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Walthamstow Pride

In Events, Uncategorized on August 5, 2018 at 6:34 pm

Well, that’s a title I never thought I’d get to write!

After two homophobic attacks a group of local residents decided to take constructive action and last weekend was the inaugural Walthamstow Pride. With 2 months notice a bash was put together in the town square. A collection of stalls of local groups welcome us on a very sunny day and after a browse my partner and I stretched out on a bit of ‘grass’ (okay, by this point in the Summer the square is more of a desert). As often at events it was late getting starting, but a bit of music through the PA system set a nice mood. Eventually things got officially started by the organisers.

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The committee kicks things off.

(BTW I’m limiting myself to just that one photo. The committee are ‘public faces’ but I don’t want to help bigots find targets).

After introductions it started off with some live music by a guy with his guitar and a sample looper, which was nice.

Sadly after 2 hours we had to go to another event, so the late start meant we missed a bunch of it. But we were glad we turned up at the start when it was quiet. By the time we left there was around 100 people but totals apparently reached 500 in the early evening. And the evening events in the Rose and Crown and Chequers were apparently successful.

I think it achieved it’s goal and this little, quickly organised event will be even bigger next year.

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‘Weaving New Worlds’ at the William Morris Gallery

In Art, Uncategorized on August 5, 2018 at 5:14 pm

While having a stroll past the WMG I noticed a new exhibition was on, ‘Weaving New Worlds’. The recent exhibition about Morris’ daughter was good so I nipped in for a look.

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It’s a collection for art by women weavers around the world. Some political, some personal, all varied. While it didn’t grab me personally the breadth of this small show, both thematically and geographically, is impressive.

Tapestry is a rare art medium; well done to the WMG for giving it more exposure.

Etles restaurant review

In food, Uncategorized on June 3, 2018 at 5:08 pm

After a nice afternoon watching ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ at the Empire my partner and I fancied getting some dinner. Feeling a bit experimental we took to Hoe street just past Central  to go to Etles.

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Etles serves Uyghur cuisine. They are an ethnic group that live across central Asia. Looking at the menu in the window I was much excited by talk for tripe and lambs hoof dishes. However my partner suggested a chicken dish, Dapenji, for two which sounded nice.

Inside there is a selection of ethnic art adorning the walls, including a number of nazar, that staple of Turkish culture. There only seemed to be one lady waiting tables, of which there were only a few, and she seated us straight away. We ordered our dish and some tea to go with it. We were distinctly asked whether we wanted the dish hot; we played safe and asked for mild.

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Not a music shop on Charing Cross Road

 

There were a mix of patrons in the restaurant. While there is no alcohol on the menu some seemed to have BYOB’d.

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A rich tapestry

There was an appetiser, whether it came with our dish or to all customers I don’t know. There was hummus with a couple of olives and flat bread, and some pickles. A nice start.

They were busy but the we didn’t have long to wait for our dish to arrive.

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This dish for “2 to 3” is about half a metre across!

Well, if you want Instagrammable food this is the place for you!

So this dish had lovely thick noodles which are clearly handmade in their slight inconsistency. Moist, tender chicken, potato and bell peppers seasoned with garlic, star anise, pepper corns, ginger, and ALL THE CHILLIS.

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Those burgundy tubes are literally a plate full of chillis after we’d finished

I suspect they used milder chillis to make the dish but it was still pretty hot and we were pretty sweaty! But the food was lovely and the sauce had a deep and rich flavour. And it was very filling for two.

The food came to £25 with £3 for a pot of tea for two (plus tip, obvs). We’re already talking of trying again and I have my eye on the tripe or lambs hoof courses. It’s one of the most alternative options for eating in the stow and I recommend it if you’re in a brave, experimental mood!

EDIT: Forgot an important point, they didn’t take card payments at the time so were cash only.

