Saturday, 13 December 2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Deptford is the plaice to shop

I shall admit something terrible. On Saturday morning I arose (fairly early for me in fact) and one of my first thoughts was, "right, better get down to Lewisham to buy the ingredients for tonight's dinner."

I voiced these thoughts out loud and was well and truly chastised. "Why Lewisham?!" It was exclaimed. "What can you buy there that you can't buy here?" Did I or did I not list all the reasons one should shop in Deptford in a previous post? Yet my first instinct was to jump ship to Lewisham. Was it the lure of the metal scoops/bowls of £1 veg? Boots? All those boutiques full to the brim with sartorial delights? Or even Argos? Why feel the need to venture further into zone 2 (almost 3)? Maybe the childhood memories of the rotating mechanical people above the lifts to the car park, I still remember the tune. Or climbing onto the camel's back in the play area (the sat down one of course, the other was for the athletic children, or the stupidly brave). Lewisham has more shops, the market is great for fruit and veg, the Italian Deli has too many varieties of linguine to mention and there's a TK Maxx. Reasons to travel surely. I sat down. I pondered. My mobile phone was expertly plucked from my mac pocket a few months ago in Lewisham, was I really ready to go back there? After promoting the virtues of Deptford High Street to anyone that cared to read why was I not about to practice what I preached? "I shall leave my Oyster Card at home" I declared and with dramatic lunge into my large reusable and recycled bag (so as to be ecologically friendly and all that) I brandished it and threw it rather accurately onto the coffee table. "Anything Lewisham does, Deptford can do better." I declared and threw open the front door. Admittedly I was going to look at DVDs in Lewisham but decided I'd put that off and buy some on Amazon later. Deptford did not disappoint.

I had concerns that there would be certain things one could only purchase from a large supermarket, however the diverse products in Housewives Cash and Carry meant that I had a choice of two different sizes of bags of bay leaves. I went to Cod father's and bought two cod fillets, a fillet of smoked haddock and a handful of prawns. "We're a real shop love." Said the fishmonger while handing me a free bag of cooked mussels. Surely that would never have happened in Lewisham. When the grocer had no parsley I was directed to a shop that was likely to have it, and a huge bunch for 65p. Deptford High Street is what food shopping is all about. It was fun, productive and interesting. The only thing that would have made it better would have been passing Kennedy's and buying some chipolatas just because I could.

I'm not saying Deptford is better than Lewisham, they are obviously completely different but I really enjoyed searching for products and feeling part of my community and I felt strangely rewarded for it too. Oh and I didn't have to use my oyster card.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Mind the Crap

"Doubts were raised today over London's ability to host the 2012 Olympics after thousands of visitors were stranded on their way to Docklands. Tourism minister Barbara Follett apologised to delegates at the World Travel Market at ExCel after the DLR broke down and there were problems on the tube. Ertugrul Gunay, Turkey's tourism minister said: "Traffic will pose a problem [in 2012].""

London Lite 12/11/2008

I'll tell you what Ertugrul, it's a bloody problem RIGHT NOW. I hadn't realised I was on the same DLR as all these incredibly important people. Babs I'm still waiting, I may not be a tourist but an apology would be nice. I doubt the delegates would have had to endure the walk from Mudchute to Deptford yesterday and with bags of food shopping. But maybe they were on a different DLR? Fancy that. After a women pulled the emergency cord this morning, I don't think I have ever felt so eager to ensure that said passenger was near death's sliding doors. I am not evil, the DLR has done this to me.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Nights to remember or not

