Archive for July, 2012

Empty Market

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Glad to see that BBC London have picked up on the rubbish way Greenwich has been laid out for visitors. True – they can get very easily from the station to the venue without real bother, and I guess that’s an achoevement of sorts – but the flip side is that they don’t have to come in contact with Greenwich itself at all.

It’s hardly surprising with whopping great barriers like this that no one’s going to the market – if they know there’s a market/ interesting shops there at all they’ll probably assume it’s all closed or something, especially with the cheery foam-handed stewards waving them through in a ‘nothing to see here’ kind of way.

I can’t say it’s a bad atmosphere – even spectacularly failing yesterday by taking my bike into town at 5.30pm (I know, whatever was I thinking) I was surrounded by happy people (both spectators and volunteers) who had spent all day in the sun and by rights should be grumpy by that point. In fact it’s an excellent atmosphere – it’s just damn hard to get to the market even if you’re actively trying.

I’m willing to bet that a large proportion of event goers didn’t even know about the market. So we need to make a fuss, make a visit and dig into our pockets, folks.

On a similar thread, I’ve been down the past couple of days planning to eat out locally at least a few times over the ‘Lympic period (in the places that haven’t raised their prices, natch) and I have to say that yesterday evening absolutely everywhere was full, even the places I wouldn’t piss on if they were burning, but I suspect that once the Equestrian events are over the tumbleweed may blow back in if us locals don’t get out and at least have a go.

So, I’m collecting a list of places that haven’t put up prices. I know Inside haven’t, and Kum Luang (where I ended up last night because I’d thought they were empty only to find them as full as everywhere else) but where else hasn’t put prices up?

Right to Play

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Did you know that there is not a single public open space or play area in the large swathe of land between Trafalgar Road, Greenwich University and Blackwall Tunnel?

No, nor did I – unless you count that little patch of green, trees, rose bushes and litter where Tunnel Avenue meets Blackwall Lane. To be honest I hadn’t really thought about it, but the  hundreds of families who live in that little triangle currently have to go to East Greenwich Pleasaunce, the deeply creepy Glenister Green or, when the ‘Lympics aren’t on, to Greenwich Park – at least two of which are fantastic and, frankly not that far away, but all of which require crossing busy roads.

There’s a whole bunch of new housing being built, proposed or twinkled in developers’ eyes in that area just now and there’s currently a small group of people getting together to try to put the idea of public spaces /play areas  into developers’ minds when they’re applying for planning permission and into planning officers’ minds when they’re considering those proposals.

To be honest I can’t believe that that isn’t already something planning officers bear in mind, but it seems like a good thing to have a specific, stated agenda – something that developers and the council know there is a voiced demand for.

They haven’t earmarked any specific areas they want turned into public space, rather, in the words of Colin, one of the people behind the fledgling movement, ”The main thing is that provision of adequate open spaces and play areas be part of the council’s normal planning process and that it measures provision against recognised standards.”

Seems a reasonable enough plan to me. If you’d like to get involved there’s a good old fashioned paper petition doing the rounds just now (nothing online just yet). The first batch of signatures were presented to Greenwich Council in June, but they’re collecting more names for when it’s being discussed at the next meeting.

There’s a form you can download here (if you can’t get it to work, let me know – it’s a bloomin’ PDF which I always have terrible troubles with) – if you’re into the idea, print it off, sign it and drop it into Greenwich Communication Centre at 164 Trafalgar Road.

Just Where Do We Stand?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I’ve just had a comment in my last post that I felt needed addressing as a separate post, as I suspect everyone on here will have a view and it may well not be my own. That’s okay. That’s what debate is for.

Park Keeper said:

“I don’t mind the park being closed…..” (quoting TGP)

“…..view of a park-loving local?”

Make up your phantom mind!

Just what do you care about and what would you protect? Fenced in Disneyland or open to all park and precious but fragile World Heritage Site?

Like many others can’t wait to see the back of Coe and all this half arsed chaos.”

Park keeper – like many people I have watched what has been going on, listened to what everyone – on all sides – has to say and gradually adjusted my feelings about this event as facts change, concessions are made, goalposts are moved and realities faced.

Seven years ago, when the park was first mooted as a venue I was apoplectic because I genuinely thought that LOCOG could not be trusted to keep the park in the kind of condition that Greenwich deserves. I still don’t think that without being forced, it could have been.

I was absolutely sure that holding the event there wasn’t the right thing to do and, yes, I backed the people trying to stop it.

I feel that something really good came out of that campaign, even if it was not what many of those people actually wanted.

What they – and various amenity groups, friends, Parks officials, council etc. – got was far more positive than just cancelling the equestrian events.

