Snail update

I got back from holiday on Friday (post-Royal Wedding fun at a pub) and felt the need to say hello to Brian again come Saturday afternoon. I stalked him down courtesy of Action for Kids and I was pleased to find him snailing down Narrow Street, one of my favourite spots in London.*

Brian was hanging out by Gordon Ramsay pub The Narrow and enjoying the sunshine. I was taken here for my birthday two years ago and it does some lovely grub, the views from the conservatory dining area are wonderful too. The pub fed and watered Brian and co and helped Action for Kids to raise some money also.

Lloyd told me that Brian has raised £10,000 so far but that more help and promotion is needed. So if you are a media type person please get in touch with Action for Kids or with Lloyd Scott as they would love to be featured on the radio, television, online and in newspapers. Anywhere basically!

This is where Brian has been featured online so far, excluding press releases:

BBC News

The Greenwich Visitor, page 15

The Greenwich Phantom

853 blog

Do get in touch, as Tesco says, every little helps.

Lloyd is hoping for some more donations once everyone gets back to work after the bank holiday. He will be moving around the Isle of Dogs over the next few days, hopefully those rich bankers on the wharf can dig deep. If you want to find Brian I would tweet at Action for Kids, they are pretty good at responding fairly quickly.

Here are a few photos of Lloyd getting into Brian (ooh-er) on Narrow Street yesterday:

Lloyd’s sister Vanessa plays traffic dodgems with Brian:

Lloyd ‘relaxes’ outside The Grapes pub, nearly done for the day:

I also took a little video of Brian in motion:

I watched Lloyd crawl along the ground for about twenty minutes yesterday, it is one sloooooow process.

Last thing, you can donate online too! Forgot to mention that! Woops.

* The other half and I did a lovely but freezing walk through Wapping and Limehouse back in January 2009 with Andrew Duncan’s Walking London. Wonderful book, thank you to my Aunt and Uncle for the suggestion!

Tuesday Update: Thanks again BBC News!

Wednesday Update: Hooray for London 24

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Brian the Snail

Today I met Brian the Snail. This was a very exciting day.

I was a bit young for The Magic Roundabout but the bright colours and weird and wonderful characters featured can be appreciated without even seeing much of the French and English programme that ran from 1965 to 1977. So when I saw this article on The Greenwich Phantom’s site I got very excited.

Lloyd Scott is the man behind Brian the Snail, and he has become known for ‘running’ the London Marathon in a number of odd ways over the past ten years. After surviving leukemia when he was younger he has gone on to raise large sums of money for various charities, Wikipedia has a rundown of the novel ways in which Scott has raised money since 1993.

The London Marathon route often goes through Greenwich, and as a relative newbie to the area I was very excited to see that the route went along Trafalgar Road, a stone’s throw from my house. After dragging myself out of bed at the unheard hour of 9.30am on a Sunday I watched the Men’s Elite and the amateur runners pass by mile marker six. But who would have known that six days later on Good Friday one last entrant would be pulling himself, face down, along Trafalgar Road, managing a literal snail’s pace.

However, to my eternal shame I mis-read The Phantom’s article and got my dates confused. I was the other side of London on Friday when Brian was travelling from East Greenwich Fire Station to mile marker six. I also managed to miss his Saturday journey along Trafalgar Road past the National Maritime Museum. Oops. Drat.

I finally ‘caught’ Brian in Greenwich today. Mile eight had already been completed and Brian had reached the Surrey Quays area after passing through Deptford. Handily for me, the kind folk at the Wetherspoons by Cutty Sark DLR played host to some Easter Sunday fundraising for Brian and his chosen charity Action for Kids.


After depositing some money into Dougal the money box (so cool) I had a quick chat with Lloyd Scott. He looks very tired but very enthusiastic about what he is doing. His partner, two sons and a school friend are all involved in the fundraising and in looking after Brian and Lloyd. Action for Kids are also about and are writing a daily blog as well as tweeting about Brian’s activities. Also helping with sponsorship and promotion are Give As You Live and Magic FM. If you see Zebedee, Dylan and Florence about that’s Lloyd’s children and friend helping to raise money.


