Recently I heard from some teachers who are starting up a new dance group[1. Small Ads are free on this site, although advertisers are requested to sponsor a brick as part of the severndroog preservation campaign.]:
Stepz School of Dance is providing new dance classes that are centred on the teaching of ‘Streetdance’ to children of all levels aged 4 and above. We believe that everyone should be given the chance to work together to achieve; ‘Anyone can make it if you know how to shake it!’ This is why STEPZ School of Dance is not only an opportunity to learn something new but is also a place to meet new people and make new friends. We hope to ‘provide an exciting step out of the ordinary’ by offering children the opportunity to do an activity they can enjoy for an hour and a half every Friday
evening, whilst also exercising. The classes are taught by B.A.T.D qualified teachers with over 10 years of experience.
Apologies for lack of posts lately, there have been some bots on the site that needed dealing with; for now comments are off. To make matters worse i’ve been trying to write a post about party politics on the hill without being in any way political… tricky, and probably best avoided altogether, still, when it really matters, the people of the hill have a good record of stopping interfering leaders in their tracks, or should that be motorways.
Anyway, I was recently honoured to receive a set of historical documents and photographs, including this little snow scene – although I’m not sure whether it might actually be the part of Plum Lane where the park now faces the old decontamination lodge?
Back in October when the sweet chestnut season was in full swing, I mentioned that I was looking forward to the first frost of the year, the seasonal cue to make sloe gin… however climate chaos (or cyclical warming as some would have it) appears to have put a kibosh on my plans, as whilst I patiently waited for jack frost to turn up and ice those berries near the duck pond, someone or something came along and snaffled the lot!
My first thoughts were that some human(s) had picked them all, but considering how high up some had been, I began to wonder if perhaps those pesky parakeets had been at them?
Anyway, today I was out testing the unofficial shortcut from Dot Hill to Cheriton Drive (very muddy), and I stumbled upon a whole load of blackthorns at the entrance to the old allotments! Luckily enough I still had a bit of gin left (which I’d been drowning my sorrows in after the loss of the other sloes), so I grabbed about 40 or so, plus a thorn, leaving plenty enough for any other foragers/birds in the area. There’s also a load of rosehips there too, at least that’s what I think they are.
The home made recipe is totally straightforward, but superior to the shop-bought version, which apparently gets made with rough spirits and cordial. Essentially, you just use the sloes to double the amount of drink, and it makes a very pleasant winter warmer:
enough sloes to fill bottle of gin
one empty bottle of gin
one full bottle of gin
prick the berries with the thorn
drop them into the bottles with gin
shake gently every now and then
the colour and flavour is optimal after three months, but it rarely remains in the bottle that long
Part x in an occasional series on maps. This little beauty came via the mighty 853, who reported on the forthcoming oysterisation of overground train fares in this neck of the woods. Local stations are now included on arguably one of the all time classic maps, the present day version of the London Underground map, a.k.a the integrated TfL map. As you can see we have the blue line (charing x and canon st), and the green line (victoria) – I would have preferred primary colours myself, but they were all spoken for… I’m not mad on the parallel lines either, as they look a bit hollow, but I’m guessing the designers were trying to differentiate the overground services by tapping in to how people visualise train tracks.
In Mr 853’s post, the title of which contains the phrase the “great train robbery”, he also notes that fares are set to rise, let’s have a look:
Currently: A so called anytime single to London Terminals from zone 4 stations is £3.70, with peak/off-peak returns at £6.20/£4.70 respectively, (for all the confusing details about zone 1 connections, daily cap changes, changes to peak times etc see his pricing post) or the full proposed pricing document.
Presently: Comparative trips using oyster fares will cost £3.10/£2.30 (peak/off-peak) single, this is already significantly cheaper than £3.70!). Return prices will vary a bit depending on the time of travel (e.g. the dreaded afternoon peak from 4-7pm), but let’s consider a pleasant scenario for the sake of optimism: a nice little day trip to trafalgar square on a sunny weekend in january, with no onward connections from charing x: this will cost someone over 16 £4.60, which is actually cheaper than current fares by 10 pence.
There are various catches that even out the price differences, such as the premium train users pay if they connect with other TfL services in Zone 1, and apparently season ticket holders are going to pay extra, and there are further criticisms of south eastern trains in particular for not going above and beyond the call of duty by making eco-friendly travel to bluewater more accessible (as has been done for lakeside), but overall, it’s good to welcome in these long overdue changes.
The farm’s educational activities are becoming increasingly popular, with thousands of school children visiting each year – and so it’s nice to see that they are putting on some after school activities too. It’s been quite busy there of late, with various new faces moving in, including some ducks, and some sheep from cumbria (via heathrow).
Do Your kids have lots of creative energy to burn?
Join in the fun at our new:
Drop-in family activity workshops
* Explore Nature
* Listen to Stories
* Create Animal Art Masterpieces
WHEN? First Wednesday each month – 3.30-5.30pm
WHERE? Woodlands Farm, 331 Shooters Hill. DA1G 3RP
WHO? Primary and pre-school aged children and families
BOOKINGS: No need to book. just turn up (places are limited)
HOW MUCH? free!
They also have their Christmas Fair coming up next Sunday from 11-3.
