Thursday 29 October 2009

Appeal for witnesses: stabbing in Douglas Way

A serious disturbance in Douglas Way last night led to two people being stabbed - a 41 year old man and a 16 year old boy. The man received life-threatening injuries and is in hospital.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the disturbance, which apparently involved a large group of youths.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Giffin Square demolition

Local resident Phoenix has sent me a link to some short You Tube videos of yesterday's demolition of the old Access Point building in Giffin Square. It's interesting to see how quickly the demolition machine bites away at the walls of the building, and the sounds of the 'tearing' of the bricks are almost eerie.

I for one will not mourn the passing of this dull little shed and look forward to seeing the new school and library rise from the ashes.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Camra pickle festival, Dog & Bell

Noticing that someone had come to the website after googling 'deptford pickle festival' reminded me that the annual Camra pickle festival at the Dog & Bell is fast approaching.

A quick check of the SE London Camra diary revealed that the date of this year's pickle festival is Saturday 28 November, starting at 7pm.

Bring along your home-made pickles, chutneys, breads, jams and even your photography, art or craft, and have them judged by a random selection of real-ale fans, chutney obsessives, bemused onlookers and other hangers-on.

Everyone in the pub gets to try the various nibbles, and to cast their votes. It's a fun evening, a great opportunity to visit the Dog & Bell on Prince Street if you have never been there before, and maybe meet some fellow Deptfordians.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Mayflower pub, Rotherhithe

The geezer and I don't normally cast our net so far afield for nights out, but we were in the Rotherhithe area already and decided to try out the Mayflower for something to eat. I thought I would share our experience with you, and perhaps save you the effort of making the trip.

I've cycled past the place many a time on the Thames cycle path and have always thought it looks like a fabulous pub with loads of character and great potential. It's right on the river in the historic cobbled streets of Rotherhithe and although it's penned in by modern flats, it has a great location.

It was a Friday night so the place was fairly busy with diners, but we managed to find a table close to the fire. There was a very pleasant ambience and although the drinks were a little pricey (£6.75 for a very acceptable pint of Greene King IPA and a pint of lager) I was hopeful that the food would be good.

Although the inside is rather 'olde-world' in style, it has been decorated by someone who feels the need to paint witty quotes about alcohol and being drunk all around the walls. The menu is on a chalk board, but don't be fooled - it's not today's specials, it's presumably so that they don't have to reprint the menus every time the prices rise (although oddly they do also have printed menus).

On the wall behind the bar was a notice reminding us, courtesy of the Drink Aware campaign, that alternating a glass of wine with a glass of water was a good way to moderate one's alcohol intake. Right next to that was a notice courtesy of the landlord announcing that only bottled water was available in this establishment, and patrons were not allowed to drink their own bottled water either. In fact the pub was somewhat awash with notices, signs, orders and instructions for every eventuality.

So we ordered our dinner. The menu is predominantly fish and seafood, with a range of steaks and a few other meaty and veggie options. When told that there was no cod for the cod,chips and mushy peas that I wanted (I could have haddock instead but it didn't come with mushy peas, the manager told me, in a voice that suggested he would find it impolite for me to enquire as to the reason) I decided to have the fresh dressed crab with salad and new potatoes.

The geezer went for fish pie which oddly came with a choice of either salad or chips (just in case you didn't already have enough potato on top of it, presumably). The "Mayflower signature dish" of shepherd's pie could also be served with chips, I noticed, whereas the "Scottish mussels" (their speech marks) did not. Even at £13 a portion.

Oh yes, the prices. The food is expensive. On a first visit you are not to know whether it is overpriced or not, at least not until you've eaten the meal. The Mayflower's food most certainly is.

We may be in London, but if I'm paying £13 for a crab salad I expect it to be exceptional. In terms of quality it was acceptable - the crab was ok, the salad was fresh and plentiful and the potatoes came in a pool of butter - but an upper price tag of £10 would have been a more reasonable level.

Likewise, the geezer's fish pie was fine, but nothing more. And it was £12.

The service was a weird mixture of uber-unctuous and unhelpful. I was particularly amused/exasperated that even when you are paying restaurant prices, you are expected to fetch your own cutlery and condiments from the sideboard next to the door.

Needless to say, we won't be going back to the Mayflower. However (annoyingly) as we left we did see a rather nice looking place just around the corner called Simplicity, which we intend to sample in the near future, so watch this space.

In the meantime, if you are up in that area I recommend instead the Yellow House Bar & Restaurant at Surrey Quays (review coming soon) and/or Banzi's vietnamese restaurant (ditto).