What has happened, through negotiation, compromise and actually listening to people, is that we get a games that will look fantastic, be good in the long-term, if not in the short, for Greenwich, hasn’t lost any ancient trees, has avoided the really delicate areas and that has a genuine commitment to put the park right afterwards.

Of course I am concerned to see that this commitment is honoured and I am not entirely without worries on that account. It’s up to all of us to ensure that LOCOG and their legacy-based successor (the name escapes me) does do the right thing.

And yes, there is a tonne of stuff that I’m not wild about to do with the games coming here. I don’t like the fortress the town has turned into. I don’t like the petty power-mongers in hi-viz vests who are ordering people around. I don’t like that the heath is going to be a right old mess. I don’t like…well, I could write another thousand things I don’t care for about the games being here.

But there comes a point where we have to be realistic about something that will happen anyway whether we like it or not and there is much that I DO like about the games being on my doorstep, not least the thing that yes, I pooh-poohed seven years ago – the way the thing looks on TV.

The brave thing is to get behind it, enjoy the bits that are enjoyable, highlight the bits that need scrutiny and judge everything on its own merits rather than taking one hard line or other and sticking to it despite whatever other evidence might be presented.

None of anything I’ve just said even here is set in stone. It’s entirely possible that my opinions will change again. I don’t see why I should ‘make my mind up’ for once and all on a subject that changes with the wind.

What do I care about? Greenwich, of course, but not at the expense of sanity.

The Big One

Monday, July 30th, 2012

So – today’s the day it all happens – Greenwich Park gets its moment of glory and is either ruined forever or just used for a day then allowed to go back to sleep (yeah, yeah, I know there are other days, but this is the one that grabbed all the attention from the start.)

What will the course be like? Will it be muddy underfoot? Will they run out of food? Will the toilets get blocked? And will I get enough work done to sneak away and watch it on the telly? I have no interest in the outcome of the actual event, but I’d like to see which bits eventually got used and how glorious the park’s going to look in sparkling sunshine. I also want to see that whizzy camera thing swooping up and down across the Thames from Gen. Wolfe.

Anyone got tickets and fancy reporting back on the events from the point of view of a park-loving local?

The Flower Garden’s closed today (otherwise we’d get a freebie) so unless you’ve got tickets the TV’s probably best, though we do need to get into the centre of town and have a nice cup of tea in the cafes that haven’t put up their prices – Red Door, Trafalgar Cafe, Royal Teas and Peter de Wits spring to mind but there are others – they’re suffering just now – loads of footfall, no one actually stopping. Let’s give ‘em a bit of support…

PS – wasn’t the Opening Ceremony amazing? All hail to the Phantom Webmaster whose bucket-bashing was clearly the secret of the event’s success.

Existing CPZ

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Folks – I hadn’t noticed this in Greenwich Time and I’m willing to bet few other people have either because it was in the middle of an article telling people to arrange their parking vouchers – and time-poor people who had already booked their vouchers probably just skimmed it.

But Stuart noticed it and it is a bit rubbish. Basically if you’ve received visitor vouchers that say ‘Existing CPZ’, they are not valid. This is because there was a printing error and each voucher should have the relevant area printed on it. Replacements were supposed to have arrived Wednesday (25th), but apparently the earliest they will arrive is tomorrow (Saturday).

Parking restrictions come into force today.

Stuart called Greenwich parking services. He says “they have told me that warnings only will be issued until Monday so Sat/Sun visitors should be OK. After Sun its penalty notices all round.”

I’ve just looked on the website and you can use the incorrectly-issued vouchers until Monday. Let’s hope everyone who received wrong tickets actually receives replacements tomorrow and doesn’t just assume that the ones they’ve got are okay…


All The Bells

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I am sure you already know about this – but just in case you don’t…

Tomorrow morning at 08.12 Artist Martin Creed’s Work 1197 will take place. If I give you the title you don’t really need to know much else:

All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes

Annoyingly if you type ‘Greenwich’ into the website you get very little going on, but before I had to stop posting I was in communication with their press officer (who lives round here, btw) and I know there is stuff going on. Quite what, I don’t know – I’ve emailed but had no response yet – if I get any this evening I’ll let you know. Otherwise, I suggest you set your alarm for 08.10, open your window and listen…

You could, of course, ring a bell of your own if you have one – bicycle, alarm, door – anything. I’m not going to repeat the dreary H&S caveats the official website has to carry. We are all products of the 21st Century. We need to rediscover our common sense, not rely on others to tell us the bleedin’ obvious.

Mean Times

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

You know – I thought it was just me being out of touch – but I went to The Old Brewery last night for a meal (I’d tried to go to 16″ West but it’s closed in the evenings during the Olympics, which seems mad to me, but hey…) and I was pretty shocked at the prices.

