Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Almost Christmas Concert this Friday

Yesterday I received the following email from St Paul's Sinfonia previewing this Friday's concert. Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two concerts of the season I can confirm the standard is as high as ever:

"I am writing to invite you to the Sinfonia's last concert of 2009. Not strictly Christmassy, but festive and joyful nonetheless, the December concert is full of fun and high spirits entirely appropriate to the season. The programme is as follows:

Mozart - Symphony No. 31 'Paris'
Matt Rogers - exile
Bizet - Symphony in C

We present two brilliant symphonies, and in the middle, the first work by our Composer in Residence. exile is a concerto for French horn and orchestra, and we are thrilled to be able to welcome Timothy Jackson, co-principal horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra, to play the solo part with the Sinfonia's accompaniment. The work exploits the ritualistic history of the horn, and includes a virtuosic movement for the orchestral horns alone, 'shadowing' the soloist as he careers through the music.The concert starts, as usual, at 7.30 p.m., and tickets are available on the door any time from 7 p.m. We hope very much to see you there!"

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Lassoing the Circle

Yesterday I happened to find myself on the "old" Circle Line for the last time. Travelling from Bayswater to Baker Street I found myself assisting various bemused tourists who (quite understandably) were trying to match the freshly applied maps and route diagrams with the old service, and failing. Maybe delaying application of the new maps until Saturday night would have been too difficult, but surely a note could have been added beside the "new" route section to give the start date?

Trying to describe the new shape of the Circle over the phone a few days ago, I suggested it looked rather like a lasso. It seems I am in good company according to the Evening Standard - really how could anyone suggest it resembles a tadpole?

Back blogging!

Wow, that was a long summer break! Must try harder in future - and if I find time to do some "catch up" posts about some of the places and things I've seen since August...

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Deptford Misc

A quick mention of Bill Ellson's new Deptford Misc blog which has already featured posts on the Dog and Bell pub, Beau Geste author (and Deptfordian) PC Wren and the fate of the New Cross Building Society. Welcome Bill!

Friday, 31 July 2009

Tesco comes to Town

Walking past the new retail unit at the south east end of the High Street (where Learndirect used to be sited) this evening I did a double take at the various Tesco signs in the windows, and a planning application notice. Checking the Lewisham Planning site confirmed that a Tesco Express is on the way to Deptford High Street.

Whilst not a particular fan of Tesco - I find their customer service is the poorest of all the major supermarkets, rarely if ever getting Green Clubcard Points for bag reuse even when I point this out (rant over) - hopefully it will provide Iceland with a bit of competition in this area without affecting the welcome variety of smaller stores on our local High Street.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Shelter Signs: West End

As promised, more old Second World War shelter signs, this time from the West End. Although all of these are at eye level they are much harder to spot than their Deptford equivalents, being a fraction of the size and badly weathered. Fortunately I had the very informative book London's War by Sayre Van Young to help guide me. All of these signs point down to vaults and basements...

At 25 Longmoore Street Pimlico (stretching the definition of "West End" a bit):

And just down the way at 36 Longmoore Street:

To save straining your eyes, (I think) it reads "public shelters in vaults under pavements in this street".

Moving on to between 42 and 48 Brook Street, near Grosvenor Square:

And at 72 Brook Street:

And similarly at 43 Upper Brook Street:

Thursday, 25 June 2009

St. Paul's Sinfonia on Tour

It's the final concert of the season for St. Paul's Sinfonia on Sunday, and the first away from Deptford - at the Broadway Theatre, Catford. Culminating in Beethoven's ninth symphony, it's an event no Lewisham based music lover should miss!

Shelter Signs Revisited

Recently I've been seeking out more of London's old air raid shelter signs that haven't quite faded into history. To start with thanks to Caroline for finding this small one at the south end of Deptford High Street back in January. The inscribed stone above reads "Elizabeth Place 1811" - follow this link for a close up. For other old shelter signs around the High Street, see my original post. More from central London to follow.

Friday, 29 May 2009

The Deptford Mounties

Returning from work via Deptford station last Wednesday evening I was startled by the unexpected sound of hooves on tarmac. Took a glance behind me and sure enough there were two mounted police slowly proceeding down the High Street... eventually taking up position outside the Deptford Arms, on Reginald Road. Seemed a bit odd really and I don't recall any mounted police in the area before. Granted it was the night of the Champions League final but surely the two events weren't connected - I'm pretty sure there aren't that many Man U, and even fewer Barca fans, in SE8! Or perhaps they were just following up that notorious Daily Mail slight on Deptford...

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Spanish Practices...

