Monday, 30 June 2008

A secret pub - The Royal Oak - (the other one)

I have plenty of exciting updates from this weekend, including the North Lambeth Parish Fete (including a few photos). See, it is possible to attend a different SE11 fete or festival related event each week during the summer. What other postcode can boast such attractions? I'll try to post pictures when I return from work this evening.

This post, however, is on another matter. You should see from the top map that all of the pink markers represent pubs (or clubs) in SE11. There are still a few question marks where I actually need to check whether pubs still exist or their exact names. However, when I formed the map, I referred to Google, a couple of "pub" sites and my own knowledge. I suspected that there was a pub on Fitzalan Street because I was sure I'd walked past it, but I couldn't find anything on Google... Here's my guess as to why....

The Fitazalan Street pub (Kennington) is named "The Royal Oak", exactly the same as the Kennington Lane pub (Vauxhall), which is much better known. I have now added this pub to the top map, but there is surprisingly little information about it. An old blog post by somebody who visited at the end of 2007, last year. There's a mention on the (now apparently defunct) blog of Lambeth Walk Open Space (which the pub looks over), and what might be a number of very old descriptions. It looks like a very comfortable pub, full of locals from the surrounding estates, but I will try to pop in at some stage. Whenever I've walked past, there are always people happily drinking outside. Does anybody have any furthur information?

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Vauxhall Park - wandering out of SE11

Last week, we went for a brief visit outside of SE11. We just about missed the Vauxhall Park fete - I had forgotten it was on, and we were looking for somewhere warm and sunny to go and relax. We were pondering the green space outside of the Vauxhall Tavern, but it was absolutely packed with sun worshippers already, so settled on Vauxhall Park. That's when I remembered the fete, but we arrived just as everybody was taking down the stalls. Still, there were quite a few people milling about, and we really really liked the green space. There was very little traffic noise from within the park, considering that we were parallel with the Nine Elms Intersection (in this respect, it seems better than Kennington Park)! I never realised that Vauxhall Park is so peaceful, nor so pretty. I haven't got any pictures of the main green space as it was cluttered with things and vehicles being removed. However, there's a big field of lavender that it's possible to relax in, and a well-grown pergola nearby which you can see below. Everybody was enjoying the sun... Excitingly, a new cafe is to open in Vauxhall Park. It hasn't been completely finished yet, but I imagine it should be complete within the next week or so. The picture I took doesn't really do it justice.

The pergola:

The field of lavender:

The new cafe:

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Cross River Tram

We seem to have heard very little of the Cross River Tram since Ken Livingstone's departure. It has come up at several Mayoral question times with Boris, but he has been rather non-commital on the matter. London Connections blog appear to think that a decision will be due in July. I'm not sure where that information has come from. We've had consultations that have been going on for aaaages. Lots of talk about whether the depot might be in Peckham or the Old Kent Road. Endless route discussions about which roads should be taken in Kennington, Brixton, Peckham, Camberwell, Elephant, Waterloo etc. And yet, we've still no tram, no tram tracks, no happy people travelling around south London marvelling at the environmental goodness of no longer needing cars...

The tram isn't particularly set to benefit the SE11 area. It will run through Kennington if its built, but Kennington and Oval are already well connected by virtue of their tube stations, the walkable Vauxhall or E&C overground / tube stations, and lots of buses. What it would do in actuality, would be to open up South London. Everybody knows that regeneration is not possible without good transport infrastructure. In the meantime, regeneration has just come to mean making the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre derelict without giving its tenants any new options or building lots of buy-to-let properties (not always accessible for locals) in Peckham, on vague promises of a "yet to arrive tram" and then not delivering. (The cynic in me thinks that regeneration is just a glossy word for "removal of existing people who are not considered capable of generating capital and therefore are not assets"). But I do love South London, and I think everybody who lives south of the Thames should have the opportunities available to the rest of London. And those opportunities are made possible because it's possible for people to travel in and out of their London disticts. If Boris is serious about cutting knife crime, he'll back the tram and ensure that funding is forthcoming. If he is not serious about knife crime, he will just do a lot of fund-raising for local youth that will benefit this generation and he'll put lots of police people on the streets. And then the next incumbant mayor will arrive and decide to scrap those projects. At least if the tram is built, it would leave a very tangible legacy, accessible for all.

