In food, Uncategorized on April 7, 2019 at 7:35 pm

After a film trip to see ‘Us’ at the Empire (great film) my partner and I went to Collab (God, that’s one dull web site they have) to try their winning sounding combination of beer and burgers. Especially as it’s on the site of the missed Grillstock.The name comes from the fact that it is a joint venture of Signature brewery (of Leyton) and  burger company We Serve Humans that previously operated as a pop up.


I’m a big fan of “Keep it simple, do it well”

We’d made a reservation and it was just as well as the place was full on an early Saturday evening, even with the additional tables they now have with the smaller bar space. We had a friendly meet at the door, which always helps. The decor is frankly trying to clone Brewdog pubs, especially with the massive whiteboard behind the bar listing beers. there are some photos with a music theme, but actual decoration is minimal.


Ah, the mock industrial look that launched a hundred hipster eateries…

Passing the bar I clocked the beer list… and the prices. The cheapest pint is £5. The Signature IPA I went for was £6.


Now, to put my surprise into context: I drink in many craft and real pubs in London. The Euston and Waterloo Tap, the Craft chain, The Rake in Borough. I’m used to paying a price for good beer, especially interesting beer. But this range raised my eyebrows. I can afford the £6 pint of Backstage I had, but these are distinctly ‘Restaurant’ not ‘Pub’ prices.


Branded glasses. Served nice and cold.

Not that I’d choose Collab as a drinking venue as all the seating seemed destined for diners or people who booked. The drinkers I saw stood at the bar with their coats on. A place where I’ll drink with dinner, but wouldn’t go early to drink first or stay for a couple after. For that I’d go 30 seconds up the road to Mirth, Marvel and Maude or over the hill to the Rose and Crown.  The beer list was heavily London and local oriented, which is nice.

Although with the additional seating it was rather loud on a Saturday night, with piped pop music and all the hard surfaces creating a natural white noise generator. The majority of the customers looked under 30, with a surprising number with children (this was at 6:30PM). My partner played her regular game of ‘Spot the fellow ethnics’ and managed to find one other non-white face in the crowd.

Apparently there is wifi, but I wasn’t bothered so didn’t ask for the password.

So at our table (where we were given a water jug and glasses by default, always welcome) we got into the menu. It’s all burgers and chicken wings, I felt. Some spicy, one with kimchee which I may try next time. No desserts. My partner went for the State of Democracy burger with chilli on it, with fries. I had the Chairman burger (Red onion jam) with sweet potato fries and we shared a Mac and Cheese.


I like the enamelled metal plates it was all served on.

We were given the burger options of ‘pink’ or ‘well done’. And for once they actually mean pink. Health and Safety worrying pink. As a lover of a rare burger this was a rare treat. My burger was delicious. The sweet potato fries came with mayo and were very nice. We agreed the Mac and Cheese was a winner with a clear layer of melted cheese on top. I particularly enjoyed the diced pickled gherkin garnish.

Food prices were reasonable, for London. More than a chain nice burger chain (like the Honest Burger we’d had 2 weeks earlier, where I also drank Backstage).

So, my overall opinion? Well, for one I can never see myself drinking here. It’s  a restaurant with a bar and as a drinker I’d feel like a second class customer. I’d eat here again, happily. But would I eat here over Brioche Burger down the road? Hard to say. It has beer but Brioche Burger has the lovely mocktails. I call it a draw between the two. I hope it’s a success, but a busy Saturday shortly after opening isn’t a good indicator when weekday and lunches can make or break a venue.


‘Cultural Revolution’ at William Morris

In Art, Uncategorized on April 7, 2019 at 2:42 pm

One of this weekend’s treats was visiting the Cultural Revolution display in the WM ground floor exhibition room. Having enjoyed an exhibition of Soviet propaganda art at the Tate and a propaganda show at the British Library I suspected this would be my cup of (green) tea.


That “W00t” moment when your team wins.

The exhibition (touring as part of the Ashmoleam museum of Oxford) covers a 10 year period after the communist revolution where all art was legally required to serve the state. There is a lot of celebrating workers, soldier and peasants with references to Chairman Mao’s work. As well as posters there are some paper cut outs and my favourite, a collection of matchboxes with reminders on how to be a good citizen.

The exhibition is on until the 27th May and is free.

While you’re there drop into the little room behind the canteen for a little exhibition about the Haiku Adventure videogame being developed in North London by Small Island Games. It really fits in as SIG discuss in videos and examples how their game was inspired by Japanese wood prints in the same way William Morris was inspired by historical British design.

Borough of Culture opening weekend

In Borough of Culture, Events, Uncategorized on January 22, 2019 at 11:30 am

Well what a big start to the year. My partner’s parents made a trip over from West London on the Saturday and we got a cab over to Lloyd Park (the parents are in their 70’s and wanted to save their energy). We hoped by getting there at opening time we’d get in quickly. As we walked down Winns Terrace we saw instead we’d just joined at peak queue. But while it took an hiur to get in at least we got to enjoy the Nest installation from a distance.


In the trees….

When we got in we went up the East path past the gallery where we were greated by the Sony Walkman logo #sarcasm



The park had glowing white globes scattered about. A bit like an episode of ‘The Prisoner’.



When we came to the tennis courts the Walthamstow Film Club was holding a ‘silent cinema’ where we were handed a headset on the way in to listen to the soundtrack of the short films they were showing.


Finally we can watch a film in the ‘stow without teenagers loudly talking!

The short films seemed to be about local people. It was a bit ‘Media Studies Final Year Project’ but heartfelt. We only watched a couple.

Hooking around to the island we approached the Nest as it was inactive and it came to life as we got to just outside the ring of motorised lights that it consists of. And as the choiral music built up we were awed by a swooping show of spiralling, swooping shafts of light. It was drizzling softly and the water drops were turned into tiny rainbows when they hit the powerful light beams.


It’s so pretty!

It reminded me of the end of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. It was simple yet hugely effective, the lights making spots dance in the clouds and when lowered created lively shadows in the park’s trees.


Take us to your leader

After the end of the show we came past the West side of the house. There was a street food market which we skipped, although we noted the lantern making workshop for kids. In from of the house on the ’roundabout’ were a bunch of gas fire sculptures, which also offered much appreciated warmth.


It goes a bit ‘Mad Max’


I bring you fire, do de doo doooo

We exited the park and made our way to the town hall via the road shut to traffic. More gas braziers lit the way and there were street performers coming in and out of the area.





Everything is better with a Samba band.

At the town hall my partner’s parents were starting to flag in the cold. So we didn’t go into the grounds and watched the show through the fence. In the grounds were more fire features (well, gardens can have water features so why not?). And night signs in the trees.


The trees had been filed with light installations from God’s Own Junkyard creators.

The show projected on the town halls frontage, highlighting architectural details like windows and doors as individual elements.


A lot of music and words from the people of Walthamstow.

Overall it was a great start to the year. Given the weather and the dark a light show makes heaps of sense. On the Saturday there were clearly thousands of people; the Bell was heaving, the chip shop had a queue for food and walking home along Hoe street a lot of the shops were doing business. A literal and figurative bright start to the year of being Borough of Culture.