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Local Food Heroes

Now we are in the ninth week of lockdown, and a lot of us are fairly used to our new lives, it’s possible that we might gloss over the early days of lockdown, and think it wasn’t actually that stressful, and that things aren’t so dramatically different from ‘LIFE BEFORE THE COVID’.

That assessment is probably incorrect… it is significantly different, and it will be a long time before things are back to how they were… presuming that day WILL come. 😬

So, to things that have made my life and other people’s lives better… the local food heroes in my area.

The VeryGreen Grocer

Based in Shooters Hill, The VeryGreen Grocer has been delivering to homes in South East London since 2010. Run by Mike, Mike, Barbara and Simone, their vans deliver groceries, dairy and bread every week, Monday to Friday.

Luckily for us, the husband had registered as a new customer 3 weeks before lockdown, and we started getting a weekly delivery at the end of March. The company stopped accepting new customers for a while due to demand from far and wide, but we were very reassured by their tweets explaining their new ordering process.

Things seem to have settled down since March and customers can now order through their site as usual. And they are now accepting new customers, so do email them your address and postcode if you would like an account, and the team will respond.

Below is the box we had delivered at beginning of April – full of lovely tasty good things, and we’ve been reminding ourselves how to eat in order of freshness. I’ve also had a lot of fun looking up BBC Good Food recipes to work out what to cook with what we have, and I’ve become a big fan of cabbage – which I never expected! Blame Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

We are still doing a big shop at Sainsbury’s every fortnight, but we are keeping up a weekly fruit and veg order, and are very happy to continue to support the VeryGreen family.

The Plumstead Pantry

Usually a cafe on Plumstead Common, The Plumstead Pantry has converted itself into a bakery cum grocer cum delivery service over the past two months. The owners Ash and Julia also used crowdfunding to help with the conversion, and were able to raise over Β£5,000 in just 14 days.

I wasn’t really aware of the business until April as I’ve only driven through Plumstead Common a few times, but I saw a tweet from a local friend about the cafe, and after a good nosey at their Twitter and Facebook, it turned out they were having regular deliveries of plain flour. At the time we had nearly run out, and as the flour shelves were/are usually empty at Sainsburys, the husband was very keen to get some!

After buying 2kg of plain flour, plus 1kg for our friends, we have since branched out into tin loaves and their very scrumptious cinnamon buns – they drip with sweetness and are just heavenly.

As well as their 1 in, 1 out policy at the cafe (with beautiful views across the Common), you can also pre-order goods for collection or delivery. Delivery is free within SE18 and surrounding areas, and there is a handy WhatsApp button on their Facebook page if you want to place an order (DMs on Twitter are also used).

And many thanks to Julia for not ringing the doorbell when delivering, Rafe nap time is sacred! 😊

(Image: The Plumstead Pantry, Facebook)

Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe

We used to live in Charlton and one of my favourite haunts was the Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe in Charlton Park. I still visit before Monday music at Charlton House, and do I love having a jacket potato with bacon and cheese while Rafe wriggles about with his own lunch.

Every Christmas the cafe organises a Christmas Day lunch for the elderly, and since Coronavirus closed their doors, Michael and Mimi have been cooking and delivering food to those unable to leave their homes. Based on their tweets, they are delivering lunches to at least 20 people 3 times a week. Amazing! If you can help with the lunch deliveries, please contact Michael.

Hopefully we will all be back there soon!

(Image: Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe, Twitter)

The Red Lion

Since a new management team took over in 2019, The Red Lion has been aiming for a more family friendly vibe. A few months ago I went with my husband, son and in-laws for an early evening meal, we had a great time, and we all really enjoyed the food.

While the pub is closed, Danny Brooker and his team have been supporting a number of individuals, NHS hospitals, care homes and hospices in the local area.

Funds are being raised through crowdfunding, and hundreds of meals are being prepared at each cooking session. A separate team are then organising and delivering the food. Super super impressive, and a wonderful thing to read about.

Another local spot I want to visit again soon!

(Image: The Red Lion at Shootershill, Facebook)

A Glorious Day in Greenwich

After last Saturday’s walk by the river, and my walk through Oxleas Woods yesterday, I’m getting fired up and excited to be out and about.