Brioche Burger

In food, Uncategorized on April 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm

After seeing the delightful ‘Love, Simon’ at the Empire last Saturday my partner and I decided to double up our spending in the local evening economy and give Brioche Burger on Hoe Street a try. We both love a good burger and had been meaning to go since it opened.

Nice logo. Says what needs to be said.

We got there at a good time (about 6:30) as it soon started to fill up. I didn’t know they were Halal until we sat; I’d usually avoid places that are due to animal treatment concerns, but I’m told that is less of a problem nowadays. It also explained the lack of booze on the menu. Sadly their milk shake machine was broken but we tried  a couple of mocktails alongside the beef burger for me and the lamb burger for my partner. I did ask for ‘rare’ but like most burger joints post-CJD scare they went for ‘medium’. They also do Wagyu beef burgers for twice as much – sorry, but a £15 burger needs the option of enjoying that quality of beef bleeding.

While we waited we admired the decor, a mix of American diner wannabe and original fittings.

Original tiles left on one wall.

I spent the short time waiting unsuccessfully trying to connect to the wifi. No matter, the food arrived promptly.

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I think this burger was called ‘Hand of The King’

The burgers were very good. Also the sweet potato chips I ordered and my partner’s rustic chips were nice.

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Don’t get me started on drinks served in mock jars.

My mango and mint Mocktail was really lovely. While I’d still like to try their milkshakes I’d very happily put away one of these again.

It’s clear they cater to the local Muslim community who made up the majority of the clientele. It’s nice to see a restaurant for what is probably an underserved section of the community and with Grillstock folding other burger loving consumers will go their way. I rather like Brioche Burger and think I will be back after another cinema trip in the near future.

Forest Bar + Kitchen

In food, Uncategorized on March 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Having been a long time fan of Forest Wines I was really excited that they were opening a bar on my commute. Ali and Jana had created a great off licence that supports local producers, has a curated stock and takes part in local events.

Forest Bar + Kitchen had a soft take off and currently (March 2018) are open just Friday and Saturday 6PM to 11PM. Since I only have a couple of nights a week to myself and neither are Friday or Saturday I’d had to make do with dropping in on a Friday just to offer a quick congratulations. But this week my partner, who isn’t much of a bar person, was curious enough for us to make a pre-dinner short walk to give them a try.

Knowing they opened at 6 we arrived at ten past, knowing how packed I’d seen it on Friday. And even then there were half a dozen customers already in!

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Obviously they have a wide selection of wines. (Apologies for only taking one photo all evening. A bit remiss of me.)

We settled in at bar stools in the window leaving the mahoosive steel frame, thick wooded top table in the centre to those eating. The food menu is of the short-but-interesting variety where I could not tell you what most of the dishes actually were, my french being non-existant (“Non!”). There is a long wine list and a short beer list, mirroring Forest Wine’s selection of a wine merchant with some beer. Off the beer list my partner went for a Wu Gang Chops the Tree from Tottenham’s Pressure Drop brewery. I started with a Table Beer IPA from South London’s Kernal Brewery followed by a Gamma Ray from local super star brewery Beavertown. Breaking up the list of London beers was Schihallion from Scots producer Harvistoun. There will be spirits in the future but they are rotating their inventories at the moment to see what the customer base prefers. It has a very ‘Lean Startup’ feel to their agile adaptability.

The bar is nicely fitted out. the window shelves and main table were sourced from an upcycling team called City Wood. Apparently Jana hand finished them all. The smooth tops and rough hewn edges are very tactile. All seating is bar stools which makes best  use of the limited floorspace (I’d say capacity is about 25) but to be borne in mind if visiting with people who have mobility issues requiring regular chairs.

My partner enjoyed sitting, chatting and playing with our phones. We usually like a window seat but Forest Road hardly offers the human zoo found in the West End. I particularly like the soundtrack, a lot of synth music sounding rather Radio 6. Apparently all chosen by the chef! Well, if they have to listen to it for 5 hours I guess you should let the staff choose it.

