A lovely Saturday

Woke up early and had some nice cheese on toast for breakfast, then headed down the Walworth Road for the wife to visit the opticians. The road is being narrowed and more trees planted, to make it into a Parisian-style boulevard. I applaud the effort, I just hope they’ve made plans for the inevitable effect on traffic; that street is close to gridlocked at the best of times.

Into Paul’s Discount Shop for a coffee-maker (a present for the wife; you’ve got to keep surprising them), then a walk back up to Camberwell, stopping at Linetech Computers for some new kit, and then Edwarde’s where I bought myself a shiny new bicycle. Hooray! Back on two wheels in time for Summer.

Openings and closings: the notorious Aristocrats is being refurbished, so may open soon in another guise; the Church Street Hotel still shows no signs of an imminent reopening, although some work is still going on there judging by the sound of an electric saw I heard coming from inside; and in case you haven’t heard, it seems that The Old Dispensary is to close down soon. It’s a nice little building, and would make a fantastic coffee shop/cafe.

The wife had an appointment at Cube to do some retouching on the barnet, so we grabbed a quick lunch from Tadim — some of their lovely lamachun — and ate it in the churchyard with the squirrels, pigeons, blackbirds and magpies, and with the spring sunshine doing its best to warm us. Then the wife headed off to Cube, and I flew home on my new bicycle.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

134 thoughts on “A lovely Saturday”

  1. How long do you think the new bike will last ?
    They don’t have to be chained up for long around here to be nicked — the chain/lock cut thru with bolt cutters, or have part/seats stolen off them, or most abject — smashed up with the wheels
    all buckled up- and left lying on the ground until Southwark come to clean up the mess.
    At least if the whole bike is pinched you can go up to the bridge at Bricklane on Sunday to buy your property back.

  2. I had a revelation yesterday. A reverse epiphany.

    When 99p store in Butterfly walk opened I saw it just as yet another sure sign that Camberwell’s going down the tubes.

    AS I looked around the shop yesterday the truth dawned on me.

    Compared to Woolworths and Somerfield, the big important shops, it actually sells a wider range of better quality stuff at significantly cheaper prices than either.

    This just doesn’t make sense.

    It reminded me of Manchester city centre in the early eighties — during the depths of a major recession.

  3. Oh sorry. Saturday. Spent my time plotting the future and digging the allotment. Oddbins Dulwich on the way back and a mixed case of wine, bumping into friends I haven’t seen for years — Anne and Pieter — who are moving to Brighton. Funny thing is I didn’t know they even knew each other. Anne I knew from The Sun and Doves, she was a hat maker at Clockwork Studios in Southwell Street and had a show at S&D maybe 8 years ago, and Pieter and I were at school together in Northumberland thirty years ago. Now they’re married.

    Is that a small world. Maybe not.

  4. Mixed morning. Got to Seymour Bros at 9.50 (too early) so tried House. Too full.

    Walked to Bay. Not open. Skipped breakfast and went home.

  5. I went to quite a few of the places you passed by through today. I was going to say “that’s funny”, but I guess its not that odd seeing as we all probably walk past each other a couple of times a day — what with living in the same postcode and all. Today I went for a walk in the church yard, spent half an hour waiting for my bike at Edwardes then popped into Tadim’s en route back chez moi.

  6. I bought a bike at Edwardes once. In 1981 I think! … I went back in for the first time since on Friday to buy a new bike lock as my old one vanished in mysterious circumstances between Thursday morning and Friday morning.

    It was definately clipped to my frame when I set off to Herne Hill cycles to leave the bike for a service on Thursday morning. Mrs Dotcom insists it wasn’t clipped to the frame when she picked it up on Thursday afternoon. HH cycles claim they never saw it.

    So, in a hurry, dashed into Edwardes and bought a big chunky lock … with one of those wire loop extension thingies and cycled off to work. On arrival at White City realised that the loops on the wire extension thingy were too small for the lock to fit through.

