Birthday and Christmas

Last Friday was my birthday (thanks all for the best wishes) but I decided to do the celebration with friends on Thursday, so on the day itself the wife and I went out for drinks and dinner. We’d planned to try out the food at The Grove (so that I could have more delicious Banana Bread Beer), but they had two big Christmas parties in so the regular menu was off.

Instead we drank some lovely beer then went to the Vineyard Greek Taverna, a hangover from the days when Camberwell was known as ‘Little Cyprus’; the food is pretty nice, but I’m willing to bet the menu and decor haven’t changed since the place opened. I had a kleftico which fell easily off the bone, and we shared a bottle of light (although perhaps slightly too sweet) white wine.

The Hermit’s was full and the Dark Horse too, so we went back to The Grove to have more Banana Bread Beer. Mmm. Then home to dream of bananas, bread and beer.

On Saturday we returned to the Green to buy a new phone for the wife; she was quite jealous of mine, so it had to be done. Ate a Turkish pizza (still can’t remember the name) at Tadim. Noticed that the former Rhino Sports is not an off-license, as I mistakenly assumed, but one of those open-fronted vegetable stalls which are common on Rye Lane in Peckham; the difference, I think, is that Rye Lane has wider pavements so they don’t interfere as much.

Took a look in Windsor & Newton Cowling & Wilcox; it’s a beautiful big shop with lots and lots of art supplies and materials. They have a lovely selection of wrapping paper and gift cards too. Didn’t buy anything, however, as we’re currently up to our eyeballs in wrapping paper (not literally).

Kennedy’s Sausages closes down after 120 years this month; I’d like us all to have a minute’s silence for the passing of this long-time resident, please. The Bank of Cyprus has gone too. My concern is not really that they’re closing, but of what will replace them.

Apropos of nothing, here are some interesting photos I stumbled across, showing Camberwell in the 1950s.

There have been mumbled calls for a meeting with drinks soon, but no-one has embraced the idea. What about the weekend between Christmas and New Year? Who’d like to embrace that.

On the subject of New Year, friends have persuaded us to go to a comedy club in town; we negotiated that they join us in the Sun & Doves afterwards, so if any readers will be there at 1am or so, look out for me.

That’s all; my arm hurts.

Author: Peter

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

51 thoughts on “Birthday and Christmas”

  1. Turkish Pizza = Lamachun

    And the art shop is Cowling and Wilcox; Windsor & Newton make art materials though, so perhaps this is where the confusion lies.

    Last weekend I made a load of sausage rolls with Kennedys sausage meat, they were absolutely delicious. I can’t believe I may have eaten my last Kennedys sausage and that I have definitely eaten my last Kennedys Christmas pudding.

    RIP Kennedys

  2. Camberwell in the 1950s — there is a picture of UNDERTAKERS next to TOBACCO, the signage says. Well found, Peter

    The Vineyard is great — it’s the there you go for, not the what, though the Kleftiko is the best bet for eating purposes. The whitebait, as usual, have flown to Kenya to work on the green bean picking before going to Alaska for the surfing, or something.

    I bought some brilliant vinyl CDs at the Greek deli for 50p each.

  3. Vinyl LPs, I mean. Is anyone else feeling wintry? The squirrels in Lucas Gardens are fine fat fellows, so are their squaws (they originate in Canada) and there are no acorns to be found to play with — they’ve had the lot. Squirrel farcie, stuffed squirrel

  4. Stuff the squirrels gamboling along.

    I spent 40 minutes queueing in Camberwell Post office today. To send one letter next day. £4.30. My god what a grim experience. I have to do this about once a week. I now try to get to the post office down near the Union Tavern on the opposite side of Camberwell New Road. A much more pleasant experience and if the queue at the Main Office is like today’s — it’s almost as quick and I get a bit of exercise.

  5. Hijack This might interest some of you when thinking about Christmas drinks

    (by the way I’d be up for meeting the weekend between the two bank holidays):

    Dear FFPA (Freedom For Pubs Association) members,

    I know it has been a long time since you have heard anything from us directly, but it does not mean that we have been doing nothing!

    Please find attached an e‑mail from Inez Ward, who runs the Mavericks Inn in Newquay. You may have read her story in the Daily Mail and, as it would seem that she has finally got the ear of the national press, we should all take this opportunity to make as much noise as possible!

    We urge everyone to sign up to the petition that she has instigated to the PM to re-visit the Trade and Industry Select Committee hearings into Pubco Behaviour. Go to :

    We have until May 28th. So that should give us plenty of time to get the ball rolling. We are still talking with people that can help us get the necessary funds (£70,000 — £100,000) together to make this happen and we are starting to get the support of professionals willing to work on a “pro bono” basis.