Wednesday 21 October 2009

St Paul's Sinfonia - new season of concerts

The new season of St Paul's Sinfonia concerts kicked off last Friday - full listing for the coming months is here.

I've been to a couple of these concerts and it's a very pleasant way to spend Friday evening - although I recommend a few big woolly jumpers and some nice warm socks, especially for the winter season. A welcome chance to see inside the church and take your time to admire its Italianate Baroque splendour and rich acoustic - for a sneek peak take a look at this UB40 video which was filmed in the church, and flagged up by Transpontine a little while ago.

Next concert is on Friday 20 November at 7.30pm and the programme is as follows:
Beethoven - Ecossaise and Military March
Haydn - Symphony No. 100 'Military'
Hummel - Trumpet Concerto
Prokofiev - Symphony No. 1 'Classical'

Tickets are £10 or £8 for concessions - get them on the door from 7pm.

Monday 19 October 2009

Battery recycling/energy monitors

If, like me, you feel a bit silly going to Landmann Way with a handful of household batteries, or have to make a special trip Across the Border to Greenwich to drop your batteries into a recycling box, fret no more!

A post on the Green Ladywell blog alerted me to the fact that Lewisham Council is to put battery recycling boxes in its libraries after teaming up with Battery Back.

The Battery Back site is worth a look if you want to know where the old batteries go, and also if you live outside Lewisham it provides a map showing the nearest collection points to your postcode.

Our household is trying to gradually move across to rechargeable batteries. We are slowly getting there but not helped by the fact that the other day I accidentally disposed of some rechargeable batteries :-(

While you're down the library and thinking green thoughts, you might also want to take advantage of the council's scheme for lending 'smart meter' energy monitors. You can borrow them from the library, much like a library book and also free of charge. Use them to see what kind of energy each of your appliances is using, and to work out where you can save the most energy/money.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Metropolitan tea rooms, the Old Police Station/Pagan Feast

Time Out has a review of the Metropolitan Tea Rooms at the Old Police Station, if you want to read it here.

(by the way, the 'Dirty Cup Fridays' mentioned in the review should be 'Dirty Cop Fridays' - find more info on the website)

I've been in the tea rooms a couple of times, the most recent during the Deptford X festival. I've never seen any food on sale or even anyone behind the counter (and the last time I walked past on a weekday lunchtime it was closed!), but perhaps I should try again, as the food looks rather tasty.

Sadly I'll be out of town for Halloween/Samhain but if you are around you can celebrate the evening with a Pagan Feast in the cells of the Old Police Station. You will need to book in advance but if you want to combine a night out with the chance to try some of Jaine's cooking (genuine Medieval recipes!), this could be the thing for you!

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Frankham Street mural

As part of the council's work to improve Frankham Street, a mural has been commissioned for the back of the buildings which face on to Deptford High Street.

Apparently residents wanted something that would celebrate Deptford's rich maritime past, so all four choices are paintings of the River Thames and the docks by Deptford, from the collections of the National Maritime Museum.

Click here and you can vote on your favourite of the four options.

On Friday there will also be a public 'meet and greet' in Giffin Square. "This is your opportunity to meet with the people who will be building the new Deptford lounge and Tidemill school and have any of your questions answered", the press release says. "We will be on Giffin Square from 2pm - 6pm". If you haven't made up your mind about the murals by then, you can vote at Giffin Square.

I can't make it, so perhaps someone can find out for me what the latest delay is with the railway station.... *sigh*

Sunday 4 October 2009

Deptford sewing machine shop

You may or may not be aware of the Dame's crafting obsession; having a sewing machine shop on Deptford High Street is a great benefit, even if I'm a much better at knitting than sewing, and the second hand market offers an excellent opportunity to snap up funky fabrics for just a few pence.

The shop offers new and reconditioned sewing machines for sale from as little as £45, and also has a repair service. As well as spares for sewing machines, they sell reels of cotton, zips and so on, nicely supplementing the modest fabric and haberdashery section at the back of Peter & Joan's shop (opposite Iceland).

So it's no surprise that the Sewing Machine Centre and the market feature in this article and short film on the BBC website. Happily business is booming for the shop, with the current trend of 'make do and mend'.

Friday 2 October 2009

Gallop coffee shop

Second new opening of the week on Deptford High Street, and likely to attract more of my custom than Tesco's, especially since I saw the magic word 'ice-cream' on the board outside!

The opening of the Gallop coffee shop is a welcome addition to the northern end of Deptford High Street, which suffers from a surfeit of fast-food joints and has been desperately devoid of coffee since the demise of the Bear Cafe.

