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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.

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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.

The Great Get Together

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2017 at 8:56 am

Before anything else yeah, I know I didn’t write about the Art Trail. We just did a few of the showings on Hoe Street on the first weekend, as well as seeing a few around town. Look, if you’re the sort of person who reads local blogs you already knew and probably planned out a whole weekend to see as much as possible like artistic Pokemon. So lets just take it as read, m-kay?

On the anniversary of the murder of MP Jo Cox there was a nationwide celebration of community and we had one here in Walthamstow town square. I arrived with my partner just as Stella was opening the event. We gratefully had some of the free food laid on by Deja Vu Garden (who I must try soon) and settled in a bit of shade. The DJ played music, kids played, people lounged. I grabbed a beer (and water) from the supermarket and just chilled.

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The first of a number of local musicians.

There were performances over the afternoon from local singers, the Rose & Crown choir and some drummers. My partner and I had a walk around the stalls and made a donation to the wonderful local food bank Heat or Eat. There was a van where locals could randomly meet others from the community.

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I reckon we had a couple of hundred people at peak

As the evening wore on we came to the point where the Muslim community was about to break it’s fast. There had been a number of tickets to join them for Iftar but for the rest of us lovely Sodo pizza and Roosters chicken put on plentiful free food. The food was preceded by statements of community by Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Humanist representatives.

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Council leader Clare Coghill joined in too.

Even as the evening came to it’s end at 10PM there was still food being handed out including lovely cups of dates.

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Stella helping to hand out food while having a bop

It’s easy to talk about community but I wonder if we could have had a bigger turn out. I’m sure team running it did everything they could to publicise it but I suspect there are many people here who are so disconnected they don’t follow local blogs like this or chat on Walthamstow Life. I hope at least some of them were passing and came and sat a while. I hope they’d feel like they belonged.

‘Twas Ever Stow’ Exhibition

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2017 at 7:05 pm

There was a little craft market today in a car park on Hoe Street. Just a half dozen stalls but cute (apparently they may be there on future Sundays). But while there we were handed a flyer on a new free exhibition in the council shop on Hoe Street (where they have the pop ups) so we dropped in for a look.

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No photos were allowed inside so this is the sign in the window

The show is a celebration of the local shopping streets of High Street and Hoe Street. There are some paintings and lots of photos from each street showing the history of their development. There are quotes from local residents on display on what it was like to shop here plus focuses on a few key shops (surprisingly Sainsburys is one).

It’s a nice little exhibition and well worth dropping in to see.

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And local stained glass in the other window.

Oxjam

In music, Uncategorized on November 22, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I posted a little while back about Oxjam, a charity music event supporting Oxfam. My partner and I got to go along for a couple of hours and I had a really great time.

In my 20’s I went to a lot of pub gigs and I had a thrill of nostalgia as we went up to the Rose & Crown’s function room, made our donation and got the traditional stamp on the back of the hand. We’d come in as the Wondersmiths were playing.

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The Wondersmiths clearly loving what they do

They’re  a melodic punk band to me. The singer reminded me a lot of Jordan Pundik from New Found Glory. As ever witha  pub gig the sound balance meant he was drowned out sadly, but performed with much zest!

The room was pretty full with around 30 people, although I later realised the back function room had been opened as a bar with some more in (I went downstairs to get real ale off the taps).

After a break it was time for Velodrome. I did not realise at the time but this was in fact organiser Katherine Evans! I wish I’d known, I’d have loved to meet and congratulate her. There was some wonderful unintentional comedy while her sound tech tried to stop the speakers from exploding.

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Velodrome opens her set.

Wow, what a set. With a couple of costume changes (I am so very annoyed the photo of the Tiger onsie did not come out) she was reminiscent of Bowie or Freddie Mercury. Playing guitar and bass with her laptop she reminded me of Laptop (Jessie Hartman’s solo project). Musically her dulcet tones and rhythmic guitar brought to mind The Nields on the guitar songs, but also The Knife on the more electronic tracks.

I was so very happy to be able to buy a CD of her music on the way out. Although tape albums were available; very hip. I was tempted, but having hundreds of tapes accumulated through my teen and student years I try to at least move forward with my technology. (I’m enjoying listening to the CD as I write this).

Sadly I was limited to just a couple of hours of this all evening gig. And I really mean that; I am genuinely sad I missed all the other bands. Very well done to Katherine, the volunteers and the bands involved. I’d love this to be an annual event. It’s exactly the sort of thing I hoped to find when I started this blog.

Oxjam Walthamstow

In music, Uncategorized on November 6, 2016 at 3:30 pm

So Katherine Evans reached out to me about her upcoming charity event and it sounds rather spiffy!

“I’m single-handedly organising Oxjam Walthamstow, a charity fundraising gig in November at Ye Olde Rose and Crown pub. It’s a special Oxjam because as well as raising money for Oxfam, I am primarily promoting local female and LGBTQI artists. It’s going to be a very interesting if not slightly bizarre evening, with live drama, hip hop, female punk bands, and experimental rock.”