I have just been on holiday. It was great, there was sun but I have to admit I really missed my London nightlife. The greatest thing about London is that you can have a really familiar night out; go to your local pub, little known bar or club, maybe a house party and never be more than a bus route away from your abode OR you can go crazy and cross the river and live it up like a tourist (or maybe meet friends that live in North London). The fact is, in London we can night life it any way we want to. I do admit to loving a local night out and I have so so so loved what was Bubble Gum. That door, just to the west of what was The Live Bar. The fizzy pop! Well now it is the Bunker Club and I have had my fair share of fun there too. Last week a load of my friends went to Death in Deptford (anything to do with Marlowe?) I was abroad but this Friday (the 7th) there is what sounds like a really fun night. Check it out here. The music looks great. They do this twitter thing too but I don't really understand it. Anyway if you do happen to fall through the doors of what was Bubble Gum please let me know if your ice came from an easily decapitated plastic snowman.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Deptford X Golden Ball in Creek Mystery

I know this is a very bad photo but I took it with my phone in night mode. I have seen this Golden Ball in many places but never in the place I believe it was meant to be installed. Although maybe the whole point is that it is a moving installation?

I saw it just over a week ago being carried along Creekside and then tonight floating on the Creek, but I managed to miss it like this:

I nicked this photo from Transpontine - thanks! I'm quite enjoying this spotting of the Golden Ball. I feel like it is making funny little cameo appearances in my life. Have you seen it anywhere else? I wonder where I'll see it next...

Sunday, 19 October 2008

It mouse be love

As anyone that has read any previous posts would know, I do love Deptford. I love it for all sorts of reasons; the artyness (though it can get a bit much), the diversity, the south east London-ness of the place, the shops, the proximity to Greenwich, the ease of getting out of it (I know, but it is handy!) and many more reasons that I haven't listed. There is however one more reason for my loving of this part of London that I only discovered yesterday and that is its mice. Of course I don't mean real mice. I mean the fictional ones that my friend just told me about, ones that exist in a trilogy of novels by Robin Jarvis. I have never read this trilogy, but my friend intends to lend it to me. I can't wait.

"In the sewers of Deptford there lurks a dark presence which fills the tunnels with fear: The rats worship it in the blackness and name it Jupiter, Lord of All."

A rat jumped through the window of my neighbours flat a couple of months ago, well so he says anyway. Surely that is a case for the Deptford Mice. Having read a bit about these novels I was relieved to find out from the author's website that it really is this Deptford they are based around .

"I always try to find out all I can about the subject matter in each new story and during this early stage all sorts of new ideas can suggest themselves. With The Deptford Mice trilogy, I incorporated some of the local history of Greenwich and Blackheath."

I never knew I could have such a fondness for the little creatures.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

It's what dlreams are made of

I had no idea how much my journey to and from work actually affected my subconscious until I had a dream. I know that the recounting of one's dreams can be one of the most boring things to be subjected to and I'll tell you now that this recount is no exception so I'll be brief. I dreamt that I was getting on the rail replacement bus for the dlr outside Limehouse station. As if the reality of it wasn't bad enough.

Once upon a time I loved the dlr. I loved its frequency, the ever-changing incredible skyscraper and waterway views, the fact that more often than not on my outgoing journey I would get a seat and that unlike the train from Deptford station I was not stood with my nose under a stranger's armpit and my ear next to some tinny headphone blaring out the "all music Deptford Girl hates" playlist. They are a calm and civilised bunch on the dlr and maybe that is the problem because tfl are at the moment taking the complete piss out of us. So my dream journey to work has become a nightmare one. I feel for all those that live on the one SE8 side of Deptford Broadway as they have no stairs or a touch in/out bleeper thing. They have to take the stairs and cross the road or get the very small lift but only if that don't have to touch in or out. A couple of weeks ago the dlr on two consecutive days decided not go all the way to Bank and stop at Canary Wharf forcing me to get a cab the rest of the way. I shall stop moaning now as it is possibly even more boring than my dream. I shall leave you with one question though, why, after all the bank redundancies does there appear to be more commuters on the dlr, forcing me to stand until Canary Wharf?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Creature of the Creek

I wonder if anyone has recently sailed down the Creek. A friend and I were contemplating doing it last year in a dingy from Sidcup to the mouth of the Thames. Obviously we would have to time it correctly so that the dingy would not become impaled on apple powerbooks. I would still like to do it, but floating through Lewisham, past the railway station scares me somewhat. I think I am slightly obsessed with the Creek. I love it that it looks different every time I walk/dlr past it. I've been noticing that my favourite creature has been spending his/her mornings there lately. God knows what the little creature is eating for breakfast.