The cafe will be open on weekends only for the coming month, but this includes Sundays and initial suggestions are that it will open from about 7.30am till 5ish. Inside, the gallery's trademark white tiles for the perfect decor for the minimalist cafe, with a new kitchen at the back, all stainless steel and clean lines, just as you would expect!

With only a few tables, the cafe quickly gets busy and I didn't get chance to check out the menu or sample the goods or ambience today. I shall report back in due course.

Tesco Express

In the interest of local research, myself and the Geezer snooped into Deptford High Street's new Tesco Express last night on the way home from the pub. The fact that it's possible to do this is probably one of the positive things about our new arrival. Opening hours are 6am to 11pm - every day including Sunday.

Today, slightly more sober, I did a solo trip to assess the retail experience properly. First things first - it's a small shop with just three aisles at the back, two at the front, and it is trying to cover every base. At the entrance is a long chill cabinet full of sandwiches and cold drinks, flanked by crisps, nuts etc, opposite which is a small stand of newspapers and magazines and a basic selection of toiletries.

The back half of the shop contains everything else, including the obligatory hovering security guard although he did rush to the front when a posse of young men arrived to scour the chill cabinet for their lunch.

The Dame's test was as follows: fresh milk (organic if possible); parmesan or pecorino cheese; a bottle of good fizz (for a gift, I hasten to add, it's not usually on my shopping list!); bin liners for a tall 30L bin; tagliatelle.

A good range of fresh milk (in a proper, WORKING fridge - Housewives Cash & Carry take note!) including organic. Pass. I'm glad to say my commenter the Flying V would have been delighted to also find real cream. Not just single and double, but also extra thick!

I'd been hopeful about the cheese. Surely parmesan is more or less a staple these days? Well it seems it is, but for Tesco Express this only means the pots of 'freshly grated' parmesan. Which translates as 'we'll grate it for you because we can charge you triple the price and it will keep for a couple of weeks then you'll have to come back for more'. I keep a block of parmesan in the fridge for months on end, so shelling out three or four quid at a time for a block might seem a large initial outlay but it does last more or less for ever. Fail on this one. The range of other cheeses available was ok, but could have been better, even in a small shop.

Unsurprisingly it was also a fail on the fizz*, although they did have some basic Cava and Prosecco which I would have bought had it been for me. The wine selection is better than anywhere else on the high street (not particularly difficult) although like everything else, there is not a huge range to choose from.

The shop failed on the bin liners, although likewise I hadn't been too hopeful about this. There were about three different types but not the one I wanted. In general, bin liners are not exactly in short supply on Deptford High Street - they are sold in every other shop - but they are usually the cheap, easily torn type. Tesco's did have stronger, drawstring liners, just not the large ones.

I was very surprised to find that it almost failed on the tagliatelle too - I got the last box off the shelf of a very small dry pasta selection. I guess they want you to buy the overpriced 'fresh' version from the chill cabinet.

On the whole, it was pretty much what I expected. I'm glad that Tesco doesn't follow the Iceland model - although the Iceland store is about twice the size, they probably only stock about the same number of products because they put out hundreds of each item. Tesco had got a good range of products for the size of the shop, but only a few of each on the shelf.

As far as price goes, I didn't do a proper comparison - that's for another day when I have more time. But I did notice that as far as eggs were concerned, the only free range eggs available in sixes were large size and cost £1.64 for half a dozen. Across the road, Wellbeloved Butchers sells half a dozen medium-size free range eggs for £1.40, and in the other direction, Housewives Cash & Carry knocks them out at £1.09 (but check the dates carefully).

I certainly won't be shopping here regularly, but I do appreciate the addition of a better range of cheese, wine and cream to the products available on the high street.

*In fact I noticed a couple of days later that they do sell fizz, but it's behind the checkout with the small range of spirits, and they only have one choice, which was about £30.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Black history month - riverside walk

A chance to find out more about black history in Deptford, at an event that is planned as part of black history month.

Join author S.I Martin & the Thames Discovery Programme on a guided walk and find out more about the Black heritage of Deptford, Greenwich and the River Thames.

19th October 2009 2pm at St. Nicholas’ Church, Deptford

This walk from St Nicholas' Church in Deptford to St Alfege in Greenwich takes us through almost 500 years of Black history in South East London. Learn more about:
• Black dockworkers at Red House Wharf
• Black sailors, free labourers and their families in Deptford and Greenwich
• Hawkins, Drake and St Nicholas' Church
• Watergate Street
• The Dreadnought and The Royal Naval Hospital
• The Deptford Riots of 1949
The walk will feature notes from 18th century Black writers including Olaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho and Jupiter Hammon.

More information about this and other events in Lewisham can be found here.