I have hopeful dreams that the already existing Croydon tram could be connected to the Brixton or Peckham branch of the Cross River Tram. But maybe it's because I'm a secret public transport geek. I like travelling on buses on the top deck in the window seat. And I like zooming along on the (only just affordable) tube to arrive somewhere different when emerging from underground. And I like the Thameslink line that will drop you from London to Brighton. And I also like cycling because it's free and good for you.

And anyway, how come they managed to get funding for the Cross Rail Project? It's not fair. *enters foot-stomping mode* You know, the Three Wheeled Pleb doesn't even care if the Cross River Tram doesn't cross the River. But please please, just get it built. Only, umm, preferably not in time for the Olympics :) :)

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Little Apple - Sunday lunches

Last summer, it became something of a tradition to go for Sunday lunch at the Little Apple, in Kennington at the Elephant and Castle end of Kennington Lane and on the eastern end of Chester Way (itself a lovely road). It has a wondeful beer garden/patio area and it's a great place to enjoy a pint or two in the sun. Last year, the chap cooking the meals and serving people was apparently standing in for somebody else. It is a bit of a shame he has gone.

For about £8.95, it's possible to get a starter, roast dinner and pudding (per person). The starters are still excellent. We ate prawn cocktail (in lovely 80s style glass) and vegetable samosas (fairly spicy) with sweet chilli dip and fresh salad. Yum. Would definitely recommend for starters alone! For the main course, we both opted for pork, and thus counted ourselves out of Yorkshire puddings. Pork was very tender, moist and highly appetising. Roast potatoes were well-roasted and a little over-salty, but not quite as crispy as the Dippy Egg Cafe. Vegetables were slightly over-cooked and a little unimaginative, with the usual peas/carrot combination and the addition of cabbage, but we'll forgive them that due to catering for such large numbers. I think that last year, we were given a much wider selection of veg. And finally, I requested a fruit salad for dessert, expecting the exquisite and freshly prepared fruit salad of last year, and instead got a plastic tub containing the contents of a tin.

No complaints about the service, which was excellent, and the price can't be beaten anywhere else, but please bring back the imaginative vegetables and the fresh fruit salad...

We're definitely returning - this is a firm Sunday favourite roasting spot, but did miss the little touches of last year.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Ghandi's Restaurant

The three-wheeled pleb was accompanied this week to Ghandi's Restaurant. After visiting a friend in Vauxhall, and being hungry after work, we did the unthinkable and ate out during the week...

We visited at about 10pm and were seated immediately. Service was fast, food did not take long to arrive, but when it did.... Mmmmm. I particularly liked the fact that they did not serve too much food; the portions were very well sized. We started by ordering Poppadoms, and received two of them (there were two of us) with some great sauces, especially a slightly sweet mint yoghurt sauce. I do wonder though, whether two male diners with large appetites might not have needed a little more. Nonethless, we managed not to ruin our appetites by stuffing ourselves with poppadoms, which is our usual bad habit when visiting Indian restaurants...

We followed the Poppadoms with Karahi Chicken, Chingri Jhol (a prawn dish), pilau rice and peshwari naan bread. The coffee was great, and I enjoyed a lassi. Both of the main dishes were very subtly flavoured. The chicken arrived still sizzling at the table. The prawn was a little hotter than expected, but again, stuffed with flavour.

The service was excellent. We did not feel neglected or swooped upon. Also, we didn't have to book, and walked in at 10pm to be seated immediately. We kept glancing around, looking for famous people, but concluded that we would probably not recognise famous people even had they been seated next to us (which, as far as we know, they might well have been). The only way we'd have known that they were famous would have been if we'd recognised a voice from Radio 4! And besides which, we're not shallow enough to be impressed by famous people... oh no. So, after the hot towel treatment, we paid the bill (very very reasonble) and vowed to visit again with some friends.

Top marks to Ghandi's Restaurant!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


Somebody has rated my map SE11 map with 4 out of 5 stars. Obviously, I'll wonder why I didn't get the 5th star now... But, yay! Yay!!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

How "buying agents" clearly have no idea who has the best parties...

