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Last week we spent a morning filming at an Italian restaurant in Primrose Hill, La Collina, just around the corner from my London apartment on Parkway, in Camden.  Small, unique businesses like La Collina play such an important role in the local community, and I’m working with American Express® to highlight this.

Where I live is not usually thought of as a residential area, but look up and you’ll see flats above most of the shops. Yes, it’s busy, there’s quite a lot of traffic (my tiny dog gets carried across the road), tourists wander towards London Zoo and occasionally there is an overspill of crowds from the Dublin Castle gig venue, but these things are a very small price to pay for living in a community.

Yes, I said community. Because, in the four years that I have lived in NW1 since moving back to England from New York, I’ve got to know the people that live and work here. That might not be a very London thing – common perception is that we don’t talk to each other, or even notice our surroundings much – but this street is full of small businesses, with owners that value their customers and take the time to talk.

There’s the greengrocer almost next door, whose employees will walk my sausage dogs for the time it takes me to pick my five-a-day, the coffee shop who Tweets me, the modern British restaurant that will always find me a table and lets me bring the dogs, the cafe opposite where I can pick up the internet from my office, the charity shop, who take in my parcels and for whom, in return, I style their windows from time to time.

And, just down the road is the world famous Camden Market, which is almost entirely comprised of sole traders and small businesses, and, up the road and around the corner, is Primrose Hill, where the same spirit resides. From greengrocers to Greek restaurants there are numerous small businesses, each bringing their own unique offering to the local area, including the afore-mentioned La Collina, whose chef Diana Rinaldo takes the food of her native south, and mixes it with the Piedmontese heritage of her partner, Patrick Oberto.

La collina American Express shopsmall uk

I know that I am lucky to live in a part of London where small businesses are the rule, not the exception but if you look carefully, you’ll see that they are everywhere. So when American Express asked me if I would shine a spotlight on one of my favourite neighborhood restaurants, La Collina, to help encourage more people to shop small, I was happy to oblige. Not only because I love the restaurant, but because it’s so important to show support for your local high street in the run up to Christmas – possibly the most important time of year for small businesses up and down the country.

Which is also why I love Small Business Saturday, a grassroots movement encouraging people to show their support for small businesses on Saturday 5th December. It’s a chance to really think about where you spend your money in the run up to Christmas, helping to support the people who make shopping and eating in our villages, towns and cities such a warm and welcoming experience.

And, there’s a bonus for eligible American Express Cardmembers (yes, I am one too!): through the American Express Shop Small Promotion, if you shop in-store at participating businesses between Saturday 5th and Sunday 20th December 2015, you will receive a £5 statement credit when you spend £10 or more in one transaction on your registered American Express Card.*

To find out more about Shop Small and how you can support your local high street, visit amexshopsmall.co.uk I visited La Collina and found out more about this small restaurant in association with American Express, a principal supporter of Small Business Saturday UK.

PS: The best part about filming in restaurants:

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*There is no limit on the number of times you can receive your £5 statement credit; so, the more you shop small, the more you are rewarded. Valid once per eligible registered Card at each participating business. For full terms and conditions and to register your Card visit: amexshopsmall.co.uk

Promoter: American Express Services Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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