As the evening went on it rapidly filled with Ali and his team trying to engineer space for everyone. I’m really glad that 3 weeks in it is proving popular. They will add Thursday evenings soon which will suit me better for a drink on the way home from work. With the lack of evening venues in the area, especially high quality ones, I think Ali and Jana have yet again sniped a gap in the market and done a great job in making it theirs.

‘No Ordinary Bicycle’ exhibition

In Events, Uncategorized on January 20, 2018 at 4:43 pm

With a change of plans my partner and I found ourselves remaining in the stow this weekend. With inclement weather we decided to go and check out the new exhibition at Vestry House museum.

Before we got to the exhibition space we found the room to the left of the entrance had had a redesign. When I moved to the stow it had a fascinating exhibition of Walthamstow’s cinematic history but that was replaced by a boring, generic room about the Tudors. However it now has a show about Vestry house itself and tying into that the history of poorhouses of the time. There is also an 1822 map of Walthamstow and my partner and I had fun picking out landmarks.

We then moved on to the new temporary exhibition. ‘No Ordinary Bicycle’ celebrates the desinf achievements of Walthamstow born engineer John Kemp Starley. He invented the modern bicycle as we now know it, with equal size wheels and a chain driven rear wheel utilising a diamond shape frame. But with his improvements came a social revolution of affordable transport. This is explored in amusing detail in the 15 minute animated film and then expanded on with the surrounding material.

It’s a fascinating show, illustrating how good design can have huge social change contributin to female emancipation and expanding the gene pool!

Glow London clothes shop

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm

At the Walthamstow Garden Party my partner and I met a local clothes designer who makes some lovely retro ladies clothes. We had a nice chat and my partner bought a 50’s style skirt in a very African style print that she has been wearing all Summer.

Well Glow now have their own shop at 4 Central Parade!

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Classic styling, modern edge.

They have a modern sparse, airy shop. The owner told us that a lot of work had to be done as it was a bit neglected but they have spruced it up with nice displays and artwork by Static London.

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Clothes from other designers are for sale, with more on the way

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Other designer goods are for sale.

My partner is very happy that a high end clothes shop has opened. Along with the neighbouring pop up shop and Central Parade space the uplift of How Street is gathering pace.

The Village Festival

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm

On a lovely, sunny Saturday myself and Madam Weird fancied getting out of the house. And the Village Festival was a very convenient excuse. After fuelling up on toasties at Central Parade we wandered into the Village.

Orford road was shut off to traffic (as usual) and there were plenty of people about. There were some local craft stalls and food sellers, plus extras down side roads and in the community centre. A stage had been set up for local musicians and a choir was keeping the crowd entertained.

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The choir singing Talking Heads ‘Road to Nowhere’.  Surely a Mini-Holland in joke on Orford Road?

We perused stalls. I’d noted a police control truck on a side street and at one point there were three pairs of officers in Orford Road. Maybe they’d missed out on getting Notting Hill Carnival overtime or maybe they think the number of trust fund owners in the Village would draw criminals in?

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A good turnout.

Regardsless it all seemed to be going swimmingly. We bumped into Stella Creasy and had a lovely catch up. Watching Stella wrestle with he balloon’s string while trying to write down my email address was the most joyful thing I’ve seen in ages.

Afterwards my partner indulged my beer nerdity and we drifted down to the Ravenswood estate. God’s Own Junkyard had many visitors and their garden is looking lovely. We chilled at Wildcard and I had a pint of the Joker lager for the first time (it’s okay, their golden and IPA are better). Then a quick visit to Pillers for some beer takeout and a chat. I was there for their launch and their first birthday is coming up so I must get along to that. I got to catch up with one of the founders talk about their recent tap room specials and their lovely new Mural.

I often feel the village is a bit seperate from the rest of Walthamstow. But days like this show how it is one of the most prolific areas at inviting people in.

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Pillers mural in progress.