    Bah … waste of £15 …

    After work cycled into town for haircut in Soho … afterwards put pump on floor while unocking bike, got on bike and cycled off … only realising that pump was not attached to bike when I was half way home. Pump only 2 weeks old.

    Bah … waste of another £15.

    So Friday not a good day for bike accessories …

    The upside is that after 23 weeks of regular cycling I feel wonderful, a White City commute via town on return feels very manageable and after a service my bike feels amazing.

    Hope you enjoy your new bike Peter! What is it?

    Quality coincidence Mark …

  7. Bukowski333… lives in the nicest flat i’ve ever seen. and he drinks the grog big dog style on st Patrick’s day

    viddy well

    slainte blogger dudes


  8. Yes, what’s that bike Peter?

    I was in Herne Hill cycles today sourcing a new bike. I’m looking for something near-zero maintenance which appears to equate to hub gears and roller brakes. Derailleurs just get so caked up with gunk and I seem to go through 3 sets of brake blocks / year. A characteristic of sales guys in non-major chain cycle shops is that they are better at talking you out of a purchase than talking you into one, and that was certainly the case today.

    Then on to S&D to catch the end of the rugby and join Drew Mishmash on the front row sofa. Some discussion on who’s hosting the private party that evening (and what it’s costing).

    Later that evening… end up in The Dog House, literally; a pub in Kennnington. Real ale (Bombardier & Black Sheep) not up to scratch. Regret having ventured out of SE5. Almost froze on the way home, temperature plummeting as I write. Every conversation I’ve overheard in the past 24hrs mentions “snow on Monday”. Can this be true?

  9. So Buk got you back to his place Squidder? First base?

    Good CAMRA work Merrick. Keep up the quest.

    Happy Mother’s Day. Breakfast in bed for the childbearers.

  10. Small world indeed, Mark… I knew Anne before I moved to Camberwell, through her boyfriend (at the time…) Chris. In fact they came to my wedding. She said the S&D used to be known as “The Gun and Doves”. I take it that was before you took it on…

  11. Lots of bloggers roaming Camberwell yesterday, it seems.

    We started the day by doing our weekly Sainsburys shopping. Not long until Starbucks re-opens 🙂 June, I think.

    Then ventured to Sun and Doves for lunch. The nice thing was that though there were people watching sport on the big screen tv, where we sat, we couldn’t hear it at all. Nice food and coffee, pleasant lunchtime atmosphere and no smell of smoke at all.

    On the way home, a visit into the smaller (but probably better) Somerfields, followed by a browse in the Pound Shop.

    Agree with Mark — its amazing what that shop sells for a pound. There are some real bargains there.

    Then dry cleaning collection from the busiest dry cleaners in London (so it seems — always packed), near the old police station.

    Pleasant Camberwellian morning, indeed.

  12. Off topic, now.

    But does anyone else notice how many tv dramas actually mention Camberwell? There was one just the other week — in Trial and Retribution, the druggie girlfriend of the rich twin lived in Camberwell. And Camberwell is often mentioned in the Bill.

    Sadly, it seems to always be the criminals, drug addicts etc rather than the victims. Oh well.

    Peter — maybe you could create a new blog section on “Camberwell in the Media” and we could add examples to it each time we hear Camberwell mentioned in the news or in tv shows??

  13. Well well well…

    BEfore I took it on it was a sticky floored boozer with a history. Apparently in the early to late eighties it was mentally busy with builders during the week with discogoers and underage drinkers at weekends.

    It was also, according to some, one of the preferred hangouts of the Richardson mob, those who rivalled the Krays. Pacific (the Stirling Castle, now the Castle) was the same supposedly. The way I was treated by Southwark Entertainments Licencing department in the late ninteties certainly suggested they thought I was a gangster with a lot of spare cash to bung in their direction. Richard Nash, I seem to remember, is the name of the Officer in point. I heard he moved on with a drink problem. I suppose that’s libellous. I take full responsibility Peter. Besides the complaints I took out against Southwark, through their internal investigation process, for the way my case was treated were all upheld, save for the one where I said the behaviour of the said Officer was tantamount to being anti business and obstructive to the development of the area; this was rejected on grounds that in the investigating Officer’s view, the problem was not the individual’s behaviour alone but a cultural reflection of the attitude of the whole Entertainments Licencing Department and that it was likely I would have been treated the same no matter which Officer had dealt with my case. I prticularly found that bit reassuring.