They said they’d changed the menu so that they only do bar food. Okay, I thought, fair enough. Bar food it is. But the prices for their bar food are, frankly, extortionate. NINETEEN POUNDS FIFTY for the fish stew. Fish STEW, that is – not a bit of fish, a stew.

Everything seemed like the sort of prices I’d expect for the fine-dining, white tablecloth incarnation of the Brewery – and even then at the very tippy-top of what I’d be wanting to pay in a restaurant out of the centre of London. But this wasn’t fine dining. This was bar food. I ended up with a goats cheese tart for about twelve quid and still had to get chips as extra – these prices don’t include sides.

I have to say it tasted very nice (unlike the utterly vile ‘afternoon tea’ I had there a month or so ago, so appalling that I took one bite, and actually couldn’t eat it, which is almost unknown for me – I can usually eat anything sweet – I threw a bit of scone for a pigeon, which also took one peck and walked away. A truly terrible, terrible ‘treat.’)

But I digress. Back to last night’s fare. It was enjoyable. All the components of a goat’s cheese tart piled on top of each other, which was novel. (I’m asssuming the chef  is buying a part-work cookery book and will receive the second half of the recipe next week ;-) ) And my pal, who had the ham hock, enjoyed that too. I nicked most of the apple-walnut bits – I said I like sweet stuff. So yes, enjoyable. But was it tugging-on-the-coat-tails-of-thirty-quid-before-you-even-think-of-drinks-worth of enjoyable? Sorry, no.

As I said at the top, I thought it was just me being out of touch – after all, it has been seven weeks and the economy is going down the toilet but then I saw this Twitter comment by Jobeba (@Benb111):

NASTY Olympic-sized profiteering by @MeantimeBrewing@Oldbrewery Huge price increases (last week prices/now): beef burger (£10.75/£14.50 ).. 

and realised that the prices HAVE been hiked for the Olympics.

The Old Brewery need to tread carefully here. I make no secret that I really, really like both the company and the venue – even though I don’t drink beer. I always (with the exception of that abysmal ‘cream tea’) enjoy visiting. I’ve been a fan ever since it opened and I still love the place, especially now that the walls are clothed in jasmine that smells heavenly on a hot July evening. But in cashing-in on the Olympics,  fleecing tourists on a temporary basis, they risk a longer-term alienation from the locals that keep them going in the colder months. They may lower the prices again after the hoo-ha, but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth (though not as bad as that scone… )

Anyone else noticed any brazen price hikes around the town centre (or anywhere else, for that matter)?

Gutless Octopus

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Remember this? One of my favourite Faded Greenwich’s ever, not least because of the marvellous results of the challenge I set for people to fill in the blanks as to what it might have orignally advertised. Sadly the suggestions got lost when the blog changed sites, but most people agreed that it was probably an old Co-Op ad – it was, after all, on a bit of road that used to have the old Co-Op funeral parlour (opposite the hospital, made sense, really). It was generally agreed that it probably said something like ‘and cut your costs on…’ but that didn’t stop Scared of Chives coming up with the immortal


which up ’til recently still made me smirk every time I passed.

Sadly no more. This is what it’s like now:

The whole thing’s been painted over in a colour so dull that I almost wonder whether it was the same guy who painted over the other faded sign at the entrance to New Capital Key.

I know progress has to happen, but I am sad to see this little piece of recent history gone. The only thing that would cheer me up would be for a shop to actually open in the space – a real shop that is, rather than another bookies.

All I Need Is a Tall Ship…

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

…and for it not to turn around before I get to see it.

So today, I joined a whole bunch of excited people waiting for the Tall Ship Flotilla to come by. Some people had really gone for the big camera gear and the tripods and the flasks and turned up bloomin’ early (nobody really seemed sure when the vessels were arriving) but in the end the kit that came in most handy was a bike.

I’m not really sure why I didn’t take my bike out today – I’d planned a walk to reaquaint myself with Greenwich as she has never been before – but after the flotilla came round the top of the Peninsula, took one look at Greenwich and shot back again, I really wished that I’d done what Roger had done.

He hopped onto his bike and followed them back downstream to Woolwich, where he got these pics.

Not really sure why they didn’t make it all the way – I’m guessing the trip was taking too long.

Still, they are going to be plying their way up and down for a couple of weeks, taking well-heeled people on trips, so we might catch glimpses of them. Just not all together.

By the way – is anyone going on one of the Thames Tall Ship Cruises? I really like the idea of it but £59 just seems a bit steep, even if I was to use the code Greenwich2012 (which is in Greenwich Time) to get a free drink.

The Calm…

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

HMS Ocean last night at sunset.