Warner Road Street Party

In Events, Uncategorized on July 23, 2017 at 8:18 pm

My better half lives on leafy, pleasant Warner Road. We’d been to a street party with fellow residents before but I had to miss the last one in 2015 and my partner wasn’t there long due to a health problem.

After a rainy Saturday we’d worried about the weather but heading up at 10:30 to help set up it was cool and sunny. More organised neighbours had gotten everything booked; the permits to close the road, bouncy castle and the Rose and Crown pub supplying the beer. So we just had to help with fetching and carrying. St Michaels church lent us tables from their hall so we helped carry thos around and I climbed on on to help put the beautiful, hand made bunting up.

People started drifting up from the rest of the street. It was quiet at first but as one resident, Dave, pointed out they’d all been busy cooking! My partner and I had just brought supermarket nibbles (we’re not great in the kitchen) but others brought amazing pakura, samosas, croquettes, pasta and salads.

We have a surprising number of kids on the street and they’d soon started running around with water pistols, bouncing on the inflatable castle, playing ping-pong, drawing or just loading up on enough sugar to fuel an elephant. Some of the more constructive adults had fun making go karts for the kids, although watching them have fun with power tools became a spectator event in itself!

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The bouncy castle was in constant use the whole afternoon!

The adults loaded up a different way; some had brought drinks (including one who simply emptied a case of Kronenburg for everyone) but many of us enjoyed the ELB Pale ale and Millwhites cider put on by Viv from the Rose and Crown. Who probably did more business by bringing along Murphy, an adorable pup for us to all coo over.

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It was sunny most of the afternoon. It wasn’t to last…

One great addition to this party were the hand made name badges. It made it all easier to chat without worrying about forgetting names.

I wasn’t intending to stay the whole afternoon but had such a good time I was still there when we started to tidy up at 5PM. Which was perfect timing as the clouds had started to roll in. The rain started up light at first but gradually accelerated and I was drenched through carrying tables back to the hall. But many hands make light work and we’d soon deconstructed it to the gazebos with the last drinks of the day being consumed.

There’s a lot of use of the word ‘community’ when people talk online about Walthamstow. When I moved to London 20 years ago I left behind a life where if people didn’t know me they’d often know a family member or a mutual acquaintance. London was a new life and I adored the anonymity of the big city. But nowadays there are many opportunities to engage as much or little as one likes.  The whole street party was organised through the Facebook group for street residents. There are online groups for local selling and swapping and a while one for local whinging. People are self organising into communities without the weight of expectation of level of involvement.

Nowadays I’m enjoying my local community, virtual and real. Shit, I even started a blog about it.

Spring Cafe, Forest Road

In food, Uncategorized on July 15, 2017 at 11:56 am

Today was a rare Saturday where I get a lie in at my flat and not my partner’s. So I decided to treat myself to breakfast at Grill on the Hill and form an opinion for a review.

They were shut. On a Saturday morning.

Being the ‘adapt and overcome’ type I moved on to Spring cafe, half way down to Blackhorse Road station. I must have walked past a thousand times, usually late in the evening when they are shut. So today became the day to give them a try!

The décor is very ‘caff’. Lots of London pictures like they want tourists to feel at home.

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The ‘London’ tablecloths

I ordered a set breakfast. Eventually. The staff member who took my order assumed I was trying to order off the other breakfast menu. When I said the set 3 breakfast I had to then describe the contents as the staff member wasn’t tall enough to see the menu board over the fridge. Ho hum.

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There are also impressive indoor plants!

While waiting I noticed they have a 4/5 council rating, which is respectable.

My fryup was typical of other local eateries. The bubble n’ squeak was particularly chunky, with plenty of veg in it. At one point they propped the front door open; like cafe 56 I don’t think exposing your customers to extra bus fumes is particularly helpful.

I think I have a softer spot for Rodi and Jessies but Spring is a reasonable fall back option.