I did actually take that photo. I had some others on my phone but unfortunately that got skilfully swiped from my pocket outside Lewisham police station.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Pirates, pubs, passenger stations plus other wonders

I am ashamed to admit that this weekend I have not made it to the market or to Deptford X, I have been a bit ill though. So, voluntarily flatbound I have been trying to think of wonderful fun facts about Deptford I can post.
Deptford overground station - It was built in 1836 and was the first ever passenger-only overground station to have been built in London. For a while I thought that maybe Deptford station was the first station ever to have been built which led me to believe that Deptford was intended to be the centre of London. In my eyes it is.

The Birds Nest pub - The Birds Nest, formally The Oxford Arms was arguably the first theatre in in the whole wide world to have a pub attached to it. All these Deptford firsts!

According to the Birds Nest, Deptford has a pirate district. I need to amend my map.

Deptford means deep ford. That is a bit of a boring fact.

Facts very few people know - I saw an apple power book in the creek at low tide, an ex-lover scorned possibly? Further down the creek (on a different day) I happened upon a black satchel that appeared to have belonged to a banker. There was nothing worth keeping in it (obviously, as all that had been taken out before it was thrown into the creek) but it was full of shrimpy things - urghh.

If that is your satchel, it may well still be by the creek near Elverson Road. The facts are wearing thin now.

Friday, 3 October 2008

drink, divorce and dockyards in Deptford

As promised, the royal connection(s). I am no royalist but I love a bit of history and scandal. Isn't that what having a monarchy is all about? And what scandal indeed. A divorce? In the 16th century? In a catholic country? The next marriage lined up? Of course there's going to be trouble. France and Spain not happy with this turn of events. Maybe they'll start a war. As all the artillery is in London and the Royal Dockyard is in Portsmouth, surely a more efficient way of transporting artillery and building materials would be to have dockyards on the Thames in case of war? Thus Deptford and Woolwich Dockyards were born. Apparently Henry liked to enjoy a banquet (which he then had forcibly removed form his stomach, you've heard those rumours too?) on board a new boat before it set sail. When I think of the aroma of the creek in this century...

A wonderfully tenuous royal link involving Christopher Marlowe next. I love this. Link number one, not strictly royal; a play he wrote, "Edward the Second" is an English history play about the deposition of the homosexual King Edward II by his barons and the Queen. Brilliant. The next link is fairly, wonderfully amazing; It has sometimes been theorized that Marlowe was the "Morley" who was tutor to Arbella Stuart in 1589, Arbella's guardian was the Countess of Shrewsbury. If Marlowe was Arbella's tutor, it might indicate that he was a spy, since Arbella, niece of Mary Queen of Scots and cousin of James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, was at the time a strong candidate for the succession of Elizabeth's throne. Wow. Oh yeah, Marlowe was killed in Deptford, hence the Deptford link.

And Caroline, this in my book, does count. Other than British royalty what other nationality are (well were) up there in the royal scandal stakes? Oh, the Russians (The word "Rasputin" is enough to get me in a really royal rumour frenzy). Peter the Great visited Deptford to learn about shipbuilding in 1698. The best thing about it is he did it dressed as a carpenter as he travelled incognito. I also have another little Peter the Great gem, which makes me understand Goldsmiths undergraduates a bit better. Peter rented Sayes court from John Evelyn while learning the intricacies of ship building. After toiling on the docks all day, all night was spent on the lash. Charming Peter and his aides trashed John's place and in the absence of shopping trolleys, ruined the gardens by riding wheelbarrows through the hedges! You just couldn't make this stuff up. I always knew sex and drink were deeply embedded in the (royal) history of Deptford.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

