Haircuts and fresh food

This morning I went to get my haircut at Cube (23 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR). When I lived and worked in Camberwell before there was a hairdresser in the same location called Kut Klose, so the name ‘Cube’ is a big improvement. Don’t know if it’s got anything to do with the Cube Bar.

Anyway, like Kut Klose there is no appointment system in Cube. Turn up, wait, have a hair cut. Or, in my case, turn up and have a hair cut — no waiting. The guy who cut it was very efficient, no chit-chat (it’s too early for that) and did it just how I asked. £15 for a wash and cut, I was pretty satisfied.

After leaving there I went to Wing Tai, the Chinese supermarket on Denmark Hill. I think this is the same Wing Tai that had (or still has) a unit in the Aylesham Centre in Peckham. They sell loads of vegetables and ingredients and, more excitingly, fresh fish. I’m an absolute sucker for fish so I was salivating before I’d even put my order in. A thick cut of Salmon and a pound of big Prawns, for £7.60. Awesome value, and I can’t wait until the wife gets home so we can eat Camarão Alho e Oleo.

One thing Camberwell lacks is a butcher. I passed Kennedys Sausages a little further down the road, but they just had sausages and pies. They looked OK, but if I want meat I’ll have to go to Somerfield (or Peckham). Chalk one up to the supermarket giants.

On my way back I dropped in to Sophocles to buy some Ciabatta and the little greengrocers next door (I forget the name right now, but the owners are a couple of old Greek (or Cypriot) men who are always very friendly) to buy some vegetables. We’re going to eat super-well today.

Duraty, Denmark Hill

We needed to buy a new hoover this weekend so went to Duraty, the electrical goods shop at 72–74 Denmark Hill.

One of the things I like about Camberwell is the fact that it’s not fashionable enough for the big chains to have completely taken over yet; while there is the obvious McDonalds and a couple of supermarkets, there are still plenty of independent or small-chain shops in the area. While you may end up paying a little more, the level of service you get is often much better.

Duraty is a prime example; this is the third time I’ve been in there and every time they are absolutely bang-on in terms of service. The assistant spent plenty of time answering our questions about the hoovers, and was honest in her assesment; she didn’t steer us towards the expensive models, she just helped us with what we needed. And the owner (I think) is a walking encyclopedia of electronics; he knows everything.

Contrast that with when we went shopping for furniture in Ikea a few months ago; every query we made was met with “If that’s what it says in the catalogue.” Useless. That’s why the knowledge of the staff in Duraty is really impressive, and made the difference between us buying there or going to one of the big shops in Old Kent Road.

Shopping and eating in Camberwell

Saturday morning was pretty sunny but we had a barbecue to attend that evening and needed to buy a present for the birthday girl. Thinking of a book or a print, we took a walk down Love Walk and headed to Great Expectations (43, Denmark Hill), the gallery and framing shop.

They front of the shop sells prints, frames and cards, while the rear (including the cellar) is a gallery. Has to be said, there wasn’t a great selection of either frames or prints on show; at least, not as many as I might have thought. Plenty of cards, however, and the gallery at the rear had a good selection of traditional paintings on canvas and also a few sculptures. I get the feeling that the framing only makes a small part of their business now, so the idea of a print went out of the window.

Instead we walked down to Wordsworth Books (Butterfly Walk) and browsed in there for a while. As an independent bookshop, this is obviously never going to be able to compete with the financial clout of the big chains; instead it concentrates on new releases and gift books, the obvious move as there’s no other bookshop in Camberwell to compete with it. The shop takes two units in Butterfly Walk so doesn’t feel cramped, and we found a gift very easily.

Seymour Bros

Purchase made, we went to Seymour Bros (2, Grove Lane) for lunch. The last time I went here it was a little sandwich shop with about four tables; it’s now expanded into the shop next door and, more crucially, into the back yard.

This is an absolute treasure; a small, jumbled courtyard with grapes hanging down from the vines which grow overhead, it feels more like you’re eating in a small cafe in the Italian countryside than in Zone 2 of London. There isn’t a massive amount of choice other than sandwiches (although they do an all-day breakfast at the weekends, but £10.50 all-in is a bit steep), but the sandwiches were really tasty and good value. Eating them under the green vines was further value still.