Whatever you think about last Sunday’s video presentation from Dear Leader, the fact that we are now allowed out more for exercise fills me with nothing but joy.

Obviously this is ridiculous, no police officer is watching you through a set of binoculars just in case you step outside more than once a day, but the removal of the social pressure is certainly helpful.

And I think the announcement has lifted some of the fug I’ve felt around myself since lockdown began in March. I’ve definitely had a good week with no low moments, and given I’ve not had any errands to keep me busy, I think I’m doing alright. 😊

I woke up in a great mood today: we had some nice family time before the husband started work, and then I did some writing for another blog while Rafe played with his toys (intermingled with cuddles and Mummy chest raspberries). And once showered and dressed, I went to Greenwich for the first time in 7 weeks, yay! πŸ₯³

It was a BEAUTIFUL day today, and we had a wonderful walk through the park with some chill time on the grass during Rafe’s nap. The buggy also rolled down the hill because I didn’t put the brake on properly. It was pretty funny, and it didn’t bash into anyone so YAY!

A little later I ‘picked up’ some lunch via Deliveroo and we sat in St Alfege Park while a squirrel watched us eat. Rafe did some running around, and then we went down to the river for additional running plus climbing. I missed the river so!

After a play by the Cutty Sark we circled back to the park where Rafe pretty much gave up walking and climbed in his buggy. There was a brief bit of running away and hiding in some tall grass after a breather, but by about 4.15pm he was ready to head home via Daddy taxi. πŸš•

A wonderful trip out, and keep scrolling for photos!

Blackheath Avenue free from cars, lovely!
Spot the buggy
St Alfege Park
The Sherpa hard at work
Greenwich Foot Tunnel

A Walk by the River

We found a screw in our back tyre today, so down to the nearest Kwik-Fit we went. And luckily for us, it was a 5 minute walk from the river, so we had a lovely walk while we waited for the tyre change.

It felt like such a treat to see the Thames, and on such a sunny day as well. We used to live about 20 minutes walk from the river, and before Charlton, we lived in East Greenwich for 4 years – lots of riverside walking back then!

The stretch we walked is between the Anchor & Hope pub and the Thames Barrier, and we did a quick-ish loop back to the pub before we found ourselves a quiet spot on a patch of grass by the Sainsbury’s depot. Very salubrious.

We enjoyed listening to a man ranting on his phone about having to wait for his colleague by the depot exit gate. πŸ‘

However, the view was heavenly.

And we now have a fixed tyre and a new lovely memory to keep us positive and upbeat.

Open House 2014

Better late than never as always… here are the photos from Open House London 2014:

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Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place, E14 0JY
We spent hours here, such an amazing artistic and historic place to visit, plus there is a cafΓ© and an American diner! See London, the Leamouth and the river from a different and fantastic angle.

Limehouse Town Hall, 646 Commercial Road, E14 7HA
Victorian built former town hall, fairly drab and a bit dirty when we visited two years ago, but full of potential – it could be an amazing events space and wedding venue if the trust running the building were given a wodge of cash. Sits next to a pretty churchyard.

Half Moon Theatre, 43 White Horse Road, E1 0ND
Formerly the Limehouse Board of Works, the building’s exterior has been beautifully restored and the building itself is the current home of youth theatre group Half Moon.

20 Winkley Street, E2 6PT
Three storey home in Bethnal Green, always good to nosy round someone’s architectural dream.

Argentine Ambassador’s Residence, 65 Brook Street, W1K 4AH
No interior photos allowed, but plenty of ‘Islas Malvinas’ information on display. The elegant building itself was completed by Thomas Cubitt in 1851 with additions by Mayhew & Knight in 1859, and it sits on the corner of Belgravia Square near many other embassies.

Chandos House, 2 Queen Anne Street, W1G 9LQ
Royal Society of Medicine owned building built in the 18th century by Robert Adam, situated in Marylebone, the house is available for hire for weddings and events.

Regent Street Block W4, 10 New Burlington Street, W1S 3BF
We missed the last tour of this new building on Regent Street (near the Oxford Circus end), but we were able to walk around the beautifully designed lobby which featured a mirrored art piece that seemed to fade in and out of its surroundings – gorgeous.