One of the interesting things about the Kennington News blog is that the author of it clearly uses some sort of online news gathering software which just picks out the word "Kennington", whatever the article might be about. This is useful in that the blog includes everything from articles vaguely relating to Kennington (it just so happens that the last block of "blue" aeroplane toilet ice landed through the roof of a couple in Kennington) to those that are highly relevant (advertisements of church fetes, local plays etc.). It also means that any bias against negative news is entirely bypassed as everything that hits the word is covered.

This article on How buying agents found my dream home in London caught my eye today. I am, in one sense rather glad that Kennington - SE11 - will not become occupied in the immediate future by those who do not want to live in a mixed society - rich, middle-income and poor; black, brown and white; Buddhist, Muslim and Christian; gay, bi and straight, all next door to one another. In another sense, I am, quite frankly shocked that somebody would consider the threat of being mugged (on the word of one person) as a reason not to move to the area! As an aside, it is probably the fact that I have spent so much time trudging around all of the back streets around here that I refuse to be afraid (or maybe I really am just foolish) of moving to SE11. I mean who, in their right mind, goes to a local police station and asks how safe an area is? Most police stations only see the worst of an area. I always remember with admiration a friend of mine who said, "everyone told me not to send my children to that school because they would learn nothing, but nobody seemed to think of the fact that the other children at the school might benefit from having my children there".

I think Kennington is a particularly fascinating area because it is one of those places that it is impossible to gentrify. Whilst there will always exist large Georgian and Victorian properties worth millions, those houses and flats will always (I hope) sit alongside 1920s and post-WW2 local authority housing. Long may this coninue, because I think that such social mixing is vital for any area. I do not think that this country is one in which the poor will be less poor, anytime soon (whilst many people say that they want this, it's not clear to me that many people have enacted a viable corporate politic that might make it concrete). But neither do I consider that those who are wealthy should be allowed to cocoon themselves off in boring little safehavens where they might never be accosted by somebody that smells bad. Why is it assumed that people should want (if they are rich) or should be forced (if they are poor) to live in places where everybody else there is like them?

Anyhow, there's no doubt that Regent's Canal beats the SE11 gas cylinders... But perhaps it's me, or maybe not; I think that Kennington, Oval, Vauxhall, Stockwell, Elephant, Brixton and their surrounds still possess something that pulls the kind of people who choose (or are forced) to stick two fingers up in the face of the risk of "crime" and say, "to hell with north London, where is everybody else?"

Monday, 16 June 2008

Kennington Park - gathering to protest

I've not managed to get to SE11 for very long over the past few weekends, and have consequently missed quite a few goings on. I want to blog about this before too much time goes by.

Fortunately, the friendly person who writes Stockwellnews pointed out one item that deserves notice.

It appeared to receive very little coverage, and barely any publicity whatsoever, or I'd have tried to attend the anti-weapon rally from Trafalgar Square to Kennington Park on 7th June. I wish I'd known about it beforehand.

ITN's link to the demonstration contained a moving and political quote from Mark Prince, the father of murdered Kiyan Prince:

"If it means I have to forgive the guy who killed my son, then that's exactly what I'm going to do because I need some mercy myself, I need some forgiveness myself."

Monday, 9 June 2008

Dippy Egg Cafe

The third new event of interest (I hoped to blog about this a week ago) was the opening of the Dippy Egg cafe. Dippy Egg has taken over where Jado left off. Jado was a fairly standard workers cafe on Kennington Road that closed at about 3pm every day, and sold a combination of fried breakfasts and sandwiches. Within the last month, we went there on June 1st, it has been painted bright green, named Dippy Egg and gained new management.

The new manager, named Gill, has lots of very exciting plans for the venue, and it is due to be re-painted and have some groovy lighting put in. There are other plans, but I'll wait to see what happens before blogging further. Originally, we had intended to try Franklins, but we gave up due to the length of wait, and went and had a roast dinner at the Dippy Egg. The roast potatoes are as good as any home made potatoes I've tasted, and the rest of the meal was excellent - nothing tasted over or under cooked, which is always a risk with roast dinners. It was all very reasonably priced. Service was superb, and we felt happily greeted. The downstairs (which I've never visited before) is now covered with campy bright patterned table cloths, and various event posters adorn the walls. The manager has various links with the Vauxhall Tavern, so that is a repeating theme. I'm hoping it's going to become a quieter, more homely VT, with food. Right now, it has a feel that I've termed Retro-camp.

