Reasons to be cheerful

In the absence of a proper post, which I don’t have time to put together right now, and in order to combat the post-Christmas sadness, and laugh in the face of the economic depression, let’s all hold hands and burn incense and list the things that we have in Camberwell that make us happy; I’ll start off with Ruskin Park, and the Cadeleigh Arms.

Check your cynicism at the door, please; let’s have genuine happy thoughts.

Author: Peter

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

88 thoughts on “Reasons to be cheerful”

  1. Where to start?

    Good things about Camberwell
    Pubs: the Castle, S&D, Bear, George Canning, Cambria

    Cafes: House, Bay, Seymour (or whatever its called now)

    Shops: Rat Records, Crusson, Sophocles, 99p, Camberwell Daily, Edwardes, charity shop in Butterfly Walk, Duraty, the hardware shop in the basement of the newsagent

    Other: South London Gallery, Ruskin Park, Myatts Fields, Minet Library, Burgess Park, other random galleries, proximity to lots of other places in London

    Transport: large number of bus routes, short time to central London, Denmark Hill, short walk to Oval

    Future: conversion of Somerfield to new shop, replacement for Woolworth

  2. More good things:

    Free films every Tuesday (Sun and Doves) and Sunday (The Castle). Also on Fridays and Saturdays if you count Camberwell borders (Whirled Cinema).

    The Red Gate Gallery and its Friday private views, complete with lovely little bar.

    The Blue Elephant Theatre

    Jazz in the Crypt on Friday nights

    More great shops: Cowling and Wilcox, Basic Wholefoods, Odie and Amanda, Paul’s Olive Shop, Pesh Flowers, Sophocles Bakery, and Sugarmomma.

    Camberwell Arts Festival and Bonkersfest.

    Cabaret club at Sun and Doves (Saturdays), cabaret night on the last Wednesday of the month at the Cambria, and comedy coming soon.

  3. With you Peter on Ruskin Park, a Camberwell gem I use it every day throughout the year and I love the way it changes, Great views from the top in the winter. A cafe in it would be an extra bonus.

    Great pubs the Cambria is my current favourite lovely warm welcome good food. Also Sun & Doves, Bear and The Castle.

    I love living in Camberwell been here 3 years now and I know loads of my neighbours, it has a real friendly local vibe.

    I feel safe at night.

    Great transport links with buses and trains.

    Lots of Art exhibitions and events on my doorstep.

    So I am not glum about Camberwell and I was made redundant in November. I have discovered the hidden joy of the Job Centre Plus at Camberwell Green which I didn’t even know was there. The staff are friendly and not at all like I expected, since I last signed on when I was Seventeen.

    Yes a big postive for living here.

  4. 1. camberwell green at night (im big on flickering trees)
    2. camberwell people (as there are a lot of people who do not come home & close the door but are actively involved in what’s around them; we/they could be a bit louder though)
    3. basic, crusson and sophocles for all our vegan needs
    4. edwards
    5. love walk (is this the only one in london?)

  5. Agree Gnomee — I am currently in a ‘job seeking’ position myself.

    When I first went to the jobcentre there were plans to close it but these have now been stopped — I wouldnt have fancied going to the Brixton jobcentre to sign on.

  6. Curried goat.

    Leering at fit art students.

    Can always buy a can of strong lager.

    It’s better than Peckham or Lough Junct.

    That mad badger woman with black stripes over her eyes. Watch out for her.

  7. To add to those :


    Chumleigh Gardens

    Being able to walk to the West End (Hubby and I did this every weekend before I got pregnant and it hurt too much).

    Su Thai

  8. Things I love about Camberwell

    House Cafe and Jungle Cafe for different reasons.

    The Hermit and The Sun and Doves.

    Going to Bolu Kebab after a night in Jazz at the Crypt.

    Free dental work in King’s.

    Camberwell Arts Festival — I’m honour bound to say so cos I’m the chair, but I would anyway.

    Many things I did like seemed to have a very short life — an african record shop staffed by two of the most beautiful women i have ever seen — the adriatic fish restaurant where su thai is now — the phase when both the pizzas and the beer were good in the grove.

