Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Unrelated Stuff

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Warning. This post will not flow at all well.

I have no reason for putting in Ruth’s picture of cranes over the red dawn this morning other than I like it and it somehow shows the way things are going – season-wise and Greenwich-wise. I just wish the myriad developments shooting up just now were a bit better quality and a bit nicer to look at. I went past the junction at the bottom of Vanbrugh Hill/Blackwall Lane last night and was once again shocked at the sheer size of the developments there. Virtually every view there was in East Greenwich is dominated by it and its even less exciting friend across the road.

But actually this post isn’t about development. I’m not even going to mention the very scary building work going on at the Pilot at the end of which I suspect the once-lovely garden (one of the principle reasons to go to the pilot) will just be a skinny strip for smokers.

Ah. I just did. Hey…

No actually, this is a very, very late notice for something on Saturday which I’ve known about for about a week and haven’t had the time to mention.

I’m sorry, BTW, about the state of the Parish News. I know it hasn’t been updated for months. I just don’t have the time just now, even for the press releases that actually make sense or are a sensible length. I will get round to it, I just don’t know when.

But onto the thing that caught my eye:

This Saturday (5th Oct) there’s a free day of lectures by the University of Greenwich (whose own monster development continues apace in the centre of town, I notice).

It’s called Greenwich Past: Pensioners, Paupers and Pageants and it looks a corker.

Organised by University of Greenwich historians, the day begins with Harvey Sheldon’s presentation: The Excavation of a Roman Temple in Greenwich Park. He is followed by Laura Allan: Interpreting History – Severndroog Castle; and Andy Brockman: Zeppelins, Andersons and Ack Ack – Conflict Archaeology in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

After lunch Martin Wilcox presents: The “Poor Decayed Seamen” of Greenwich Hospital, 1705-1763. Sandra Dunster follows with: ‘A Heavy and Increasing burden’ – The Royal Naval Hospital and the parish of Greenwich.

In the day’s final session Chris Ware presents Gin, tea and tobacco: the Royal yachts at Greenwich, 1690-1745. Emma Hanna rounds the day off with Patriotism and Pageantry: the Greenwich Night Pageant, 1933.

There are limited places available for a tour of the Old Royal Naval College during the break for lunch at midday. The day runs from 9.30am until 4pm in King William Court, Room 002, Old Royal Naval College, Park Row, London SE10 9LS. To book a place please email:

Sadly I’m not in a position to go anywhere at the moment but it looks absolutely brilliant, especially the Greenwich Night Pageant one. This was a bonkers event in, if memory serves, 1933, organised by Greenwich’s very own Nazi and I spent a week ‘going to it’ a few years ago (annoyingly the posts are in reverse order – scroll to the bottom and read upwards – like the pageant itself, utterly mad…)

Here’s hoping there are still some places left for you – do let me know what it’s like. This is one I’ll be sad to miss…

In, Out, In, Out…

Thursday, August 8th, 2013


…shake it all about.

I’m getting a bit confused at Greenwich’s ‘gay’ watering holes. Admittedly I’ve been out of the loop recently but it does seem to be a bit on the odd side.

Of course, years ago, it always used to be the Gloucester Arms where Greenwich’s LGBT community used to drink, before it was taken over by INC and revamped several dozen times (it’s currently the Greenwich Tavern, though briefly, of course, this time last year, the Gold & Saddle).

Not as many times as the poor old Cricketers, though, which was where INC tried to move their former regulars when they turfed them out of the Gloucester. It was ‘transformed’ into the ghastly Powder Monkey and rightly shunned by a traditionally pretty quiet community – being gay doesn’t make you totally devoid of taste. (The poor old place went on to attempt to be a tiki bar, catering for Greenwich’s thousands of South Sea Island ex-pats, a rave joint, a chill-out lounge and a very smelly fish & chip shop before finally becoming home to Goddard’s pie shop.)

So for years the Rose & Crown, on the corner of Nevada Street and Crooms Hill, became home to LGBT folk wanting to drink together. It was never ‘exclusively’ gay – always a healthy thing  in my humble, but it was fun, friendly and welcoming.

Until it wasn’t. New landlord, new regimen. For a while the R&C wasn’t as ‘gay-friendly’ as before, so many LGBT people hoofed it up Royal Hill to the Prince of Greenwich, which used to be the Prince Albert.

Keeping up? Wish I was…

The the R&C changed its mind. It’s now got another new manager and is actively wooing LGBT drinkers back, though without what Steve, who’s been trying to explain all this to me calls ‘the bells and whistles,’ to make it more ‘inclusive.’  TBH I never found the old R&C un-inclusive, personally.

So now the community’s split.

And – in many ways why not? I mean not all of Greenwich’s straight drinkers pile into one single pub. Perhaps it’s good to have choice – ultimately it may make both places even better by keeping them on their toes with promotions and events. But what promotions?