    By the time the report was published, Pacific had been shut for ages (I more or less passed it on to the Babushka guys to try to mimimise personal liabilities) I’d missed personal bankruptcy by the hair on my teeth, the Sun and Doves was near insolvent, I was exhausted, psychologically a near basket case on the verge of mental break down, and I didn’t have the energy, money, stamina or will to take the report further. Like to a lawsuit.

    All I wanted was to make a living and to help make Camebrwell a buzzy place that lots of people wanted to come to.

  14. Mark — here’s a tip on how to catch an escaped hamster: take a jug or a jar — something taller than the hamster, and slippy so it can’t get a grip to climb up it, lean the jar at an angle against a pile of books, laid on top of each other to create a little staircase, put some food in the bottom of the jar and a trail of food leading up the staircase of books. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the little feller in the bottom of the jar in the morning.

  15. Hey Mark

    I’m genuinely moved by the last para of your sorry tale, because that’s pretty much how my last few months have been. I’m glad to see that these things are survivable, and you seem to have retained a pretty combative sense of humour too. Enough creeping…

    Peter can we name names on this site as I have quite a few people I’d like to drag through the dirt? No-one you would know.

    Condolences for the AWOL hamster — not known for their homing instincts are they?

    Is Frank Zappa really playing — spectrally — tonight?

    Drew Mishmash

  16. On Friday evening at the Aldi on the Old Kent Road, the chap in front of me in the queue for the till had a bottle of “Cromwell” fortified wine and a bumper pack of “Saxon” tissues. That’s his social, cultural, romantic, and sex life sorted out for the evening, I thought. He seemed very impatient to get home.

    The names of the different British fortified wines available are really quite funny in their English classicism. Sainsbury’s, that most respected of English retail marques, sells a “Stamford” fortifed wine named after that splendid town on the edge of Lincolnshire.

    The coolest street in Camberwell is surely Talfourd Road. Parked there is a Nissan Pao. Many SE5 people and East Dulwich folks think that the Nissan Figaro is the ultimate in urban automotive cool, but the Pao is sub zero. Both are based on the old Micra, of course, and none the worse for that.

    Meanwhile, on Addington Square opposite Cambridge House, is a 1970s Dodge GT, LHD on an old UK Y plate, probably the largest, longest, flattest 2‑door car on earth and by far the coolest car in Camberwell.

  17. Olá Peter, que bom que vc comprou uma nova bicicleta, e que esteja satisfeito com a compra.
    Espero que desfrute de bons momentos com ela. Um abraço.

  18. Dear Camberwellians,

    I’m addressing you for the final time.

    I won’t bore you by recounting what I did this morning, suffice to say that it didn’t involve poundsavers in SE5, and that it DID involve quaffing pink champagne in a grassy hollow of SW19. Err..then it started to rain, which is never good when you’re breakfasting outside, and especially when you’re in a grassy hollow.

    Anyway, this weekend was decision time. For all you hopelessly naive punters out there who think I was being ‘satirical’, there is no satire in having a 350k Halifax mortgage offer burning a hole in the top drawer of your walnut-mahogany desk. Every weekend without a purchase is a week of rental income and capital gains lost (ie approx £300, which is worth probably 5 times that in NPV terms if you take into account the lost compound interest and assume, correctly, that I have a good accountant).