We'll definitely be going back. In the meantime, I managed to grab a few photos of the "before" deco. just as a number of customers left, and the next lot hadn't arrived. I'll also try to post "after" pictures when all the decorating has been done. Take a look at the fabulous window sill:

Edit: They also have a website:

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Franklins - renovated and re-opened

The second exciting piece of SE11 news for the day is that Franklins has re-opened. I haven't blogged about this before, but they re-opened in a renovated state at the beginning of May 2008.

Rather than just being a restaurant, it's now a food emporium / deli / cafe / restaurant. I hesitate with the "cafe" part, but it's much better placed for people to drop in for a quick bite to eat. I think the layout is much improved.

It was the three wheeled pleb's plan to go for breakfast, but after the visit to the fete, we ended up there at about three o'clock. It was absolutely packed with people, and whilst we wandered in and found a table, the service was slow. When I finally caught somebody, I was told that the food would take some time as they were busy (probably fair enough, since many of their staff appeared to be at the fete). We decided, once we'd seen the prices (I think we'd missed the breakfast) and waited around, that we'd go back another day.

On the positive side, they're still sourcing all of their food from local growers etc., making them very green. Unfortunately, It's still fantastically expensive - only £6.99 for a jar of lemon bonbons! Still, the place is absolutely packed out with well-off looking mothers and their children!

It was too busy (and I'm a little broke at the moment) to stop and eat today, but I'll try and do a fuller review at a later stage.

Kennington Fete

There is lots of SE11 related news to post today... First up, the three wheeled pleb visited Kennington Fete, held in Cleaver Square. This is only the second fete that has been held in recent years, to my knowledge. Not having been able to be there last year, I can't make any comparisons, but it was very well attended this year. The day was warm, but grey, which probably helped.

Stalls included numerous general bric-a-brac and a plant stall whose attendant grew a rather large selection of plants in his own garden. There was a book stall, a flower stall, a steel band from the Archbishop Sumner Primary School and a human fruit machine (which I didn't see in operation, but consisted of a large cardboard structure with children in it). Also, there were food stalls provided by the Lobster Pot (the prawn cocktail, I'm told, was delicious) and Kennington Tandoori. A stall by Franklins displayed some exquisitely decorated fairy cakes. There were about 20 people doing a Tai Chi demonstration at one end (presumably the Tai Chi in the park people, who I've not yet blogged about), a Punch and Judy show / balloon modelling man near the other end, and lots and lots of happy looking people. I don't know if they were resident SE11-ites, or Kennington-ites, or outsiders, but there seemed to be a rather large contingent of the comfortably well-to-do (not surprising considering the location). The whole thing was sponsored by Winkworth, who are to be commended for their contribution to the local area.

I've put the photos up above. I'm afraid I failed to get a picture of the, ahem, attractive lamp shade that two men running one of the bric-a-brack stalls attempted to sell me, but that's not necessarily a bad thing! I took general shots, as I rather sought to avoid photographing anybody in particular, but that's somewhat impossible at a fete! Needless to say, if anybody spots themselves and would rather not be in the photo(s), I'm happy to either blur you out or remove the photo from the blog and map completely.

Kennington Dental Surgeries

Today I added three dental surgeries, two on Kennington Park Road, and one on Kennington Road. That's all I can find, but I'm sure there must be more... It seems a shame that Kennington has three dentists, and nobody else seems to have any, but I presume that any Vauxhall dentists (if there are any) must be in other postcode areas (or maybe everyone in Vauxhall has bad breath).

Also, you'll see that I solved the "copying markers" from one Google map section to another. It wasn't the simplest solution I've encountered, but I was able to paste the KML of the first map on to the KML of the second map. Stupidly, I pasted the whole lot on to the second map, which meant I had to delete around 180 markers that had been replicated, but it looks ok now.

I've been pondering about adding an "events" map...

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