Oxleas Meadow is the place to go when it snows. It’s the perfect place for sledging – long, broad slopes with a choice of steepnesses to suit all ages and abilities. And all ages and abilities were out there today showing off their skills.
There was an incredible variety of sledges; old fashioned sit-up wooden-slatted toboggans, snow boards, surf boards, a bin liner, bright pink and green plastic sledges, snowmobile style sledges, round ones looking like dustbin lids and one that I’m sure was a dustbin lid. Chaos reigned, bodies falling and rolling everywhere as sleds overturned, ran into each other and skittled other sledders. The whole scene overseen by the usual large crowd of dogs out for a walk, though on this occasion many were dressed for the weather, and a motley assortment of snow men. One enterprising group of sledders had even created a ski jump out of a park bench and a large pile of snow and were using it to launch themselves into ignominious heaps of snow and sledders.
Not far away in Shrewsbury Park a younger set of sledders enjoyed the gentler, less crowded but equally sled-able nursery slopes.
Elsewhere on the hill the snow had waved its transformative magic wand, turning the world bright and beautiful, hiding flaws and smothering imperfections. The woodlands were serene and pristine. Colours were accentuated in the otherwise monochrome landscape; vivid red holly berries and pillar box, the previously unnoticed blue beams in a house on Shrewsbury Lane, and colourful clothing glimpsed through the woods.
The Friends of Shrewsbury Park Annual General Meeting will be held this Saturday, 22nd October from 2.00 to 4.00pm at the Slade Community Hall, Pendrell Street, Plumstead, SE19 2RU which is off Garland Road. We are all invited to find out what the Friends have been doing and how we can be involved in Shrewsbury Park. The Friends’ website has all the details and a link to a map showing the location of the meeting.
There will also be a talk by David Waugh, an amateur astronomer and member of the Flamsteed Astronomy Society, about “Stargazing”. His talk will cover what can be seen in the skies of south-east London, what you can observe with binoculars and small telescopes and how stargazing relates to the broader subject of astronomy. The Flamsteed is an amateur astronomy society named after the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, who laid the foundation stone for the Royal Observatory in 1675. The Society is based at the Greenwich Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum.
Today was the day of the Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival and Dog Show during the day, plus an evening of Storytelling and live chamber music. Two years ago the day also included an archeological/historical study of the 1920’s Open Air School, which continues to be investigated by Plumcroft School.
Well, here’s the opening number from Plumstead String Quartet’s evening performance, which was possibly a Haydn piece, complete with the sound of children playing, making it very much a ‘live’ live music experience.
The MC closed with a friendly request to people to let their councillors know if they had valued the activities of the day, in order to try and preserve civic arts at a time when events like this (such as the Plumstead Make Merry) are being removed from the public calendar.
Apparently plans to hold a street party to celebrate the royal wedding on Red Lion Lane had run on stony ground for a while, with various bits of red tape barring the way, that is until call-me-dave made his right to party speech…and hey ho, anyone that still had a job to go to, could not go to it for a day, and dance in the streets, or rather have tea and cake in front of the tellybox…in the Lane. The Red Lion Lane street party was extremely cheerful, Ruchita and the Red Lion Pub were very generous in their donations of food, and trestle tables were laid out with cakes and goodies making it a wonderful way to reclaim the streets. This may be a sign of the beneficial effects of less traffic too, as Red Lion Lane recently celebrated the extension of its one way (downhill) route, (from the Eagle pub down to Shooters Hill Campus), so it seems that reducing traffic (or at least moving it onto other nearby roads) enhances social cohesion.
Red Lion Lane 2011
Red Lion Lane 2011
It’s taken a while to get these photos out, and this story is extremely cold-off-the-press; the pictures were so poor that the whole thing was going to stay off-line, but whilst rummaging around in the archives, it was quite interesting to find some old street party photos taken during the VE day celebrations way back in 1945, so it seemed like fun to cobble them all together and see what happened. The most striking differences (apart from the colours) are the presence of injection moulded plastic chairs in the latter-day party, and significantly, the existence of the gazebo, which is now commonplace at outdoor parties. The common strand appears, unsurprisingly, to be the all important bunting, which is in evidence in both eras, although more modestly so in the wartime period.
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
It might not quite be a banksy, but the council dog stencil does seem to be fairly effective at keeping the hill clean and safe, at least in the bits it appears; I certainly would tread carefully walking across the roundabout lawns on the wimpey estate, or certain parts of eaglesfield or shrewsbury park or the woods, although things are getting better.
Anyway it seems to be a fairly serious initiative with its own enforcement officials being geared up to hit anti-social dog-owners where it hurts, i.e. the purse.
I’m not sure what kind of dog the stencilhound is? I once saw a similar street painting in paris, and it was definitely a lapdog of some sort, you know the type that fits in a handbag, but the Greenwich version appears to be modelled on a cross between a Poodle and an Alsation, I call it a Poosation.