The costumes are amazing and of brilliant quality, and the characters look stunning, even without Ermintrude the cow (“too hard” to figure out according to Scott). All the children in Wetherspoons loved seeing these tall and amazing creations, Rainbow Productions are geniuses. Brian is also fitted with a snail-cam so Scott can see where he is going too – phew!






Zebedee, Brian, Dylan and Florence plus an Easter Bunny from Action for Kids and Lloyd Scott

Brian and co are only eight days into their marathon, so donate if you can and keep your eye out for a big snail until May 13th when Brian finally crawls past the finish line at The Mall. I plan to see Brian along the route where I can, come too!

P.S. The 853 blog took a photo of Brian out in Charlton on the 21st of April as well.

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Graves in The Pleasaunce

With the assistance of Google I decided to briefly research the lives of a few of the 3,000 or so Navy seaman buried in the East Greenwich Pleasaunce. This beautiful and hidden little park cemetery has some amazing gravestones scattered about and I took a few photos of ones I liked the first Saturday in April.


JFH Grant, Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve

Sub-Lieutenant John Francis Haughton Grant was 35 when he died in 1919, and he left wife Ivy Sydney Grant of 2 Kearsney Garage, Kearsney, Dover. Originally from the then-Dutch colony of St. Thomas in the Caribbean (now part of the US Virgin Islands), Grant served in the First World War. His parents were Francis Bell Grant and Emily Jane Grant.

There are a number of very new looking gravestones like this dotted around the Pleasaunce and they all seem to be for those who fought in the First World War. Perhaps they are the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission whose register lists Grant and his grave’s location.


Albert Escott, Head Master of the Royal Hospital School, Greenwich

I could not find much about this gentlemen on Google but I did find a Individual Record on the LDS Family Search site that tells us Escott was 41 in 1881, from Bristol and was married. He “entered on a new life, 28th October 1891” and he has a very cool looking gravestone.


Henry John May, Rear-Admiral, Royal Navy

This guy has the coolest gravestone I have ever seen. His family must have had a lot of money to give him such a cool send-off, unless the Royal Naval College decided to honour him in this way. Courtesy of the Dreadnought Project I was able to find out a bit about May, born 20 February, 1853, died 24 April, 1904.

He was President of the Naval War Course at the Royal Naval College from 1900 to his death, and also fought in the Bombardment of Alexandria on the 11th July, 1882. My favourite encyclopedia tells us how “a fleet of about fifteen Royal Navy ironclad ships… sailed to Alexandria when a riot broke out and Europeans were killed”. May was part of the action in this one day skirmish with local Egyptians which left six British and 700 Egyptians dead.

Amongst others he was promoted from Lieutenant to Commander for his presumably valiant deeds. The London Gazette has scans of its previous issues, and you can read about the honoured Navy personnel on their site.

Coolest grave ever.


John Liddell

This innocuous little head stone is the final resting place of the very interesting Dr, then Sir, John Liddell, born 1794, died 1868. Liddell was the Director General of the Medical Department at the Royal Naval College and worked there from at least 1844. Two events involving Liddell that I have found lead me to believe that he cared a lot about the welfare, before and after death, of those he was responsible for.

Greenwich Hospital’s burial grounds have evolved over time, the first burial site was situated on land that now houses numbers 32-40 Maze Hill. This burial site was open from 1707 to 1749 until Goddard’s Ground became the hospital’s second site. Goddard’s Ground is now King William Walk but was home to 20,000 graves by the time it was closed in 1857 (Pieter van der Merwe of the National Maritime Museum has written a very interesting article here if you would like to read more). In 1847 Liddell voiced concerns that “the effluvia of the graveyard might endanger the health and safety of all [as it was] crowded beyond parallel”, and he recommended that the graveyard be closed.

Pushed by the local Parish Council (with help from the Burial Act of 1852) the hospital eventually closed Goddard’s Ground after new land was purchased. This third burial site was named The Royal Hospital Cemetery and is now better known as the East Greenwich Pleasaunce. Burials were carried out here long after the hospital closed in 1869, and in 1926 the land was sold to Greenwich Council and landscaped. The last burial was in 1981.