The College of Optometrists, 42 Craven Street, WC2N 5NG
Just up the road from the huge queue for Benjamin Franklin House… the equally splendid but pokey Georgian home of Optometrists was an enjoyable find. The museum inside was also great fun with lots of weird and wonderful spectacles and visual aids to cast your eye over (ha).

Cabbies Shelter, Embankment Place
Sixty or so of these tiny green shelters were built between 1875 and 1914 for Hansom cab drivers, they are still in use today but only thirteen remain – we squeezed into one for a look-see.

HM Treasury, Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ
Our last stop for 2014 was the stunning HM Treasury building, first constructed in 1898 to 1917 with a 2002 refurbishment. We started the tour in the new part of the building and finished the tour in the stunning 20th century circular courtyard.

The Secret Princess of Severndroog Castle at Greenwich and Docklands Festival

As well as 451, I also volunteered for The Secret Princess of Severndroog at the beginning of July – another show that was part of the Greenwich and Docklands Festival.

The show is for small children (and big hearted adults), and the volunteers were tasked with escorting the four groups of children through the woods around Severndroog Castle, just off Shooters Hill.

Fairies Bramble, Dandelion, Bluebell and Ivy led the groups and told the assembled audience about all the magical creatures in the woods who had been trapped by the evil wizard, and how to battle him to free the princess. πŸ™‚

In the photo below, Dandelion and Bramble tell the children about the wishing tree, and invite them to write a message to the princess to cheer her up.

Each group then takes a slightly different route round the castle to meet different forest creatures – on my second shift I was lucky enough to go on the alternate route where we meet the princess’ mother. Here the children are meeting the vain and selfish prince and have to encourage him to not rescue the princess.

Next stop is a grumpy but good magician who was turned in a frog by the evil wizard. He has managed to turn himself partly back but still “ribbits” a lot! He helps the children with a spell and a defence word to scare the wizard away.

This forest creature swung her way down to the group on a harness and then taught us all two defence techniques to fight the wizard. If my memory is correct, we learnt a laughing pointing heckle, and a bum wiggling mooning motion!

Here in the rose garden we met a dancer and a singer both trapped in the wood, but the singer can’t speak anymore and can only communicate with her accordion. We learnt a line from a song to frighten the wizard.

After meeting the four forest dwellers, the group circles back to the castle itself to meet up with the other groups, and all the woodland creatures to rescue the princess. We meet the evil wizard as shown below, and recite our defence word and actions to scare him away. We succeed and everyone is released from the wood! Hurrah!

But we then have to persuade the princess to leave the castle as she is scared of leaving after so many years of being trapped. She is a bit of a whiny thing but we eventually succeed with our cheerful song (I didn’t manage to get any photos of the princess as Instagram doesn’t work so well from a distance of 63 feet).

The princess then comes down to thank us and we all sing our song again to finish the show.

Thank you to Look Left Look Right for a lovely show!

P.S. You can get married at the castle πŸ™‚

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Ankle Deep in Creekside Mud

On the 21st of June I finally got muddy in Deptford Creek with the Creekside Education Trust. The trust regularly runs walks for the general public, and for schools in the local area.

Each walk is organised for low tide as at high tide you would be swimming! You are armed with waders and a trusty stick to keep you upright, and after a briefing in the beautiful surrounds of the flower garden, you are then led down to the creek.

It is a bit smelly, but the pure joy of tramping about in mud soon wafts the aroma of the creek away.



The trust’s base of operations is situated next to the London Bridge to Greenwich Railway Viaduct between Greenwich and Deptford, and the access path to the creek leads you to exact spot where the railway line crosses Deptford Creek.

The bridge itself was modified in 1954 to include a lifting mechanism that allowed boats with tall masts to pass up the creek. The mechanism is now defunct but luckily for us it is safe from removal, and can still be viewed at close proximity from the Ha’Penny Hatch footbridge.

We headed upstream away from the mouth of the Thames, towards the first DLR bridge over the creek. This bit of the DLR crosses the creek three times between Deptford Bridge and Greenwich.

View upstream towards The Art in Perpetuity Trust and Creekside Artists.

Third DLR bridge over the creek with a view towards the boats permanently moored and lived on in the creek.

My beautiful waders protecting me from the sludge and mud.

A little further upstream we cross the creek at a small weir, and we were carefully aided by the volunteers on the slippy bit!

