I’ve recently been having a bit of a clear out, and this included the elephant. Now, before you assume that this will be an unpleasant tale about elephant enemas, I assure you, the elephant involved is actually a piggy bank.
So having emptied, and sorted every coin in the elephant into separate bags for each type of coin, I wandered down to the Nationwide branch in Blackheath. I have an account with them. And I had some money I’d like to put into the account… Which seemed reasonable enough to me…
The cashier took one look at my lovingly sorted bags, and said “Oh, we don’t take cash like that, it has to be in our own money bags, and we only take full bags“. Unbelievable.
Now, I realise that banks (and building societies) don’t want to be dealing with huge quantities of cash, and that they’d much rather be selling me car insurance, holiday insurance, or something else, but I wasn’t impressed – I’d already counted, and sorted it – all they’d have to do is drop it onto their scales, and figure out the cost. And they’re a building society for God’s sake!
So I went off to Natwest instead, and they happily deposited it for me without batting an eyelid. No Natwest in Blackheath though…
(Photo based on an original here.)
It’s shearing time again, so this time I thought I’d try The Village Barbers. This is a much smaller, and less ostentatious looking place than Chandler Wright Hair, which I’ve been to in the past (and posted about at length). It has a much better view across the heath (it is up near The Bookshop on the Heath, and the Buenos Aires Cafe).
I have to say, I was very pleased – it is quite an old fashioned sort of place… It made me smile as some little boy was having his hair cut, amid constant reassurance from his mum, and the hairdresser that he was “doing really well” and “had nothing to worry about” (why is it that having your hair cut terrifies little kids so much? Maybe hair really are your aerials…)
It cost £15 instead of the £40 from the other place (I guess they have to pay for those Birds of Paradise flowers somehow), and most importantly, was thoroughly approved of by Mrs Bugle….
Contact info: 13 Royal Parade, London, SE3 0TL 020 8852 0771, or click on the map.
I’m sure they wouldn’t think of themselves as guerrillas, but volunteers from The Blackheath Society seemed to be out in force this morning, clearing the undergrowth next to the London-bound platform at Blackheath station. It looks like an ideal spot for some guerrilla gardening, but I wonder what they intend to do with the land there?
As The Phantom has mentioned, railway sidings would be a great option for some allotments, and looking up from the station towards Hogwarts, the area is obviously lush and cultivatable… Perhaps several different beds for different requirements… Some nice organic vegetables for people who are feeling the squeeze, and can’t stomach the prices of the farmers market… A little section further on for the cultivation of some tobacco (for the Blackheath tramp, obviously)… And perhaps, right at the end, a shadier section where substances more usually associated with the Chelsea Physic Garden could be grown, dried, and then gently enjoyed up on the heath, whilst watching the sunset… Although, the Society probably wouldn’t go for that, I guess…
I went to Zero Degrees again the other day, after a very nice time at the Buenos Aires cafe… It is a strange bar. The beer is definitely reasonable, except that you are forced to drink it inside what feels like an enormous industrial kitchen. It’s so noisy, and smelled slightly of chip fat that had spent too long at the bottom of a deep fat fryer. The food at Zero Degrees always looks reasonable, but I’ve never actually risked it, mainly because you wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation over the din.
The beer on the other hand is quite good. One beer in particular is outstanding, but they almost never serve it. I’m talking about their Red Ale. It is rarer than hen’s teeth (but considerably tastier) – I’ve only had the pleasure a couple of times, and wish I’d taken some home too (as they offer take aways). The Pale Ale is ok, but I’ve had better, and the Dark Lager looks and smells like some sort of strange burnt brew to me… Both are pictured above.
The other strange thing are the people there. You get a higher than average bunch of crazies and drunks compared to some other places – they generally congregate outside, which is a shame, as it is the best place to enjoy the beer. It doesn’t get much sun though, and it is another one of those places that would REALLY benefit from a little roof terrace (just like Pizza Express and the pasta cafe next to it). Their entire upstairs seems to be used for loos, which seems a bit of a waste of space.
Their shiny shiny website is here. Or you could email them, and ask them to start selling red beer all the time. Beerintheevening.com review here. Or “Stonch’s Beer Blog” comments here.
Provender has finally opened its doors to Blackheath. I went in there the other day for a snoop around. To be honest, I don’t think it was a very fair test, as I popped in a bit late, so all the food was looking a bit tired. I had a coffee and a very nice piece of baklava for £2.80. Not cheap, but not horrendous. Both were good.
The trouble is, there’s almost nowhere to sit – they’ve put the serving trolley thingy right up at the front of the shop, so there are only two stools looking out through the window, and a small table outside.
The food itself looked along the lines of the Indian Lentil Daal kind of veggie variety, not the 1970s Woody Allen movie variety I’d been hoping for (a la Food for Thought)… Having said that, I didn’t try it, and so will make it a mission to go and give it a proper assessment soon.
Have a look, and let me know what you make of it.. It’s up near O’Neil’s.
Now look here… I realise that First Choice Travel was no cultural mecca. Melvyn Bragg and Mark Lawson were not hot-footing down Tranquil Vale to come and admire it or anything. But really, Go Travel isn’t doing a lot for taste and subtle design in Blackheath is it?
The photo doesn’t even show it in all its Plasma Screened, garish beauty. Comic Sans all over the bloody place. Makes The Railway‘s frontage look like the Book of Kells… sort of…
And they’ve covered up the nice little mosaic with cheap blue carpet. Grrr…
Just found a wonderful local history book -“A Century of Lewisham” by John Coulter. One of the best images from it, showing a caravan of camels traipsing up Tranquil Vale towards “Billy Smart’s Circus” on the heath, in the 1950s. The camels were supposed to have been Algerian veterans from the Foreign Legion. Click the photo for a closer look.