    So, on saturday morning I lost myself in the Golden Triangle. It was exactly what I was looking for. Huge potential. Walking distance to the bars and restaurants of Clapham High Street and Brixton (I was going to say ‘and Stockwell’, but then I realised I only know The Swan). Excellent transport to the City and West End now, with better to come (c.f. tram-link). Five mins as the scooter rides to Clapham Common and Brockwell Park. Downside risks? Not many. Proximity of Brixton Academy might sometimes result in offensive number of young goths cluttering up the place. Only real one I can think of is that I could not see any major opportunities for wholesale redevelopment. There is a wonderful old victorian red-brick school on Stockwell Road that would make superb luxury flats. But I checked with the Council and they are legally obliged to maintain it as a teaching facility until 2012. Never mind.

    I jumped on the 345 and got the hell over to Cambo. I headed immediately to the Green (did I sound like a local when I said that?). Not bad — nice even. When a few of the kebab shops are replaced with global coffee chains it will be thoroughly welcoming.

    Strolled around aimlessly for a while before I ended up at the Camberwell Leisure Centre. You probably know it well, so no need for me to describe its tired appearance here. I was hardly in the mood for a game of ping-pong so I was about swiftly to move off, when someone approached me with some sort of information leaflet. “Camberwell Leisure Centre to close! Residents robbed of vital amenity! Evil local Council to rape women and murder innocent pets!” I paraphrase. But the leaflet certainly contained interesting information.

    I thought I may as well go and see the hospital. Once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, but I noted with satisfaction the number of vespas and new-style minis there were in the car park. Quick pit stop in a nearby pub — the Sun and Doves. What is it about that place — its mentioned in almost every other post on this message board? I mean, its hardly a Fine Line is it? I would have ordered a novelty eastern European or Belgian lager, but there wasn’t one on offer. No matter, I ordered a Guinness and sat down to mull over my latest plan. Simple yet brilliant. I would use all my energy to lobby the local council to knock down that waste of space that in the 1960s might have passed for a leisure centre. When I think of leisure, I think of well-heeled young professionals getting drunk on cheap wine in front of Castaway. Not doing punishing laps of a grey pool while a cold draft swirls around your ears and someone jimmies open your locker and steals your phone.

    Anyway, just then an old mate of mine who was in the pub to watch the egg-throwing came up and said hello. Top man — works for a global european investment bank. Turns out he lives in the area! I set to work on him with my plan. Together we could print 1000s of leaflets and pay people to put them through every letterbox in Camberwell. When presented with the full facts, the citizenry wouldnt think twice — that leisure centre would be closed by Christmas. Thats called democracy.

    But to my immense surprise he wasn’t convinced. He said that he regretted buying (and taking out a second property as a buy-to-let) in the area. He wasn’t losing money — far from it, he had made a very impressive 19% ROC p.a. over 3 years, and there was no sign of that rate of growth slowing. But he said he was worried. I asked him why.

    CHINA! China was going to take over the modern world. It was already propping up the global economy and the US was in hock to it. We in Europe were totally dependent on Chinese imports of bicycles, bras, TVs etc. And don’t even mention their military strength! Basically, we Europeans have got about another 15 years as top dogs, and then we’ve had it. We won’t be speaking mandarin (we’ll be too old to learn it), but our children will. And they’ll all be doing really difficult gymnastics. Basically — we’re fucked.

    I’m not someone who is easily knocked off his stride. But this is someone who knows the markets intimitely — and who has studied this question for a number of years. I trust him.

    Yes, I have been convinced that the global economy may at any stage go into a violent tailspin, from which we — the EU — shall never recover our previous position.

    So thats it! I won’t be investing in Camberwell, or the Golden Triangle. Instead, he and I have decided to go over to Beijing for 3 weeks in the summer to look into buying somewhere in a up and coming neighbourhood with opportunities for redevelopment and good transport links to the centre.

    Good bye Camberwell!

