So fresh and so clean

I received a copy of Camberwell Renewal magazine this morning, a free publication which explains what is being done to renew Camberwell (duh).

Main features are on street drinking and crime; in the case of the former a ‘wet centre’ has been set up, in the case of the latter there’s a small team of police working out of the Police Station (duh, again).

Many local government campaigns start off with good intentions but have limited power, becoming mere talking shops before quietly fading away. I hope this one doesn’t go that way, as Camberwell is a great area to live in but does feel a little shabby in one or two places and could certainly do with a few renewal projects.

The micro-redevelopment of Butterfly Walk has finished; a new, lighter-coloured floor has been lain and (I think) the glass roof cleaned, so it seems much brighter and more open. Just little changes like that can make a big difference to how an area looks and how the people who live there feel about it.

Still no word on the Grove Lane development, however; how am I going to find out about that when the Southwark News doesn’t have a web presence?

Circumstantial evidence

I keep seeing ‘Camberwell’ and ‘crime’ linked together in various news stories, and I only realised recently that it’s because of Camberwell Green Magistrates Court (15 D’Eynsford Road, SE5 7UP); everytime the TV reporter says “… a court in Camberwell heard today…”, I’d assumed the crime happened in Camberwell. Ha ha.

On the subject of crime, local Lib Dem candidate Richard Porter has raised a petition on his website for the reopening of Camberwell Police Station (registration required). I’ve written about it before, and regardless of party politics I think it’s a tremendous idea.

In other news, The Old Dispensary seem to be going all out for custom — four postcards advertising the place were pushed through my letterbox yesterday. I may scan one and post it here, if I can be bothered. I wish the place well, even if they are a haven for desperate junkies.

Don’t hold any pages

Today I thought I’d finally found a prime bit of Camberwell news as the poster for the Southwark News proclaimed ‘NEW-LOOK CENTRE FOR SE5’ (or similar). I assumed it was something to do with my earlier revelation about the Grove Lane development, but I’m afraid I can’t confirm that as the newsagents didn’t have a copy.

I make a crap investigative journalist.

On a more positive note, I’ve booked my table at Rock‑8 for December 18. See you there.

Update: I found the Southwark News in a newsagent this morning, and was very disappointed to learn that it was just a story about the renovation of Butterfly Walk; in effect, the ‘NEW LOOK FOR SE5 CENTRE’ means that there will be a new skylight above the pound shops. Or maybe I’m just being cynical because my big scoop didn’t happen.

Can’t believe I missed my bus for that.

Everything changes


I noticed while I was walking today that the old Mary Datchelor School (which then became the Save The Children head office) and the Butterfly tennis courts between Grove Lane and Camberwell Grove have both been acquired by St George PLC. Looks like there’s going to be a big new development there, and judging by their website they deal in pretty high-end housing. I s Camberwell about to become super-chic?

I also saw that police are seeking volunteers to man the front desk of the police station with a view to partially re-opening it, not to station a full squad but to have a place to report crime. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of response the community gives to this.

Finally, Bee’s Auto Bits has closed down. I must get a shot of it’s sign (“You won’t get stung here!”) before it becomes another off licence or fried chicken shop.

Update: Photo of Bee’s Auto Bits added.

Rock‑8 Tapas Bar

Monday night is not usually the nuit du jour (eh?) for eating out, but as our monthly wedding celebration was cancelled due to illness, this was the next best opportunity.

Away from central Camberwell, near Denmark Hill station, are two small bars/restaurants. Both look good but one was more of a bar and we wanted more of a restaurant, so we decided on Rock‑8, the Tapas bar (119 Grove Lane, SE5 8BG). It was about 8.45pm when we went in and we were the only customers, so forsaking the big leather sofas in the front we went to the conservatory area at the back.

The menu had a good choice of dishes, probably about 40–50, as well as specials on the board. We chose Calamari, Patatas Bravas, Thai Fish Cakes, Wild Mushroom Risotto and Chorizo & Red Onion, with a bottle of white wine to wash it down. It all arrived nice and quickly, as did two other couples so we didn’t feel quite so alone.

I had two slight quibbles; the Thai Fish Cakes were more like English Fish Cakes, and the food wasn’t as hot as it could have been. But those were minor quibbles (I like writing ‘quibbles’, I don’t know why) and the rest was great. The whole bill came to slightly under £40 (including 12% service charge) which is good value considering we ate plenty. The menu recommends two to four dishes per person; I’d say you have to be a fucking hungry person to eat four dishes.

On the way home we saw the Salvation Army headquarters lit up by floodlight. When you see that big underlit cross on that dark red brick looming out on top of the hill, you think Old Testament rather than New.