I'll soon be making my first visit to Barcelona (in fact to Spain). Over the past few weeks my life has taken on a Catalonian favour as I seek and source appropriate items and experiences in advance of my break. For anyone planning a similar trip here are a few recommendations:

1. Food - for any SE8 resident seeking Spanish cuisine the Dos Tias tapas bar is the obvious choice. Just past Deptford Bridge it deserves to be much better known. Apart from the usual tapas dishes they also offer sandwiches and paninis, and a fantastic Mediterranean breakfast (note weekday opening hours have recently changed to 11-3 however).

2. Clothes - Deptford market is always good for bargains of course, and as this report states it seems to be thriving at the moment. As for footwear Catalonia is famous for its espadrilles - I've sourced a suitable pair from my friends across the river at Only Espadrilles.

3. Guide/phrasebooks - surprisingly Wavelengths library didn't have anything on Barcelona when I visited. I've just tried to access the OPAC to see what Lewisham library holds, unfortunately it seems to be down at the moment. Fortunately there are online alternatives, my own preference (for clarity and conciseness) is for a DK Eyewitness guides. I also bought a set of Pigeon Spanish cards off Amazon and found a useful PDF of Catalan phrases on the Barcelona Tourism site.

4. Travel and sightseeing - the Barcelona Card seems a good buy - free travel on public transport (including the airport train) and free or reduced entry to dozens of attractions. I bought it online to save 10% (it can be collected at the airport on arrival). The unofficial Barcelona Tourist Guide provides some very useful hints and tips on getting around, tours and hotels.

UPDATE 29 May: Well I survived, in fact I had a brilliant time and it's high on my list of recommended cities. I'll certainly make a return trip someday! What stood out for me was its great variety of attractions for visitors - even more so than London, perhaps, as I for one have yet to find a decent beach here! I'm about to go off travelling again, but this time a little nearer to home - Cornwall.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Watch out - there's a fox about!

Walking down the still busy High Street just now and a somewhat mangy fox races across the road and into the Deptford Project compound... I'm sure we're all used to urban wildlife but this seemed rather out of the ordinary, especially for early on a Thursday evening. Not sure who was more startled, the fox, or the people. Any more sightings?

Monday, 26 January 2009

Deptford Station Latest

Good news in the February issue of Lewisham Life (in recent months a copy has been finding its way on to my doormat); the much delayed construction of our new station building is expected to start by Easter with opening by mid-2010! Keeping all my fingers and toes crossed, and I suggest you do the same...

The Giffin Square revamp should also start shortly, with an eyecatching (according to the Life) new building called the Deptford Lounge as its centrepiece. All these plans should be on show at the Access Point building in the Square this weekend (thanks to Deptford Dame for highlighting this exhibition, pity it wasn't mentioned in the Life).

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

From the Archives: A Presidential Encounter

Watching President Obama's inauguration today brought to mind a fleeting encounter I had with his predecessor in September 2003, at the unlikely location of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in New York City. Waiting for the next crossing in a crowd of hundreds of returning commuters, murmurings that the President was approaching grew. We surged over to the land side in anticipation and sure enough his motorcade swept past, "Dubya" having just addressed the General Assembly of the UN. The spectacle was more of a fast getaway than orderly procession, it was impossible to distinguish the man himself. And so we turned back and boarded the ferry as if nothing had happened; I guess New Yorkers are pretty used to these sights.

Obama is due in London in April, I daresay this visit will generate a little more excitement.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Perilous Platforms!

Station platforms can be dangerous places. Before the surfaces at Whitehead station were raised people could, and did, fall between train and platform. Just for a change last September it was the turn of the platform to fall (apparently caused by work to relay piping). Fortunately no one was injured and the platform was quickly rebuilt over 10 days, with a full service restored on 6 October.

The Larne-bound platform at Whitehead station the day after the collapse:

And after the debris was cleared away:

Contrast this with the ordered but very lengthy (around 6 months) rebuilding of the platforms at Deptford Bridge DLR station to allow 3-car trains to run. This photo taken last Sunday shows the finished result - still closed off to passengers but bizarrely displaying an information board which includes out of date Christmas and New Year service information...

Nowadays of course many metro systems use platform edge doors, the Jubilee Line being one example. Even these do not provide absolute safety as this incident in Shanghai demonstrated.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

St Paul's Strings

A heads up for this concert at St Paul's on Friday evening. The programme includes Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams and one of my favourite pieces. Its etheral melodies transcend the centuries; as one Fuller Maitland summed up the work of V-W, "one is never quite sure whether one is listening to something very old or very new." In recent years it seems to have experienced a resurgence in popularity, judging by its rise up the Classic FM Hall of Fame and its use or derivation (a fantasia on a fantasia?) in several films.

Update: A fantastic concert performed to packed pews. We were even treated to a extra piece - a spirited rendition of Happy Birthday for leader James Widden.