Monday, 28 April 2008

Gyms, and the peculiar perils of pink London

I know I'm still in the middle of nurseries and estate agents, but today I decided to investigate gyms in SE11. I think that there are two.

One of the gyms (Paris Gym) is a male only 'gay' gym (although due to new sexual orientation regulations, they can't discriminate anymore, so the website says it's open to gay and straight men). I suspect, however, that it's probably still a majority gay gym as the whole of the Vauxhall railway arches are a pink mecca. Mostly male pink, but there you go.

This is a bit of a nuisance because your three wheeled pleb is female, and the nearest female only gym is Sydenham! When I asked the guy on the phone about where I could go to the gym in SE11, he was friendly and recommended Waterloo. The problem that the discerning reader will spot is that Waterloo is just not SE11!

This only leaves me with one alternative (which he didn't tell me about) if I choose to go to the gym in SE11, and that is The Brit Oval Health and Fitness Centre. However... A quick google around, and an attempt to phone them reveals that they appear to no longer exist!

The only other gym I know about, not open to the public though, exists in the basement of Imperial Court...

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Farmers Market & Photos

Because it was such a sunny day, we decided to visit the Farmers' Market in Oval. I've added the photos to the map, and included them here too:

We managed to find some purple sprouting broccoli (a favourite food of the SE11 lurker's partner) for £1, which was great value considering that it was a huge bag. In addition, I shall definitely be returning for freshly squeezed apple (and pear) juice, and some goats cheese. If we'd arrived earlier, I imagine that we might have purchased some bread - all of the bread stalls looked rather empty (which is definitely a good sign!)

We only visited briefly, but the market is open from 10am until 3pm every Saturday. Expect more on this, as we're definitely going back.

In other news, I've also started adding some of the other Kennington photos that I've taken. After the market, the next photo I've added is one of The Ship pub. Adding the photos takes a while, as I'm just sorting out universal formatting ideas. I've photos to add of some of the green squares, and a few shops, and a rather nice one of Durning Library. Watch this space.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Estate agents, bacon and accuracy...

I'm not sure I can be bothered to add any more nurseries today. There are too many, and I don't know anything about them.

However, I now face the issue that one of the main components of SE11, or Kennington / Vauxhall, at least is Estate Agents. If we go by markers on the map, the main things people do in SE11 is buy or rent houses, send children to nursery school, go to the pub and eat out at luxury restaurants. Maybe the markers don't reveal demographic information... Hmmm, anyhow, I haven't missed estate agents out on purpose, but having added all of the restaurants to Kennington Road, I no longer have room on the map to add the markers in accurate places, and so I'm not sure what to do. I think if I set them back slightly from the road, it may solve the problem, but it won't be accurate. Grrr.

To entertain you, I thought I'd provide a link to a rather good estate agent cartoon mis-spelling accident, involving bacon that I found earlier today:

Surestart Children's Centres and the last of the blasted dry cleaners.

I'm afraid I added some of the more interesting bits of SE11 before I started the blog, so now all I have to add are the dull sections!

The last dry cleaner (the one named Ascot in Dryden Court) is, apparently according to a random website (linked on the map), the dry cleaner for Buckingham Palace. Not sure whether or not to believe that. Also, Google has never heard of "Dryden Court", although it does know Renfrew Rd. That reminds me... I must see if I can write to the relevant Google bods to mention to them that a search for "SE11" should not reveal "Kennington, Surrey". I'm not sure that by even an extreme stretch of the imagination, SE11 could be counted as Surrey.

In addition, I've added three Children's Centres (formerly Surestart Centres). That, of course, prompted a Google search which revealed another five unknown nurseries. Argh! I expect tomorrow will cause me to search further and find even more! The really odd thing about Kennington is that it doesn't seem to be bulging with young children. I suppose it's just one of those sad facts of life that if one does not move in the sphere of people who have young children, one doesn't bump into them in London very much. It's even more tricky with nurseries to find out if they still exist - at least with shop fronts, one can walk past. With nuseries, I can hardly knock on the door of a private looking house and explain I need to know whether they contain children, for the purposes of drawing up a map! Also, like any of these things (it will no doubt be a problem with the non-establishment churches, and underground hippy movements), if they're not linked very well through Google, one has no idea if one is referencing the same thing on multiple occasions, or indeed, even referencing organisations that have ceased to exist.