    Might come back to add to this


  9. Silver Lake – best Chinese takeaway ever

    Flying Fish – Very good (albeit not too cheap) chippy

    Hermits Cave – ‘The real Queen Vic’ (except not in East London and frequented in no small part by art students, and is real)

    Brunswick/Ruskin Park

    Co-sign The Crypt and Rat Records – and the badger woman! ain’t seen Rat Man (or at least the rats on his shoulder) for a while now though. Troubling…

    The Portugese cafe near the S&D

    the S&D, natch

    Caravaggios (if you don’t order the wine)

    The usual suspects: Sophocles/Paul’s Olive Shoppe/Cruson


    Butterfly Walk (not really)

  10. Lucas Gardens is a gem, so echo that. I also really like some of the huge trees on the Green and the weeping willow on the roadside corner. Sceaux Gardens (behind the Town Hall) is also a nice green space, albeit populated.
    On the man-made front, I also like the Town Hall itself and the sunset behind the St Giles spire.

  11. First to JanetD, you have inspired me too on my first ever post. I agree, mental health issues are very important (my husband and I both work locally in the field).

    It is also something I am proud of for our local area.

    What else? It’s affordable. That’s why we chose it. We can have a lovely home and garden and safe on road parking with never a difficult endeavour finding a spot. You can’t live closer to the centre of London and afford any better.

    We’re an easy, close drive to Sainsbury’s and other markets. Local pubs and restaurants are good.

    And with more affordability we’ve been able to have a little Sussex cottage in the middle of nowhere, which is an easy drive from Camberwell’s well connected location.

  12. Diversity! Plus an Interesting mix of architecture including Georgian gems and Grand designs. A friendly and conscientious community of creatives and hospital workers. Lots of Trees! Views from the top of Denmark Hill towards the city. Urban village.. Often described as London in a microcosm..

  13. You can go to Sainbury’s on Dog Kennel Hill on a Saturday night and hear a noisy crowd cheer on Erith & Belvedere as they beat Dulwich Hamlet 0–1, right next door to the aisles of organic langoustines and extra virgin olive oil. The shoppers are slightly perturbed by the obvious clash of cultures.

    By contrast, you can go to the Spar shop on the Peckham Road and be served by an Ivorean who lived for a while in Paris and is so handsome and charming he could be a star from AC Milan who is also a model and has launched his own fashion label.

  14. could also add the Leisure Center to the list. Its not been refurbed in shiny plastic yet, yea!

    Tadims is closed for what looks like a refresh… So i am in sophlocles for a coffee watching the sunday morning trade.

  15. Saw the first magnolia blossoms today on two different trees. Kinda early I thought, but two more reasons to be cheerful

  16. Went to Johansson’s yesterday after the positive words here; I had a good but unremarkable sausage sandwich, but the wife had a lovely plate of smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast. Nice. On the way home we bought some amazing feta cheese and home-made guacamole from Paul’s Olive Shop. Ate the feta on crackers for breakfast, and the guacamole on fajitas with steak from the Oval farmers market for dinner.

    We had a couple of drinks in the Dark Horse (on the way back from watching Slumdog Millionaire — recommended); we probably would have stayed there longer, except they close at 7pm on Sundays now. Closed Sunday nights & Mondays; it’s not a positive sign.

  17. Happy thoughts from the weekend: Our new regular Pink Screen Sundays started yesterday and was fantastic: about 30 people, mostly locals, came to watch the first of our weekly free gay films at The Castle (next week is Shortbus). The atmosphere was great. Most people stayed around for a drink afterwards and were very positive about Camberwell. Also, the new Wotever cabaret night (also now weekly) at the Sun and Doves on Saturday was mobbed and was a lovely evening.

  18. Yes I went to the S&D on Saturday and was amazed at the number of people. We went along unaware that it was anything but a normal evening and had a great time

  19. Mozzarella E Pomodoro is changing to become an all you can eat Chinese noodle Bar… i’m going to miss the 12 price pizza pasta Tuesdays!

  20. Apologies for the cryptic message above; I’ve not been able to post anything for a month or so due to unknown technical reasons. As far as I know I wasn’t banned.

    I’d like to add:
    — The fact that as soon as you get off the main roads, Camberwell improves markedly. I reckon one of the main reasons property prices are relatively low is because most non-SE5ers don’t see the good bits.

    - The friendly (in the main) dogs of Brunswick Park.

    - The range of architecture.

    - The general level of arty-ness brought by the college.

    - The fact Somerfield is about to disappear.