    We believe that once the worsening climate that is evolving in the pub trade reaches the wider public (which is a bit difficult at the moment with the negative press that binge drinking is responsible for) the whole thing will take on a life of its own.

    Have as good a Christmas as possible under the circumstances and rest assured that the Gods are shining down on us and, at the end of the day, right is might!

    Mike Bell

    If any of you use facebook I have my own campaign for the same thing there:

  6. Yes Cowling and Wilcox are good. I haven’t had a chance to get out to other pubs — except to Funky Munky this afternoon to borrow some gas (thanks Caleb). Good to hear they are busy. We have been too. Very encouraging.

    I just tripped across this website I’m sure some of you will find it intriguing:

    The graphic you see on this link is a diagrammatic of Peter’s (this) blog. VERY PRETTY IT IS TOO!

  7. This has plagued me a little since you revamped the appearance of your blog Peter: the ‘welcome to Camberwell’ sign at the head of the page. I’ve always found those signs unsettling and I didn’t clock why until now.

    They remind me of tomb stones. From a Hammer Horror film.

  8. @11 & 12

    What else could it be, except an inverted crest denuded of heraldry? But Mark is right. The original wording seems to have worn away — you can barely read it now:

    Enter here — but pass straight through at 34mph minimum — honk the horn at your forerunner if he drops below that sacred speed. RIP small local business in Camberwell.


    TfL (By order of the Mayor)

  9. Dagmar -

    Londoners have always been very proud of their “Pea-Soupers” as Peter Ackroyd so eloquently likes to remind us…

  10. The contemporary edge to Bill and Nancy was an excellent twist, I thought, better than the usual sentiment sludge.

  11. Happy Christmas everyone!

    I’m looking forward to my first Camberwell based Xmas day this year — i’m slightly dispappointed that the very cold weather has gone — that would have been perfect for frosty Xmas walks through London.

  12. Happy Christmas Hannah. God bless us every one!

    Camberwell is great at Christmas. The back streets are quiet. Everywhere feels safe. The Hermits is good on Christmas Day evening — a short session, but people there never seen before. Or again. Strange.

  13. If any of you live overlooking Peckham Rd/Camberwell Church Street, take a look at the traffic, as the Christmas exodus develops. It is (ashamedly) satisfying sitting snug as a bug in a rug, with nowhere to get to, just looking at it and feeling as smug as a bug in a rug.
    Seasonal Greetings, fellow bloggers/blogettes.

  14. I have been reflecting on the fact that Muriel Spark the novelist lived in Camberwell in a bedsit found for her by a Catholic priest when she converted — to Rome, not to ladies. Does anyone know where the bedsit was?

    As the ghosts of Camberwell come out to play in the quiet and dark of Christmas — a First World War soldier hurrying home but never arriving; a small girl dressed in white watering some plants on a terraced roof — this is the time to see them — I wonder what cold corner of Camberwell helped nurture The Ballad of Peckham Rye.

  15. Season’s greetings, everyone.

    I did once have a note of where Muriel Spark lived, but can’t find it.

    Vera Brittain served during the first world war as a member of the VAD — ie a volunteer nurse — in Camberwell, in what was then known as the 1st London General Hospital, before going on to serve in Malta and France. It’s described in Testament of Youth. She hated it, but I don’t think she was seeing Camberwell at its best.

  16. Christmas Eve was full moon.

    Went to Donna Nook for Christmas day with the seals. Recommend it.

    Saw on your flickr that you went to Plitovice Peter. I went there a few years ago. What a strangely beautiful yet artificial place. Like a Star Trek set.

    Was sniffing around on flickr for pictures of Selborne but it seems none of you consider the village to be adequately photogenic.

    I am looking to run a Selborne Village Christmas card competition for next year. First place is pride of place on every Dale mantelpiece in the World… Anyone?

  17. Good time for a full moon I reckon. Where’s Donna Nook then?

    I’m pretty sure I’ve got Selbourne on my stream somewhere — but not tagged Selbourne clearly. Will try to remember to look it up. Won’t be right for a card though if there were a sprinkling of snow I reckon I could get a couple of idyllic cottage looking shots of the little hamlet.

    Must dash out to Peter Jones to try to right a wrong on a psp issue. Second time up town doing exchanges on a fault — psp turns into a saga.

  18. By the way -

    Many Congratulations to Steve of The George Canning — a baby girl born to Hannah today 11.10am, mother, baby and dad all doing well by the sound of it!

  19. Donna Nook is a beach used as an RAF bombing range on the Lincolnshire North Sea coast.

    They stop bombing practice every year when the seals turn up to pup, mate and leave.

    This year 1,200 grey seals were born there. There were about 50 left when we got there on Xmas day.

    I think they have a website and a wiki if you want to know more..