At last, rather than appropriating (well, cloning) pictures by other people, I’ve finally managed to use one of my own as a site header. This one is a panorama taken in september 2006 using a sony phone, which is brilliant mainly because it can make panoramas on the fly, has a torch, and has outlasted several phones that I’ve bought since – many of them exhibiting suspicious signs of inbuilt obsolescence such as falling apart when being dropped, or konking out after a sledging trip… Yes I know, that’s ridiculous, but in my defence, when the technician at the local sony repair shop wrote off my phone on grounds of water damage, I reasoned they might have been right on account of all the snow that got into my pockets, however, on closer inspection of the phone, the water marker (a little white sticker on the battery that goes red when it comes into contact with water) was as dry as the corbett estate, and furthermore, the technician’s comment that the circuit board was rusty also set alarm bells ringing as I don’t think there’s anything inside mobile phones that actually rusts. Needless to say I won’t be going back there.
Anyway, this is admittedly a bad photo, I did try to do something about the join marks, mainly by changing it into black and white, but then missed the greens, so reverted back to the patchy-but-verdant look, besides greyness didn’t help much. I quite like the lense flare beaming down on the two people though.
Incidentally, stumayhew one of my favourite local photographers and member of aperture, really does take good pictures, and recently had a photo featured in the guardian.
In the previous post on notable hill dwellers, it did occur to me that one of the more interesting historical figures, or should I say historian figures was Colonel A.H. Bagnold, who lived in a nice big house in Oxleas Woods, and wrote the first local history in the Articles on Shooters Hill extracted from the parish magazine of Christ Church, Shooters Hill by A. H. Bagnold from 1936-38 which is still available at the local libraries – I hope to report on these at some point, but here are the locations in case it takes me a while to get round to it (as these things generally do):
Greenwich Heritage Centre
Greenwich Heritage Centre
I did find a little excerpt of bagnold on the internet however on the greenwich-guide website for August the 5th
Further experiments in the velocity of electricity, 1748 on Shooters Hill. Not being satisfied with earlier results (see: Aug 14) the experimenters arranged a circuit of two miles of wire [the Leyden Jar phial being in the middle of the circuit] . . . several discharges were made but the observer who held the two ends of the wire “always felt himself shocked at the very instant of making the explosion”, which was within his view. The conclusion was “that the velocity of electricity was instantaneous”. (Articles on Shooters Hill by Colonel A.H. Bagnold, Parish Magazine of Christ Church, Shooters Hill 1936/1938)
Actually colonel Bagnold was father to one of the hill’s most famous dwellers, Enid Bagnold, who’s first book Diary Without Dates was written in the turret of the old house, and was about her experiences volunteering at the Herbert Hospital around the first world war. She went on to write National Velvet, among other notable/notorious works, and in fact she really should join Boy George and Fanny Craddock in the list of notable residents. (Another thing that I could get round to doing).
The fact that various (in)famous people have been residents of Shooters Hill has not really done much for the area, and so I haven’t really gone into it. Actually the Shooters Hill Hall of Fame is already partly documented on the hill’s Wikipedia entry, which is perhaps more useful for it’s discussion on the use of the apostrophe. Incidentally this issue was also taken up by a contributing editor at current archaeology.
Anyway, one of the more controversial hill dwellers is, perhaps not surprisingly, a fictional one from a comic book (well, graphic novel to give it a ‘grown up’ description) who becomes the apprentice of a ‘morally grey’ bomber loosely based on the character of guy fawkes… no wonder the illustrator was worried about getting his phone tapped!
Well, it seems that the choice of Shooters Hill as a location was made so that they could realise a vision of London under water…
Earlier this month I wrote about what I referred to as the old fire station on Shrewsbury Lane.
It was then brought to my attention that referring to the station on Shrewsbury Lane as old is a mistake, because in actual fact that was the new one, and there was another one before that, by the old police station… Now I’m not going to make the same mistake again and refer to the old police station as being the one where the hill meets well hall road, just because there’s no police stationed there any more, but judging by this postcard picture viewed from lower down the hill, the old police/fire stations can be made out, well, apparently the police station replaced the gallows, and the fire station is probably the building next door with a large entrance and lots of very tall chimneys!
Anyway, I was also provided with these pictures of the old station itself, and a little bit of history – apparently it opened in 1879 for horse drawn engines, and closed in 1912 when the new station opened in a more strategic (?) hill top location. Following the move, the building was then used as a Warrant Officer’s quarters for the War Department, and presumably fell into disuse during less warlike times, and was knocked down. Looking at the second picture is quite interesting as the firemen being photographed outside their station are joined by two little boys, I wonder what they did – given the dickensian style of the picture it wouldn’t surprise me if children did work there, although they aren’t wearing uniforms… so perhaps they didn’t make much of a public showing, and their job might have been to keep the place warm when the men were out on duty. Anyway, rather than speculating, I should probably go and do some more investigation, when I can make the time.
It was a lovely sunny day yesterday and lots of dogs were out taking their people for a walk and cavorting around the woods at this time of the changing seasons. In august I remarked on the bumper crop of blackberries to be found on the hill, and it’s also been a good year for the Sweet Chestnut trees in Oxleas Woods, with their crop in full swing around about now.
In just a few prickly minutes, my pockets were full, and before long the nostalgic aroma of roasting chestnuts filled the kitchen (luckily this wasn’t joined by the sound of explosions as they had their tips cut off before going under the grill), I also saved a few to plant in pots. Italian chestnuts, which are about twice the size, are also in season, and can be bought in the run up to Christmas; and the west-end chestnut sellers will probably be setting up their little fires around this time.
I’m now looking forward to the first frost, which will be the cue to make sheperdleas sloe gin, this time of year is also a busy one for fungi, who make a strong showing in Oxleas Woods in autumn, especially on the lower, damper slopes, although I’m not really sure which ones are poisonous/hallucinogenic/inedible/edible, perhaps the rangers might be able to answer this kind of question on one of their parkland rambles.