Now renovated flats, the S. P. & C. Mumford Grain Silo was built in 1897 by architect Sir Aston Webb.



A dead crab shell found by our guide, a brief discussion on the creek’s biodiversity followed, plus a bad joke from me…

Guide: How do you check if a crab is male or female?
Me: Check if it has a willy

Cue many laughs and childish giggles. πŸ˜€

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Just after the dead crab, we reached the weir at the top of the creek, the weir pushes the water underground as it crosses the A2. Once it resurfaces on the other side it is known as River Ravensbourne, and at Lewisham it joins with another tributary – the River Quaggy.

We then made our way back to the start of the walk to catch some river creatures. You grind the river dirt under your feet to move it about, then see what appears in your net.

View towards the trust’s wild flower garden.

We also walked under the rail bridge and headed towards Trinity Laban‘s dance centre.

View south towards Deptford and Lewisham.

Thank you for an excellent Sunday in the bright sunshine!

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Formed in 1999, the trust’s mission is to “work with the local and wider community to sustain and promote the regeneration of Deptford Creek through education, conservation and the forging of partnerships. The trust also aims to act as a voice for nature conservation and biodiversity in the area.”

The centre itself mainly runs on a volunteer basis and more help is always welcomed, if you would like to get involved with this wonderful organisation please click here.

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451 at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

Now over for 2015, this year’s Greenwich and Docklands International Festival featured a fully immersive interactive piece called 451.

Based on the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, the Periplum created performance was performed in Bethnal Green Gardens on Saturday the 27th of June.

451 focuses a number of citizens who are rebelling against the state sponsored destruction of literature, and on the fireman Montag, a initially loyal citizen who is employed to burn books.

Citizens are hunted, captured, electrocuted, shot at and burned alive in their quest for the right to read. Montag begins to question the status quo and we follow him as he tries to break free from his regimented existence.

2b

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I applied to be a volunteer at this year’s festival, and when my role allocation came through I was on the list as a performance assistant for 451. I wasn’t really sure what I was letting myself in for but I was excited to be part of a performance that wasn’t singing related.

The ten strong team met on the Friday before the performance for a five hour rehearsal with the actors and performers. We blocked through the whole show a number of times before a dress rehearsal at 10pm. We did the same on Saturday prior to the show.

The performance assistants had a two-fold role, we needed to protect the audience from the fast moving segways that ran through the audience, but also had to play balaclava wearing fireman who blew whistles repeatedly and had to encourage the audience to burn books!

We also silently and slightly creepily gave out pages of banned booked to the audience as they arrived as part of the pre-show. Trying to stay stern faced whilst lots of polite English people said “thank you very much” was a fun experience.

It was quite a lot to learn over the two rehearsal periods, but the joint effort of ten seemed to pull everyone in the right direction at the right time. A nerve-wracking experience, but definitely one where it kept the group on our toes – ideal for a evening performance with frame throwers and bombs exploding all around!

The actual performance was quite intense and it was over far quicker than I expected. It was very exhilarating and it was really fun to work together on something so dramatic with a group of strangers I had only met the day before. I would definitely do it again, and thank you very much to Periplum for making us feel so welcome and fully part of the team.

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As usual I dragged the husband to the show, here are a few of his scary and enchanting videos of the evening:


A fiddle solo starts the main show


On the hunt for rebellious citizens


Don’t forget to tweet and betray your fellow humans!

A stunningly beautiful end: not an overthrow of the government, but a statement on keeping burnt books alive with oral tradition – a role reversal from the time before the printing press.

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Horsie, Horsie Don’t You Stop

I’ve been meaning to document the horses that clip clop up my road for a few months now.

I finally managed to dash from kitchen to spare room with a phone and hit record just in time to see the tail end (ha!) of The King’s Troop doing their exercises.


Every time I’ve seen them it has been at least fifty horses clopping two by two up the hill, an amazing sight, an amazing sound – plus some poo.

The King’s Troop moved to Woolwich in 2012 after the lease on the original St John’s Wood Barracks wasn’t renewed. Not a bad thing for a part of south-east London that spends most of its time defending itself from accusations of being a bit shit and poor.

Personally, I feel there are some absolutely lovely spots in Woolwich – I did get married there after all, and a casual meander across Woolwich Common towards the barracks is a beautiful way to explore SE7 and SE18.

