In this regular feature we meet local songwriter Andrew Evans who lives in New Barnet.
I was born in Barnet, in the since demolished Victoria Maternity Hospital. Although I grew up a few miles out in Potters Bar, regular trips to Camden on the Northern Line gave me a desire to get back to North London which was realised when my (now) wife and I moved to Finchley. Always destined to outgrow our little flat sooner rather than later, after three years we moved to our current home on the Great North Road, Barnet, ten miles from Charing Cross (I know this because there is an old fashioned mile stone just outside!). Though undoubtedly a nicer home, this did involve me forfeiting my prized ‘N’ postcode for the more ambiguous ‘EN’. To people who think of London only as its central boroughs, Finchley was an ‘Oh, I suppose this does still count as London doesn’t it?’ Barnet, however, is a ‘This isn’t really still London is it?’
Encouragingly though, not long after we moved, a favourite from our Finchley days, Boyden’s Kitchen, opened up not far from us and, soon enough, I saw that in spite or maybe because of this mild identity crisis, Barnet really does offer the best of both worlds. A short walk takes us to Hadley Common and if someone calls and says they’re in Soho, I can still say I’ll be there in 45 minutes (and mean it).
Our local shops include traditional greengrocers Green Hill and Moore and Son family butchers. Another new favourite is Delage. Didier offers an authentic French experience and the Friday night set menus are a welcomed addition. I was sad to see the Barnet Odeon close as it had been there over 80 years and was a real landmark. But the fact it has been taken over by Everyman is really exciting for the area and, providing they’re able to bring the same touch they have at the Hampstead and Belsize locations, it could be a real draw to the neighbourhood. My favourite cinema, though, will always be the Phoenix in East Finchley. The second oldest continuously-running cinema in the UK, they always feature a wonderful alternative to the mainstream programming. They also host fantastic film events; we even attended a Q&A with Dustin Hoffman.
I love views over London and there are few better places for this than the top of Barnet Church. Open to the public every summer, for me its stunning views are rivalled only by those from Alexandra Palace (a strong contender for my favourite place in the world incidentally) although the views from Barnet Church may have the edge in that they include Ally Pally.
For the past couple of years I’ve tended to concentrate on writing more than performing but, when I do play live, North London boasts a fine variety of venues, particularly The Boogaloo in Highgate, Proud in Camden and The Old Queen’s Head in Islington. The Dignity in Finchley Central has a great open-mic night on Thursdays and it’s my favourite place to try new material or keep musically match fit.
For anyone wanting to find out more about Barnet, the Barnet Museum on Wood Street is a great place to start. And I can’t mention Wood Street without praising Wood Street Veterinary Hospital. They’ve been there since 1900 and took excellent care of our cat Anya this past summer.
Andrew can be found on twitter @AndrewDEvans and via his website. He is currently seeking management and always looking for collaborative opportunities.