    - The ever-wonderful JJ Caterers

  21. Yes, cosmopolitan Camberwell. Only here will you find — parked on Camberwell Grove — a Daihatsu Cuore that someone has driven all the way from New Zealand. It is from a dealership in West Auckland. Someone has had a lot of heart to drive that little flivver all the way from the other side of the world. “Cuore” means “heart”, of course. The car is from a dealership called S.G. Petch, a multi-franchise selling Daihatsu, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Hyundai. Amazing. Crazy. Zany.

  22. the thing I miss the most, The Vineyard. I was basically brought up with pitta bread and retsina.
    Leisure Centre- symbol of my childhood, I helped save it when it came under fire from the local council… still makes me smile!

  23. …And, lest we forget, the Salvation Army Citadel near Denmark Hill and Alberto, the gents barber and his ladies counterpart, Anna.

  24. I love…

    Great pubs — the Bear, S&D, Cambria, Canning

    3 Libraries within walking distance

    The great graff near Jono’s pool hall, which gets better each time I walk by

    The parks — especially the Latin American carnival each year

    The Rastafarian garage on Camberwell New Rd — it makes me smile

    Olli on Walworth Rd, the 24 hr Turkish shop with the best fruit and veg selection for miles — great ingredients

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    Kindly reply me explaining your interest to be part of this business. Regards, Mr Tony Moore.

    Bear with me Tony. I’m just reaching for the ‘phone.

  26. Dagmar,

    ‘fraid your radar is a little wonky today. S.G. Petch of West Auckland are actually on this side of the world. West Auckland is in Co Durham — 25 miles from Sunderland. They were the first “World Cup Winners” as immortalised by Dennis Waterman in a TV drama some years ago. In 1909 (beat Swiss team Winterthur) and 1911 (tanked Italian giants Juve 6–1) they won the Thomas Lipton trophy. They pawned the cup at one stage, and then it was nicked in the 90s.

    It was also the birthplace of Anthony Eden. And my mam.

    We used to get letters delivered a month after they’d been posted… as sometimes the Post Office made a similar mistake and sent them to New Zealand’s Auckland first.

  27. Peckham dweller here needing support and advice.

    I’ve rented cheaply (thus Peckham) for a while expecting a crash so I can buy my first home. Now seems the time and banks actually want me given my hard saved deposit. But I’m a bit scared. Anyone else out there in similar shoes with advice?

    If I do buy, I may consider Camberwell. I only know it for the daily 436 bus ride down to Oval, which is horrible. A lot of that has to do with the passengers and the rush hour. I’m sure there are nice pockets behind the madness. Any advice? Needs to be a short-ish walk to Oval tube.

  28. Off-topic, but topical: a quick reminder that Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe (member for Bradford South) will be visiting the Baths tomorrow at 8am, as described on SE5 Forum.

    The Government has a big pot of money to give away to pools, and doubtless the impressions formed by this visit will influence the decision-making process. Turn up if you can to make constructive comments and demonstrate the Baths’ popularity.

  29. @Peckhamcrasher. I’ve lived in Camberwell for five years (having moved from north London). And I would absolutely recommend it. The loveliest streets are probably Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane. There are also some nice roads leading off Camberwell Church St (though I’m v bad at remembering street names). That said, I don’t live in any of these, and I’m still very happy…

    Also check out which is a guide to Camberwell for gay people (and their friends, so don’t be put off!) with reviews of shops, bars and restaurants. The photo gallery here is also quite encouraging for anyone who wants a different view of Camberwell (albeit I got over excited and took too many pictures of parks).

    Transport is much better than it is from Peckham, too, which is another bonus.

  30. Louise, I really did think it was NZ. But then when I was researching that particularly labyrinthine chimera, Louie, trying to add to the pot of what was remarkable about Camberwell, I came across Durham Dragonville, but can nowhere find what the name means. Any clues?

  31. Louie, I mean, not Louise, here’s another thing, you’ll know. How come the Peckham Lidl is selling New Zealand Pinot Noir at £12.99? I know it’s brilliant that the grape of Burgundy is grown within spitting distance of the colossal squids of Antarctica, but which post-crunch Liddler can afford £12.99, hey?

  32. Hi Peckhamcrasher
    I live the north side of Denmark Hill near a lovely small park called Myatt’s Fields, from here it is a <15min walk to Oval (I walk there and back) and there are some nice roads too, particularly those bordering the park. I bought my place at the top of the bubble unfortunately but I’ve been very happy here for the last 18 months.
    One question — does Peckham have a dog poo problem? I would say it’s my top peeve regarding the area, beyond that fairly superficial factor, it’s pretty alright.