  19. Like a benevolent Clingon, thought I’d de-cloak/lurk to publicise an event this coming saturday at Warwick Gardens (Camberwell Borders; OK SE15 — just off Lyndhurst Grove). The all new Friends of Warwick Gardens are holding a spring fair on saturday 24 March, 12–16:00. Attractions include a dog show, Dragon Racing, five a side children’s football tournament, football skills workshop, lots (over 20 so far) of food and craft stalls, face-painting, and catering by the splendid Petitou. We’ve recently persuaded Southwark to give us £12.5k to improve the playground as well as planting around the park. And we’ll be looking for people’s views on how we can best spend it. So come along to the finest green space cum thoroughfare in South West Peckham. You can even discuss property prices with the locals if that’s your bag.

  20. Cycling through Camberwell in my bra the other day, I wondered where I’d rather be, London or Beejing. The new oligarchs from China, like the Russian gas kings before them, may look to buy in central London, with an ameliorating knock-on effect on the surrounding scuzz.

  21. I’m afraid I am in total agreement with Sparty’s mate, have been for ages. I bought Chinese for Dummies last Christmas for goodness sake!

    We’ve all seen the impact on DVD prices. You’d be a fool not to assume houses will follow suit.

    I am afraid that I am completely resigned to only 15 more years of 19% ROC then I’ll be off…

  22. @Dagmar. I know who owns that car, rather remarkably coincidentally it’s the people who ada a private party at S&D on Saturday night.

    @sparty. surprised you were surprised by your mate’s pov and think investing over there’s what you should be doing. The thrusting Chinese may accommodate you better than supplicant Europeans. Think about melamine while you’re looking for your little investment opportunity. And good luck with the laws about foreigners. We could do with learning a lot from the Chinese on lots of fronts.

    As for the Sun and Doves. It is hardly Fine Line thank god but if you knew anything at all about your beers and the political culture you live in sparty then you’d know why S&D has its particular range of beers; it can’t LEGALLY sell anything else it is tied to S&N.

    You may all be interested to know I went in there last night as a customer; the live music was very good, the food was pretty solid. BUT there was a REMARKABLE lack of any form of structured service whatsoever.

    This gave me cause for great concern, ire and reflection.

  23. Bicycle update: Rode to Farringdon in 30 minutes today; a very comfortable ride, but I should have worn gloves. The former death-trap cycle lane on Blackfriars bridge has been sorted out, thank god.

    I am now one of the bicycling masses, stage one of preparation for our new Chinese overlords.

    @Mark: The most common complaint I’ve seen regarding the S&D is about the service. On one occasion last summer the wife and I were reduced to frustrated laughter at the amount of time it took to get served.

  24. I don’t understand Mark- do youu go to the Doves as a sort of covert secret shopper?

    Went to the Crown and Greyhound in Dulwich Village for Mother’s day but was greeted by a queueof pushchairs stretching all the way to Pizza Express.

    Sacked it off and went for a carve-your-own at The Grove. Was excellent and there were loads of kids in there which helps put the baby at ease. Won’t be long until they’ve got their own line of Bugaboos blocking the entrance.

    Watched Arsenal lose in the now renamed Evertonian’s Cave.

    Great day.

  25. Which car, Mark, the Dodge or the Pao? By the way, I have 9 model Citroens for you, they will appear soon.

    I have been using the word “China” on this blog for a long time as an alternative to proper thinking. When anyone talks about the economy, just say, “Ah, but China…” and people think you’re deep.

  26. I spent most of my Saturday in Lewisham this weekend, where i enjoyed the delights of cut price designer clother haven TK Maxx whilst my other half attempted to explain to the good people of Lewisham the fact that the Tour De France is starting in London this year. Unfortunately it doesn’t go through Camberwell, from what i understand it will be following the route of the Marathon (but excluding Canary Wharf)

    In the evening we went to a pub near Waterloo to celebrate St Patricks day and being Irish, the other half was beside himself with joy at the cricket result.

    And i learnt new thing this weekend — Guiness Export is not the same as Guiness — useful to know when asked to take Guiness to a St Patricks day lunch!

    Alos the grocers by the Bus station on Camberwell New road appears to sell about 5 different types of perfumed toilet papaer — who buys perfumed toilet paper?