Liddell was also responsible for a 1848 report relating to the pollution of the area surrounding the hospital. He was concerned that the area now known as Cubitt Town/Island Gardens would be industrialised and built upon so that the whole area surrounding the hospital would be grey and polluted:

” ‘No casual visitor’ wrote Liddell ‘can fail to be struck with the dull and stupified air of a Greenwich Pensioner, or with the monotony and melancholy that pervade[s] the Hospital, where one dull routine of existence is unchequered by any occupation or incident to beguile its weariness.’ ”

Great stuff eh? His report was championed by the Governor of the hospital Admiral Sir Charles Adam and The Admirality, and after a false start or two William Cubitt leased the land to the hospital’s Commissioners in 1852. The hospital itself did not actually do anything with the land in the end and gave it back to Cubitt in 1858 with “with covenants safeguarding the Hospital’s environmental interests.”

Sounds like a bit of a faff but I think Liddell’s report raised sufficient interest for the land to be saved from industrial development and as any local will know the view towards Island Gardens is beautiful. The eventual development of the land into a park certainly makes my day whenever I exit from the foot tunnel and see the graceful trees and view back across the water.

What a cool bloke.

 
A few more photos of the Pleasaunce…


View east


Pistachios in the Park Cafe


View west


The quote is from The Bible

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Rivington Grill

I went to the Rivington Grill in Greenwich for dinner on Thursday night as my boyfriend and I have decided to start visiting restaurants in our local area more regularly. We like our expensive Michelin starred restaurants but one or twice a year is the limit if we want to stay in the black. During March the restaurant had been running a 30% offer for certain lunch and dinner services so I booked a table last weekend just in time to take advantage of the offer. The Rivington is part of restaurant group Caprice Holdings and counts The Ivy, J. Sheeky and the original Rivington in Shoreditch among its sister restaurants. It is also featured in the 2010 London Michelin guide, and it was this recommendation and its location that promoted me to book a table for two.

The interior of the restaurant has large floor to ceiling windows, cream walls, dark wooden tables, bar and staircase, and the room is lit with ceiling lamps giving the room a soft glow. I felt relaxed and at ease upon entry and we were shown to a nicely sized table near the window so we could see the street outside and the long bar inside. The menus are on printed A3 sheets that are pre-laid so there was no faffing with menus and a wine list etc. We were then given a fresh crusty loaf served on an old wooden board – no side plates taking up table space, simple presentation.

Our orders were taken and we were told about the specials as well as being directed to the large boards above the bar showing this information, catch of the day was Monkfish. We went for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and sardines for starters, and then scallops and lamp chop for mains (really enjoyed all the different fish options on the menu, fits in well with the local area). The Rivington has a large well-stocked bar and also does cocktail specials, a big tick in my book. I went for a Cherry Daiquiri and the other half went for a Meantime beer. Meantime are a local brewing company on the Peninsular, a nice local touch, and another thumbs up from me.

Service was quick but not rushed, my eggs arrived perfectly scrambled with no indication that they were sat under a heat lamp slowly turning to rubber – very pleased. The smoked salmon was lovely and the sardines were light and tasty with a nice kick of flavour from the chilli, garlic, shallots and lemon juice. There was a nice break between courses, plenty of time for the boyfriend to order a glass of house red that he very much enjoyed.

The lamb was ordered rare and rare it was, possibly blue in parts. Our normal trick is to order our meat rare because we always expect it to be cooked more than requested – but not at The Rivington. Rare is rare, be warned if you also do this trick in other establishments! Saying this, the lamb, kidneys and bubble and squeak were enjoyed immensely. My scallops were cooked just right, as above, no rubbery taste and the bacon was full of flavour so it contrasted well with the delicate taste of the scallops. The mash was very rich and creamy and delicious, I had to push myself to eat it all. I really enjoyed the presentation, bed of mash, scallop in the middle and then bacon bits on top. Fun to eat, and very filling when you consider you are ‘only’ eating four scallops.