The event is on Saturday 19th November from 6PM and donations will be taken on the door.

There are more details of the event in the facebook page including a list of acts who are appearing:
And the Twitter account is here:
https://twitter.com/E17Oxjam
Go see!

Pillars Brewery Launch Party

In Drink, Uncategorized on October 16, 2016 at 3:44 pm

You may have noticed my posts display a certain love of all things ale as well as local. So I was  most excited to receive an invite from Kayleigh Bell to the launch party of Four Pillars Brewery (now rebranded to just Pillars Brewery). So stopping off at Central station to meet my beer geek friend Helena who came as my +1 off we went to the Ravenswood Industrial Estate.

(I hope there was never a wood full of ravens that was demolished to make an industrial estate. That would be sad.)

You know the phrase “So new the paint was still wet”? Well…

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Shiny new!

The door to Unit 2 was unadorned but on entering the smell of fresh paint was most clear 🙂

On entering we were greeted by the effusive Omar Razaq, brewer and ‘co-pillar’, who gave us a very warm welcome and led us to the bar, telling us about their beers. The brewery does have a standing tap room serving all their beers on draught.

Pillars Tap Room

The tap room. From here, off to the right of this shot, you can see all their fermenters while you drink the produce.

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Ooh, check out your fancy taps!

So, lets go through the lovely beers. I consumed one of each as I am a dedicated reviewer. I was lucky enough to have a chat with Pillars founder Gavin (I didn’t get his business card, sorry Gavin!) who explained them to me:

  1. Untraditional Lager (4.5% ABV) this is an ‘Indian Pale Lager’, cold fermented for 8 weeks. It’s intended as a session beer and is wonderfully well rounded. Many IPAs tend to jack up the hops to compensate for mediocre undertones but Untraditional lets them play the same rhythm as other flavours. Currently this is the flagship brew which is going out to the restaurant and pub trade (I saw Joe, the owner of the Rose & Crown, there). There are no immediate plans to sell to the off licence trade as bottling/canning is an extra complication to a new business but Gavin seemed open to the idea in the future.
  2. Pillars Pilsner (4.5%) I think Gavin was trying to tell us this was going to be called ‘Pillsner’ but the clever wordplay got a bit lost. This is a ‘Work in Progress’ beer that may be part of the product line up but currently is just being sold through the tap room. It’s the most typical of the line up but is a very nice, light colour, quality Pilsner that I can see doing very well in restaurants.
  3. AmarilloFest (5.6%) An Oktoberfest style lager made with a rare box of American Amarillo hops. This was a bit of a special one-off brew and my favourite of the evening. Deeper flavour with the higher ABV giving it more body and caramel solidity. Again, this one is destined purely for the tap room.

Gavin went on to explain that along with their ales Pillars tap room will also carry local wines (a couple of reds, whites and a rosé) and some local spirits (although not gin to avoid annoying the neighbours at Mother’s Ruin). They will also have bar snacks including crisps made at a nearby farm!

One interesting point in the conversation is why they chose the Ravenwood estate. I assumed that they wanted to be in that creative nexus but apparently there is a shortage of small industrial space in Walthamstow. When Unit 2 became free they snapped it up, despite being a bit bigger than they were planning for.

Which was a surprise, looking at their beautiful hardware.

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Cold fermenters

Currently they have 120 hectolitres of capacity which ferments each batch for 8 weeks. That’s 780 hectolitres a year according to the simplistic maths. That sounds like a lot to me!

The evening progressed with fancy canpés and more chat. I had my coat off a bit but soon needed to put it back on like all the other guests. Gavin told us they had electric heating but it wasn’t yet ready due to technical issues. But the excellent soundtrack, delightful finger food and of course fabulous beer made for a great evening.

Having to walk Helena back to Central for her trip home we decamped at 10pm but ended up chatting outside with Omar again and Rob, one of the Wildcard bar staff. The warmth and joy of the indie beer scene was very evident and we spent quite a bit more time learning of other brews to try and pubs to try them in.

I think Pillars have placed themselves perfectly. Geographically their tap room will add to the mass of the social sun that the estate is becoming. The business ideals seem sound and I can see Untraditional doing very, very well in London’s pubs and eateries. And finally in product; IPA’s as a beer style are currently immensely popular. Their tap room is serving a very different lineup from Wildcard (although I can see them becoming two bars of the same ‘venue’).

The official launch of the tap room will be at the end of October.

Save Higham Hill Library Campaign

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2016 at 8:50 pm

So my local library is under threat of being sold off to developers. There is a campaign to save (Facebook group) it with a petition in progress.

When I spent 3 years out of work the library was a refuge. I’d read papers in there and browse books. In Winter it was simply somewhere warm I could sit for a few hours when I couldn’t afford heating.

Please sign the petition and spread the word.