrived today…flapjacks home made by one of our favourite landladies! We get many thoughtful gifts, often food, including home made brownies, sweets and cookies. Thank you to everyone and do keep the sweet treats coming! A team drink in the pub after work to round off the working week and it is noticeable just how much Horton and Garton has grown in recent years with everyone together including our Chiswick office.

Saturday
It's a typical Saturday of back to back appointments. Full diaries are par for the course with appointments often carrying on outside official office hours. A new team member joining us next week lives locally so stops by the office to say hi. Just what I like to see, another keen and enthusiastic person joining our crew. As an independent business in our tenth year we still see every team member and client as a part of our Horton and Garton family. We live and breathe property, working tirelessly to make the lettings process an enjoyable and seamless experience.

Controversial or celebratory: our candid update on Council Tax changes


Horton and Garton cover three boroughs so depending on your postcode you might be celebrating or sighing in reaction to the changes to your council tax. Here's the update from King Street and Turnham Green Terrace...

A row of toy houses with a Hammersmith and Fulham council tax bill underneath

H&F Council Tax Remains The Third Lowest In The Country

Director John Horton notes, "Hammersmith and Fulham residents can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite mounting pressure from the government, H&F Council is the only one in London to cut and freeze council tax over the last four years."

Instead of passing the buck to local residents, Leader of H&F Council Stephen Cowan says, "We're reforming every aspect of the way our council operates, to modernise and improve services and put money back in our residents' pockets. That's how we've been able to freeze council tax bills while also funding more local police officers than ever before, abolishing charges for adult social care in 2014 and reducing the majority of council charges in real terms.

Government funding cuts put unprecedented pressure on local services, particularly on care for elderly and disabled residents, but it is exactly those people who are hit hardest by council tax rises." John says, "H&F bills will remain the third lowest in the country - a significant accomplishment for our local leaders that means real savings to local residents."

This is great news for local residents and those interested in buying a property or letting a property in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Council Tax Rises For Ealing and Hounslow

Ealing Council and Hounslow Councils have both raised council tax - Ealing by 5.99% (2.99% increase plus £5 social tax levy) and Hounslow by over 4% (2% increase plus 2% social tax levy). Chiswick Director Paul Cooney comments, "When you do the maths the disparity is vast. The real difference in the cost of council tax between the boroughs is as much as 43%."

For Hounslow, it's the second increase in council tax in the past twelve years. A report regarding the increase notes, "The implications of the government's public expenditure plans and the local authority finance settlement are severe for Hounslow's budget and the provision of services." The new waste collection service, Lampton Recycle 360, has not been able to deliver within budget and the service is expected to overspent by approximately £2.7m. Hounslow's budget includes expenditure for key Chiswick projects: £1.5m for the construction of a new Wildlife Education Centre at Gunnersbury Triangle and £2.5m for the construction of a new pedestrian footbridge beneath Barnes Bridge.

Funding Cuts Mean An Inevitable Rise In Council Tax For Some Boroughs

Ealing Council is under significant pressure to find £56m in savings by 2021 in order to balance its budget with £17m in reductions already agreed. Proposals include staff redundancies and stopping a public health advice service for those quitting smoking but the remaining deficit is significant and more cuts will be required. Council leader Julian Bell says, “We promised to keep council tax as low as possible for as long as possible and we have done this. The unrelenting cuts from central government and increasing demand on our services means that we, like an estimated 95% of councils in the country, have no option (but to increase council tax)." The rising costs of child protection services and adult social care put the Councillors under pressure to find further funds to meet these needs.

Bell adds, “I am proud that we are continuing to meet our duty towards our most vulnerable residents and I am not prepared to stand back and watch over decline. This is why we are pushing forward with an ambitious transformation programme called Future Ealing. Its aim is to improve outcomes for local people at a time of drastically reduced budgets by rethinking how we operate and focusing on the areas that matter the most to residents. It is also about growing our income in as many ways as we can to try and offset the rise in demand for our services and the unrelenting austerity cuts that have been imposed on us since 2010.” Local Conservatives argue that departmental overspends, failure to make savings, "millions wasted on vanity projects" while "increasing their own allowances" are the underlying issues.

We've created a real comparison of the cost of council tax for 2018/2019 across our three boroughs below:

A graph showing Hammersmith and Fulham Council Tax frozen at £1022.04 per year

Council Tax for Band D inclusive of GLA
H&F: £1022.04
Hounslow: £1461.99
Ealing: £1440.12

43% difference between H&F & Hounslow
£ difference between H&F & Hounslow: £439.95

40.9% difference between H&F & Ealing
£ difference between H&F & Ealing: £418.08

1.51% difference between Ealing & Hounslow
£ difference between Hounslow & Ealing: £21.87

Are you looking to buy, sell or let a property in Hammersmith, Chiswick or Shepherds Bush? No one knows our patch like we do! Contact our friendly team of experts today. 

8 Things I Love About Agents
By John Horton MNAEA MARLA


How To Be A Good Estate Agent and How To Spot One

If you’ve had a wonderful experience with an estate agent or you know someone who has then you might pinch yourself and ask, "Is this really possible?" The answer is an emphatic YES. Great career estate agents are out there in your community, working smart, working hard, endeavouring to make a make a difference hoping to challenge and switch the public's perception of our profession. The good guys are needles in the haystack - they're out there - you just have to find them. A disastrous experience often puts you on the back foot before you can differentiate between “The Good, The Bad… and The Indifferent”.

8 Things I Love About "The Good" Agents

1. We're human beings. I choose to believe people are fundamentally good. Our profession is reviled in a way that only parking wardens and politicians might understand yet the great and good among us persist, attempting to change the public's opinion.

2. Superb communicators. The very best estate agents are, bar none, some of the best communicators I've ever met, whether it's over the phone, email, WhatsApp, social media, carrier pigeon or - in the (my!) olden days - the fax machine. We can underpin and hold together complex deals, balanced on a knife-edge, with a deft grace that's rarely seen.

3. Our work ethic is in fifth gear. The best agents I know simply don't stop. They find the time to get the job done, taking meetings at unsociable hours, bending over backwards for their clients, buyers and tenants in order to minimise inconvenience and remove the hassle factor. The extra mile isn't crowded and they know it; they love going the distance for their clients.

4. The Power of Positive Thinking. Every successful career estate agent is a glass half full type and it's this winning attitude that helps achieve the best results for clients. An agent with a sour disposition is one to avoid!

5. Proud, passionate professionals. The top performers are full to the brim with pride and passion for property and they possess a tempered, but boundless energy and enthusiasm that’s infectious.

7. Longevity. Any agent worth their salt is a seasoned professional with a genuine knowledge of their patch. These people have breathed the air in their areas for long enough to know what it is YOU need to know about selling, letting and buying.

8. Superlative service. The best agents know when to listen and when to speak. My mother’s mantra is always, "Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself." Service is a skill you can hone. However, the ability to put a client's needs before your own is innate - many people don't possess it so seek out those who do. Speak to current and past clients. The cream always rises to the top.

My advice to sellers and landlords is this: seek out the needles in the haystack. It might take some legwork and several meetings with "The Bad and The Indifferent" but you'll find them. Here at Horton and Garton, as we celebrate our tenth year of business, our guidance and advice are always available to West London locals. Call us anytime for a chat on how the market is moving in your patch of Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush or Chiswick.