We felt stuffed so we skipped dessert. The desserts on the menu looked lovely and filling but we knew when to resist. I would have ordered the Bramley apple and cinnamon crumble with custard. Next time I will as I fully recommend The Rivington as a good local restaurant that serves well-cooked and simple food. It is not a ‘cheap’ restaurant but you won’t pay much more than the Gourmet Burger King/Pizza Express/Café Rouge chains that dominate Greenwich and that serve boring over-priced uninteresting dishes. The atmosphere is also lovely and the staff are attentive and informative. The bar area also serves food and looks like a good spot for a nice post-work pint/cocktail. Must get out at Greenwich station one night and head down.

Photos of the dishes are below…


Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs from the ‘On Toast’ part of the menu


Cornish sardines with chilli, garlic, shallots and lemon


Lyme Bay scallops with bacon and hedgerow garlic on a bed of creamy mash


Barnsley lamb chop with kidneys and bubble and squeak


Satisfied customer

P.S. South-east London blogger throughlygood posted a review of the brand-spanking new Bianco 43 yesterday (so new Google has not caught up yet). Looks like the Taste of India didn’t last, and its replacement is a good ‘un. Support your local area! :).

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Greenwich is a wonderful place to live

I was born in Catford but moved away when I was five due my Dad’s work taking us out of London. Growing up in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Leeds for University was alright but I was so excited in 2007 to come back to London. Most of my family are Londoners so moving back was good for so many reasons.

I went back to the borough of my birth and spent three years living just off Lewisham High Street. Transport links were excellent which is very important to a geek like me, and the rent in the area was/is relatively low for a newcomer to expensive London. In 2010 my boyfriend and I had decided to move in together and we wanted to look for somewhere different to live. We both love the river and so began our search in the Tower Hill/Wapping area, but the rent was too high in the end for our budget. Then my boyfriend suggested Greenwich as an alternative and I got very excited.

I love Greenwich, always have, but thought it would be far too expensive for us so I didn’t even consider it. My parents used to take me and my brother to the park when I was tiny and I have a home video my Dad took of the family on a trip to the park from 1986. I have no real memory of these trips but I am filled with nostalgia every time I watch my brother on the swings of the children’s play area that still sits five minutes walk from my house. :-).

Back to the future…

We found a place in the Maze Hill part of Greenwich that was within our budget and in a perfect location near the train station. I was a bit suspicious of the rent level as it seemed too perfect to have found the right kind of flat so soon for the right price. We went to view it of course and saw why the flat was cheaper than most: old-fashioned (but scrupulously clean) carpets and textured wallpapered walls. The flat was also cheaper than others in the area because it didn’t include white goods or furniture. We saw this as a plus however because we were excited about putting our home together and going to IKEA to buy stuff! After umming and erring over it for a couple of weeks we viewed the flat a second time at the beginning of June and decided to take the plunge. We were so pleased – our first home together!

We have been in the flat for nine months now and I don’t think we could be happier. We have our own furniture, a decently sized home and enough space for the two of us (until we get the cat). We are round the corner from one of the most beautiful parks in London, fifteen minutes from town, and the Thames is a short walk away.

I also really enjoy living in East Greenwich as it is fairly residential and doesn’t have loads of tourists like the town center does. The local architecture is Victorian and gorgeous and there is a nice mix of families, old folk and young professionals (horrid phrase) on our street. You can also see Canary Wharf out of our living room window, awesome.

My ten top tips for Greenwich are:

  • The Trafalgar Tavern for a nice pint and wonderful views outside and in.
  • Efes Meze for wonderful local Turkish food.
  • Go to Greenwich Park for the view (I could write a 10,000 word blog about the park).
  • Greenwich foot tunnel for exercise, Victorian engineering and lovely views from Island Gardens.
  • 129 bus route, a local route for local people.
  • The O2 for Cineworld (and the slutty teenagers that dominate the area).
  • Walking through the Old Royal Naval College, any time of year, day or night – beautiful.
  • The DLR because trains that run without drivers are totally cool at any age.
  • Mudchute Farm for tranquillity and peace and stunning views of the Wharf (technically in Tower Hamlets).
  • Greenwich Market for lovely stalls and slightly over-priced hot food for the tourists (I would go before 2013 and the new hotel).

I love Greenwich!