Hyde Park’s secret garden

On Tuesday we were very lucky to be invited along to Hyde Park to the Royal Parks Foundation Education Centre for a fab nature walk and talk. 15 CTCers traveled there by bus using their Freedom Passes before being treated to a ride in the Royal Parks Foundation golf buggy and a lovely cup of tea and a biscuit!



Hidden in a copse of trees in Hyde Park, built on an old Victorian reservoir, with bat boxes and a living roof, this tranquil haven in the heart of London is a truely unique and eco friendly spot. Guided by the wonderful Nell and Brigid from the Park’s Community Education Team we were shown all the wonderful nature that surrounds us in the heart of London and what we can do to encourage it in our own gardens and balconies.

Particular highlights of the day  were seeing their wonderful butterfly bank, bird watching and feeding, looking the ‘lightning tree’, spotting the wild cockatoos that have taken up residency in the park and having a go at a spot of pond dipping.

We were all very excited when Jayshree found a dragonfly nymph (which is how they spend 4 years of their lives below water before emerging as a beautiful insect above water for just a matter of weeks). Of course we made sure we popped it back safe and sound in the water afterwards though!

After our visit, it was such a lovely day that lots of folks stayed in the park to explore further visiting sights such as the Italian Gardens and the Diana Memorial Fountain. It was a lovely day and we learned a lot. A big thank you to Nell and Brigid for hosting us. We look forward to coming back again one day!


Can you spot the cockatoo?!

Summer of Fun!

Wow, what a busy summer we’ve been having at the Abbey Community Centre! While our kids’ services are on summer holidays it seems our programme for people over 50 has gone into overdrive! Lots of special summertime activities and trips have been added to our regular programme – many of them intergenerational – so neighbours young and old can come together for a very special summer to remember. Here’s a round-up of some of the highlights so far!

Our new Neighbours to Friends project has got off to a wonderful start with social table tennis sessions now happening every Monday night for the whole community. People of all ages and abilities are coming together, keeping fit and having fun!



We’ve been to Holland Park to see the wonderful peacocks. Who knew there was such a gem right on our doorstep? We will definitely be going back soon!

We took a coach trip to Clacton-on-Sea to blow away the cobwebs (and fill up on fish and chips and ice cream!). It was a lovely day with plenty of sunshine and laughter (and a spot of rain – it wouldn’t be the British seaside without it, would it?!)

Lots more pictures to follow

A few very lucky members were also treated to a very special tour of the House of Commons courtesy of our local MP, Tulip Siddiq. This was a special thank you to those volunteers who have been part of Abbey since it opened a whopping 40 years ago!

CTCer Judith put on a special session to introduce people to the world of Facebook, explaining what a wonderful tool it can be to keep in touch with friends and family but also keep our privacy and details safe. Lots of people set up new accounts and will be trying out their new-found skills over the summer.

Our Recycle-Art group continues taking everyday rubbish and turning it into extraordinary art! Who would have thought you could make beautiful roses out of melted old plastic spoons!

In fact, arts and crafts has proved so popular that as well as Tuesday evenings we have started to do it on the first and second Saturdays of the month too. And even better, anyone can come no matter age or ability so it’s a great way to meet your neighbours or keep the littluns busy in the summer holidays if you’re looking after grandkids.

We were visited by Elsa and her wonderful Iberian Folk dance group who got us in the carnival spirit for the Rio Olympics by showing us dances from all across South America. We all joined in and had a go too. What a treat!

CTC Saturday Club continues to be a great monthly get-together. In July it was extra special as we had the first outing of our brand new cooker (bought with funds raised by everyone at the centre – well done! – and a generous donation from Mears Group). The Bingo Ladies volunteered to cook lunch and christen it and put on a fabulous spread of Shepherd’s Pie and salad, followed by ice cream. There were so many lovely comments about how delicious the food was. Come back again soon! We then worked off dinner with a spot of ping-pong and an extra-large raffle!

The GoodGym popped in again to help prepare the wall for our new mural in the centre’s crèche garden – this time applying the base coat of paint. It’s a big wall so we needed all the help we could get! Our arts and crafts group will be finishing this off and painting a brand new vista over the next couple of weeks in time for the kids’ return in September. We can’t wait to see it finished!