How about a drag race – that’ll keep people on their toes (or heels…)

The traditional Greenwich Drag Race has been going, according to the Metro Centre website, for eight years. I’m a bit puzzled by that as I am sure I covered the first one and I’ve only been going for seven years, but maybe I just went to it, in those prehistoric times before I started scrawling about my experiences.

The race always used to start at the Rose & Crown, but more recently it’s been at the Prince of Greenwich. And there’s no change there – this year’s will start at the Prince on 14th September and usual rules apply:

Participants must wear drag and Drag Queens are required to wear a heel of at least 2 inches. Drag Kings must sport facial hair. Prizes will be awarded for the winning Drag King and Drag Queen of the race as well as the best drag ensembles and most money raised.

This year it has a Latin Fiesta theme.

But Que Pasa? Uneasy lies the wig that wears the crown.

For this Saturday, the 10th August, the Rose & Crown are holding a rival Street Party – with, among cabaret acts, music, food and drink, their own drag race. Calling itself ‘the original drag race’, this one is officially named for Michael Joyce, the founder of Greenwich’s alternative marathon, who died in a car accident four years ago.

Less ‘blood on the carpet’, more ‘beer on the sequins.’

What’s a drag queen or king to do? There’s only one thing, really…


Why not – they’re both for charities worth supporting (Metro Centre and Help for Heroes), both look like great fun and both important parts of Greenwich life. There’s no point knocking heads together here, this is the kind of storm in a D-cup that will sort itself out in time, and in the meanwhile, there’s twice the fun to be had for the rest of us.

See you Saturday…and on the 14th Sept.

Save Lewisham Hospital Fundraiser

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Now – I don’t normally do this sort of thing. It would normally go in the Parish News, but I understand there’s been a monumental bog-up, so just this once I’m putting this on the front page.

So – there’s a fundraiser this Thursday Evening to help in the campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital. Everything’s arranged, the venue’s brilliant (Davy’s Wine Vaults – I am a big fan of their cellar bar), the disco’s polishing the 45s, the auction is full of juicy items, the merchandise stall is groaning….

…and they’ve just realised that the link to buy tickets was broken.

So I’ve been asked to let you know where you CAN get your hands on tickets…

The event is THIS THURSDAY (11th July 2013) from 7:00pm at DAVYS WINE VAULTS in Greenwich (right next to Greenwich Rail Station).

The tickets are £10 each ALL of which is donated to the campaign.

You can buy tickets in advance at (here is is again as a link) you can also pay on the door, but there’s limited capacity.

The Queen’s Paper House

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Okay – so I know this doesn’t look like a house and you know it doesn’t look like a house, but this is the University of Greenwich’s School of Architecture so you have to cut them some slack.

A paper landscape of real and fictitious structures constructed from paper and air, the Paper House is part of the London Festival of Architecture and looks, apparently, to underlying mathematical systems underpinning the Palladian and Modernist Villa. It’s a proposal for a giant inflatable structure as a temporary annex, extension and theatrical masque to Inigo Jones’s Queens House.

I’ll buy ‘temporary annex’ and ‘extension’. Not quite so sure that the concept of its being a ‘theatrical masque’ wears so well, though if they’d care to hold a theatrical masque inside it, I’ll go. Actually, I’m going anyway as the stuff that’s being organised looks really interesting.

No need to tell you where this 9X9X9m cube’s going to be, but you might like to know that it’s made from paper and 729m3 of air and will be full of said air between 11.0am and 4.00pm Friday 7th – Sunday 9th June.

The somewhat frustrating press release (on a non-interactive PDF – PR folks everywhere – JUST DON’T DO IT! CUT-AND-PASTE IS YOUR FRIEND!) fails to give a website where you can find more details about some amazing-looking events from the University, but after a lot of faff, I discovered that you can trawl through the Calendar for the London Festival of Archtiecture to find them.

I will just highlight one thing that looks very interesting and which you HAVE to book for (and sooner rather than later, ok?):

It’s a tour of the new buildings at Stockwell Street. 10 people at each of these times: 9.00, 10.00, 11.00 and 12.00, on Saturday 8th June, will get the opportunity to see the site, nose around what’s there so far and hear about what’s happening next. I’d quote the architects, Heneghan Peng, but I’ve had it with switching between documents for one day. To book, email

Okay, so I got out of the wrong side of the Phantom bed this morning, but seriously, this looks worth doing. Wade your way through the programme, there’s good stuff on.

Aston Martin Concours d’Etat

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I didn’t know that this was on yesterday – must be seriously losing my touch. But both Stephen and Mike attended the Aston Martin Owners’ Club Concours d’Etat yesterday (don’t you just love that it’s called that? Reliant Robin owners are just as keen but they call their shindigs plain old ‘rallies’) and I at least have photos to share…

I love this 1959 DB3 but by all accounts there was much to choose from. Stephen reckons there must have been about 250 Astons there, sadly I wasn’t so I don’t know.