  33. Dragonville is part of the city of Durham. Where there’s another S G Petch showroom I think. But I’m not sure why it’s called that.

    It’s the other side of Durham from Neville’s Cross. Which is a road junction, but still has me and my brother asking “Why, what have you said to him?”

    Sorry folks. I realise I’ve gone a bit off topic and this is meant to be Camberwellonline, rather than FarflungProvincialNorthernTownonline…

  34. Although thinking about it, it may be something to do with the local legend of the Lambton Worm (which was a dragon).

  35. That’s a good story about the Lambton Worm, have just been reading it. Yes, there are 6 Petch showrooms. Chuntering on again! We all really ought to get down to the baths to barack the sports minister tomorrow, Reg is right.

  36. Just noticed that “Figaro Barber” is opening in the place of Cascade Florist on Walworth Road along from the aforementioned most wonderful shop — Oli Turkish Food Emporium…

    I wonder if you get a full musical rendition whilst having a trim or a cut-throat shave…


  37. Hi Peckhamcrasher,

    I think you’ll enjoy Camberwell and we’ll be happy to have you. But unless you’re able to buy at auction I’d hold off until later this year at least. Prices are on the way down because banks are insolvent… we’ve had subprime defaulting but we prob ain’t seen nothing yet. Banks don’t really wanna lend in a falling market in case they have to repossess and sell, which translates to you getting a poor deal. Or owing more than your flat is worth for a long time.

    The smart money in ‘Iceland on Thames’ think prices have some way to move still. I’m certain estate agents and some others in property will say otherwise, mind. Allen Dale might share his view on this.

  38. @Regeneguru

    Anything come of the minister’s visit to the leisure center? We are there often, but never at 8:00am

    I’m more convinced than ever that none of it should be turned into flats. From what I can see it’s heavily used by the community everyday. Not sure how much of that gets captured by the usage stats.

  39. Not sure dman — the Baths is not really my bag, as I prefer swimming in rivers and oceans, hence I conserved my time/energy for other local causes closer to my heart and did not attend.

    In general, the more shared community space, the healthier a community, the richer it is (in many ways) and the lower the levels of crime. This goes for retail shops and leisure both, so I hope the Baths get what its campaigners hope for (maximum quality shared community space).

    Flats would compromise that, and they should just negotiate to add an extra couple of floors on a high-rise elsewhere in my view. If anything, the Baths should be looking for ways to expand its existing square metreage and footprint. (Whereas our Council should always attempt to negotiate increased public pedestrian space whenever existing leisure/retail uses are taken into private residential).

    Should be a brief update on the Forum site soon:

  40. ah, wild swimming, nice one. I know a few people into that. Me for instance, in theory, if infrequently in reality.

    I don’t personally fancy the pool, but I let my kids in. How’s that for parental responsibility?

    Other point is there are a lot of non-swimming activties that take place there, which would be lost if half of it got turned into flats.

  41. Timmy’s Toddler Gyms are legendary at the Baths. In fact many people come over from East Dulwich for them. Talking of which, there are proportionally far more Nissan Figaros in Camberwell than in East Dulwich. The witty, ironic, retro, imported-from-Japan Figaro, based on the Micra and fitted with auto gearbox only, is yet another tooth in the cutting edge of Camberwell.

    A loco pulled a whole Brett aggregates train through the parish today, so there is still some need for sand and gravel in the capital. The engine had only a number, no name, but from an angle the EWS letters on the side (English Welsh & Scottish railway company) looked like ELVIS.

  42. Dagmar

    Lest we forget the ledgendary Mitsubishi “Pajero” which means “Wanker” in Spanish…

    Imagine the mirth when that was released over there…

    I see what Mitsubishi did they took “Pajaro” which means Bird and “Pasajero” which means Passenger and created a hybrid word which they thought was unique…tut tut

    Incidently, I remember East Dulwich having a higher than average number of Pajeros a few years back…I wonder if anything has changed 😉

  43. Wild swimming — Roger Deakin. His obit in the Guardian is easily found on Goggle. He was a geezer. He would have swum through Camberwell on the Surrey Canal had it not been filled in.

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