High on the High Street

This post has been inspired by my one and only comment (so far!) which mentioned the arrival of those wonderful community enhancing chains we call costa coffee or starbucks, either you want them or you dread their possible arrival. I think the people of Deptford would be torn. I am dead against it and here is one reason why:

Deptford High Street is London's best place to shop, according to a mathematical formula devised for the Yellow Pages business directory. It reveals that it is the city's most diverse and vibrant high street. The formula, which defines High Street Diversity, is based on basics, choice, and mix, and takes into account the type of shops available. The south London high street beat more well-known places like Oxford Street and Kensington High Street.

Thank you the BBC. Basically Deptford High Street is great because there are hardly any chain shops/cafes. The ones we do have are pretty bloody poor. We have the glorious Percy Ingles, class in a cake. You will find other Percys in Lewisham, Peckham, Stratford and two around Whitechapel. You will not find a Percy on Kensington High Street. Our other chains are obviously Percy's biggest rival Gregg's and of course no impoverished South East/East London High Street would be complete without an Iceland and a Peacocks. There are however other chains past and present that have added a certain charm to the area; Goddard's and Manze's pie and mash shops and Kennedy's butchers. Real London innit. I think the main reason for this crazy formula working it's magic is the presence of the following:

A Singer sewing machine shop (why?)

The Deptford Plaza (sells African DVDs)

The many Halal butchers

Housewives Cash and Carry (I know, I couldn't believe the name when I first read it)

A very nice greengrocers that also sells lots of plastic flowers

Balloons of London

The Codfather

Many shops that sell fish and other stuff (like phones that I mentioned before)

A Vietnamese and Chinese food shop

West African bakeries

Some very dodgy looking clothes shops

A small DIY store

A secondhand furniture store with a cafe behind it for old people

Many pound shops that all sell exactly the same

A non-halal butcher

An egg shop!! I think it sells oriental paintings too?

So that with a load of dodgy pubs, an arty cafe, nail parlours and some Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants amongst many I have left off I think we have a pretty diverse high street. Pair that with the market and we are going super-diverse!!

As my father pointed out to me recently when I was informing him of Princess Beatrice familiarising herself with nearby New Cross as a new student at Goldsmiths, Deptford has always been a royal slum. With it's proximity to Greenwich and the river maybe he is right but I shall be looking for for royal connections for my next post. If you have any let me know please.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

First post!

I'd like to introduce myself. I am a female in their late twenties living in Deptford in South East London. I think the world probably needs to know more about Deptford. Coming home from work in the past month I have read over three articles in the free London papers about the place so I imagine it is now becoming up and coming. Anyway the reasons I like Deptford are not just because it was in Vogue's latest "don't miss list". In fact I was not terribly impressed with "The Deptford Project" cafe that was featured (see pic above, looks like it could be abroad there). The first menu they produced had about twenty spelling and grammar errors on it. I think they spelt scrambled, tomatoes and veggie in three different ways (all three words obviously). I ate there so that I could sample the veggi breakfast featuring tomatos and scrambeld eggs and it wasn't that great, however the idea of a train carriage is a fun one and the decking terrace is a lovely way to spend time in the sun. I'm sure the food will improve.

Having Goldsmiths (Princess Beatrice has just registered to do a degree in History there, bit of a strange choice) down the road means that the area is very arty and there are galleries all over the place and many pubs and bars display work by local talented artists. The market is thriving and sells anything from secondhand dysons to potted herbs. I think Deptford High Street is the only place I know that has a shop that sells fish and phones. I'll have a new nokia handset with my pound of prawns please.

Deptford is full of wonder for me. Yes parts of it smell and it is in South East London but I have a feeling there are many more great things in store for this place and I will endeavour to share my knowledge as a resident with you. Do you know Deptford too?