The first really decent sunny day for months, so I persuaded the wife we should get out and explore Camberwell.
First we took a walk down to Burgess Park, with a quick detour to point out my very first home in London and the shop that used to sell marijuana.
Burgess Park is mostly a flat, featureless expanse of grass. It used to be wharves, factories and a canal, and some of those features are still perceptible: the long, straight path where the canal used to be, and the now-pointless bridge over it. There was also a burned-out car which had been smashed into a wall, a feature which is probably not original but excited the wife more than the old lime kiln.
At the end of the park nearest the Walworth Road are some new tennis courts, just opened with Sports Council money. Camberwell doesn’t do badly for tennis courts; there are these, the Butterfly courts on Grove Lane and also in Myatt’s Fields. Strange how it hasn’t produced a champion by now.
Anyway, back to Burgess Park. It’s two best features are surely it’s pond — if you like fishing, which an astonishing number of people seem to — and Chumleigh Gardens. Former almshouses, they’ve been converted into a kind of tropical garden in the heart of the park. It’s quite disconcerting; you step out of a plain of brown grass into a neatly-kept lawn, then turn into a still, balmy paradise with butterflies and flitting over swaying palm fronds. I found these pictures on OnionBagBlog. We sat for a few minutes there in the mid-day sun. It was very, very calming, and the cafe gave us the idea to go out for breakfast there one sunny morning.
After leaving Burgess Park we headed up the Walworth Road and on to the previously-mentioned Myatt’s Fields. Beautifully tended and furiously middle class (there was an impressively healthy-looking family eating the most perfect picnic ever), it’s not a big park but it’s pretty impressive. Lots of flowers, large childrens play area, the seemingly obligatory tennis courts, and right in the heart of Camberwell’s most affluent streets. In fact, I think the residents say they live in Myatt’s Fields, rather than Camberwell.
We took a walk back via Coldharbour Lane and stopped for a drink in the beautiful beer garden of The Sun And Doves. The S&D opened in 1995, shortly after I moved to London; it was by far the best pub in Camberwell at the time, and nine years down the line it still is. It’s also probably the most spacious, with a forecourt, wide bar area and lovely back garden.
There’s lots of art on show and it seems they have regular exhibitions and events there, but as I’m an utter philistine I’m more interested in the service and quality. Both were fine. We didn’t eat there, but we did have a pint and soaked up some more of the fantastic London sun before making a move towards home.