Coming to Wanstead


Following numerous messages of support for the author of last month’s welcome address, we invited Oleksandra Vietrova to tell us more about her move from Ukraine to Wanstead

If you read my welcome address in the previous edition of the Wanstead Village Directory, you will already know that I’m a Ukrainian who moved to Wanstead in the autumn of 2020.

My family and I used to travel a lot. We’ve visited many of places around Europe and the US. We even moved to California and lived there for quite a while, but then returned to Ukraine. California was… different! Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing time. The place was such a contrast to Europe that it took me a few months to get used to their way of living.

Prior to moving to London, we had never visited the UK. One thing that was a bit scary about this move was London’s weather. Having lived here for one-and-a-half years now, I have no idea why London’s climate has such a bad reputation! Maybe it was the books I read or the ongoing global climate change. But London’s weather was a pleasant surprise for me and every single one of my Ukrainian friends who ever visited the city. Now, it feels ridiculous that I was thinking London’s climate was worse than what we are used to back in Ukraine!

In Ukraine, the temperature goes from -20°C in winter to 40°C in summer, with a gloomy autumn and a never-ending snow melting and freezing cycle in early spring. All the books we Ukrainians read make us think the climate in London is so much worse! It is hilarious! It is laughable how often friends who learned that we moved to London asked with a pity in their voices: “Oh… isn’t the weather horrible there?”

A mild climate was a welcome gift, but it was not the only one. Having seen many countries and cities in my life, I’d be challenged to recall even one other place on Earth as comfortable for life as Wanstead. It’s amazingly quiet and still full of birdsong in the morning. It’s green, beautiful, surrounded by parks and nature with a vast variety of plants and wildlife, yet in only five minutes one is on the High Street with its shops and restaurants, and in only half an hour on the Tube, in the centre of one of the world’s largest cities.

Local people are truly awesome. So kind, friendly and helpful. So proactive and loving in their small homeland, Wanstead. I never cease to be amazed by the talents of my neighbours, by the heritage they cherish, by the empathy they have towards people and nature. Wanstead Community Gardeners, Tin in a Bin and all the other local projects are nothing short of impressive. Wanstead is a gift that keeps on giving.

In finding Wanstead, I feel like I’ve found the best place in the world.

To read Oleksandra’s welcome address from the April 2022 issue of the Wanstead Village Directory, visit wnstd.com/apr22