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London Calling- Hampstead

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Welcome to Hampstead, an affluent and elegant part of northwest London, that is often referred to as 'Hampstead village', due to its quaint atmosphere and expansive 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, is 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 42 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 Keats house, off Finchley road we have the Freud museum, where Freud lived, you know, when he came to England. Other great local character, of course, was Dick Turpin, probably the leading highway man of his time, and of course, the Spaniards Inn 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've been walking on the heath with my dogs for thirty years. Fourteen to sixteen dogs a day, what's the point in going for a walk without a dog with you? It's not much fun. If it wasn't for the heath, I probably wouldn't live in London. You can sort of go on the other fields, bump into people, hang out all you can, you can come into the heather, and listen to the birds, just get away from it all. Some of the heath's braver characters are the all-year-round pond 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 Ruocco, I swim over the ponds every day, I've been swimming there for sixty years. The people who swim over the ponds, they come from everywhere: they are solicitors, judges, painters, street sweepers, all sorts of people. Three years ago, they asked me to find 15 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... everytime is lovely, I mean, you've got summer, you've got spring, everything is quiet, then you go over there, it's beautiful. With 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 that you get, and they're great security patrols, high visibility... You work with an animal day in, day out, you put your trust in that animal, 'cause ultimately, your life is in each other's hands, I've definitely got a good partnership with this one. I hope it's..I hope I still go on for years to come. Hampstead has a rare and quintaessentially 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 the whole of London.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 5 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Views: 272
Posted by: totleigh on Jul 31, 2012

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