And finally, if you weren’t exhausted reading about all that lot – Abbey Community Centre is now proudly Kilburn High Road Sainsbury’s Local Charity of the Year; Our garden has been nominated for Camden in Bloom Best Community Environmental Project and our befriending scheme, Kilburn Good Neighbours, has been nominated for one of the country’s most prestigious volunteering award – The Queens Award for Volunteering. Go Abbey Community Centre! We are over the moon at being recognised and it’s testament to just how much goes on at Abbey and what a difference it makes in the community.

Phewf! That’s it. Well done for making it to the end! All that leaves us to say is a massive thank you to everyone who helps make it all happen – whether flyering in Sainsbury’s, visiting your elder neighbours, volunteering to cook, teaching us new skills on the computer, or setting up ping pong tables! As we always say, more happens together!

New mural on the way for kids’ garden

The fabulous GoodGym joggers popped in to see us at the Abbey Community Centre again tonight to help us us clear our creche garden and prepare the back wall for a brand new mural. Watch this space for updates on progress as we go from an underwater scene painted back in 2010 to a new colourful landscape full of animals and plants over the next few weeks.

Thank you to everyone who trimmed, weeded, swept, chopped, cleaned and hosed!

We should have take a before and after shot but here’s one of them all hard at work instead!


Thank you and arrivederci!

Today was my last day at the Abbey Community Centre. As you may already know, I’m moving to Paris with my family after three years in London and ten months at the Abbey Community Centre with the role of Men’s Activities Coordinator.

I would like to let know all the people of the community how grateful I am for the opportunity I’ve been given and for embracing me so kindly since from the very beginning. I’ve been happy to come at work every single day, without exceptions. Thank you!

It has been a terrific experience. So much happens here every day: so many opportunities to learn new things together, to belong to a community, to develop relationships, to be active, to improve your well-being, to participate, or simply to know that in the neighbourhood there’s a place where you’re always welcome. At the Abbey even just attending a class or doing the ordinary daily activities is not what we usually call “using a service”, but rather it is being part of a collective effort to make the world (or at least Kilburn) a better place. I’m honoured to have taken part of it.

In these months I have admired the natural and spontaneous dedication of the many volunteers, and the great professional job that the staff is doing to make it all possible, every day (every day, rain or shine!) with love and respect. I’ve learnt a lot and I really hope to be able to bring all these learnings to other organisations in the future.

I’ve found many friends (the CHAPS first of all, of course!) with whom I’ve had great fun and that have inspired me. I will never forget the lovely time we’ve spent together.

I hope that we’ll keep in touch. If you want to write me, just ask for my personal email address at the reception, I’ll be happy to let you know how things are going in France. I also hope I’ll have the chance to come back every now and then to say hello.

The most simple and kind goodbye I know goes like this: “I have taken some part of you into me. It has changed and enriched me, and I shall pass it to others”. That’s what I would like to say to the wonderful people of the Abbey Community Centre.

Once again, thank you!

I wish you all the best.




Highly recommended!

20160721_082408Last Friday we went to visit the new Tate Modern. From the 10th floor you can see a stunning view over the city, the free guided tours are very good, and along the Southbank you can have one of the best strolls in London. Just try it!

P.S. To get there I think that the best way is to take the Thameslink train from West Hampstead until Blackfriars. Easy!

Kilburn’s most curious secret place

There’s a place that all the curious people in Kilburn should know…but very few do.

It’s the Tin Tabernacle, just off the High Road (12-16 Cambridge Ave. NW6 5BA). Build by the Scottish protestant railway workers in 1863, it’s still there, resisting the elements and real estate speculation. A little miracle. And a bizarre one, as it’s interior is made with the shape of a battleship, and the altar comes from a movie set. You can even try the machine gun, if you want!

Saturday last week we went there with group of men from the Abbey CC and KOVE. A very local trip, so enjoyable and with tea included… we had planned to be there for half an our or so, but we ended being there almost two hours! Now we are among the few experts about the Tin Tabernacle and it’s history.😉