    I went to the Buckle last night. Black Frank Sinatra was my champ with his rendition of My Way but Axel F (Crazy Frog version) was a close second. Ding. Ding.

    Merit award to the guy who sang Gotham City. I’ve just been there for work and he sang very well but it’s a bit of an odd song..

  20. I was acting as a henchman but my boss is no Joker.

    Didn’t you go on holiday to Mega-City One? Have any run-ins with the Judges?

  21. Mark 24 above — there’s loads of publishing/literary/journo types live in Camberwell, and especially Myatts Fields. I think it’s the desire to have a big old rambling victorian pile, and the inability to pay what other areas ask, writing being a notoriously underpaid and unreliable profession.

  22. I get sad looking at old pictures of South London because it reminds me of all the needless destruction which was perpetuated right up to the early 1990’s

    Brixton,Camberwell,Deptford,Lewisham,Peckham,Streatham — the list is endless…

    I think what did the most damage was practically every cinema/music hall was demolished and when John Lewis owned The House of Fraser they pulled out of South London and sold the sites for peanuts to unscrupulous companies which led to a beautifully elaborate store called The Houndsditch in Peckham, House of Fraser in Lewisham and the most unforgivable act of barbarism the neo-gothic masterpiece that was Pratt’s in Streatham being demolished…Not the best of decisions considering all the middle classes are now moving back in — DOH!

    However, I’d like to see the following arrive in Camberwell…

    That might even get us a cinema and a better local emporium than Butterfly Walk…

  23. Mark — Like I’ve said before, I’m interested in setting up a business here, but I won’t do it until there is a tube link and some kind of a co-ordinated plan…

  24. The rise of East Dulwich has been absolutely astounding…10 years ago it was dowdy,down at heal with lots of vacant units…But now it has more than you could possibly be reasonably entitled to expect from your local high street…It has character, although I hope it doesn’t get ruined by any chains — The Foxton’s estate agent is loud,brash and totally inapropriate and every time I’d rather visit the greasy spoon than bloody Cafe Nero!

  25. So will any of my fellow camberwell onliners be coming to the S&D later to see in the new year? (beyond Peter who has stated that he will be there and Mark who presumably will also be there) Is there a secret sign we caould make to identify ourselves?

  26. I’m going to S&D with my girlfriend and our boys — no baby sitter — so we’ll likely be there for a couple of hours from 9–11pm or so, if it’s not too much for the boys to cope with.

    The goody bags are ready and the bar opened at 8 not long after I got home for dinner so perhaps see you later!

  27. Kennedy’s Sausages Tribute website.
    I have produced a non-commercial website that is a tribute to Kennedy’s Sausages and Pies 1877 — 2007. I am sure that many of your readers would love to wallow in some Kennedy’s nostalgia, there are photos of all the 8 remaining shops at Bromley, Croydon, Denmark Hill, Deptford, Penge, South Norwood, Walworth Road, West Wickham and the factory and Head Office at Peckham that closed on 22nd December 2007. There are also views of Railton Road, HerneHill and the other shop at Bromley which had closed earlier. The inside of Walworth Road, Camberwell plus, Penge and Bromley including Sausages, Pies and Sausage Rolls, advertising, a delivery van, Cole Slaw and a Christmas Pudding are amongst the variety amongst the pages.
    Our family have enjoyed Kennedy’s Sausages, Sausage Rolls and Pies over the years and always bought a Kennedy’s Christmas Pudding each year, they were always sold in traditional crockery pudding basins, sadly there were no Christmas Puddings for 2007, however we have still got the 2006 pudding basin in the kitchen cupboard and I, as a collector of almost everything, had also kept the cardboard label, so I was able to add a Christmas Pudding page to my website.
    I wrote to Kennedy’s head office (enclosing a stamped addressed envelope) during the week prior to closure, requesting some snippets of information such as opening and closing dates etc, to add to my tribute website, sadly I have received no reply from them (not a sausage !!)
    If any of your readers can come up with any historical information I would be very pleased to know, as it will make my website more complete. I think that there were also branches in New Cross, Streatham High Road, Rye Lane Peckham and Beckenham and one branch somewhere in London was bombed out in WW2 and never reopened.
    The URL address for my Kennedy’s Tribute website is

    There are also a selection of my Kennedy’s Sausages photos on Flickr and Fotopic.

    Please enjoy a look back at the Kennedy’s that we all loved.

    Thank you.
    Alan Edwards

  28. Sorry to be pedantic but the Denmark Hill branch you have listed is actually in the centre of Camberwell — Denmark Hill is the name of the road

  29. Thanks for that information, I shall amend the wording on my website pages very soon and on the Flickr and Fotopic views.
    If I state “10 Denmark Hill, Camberwell Green, would that be more correct ?.
    Thanks for pointing that out, Mumu.

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