On another note, who remembers Horsie, Horsie Don’t You Stop? My Dad used sang it to me while he bounced me on his knee, and we used to change the last line to “Homebase bound” as we lived near the Catford Homebase at the times. Happy days eh! πŸ˜€


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Up On The Roof

“When this old world starts getting me down” I can climb up to my roof. πŸ™‚

It is an amazing sight, so much more amazing than these photos show… but at least it will give you a flavour, and you can listen to The Drifters at the same time.





















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Walking London

A few years ago my aunt Jeanette introduced me to Andrew Duncan’s Walking London, a guide book with thirty walks in the Greater London area. Originally published in 1991, the guide has been re-printed numerous times and the latest edition was released in 2010.

My 1997 edition was acquired from a pub in Limehouse after it was left there for a few weeks.

Each walk has a summary with length and duration specifics, a detailed map of the area to follow, a clear step by step description of the walk itself – including reference points and historical notes, and perhaps most importantly – information about the pubs en route!

To my shame, I’ve only done six of the walks, but I have plenty of time to complete the book before I fall apart in 40 years or so. So far I’ve completed the six listed below, and further down are some highlights from the two walks I have photos of.

β€’ Bankside and Southwark
β€’ Clerkenwell
β€’ Dulwich
β€’ Greenwich
β€’ Regent’s Park
β€’ Wapping to Limehouse

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Wapping to Limehouse

It was a freezing cold day in January 2009, and my poor newly acquired boyfriend was forced from his warm bed into the centre of London by heartless me.

This was one of the first things we did together as a couple and it was a fabulous walk, we even extended it to Greenwich with a short trip on the DLR to Island Gardens, before going through Greenwich foot tunnel, and then back on the DLR to my place in Lewisham.

The photos only show a small amount of what there is to see on this walk, I would really recommend it, such an amazing walk through so much history and architecture. It is also an area most tourists would never visit, so you will be in for a real treat if you have a nosy about. Plus, tons of pubs!

The walk starts at Tower Hill tube and the first point of interest is St Katherine’s Dock – where “we” looked for fish

Peace dove sculpture by Wendy Taylor, marking the lives lost in Wapping during the Blitz, Hermitage Wharf Riverside Memorial Garden

Up, close and personal with the river at one of the access points along Wapping High Street

Oodles of converted warehouse apartments around here, these ones are by Wapping Wall

Head down the Thames Path passageways on Narrow Street and you find wondrous views

After the end of the walk at Westferry, now in the Greenwich foot tunnel

The foot tunnel dome at night on the Greenwich side

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Dulwich

Last June, prior to an evening concert at All Saints Church, we finally did the Dulwich walk. One always puts off anything in London that requires you to travel across, instead of in or out, but we made it to West Dulwich station on a gloriously sunny day that screamed for a walk and a pub stop.

Dulwich is a curious spot in the middle of south London, it is a world of its own created by Elizabethan actor and charitable benefactor Edward Alleyn. Alleyn began acquiring land in Dulwich in 1605 and by 1619 was well underway with the building of the College of God’s Gift, now known as Dulwich College.

Alleyn’s goal was to educate orphaned boys and to provide almshouses for the poor, and due to the setting of his lands in mortmain, the charitable estate still exists today and has continued to give Dulwich its unique flavour for roughly 400 years.

First stop on the walk is the New College buildings of Dulwich College (1866–70), designed by Charles Barry Jr., “a building of red brick and white stone, designed in a hybrid of Palladian and Gothic styles”.

You don’t have to pay a toll now, but watch the width restriction!

Heading south on College Road towards Sydenham Hill station

Enjoying a Pimms in the garden at The Wood House

Fake ruins in Sydenham Hill Wood

The beautiful path that is Cox’s Walk, and just before this spot you pass over a disused railway line last used in 1954, the Nunhead to Crystal Palace (Higher Level) railway line

Dulwich Park, we were too late to go on the boating pond unfortunately

Looking towards Dulwich Village from the steps of Christ’s Chapel

One of the beautiful houses of Dulwich Village

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To summarise, buy this book! I’m only hinting at the contents in this blog post, the book is simply packed with information, it is a slice of historical heaven for any London lover.

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