Oh, and finally, I've launched an Adword campaign to attempt to boost comments and viewings of this blog. I've had 1 click from 34294249742472 page viewings (well, it's not quite that bad), so that hasn't worked so far!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Kennington Park Road and Jamyang Buddhist Centre

Today I've done some work on Kennington Park Road, adding two convenience stores and a dry cleaners. I think I've located 4 dry cleaners in the area (Pink Express on Kenningon Road, Dry Cleaners (further up Kennington Road on Wincott Parade), Estate Express Dry Cleaners (Kennington Park Road), and also another one that I still need to add somewhere near Dryden Court. Adding the slightly less noticeables businesses, such as dry cleaners and pharmacies is tricky, just in terms of being able to say whether or not they definitely exist!

Also, I finally got around to adding Jado, the new Kennington Book Shop and the Furniture Mart on Kennington Lane. I'm quite a fan of the Furniture Mart (although its name is slightly misleading if it leads you to think that the place is large!).

I'm adding extra details to certain markers. I've added the two Needle Exchanges (probably to the horror of many SE11 residents), which are conveniently located on markers that offer other services! My main interest is to make the map as useful as possible to anybody that finds it, so I have resolved to list absolutely all information and services provided, despite the fact that some of them wouldn't feature on top of everybody's lists! Also, I've started to standardise the format so that one line under the postcode, I'll add an official website if I can find one.

I noticed I'd neglected to add the Jamyang Buddhist centre's website (now rectified). I was really pleased to discover it had a cafe. Decided to add the cafe as another marker, as it's a bit awkward knowing how to list markers that fit into two categories. I've never been to the Buddhist centre and was interested to find out how much they have on offer (library, accommodation - it's quite a bit). I will walk by as soon as I'm in Kennington for longer. There's another Buddhist centre in SE17, which makes me wonder whether South East London has been particularly hospitable to Buddhists in the past. Unfortunately, it appears that the cafe is not currently operating (at least, not according to the website), but that's part of the difficulty of creating a "real time" type map.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Everything left to add

There is still quite a lot to be added to the map, despite the fact that I feel I've been working on this for a while.

A number of restaurants/cafes particularly in the Vauxhall "high street" area still need to be added.

I'm completely missing nurseries, and I'm not too sure what is happening with the government Surestart initiative. There are a few shops tucked away, just off of the north end of Kennington Park Road, a hairdresser among them (I think). There are probably quite a few hair places that are still missing.

There are a few odd shops dotted around eg. the junk shop on Kennington Lane, and the whole of Lambeth Walk that need to be added. Lambeth Walk is tricky because the northern part of it is covered in charities/organisations/businesses that are difficult to categorise. Also, I have obtained a web list of all businesses in Kennington with postcodes. I don't know what 3/4 of them actually are, and listing random businesses seems to be beyond the map's remit (due to being more interested in sites open to the public)... But how do I decide which businesses to list?

I have a rather insane notion that once I have finished adding all of the markers on the map, I will photograph each place and link it to the markers, so that there's a visual historical record of what once existed.

I don't think anybody is reading this yet, but if they are, please could you say if there is something I've not included (unless it's a restaurant/cafe)?

Sunday, 20 April 2008

First entry... if you wonder why I created the map/blog

The map has come to life in the interim period whilst I'm waiting to move to SE11. The move has been delayed somewhat, and I'm channeling the frustration at the wait into mapping the area pre-arrival.

I suppose I'm quite old-fashioned in the sense that I consider geographical location to be the basis for forming good community, that is, areas which have the opportunity to function for the common good of all in society (or failing that, to at least allow for the provision of the formation of argument about what constitutes common good). Whilst one can more easily maintain bonds across counties, and countries with computer/mobile technology, it's easier to know if your neighbour is ill or in trouble if they are in your vicinity. Modern communities, I think, have fragmented into interest groups that are often (not always) formed of "people like us" and I suppose (due to my interest in the notion of "body" and (to steal a phrase), rampant sacramentality), I want to bring back the notion of "the local" to the online medium. Consequently, I have considerable interest in online communities too. Due to so many online communities being formed around external interests, I liked the idea of forming a blog to discover online strangers who might make themselves known as neighbours, and perhaps friends.

The map started off as a silly evening project, but has grown huge and is still growing, because I didn't quite realise the extent or diversity of the public spaces, organisations and businesses in the fabulous SE11. I also quite enjoy doing the research and adding personal comments, making the area "my own" and claiming, if not ownership, a sense of "belonging".

For the future, I'd like to map SE17 and then SW8, as these are two areas immediately surrounding SE11, but I didn't realise (if one wants to map everything, as I do), quite how much work is involved. It's easy to find lists on the web of various restaurants, pubs, pharmacies etc. but quite often information is out of date and the organisations don't exist any more. In the very long term, I'd be interested in mapping SW9, SE5 and (if I become quite mad), SE1. However, I think that keeping one or two postcode regions up to date will be quite tough.

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