  27. Well clearly!!

    Obviously a lot of need for it in Camberwell as my flatmate tells me they also sell it in the 99p shop in Butterfly walk

  28. Draft Guinness is really a nitrogen-filled convenience product. The real deal, Guinness Original, is far nicer. When the Chinese arrive they’re going to want to know why quality has been sacrificed for convenience.

  29. Dagmar

    People have argued for years that Guiness tastes better in Dublin — and I have to say I can only drink it there, so I’m one of them.

    Guinness executives pop up to deny this quite often, recently while being interviewed on bbc Radio 4 about their male-focussed promotional campaign.

    Porter and stout tho, are notoriously bad travellers; beer isn’t supposed to be transported too much, hence the development of IPA in the days of empire, specifically to be sent to India.

    As well as beer Dagmar, you clearly know your classic cars. But I think you suggested a wee while ago that Albert Camus died in Michel Gallimards Citroen DS; not so — Gallimard drove a Facel Vega, of which Albert was, rightly, quite scared.

    A bientot

    Drew Mishmash

  30. By way of a spurious segue and bump, Southwark Cyclists have a stall at the Warwick Gardens Spring Fair (see 23). I can offer advice on cycle routes to EC4. And Guiness served nearby at the peerless Cadleigh Arms. Unmissable really.

  31. Guinness Original has a fuller flavour. Talfourd Road has a Lancia Fulvia whilst Maude Road used to have a Lancia Flavia.

    I have never said that Camus died in a DS. However, I do think that Robinson’s goal for Tottenham on Saturday has highlighted the futility of football.

    As a goalkeeper himself, Camus would have appreciated that goal, that arc of the ball, that comment on the goal-lessness of all human footfall.

  32. A bunch of comments got stuck in the spam filter, but I got the plunger out and cleared the blockage. Apologies to all involved.

  33. Definitely going to Warwick Gardens on Saturday. I am going to get my face painted Panda-style and hang arouund one of the Chinese food stalls asking for advice on Sterling-Yuan carry trades.

  34. I’ll probably be there too, as my wife has to work and I’ll be at a loose end. I’ll look out for anyone taking more than a polite interest in the Chinese, and I’ll finally know who Alan is.

  35. If I see you Peter I will introduce myself.

    I am very hairy, 5ft 1″ tall, about 14 stone and I have a prosthetic left arm.

    Not even Panda face paint could hide that. Don’t expect be to be all bolshy and full of houseprice banter. I have a very weak, high pitched voice and I tremble terribly when I meet new people.

  36. Warwick Gardens Spring Fair, Saturday 24th March 2007 12–4 pm. Handsomest dog, prettiest bitch, etc. Prettiest bitch! Dragon racing, food and crafts stalls, 5 a side football tournament.

    The squat at 192 Warham Street looks really well organised. Reminds me of the Penguin “Self-Help House Repair Manual” that was such a scandalous publication in the 1970s.

    I do not think it is to “epater les bourgeois” to applaud this constructive piece of improvisation. Their film nights on Wednesday look great.

  37. Dinner at The Grove.

    The Hamburger might have been mistaken for a hockey puck. Then the ‘Hand-battered’ fish came in a bullet proof, but evidently not flame thrower proof batter. The flesh was probably succulent, but we’ll never know because I couldn’t reach it. To be fair, dad said he enjoyed his meal.

    The (expensive) beers went down well and the waitress was friendly, but this fat bastard prefers freshly made pizza to reheated food. So I’ll be sticking to a liquid lunch from now on.

  38. I’d rather have no neighbours than squatters to be honest.

    I find it a bit irritating that they are clearly very capable and highly organised but rather than use these skills to contribute positively they spend all their time climbing through hordings to steal dormant assets.

    Take Mary Datchelor as an example. It has to lie dormant while the conflicting needs of stakeholders are assessed prior to the granting of planning permission. Completely unavoidable.

    When a band of unwashed jugglers sneak in in the middle of the night and change the locks this helps nobody.

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