I am, like Stephen, particulaly taken with the toolkit for the DB3 – which includes a rather alarming hammer – for loosening the wheel nuts, aparently, rather than for duffing up henchmen.

It appears to have been used rather a lot.

Stephen’s favourite – and I suspect mine, too – is this fabulous 1948 Lagonda coupe:

If you, like myself, are fed up you missed it, here’s Mike’s video of the event…

Wassail/ Twelfth Night / Plough Monday

Friday, January 4th, 2013

I’ve been very bad about the Parish News recently – I have stuff to tell you but not the time to do it. Hopefully I’ll get round to it soon, but in the meanwhile I need to mention three not-terribly-old but very traditional things that are happening this weekend.

Firstly Wassail at the East Greenwich Pleasaunce. If you’ve been following the new fruit trees in the park, planted by the Friends, you may already know about it, but if you don’t mind a bit of (very light) work it’s open to all.

Wassailing traditionally involves hailing fruit trees – waking them up ready for the new season and scaring away evil spirits, and this seems to be a lovely way of welcoming the trees properly. I’m not sure they’re having a Wassail King and Queen but there’s plenty else going on. They’re mulching the trees with woodchip at 11.30am on Sunday  6th Jan, then from midday, it’s more fun – music, stories, poems and locally-pressed cider from Orchard Press in Charlton.  If cider’s not your bag, then Lizzie at Pistacchios cafe will be doing all the usual hot drinks and food, plus mulled wine.

Of course Twelfth Night is actually the evening of the 5th of January (I think it has something to do with the day starting at dawn in the medieval calendar) but the Lion’s Part will be at Bankside as usual for the Twelfth Night Celebrations at the Globe from 2.45pm. If that doesn’t sound very ‘Greenwich,’ then my tenuous link to it is Fowler’s Molly, local Morris dancers who will be dancing at the George Inn when the event reaches there – probably about 3.30pm. If you’ve not experienced it, it’s well worth wrapping up and going along. I’m a big fan of the storytelling in the George afterwards.

If making it all the way into London Bridge just seems that little bit too much like hard work, Fowlers Molly will be celebrating Plough Monday much more locally, starting at the Ashburnham Arms, Ashburnham Place, meeting from 7.30pm to dance at around 8pm, moving on to the Morden Arms (while it’s still around, though I understand planning permission for flats there has now been refused) to dance around 8.45pm. They finish at the Tolly (Richard I), Royal Hill dancing around 9.30pm.

Stargazing Live – Free

Friday, November 30th, 2012

This would normally go in the Parish News but I understand tickets will be snapped up rather fast.

If you enjoy the BBC’s Stargazing Live you’re in luck. It’s back in the New Year and Greenwich is hosting a stellar event that means that you can get into the park AFTER DARK!!

It’s designed to encourage everyone – from the complete beginner to the enthusiastic amateur – to make the most of the night sky.

It’s on Thursday 10th January 2013 from 6pm-9.30pm at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. and there will be Planetarium shows throughout the evening up the hill in the Royal Observatory too.

It’s going to include thing for all levels of experience and all ages, including planetarium shows, live stargazing, telescope surgeries and astrophotography workshops from the Flamsteed Astronomy Society as well as Mission X activities from the NASA and UK Space Agency programme. Royal Observatory astronomers will be on hand to answer questions and perform space demos including meteorite handling; and there’s the opportunity to learn about the Mars Curiosity landing from a panel of Open University and UCL experts.

For opera lovers, there’s a sneak preview of Laika the Spacedog, English Touring Opera’s new space opera, step through a Lego universe, and have preflight health checks by the Classroom Medics plus the traditional ‘lots more.’

Entry is free but this is a ticketed event. Tickets will be available from TODAY Friday, November 30th at 6pm until midnight on Tuesday 11th December from the BBC Shows and Tours website. Tickets will be allocated by random draw.

Open House London

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

An Exlusive Insight into 100 Architecturally Inspiring Buildings in London 

Victoria Thornton,  Ebury Publishing, £25

We’re nearly at that time of year again, folks. The time where we can poke into places we’re not normally allowed near, see inside buildings that we’ve only seen the outside of and see some incredible architecture, old and new, up close, for one weekend only. I have a love-hate relationship with it – however hard I plan I always end up turning up on the wrong day being late or being the one after the last person in the queue is let in (happened with Linley Sambourne House last year – I queued for a good forty minutes, then the person in front of me got in and I didn’t. To add insult to injury she turned and smirked at me. Bah…)

We’ve talked about Open House weekend so many times – had long discussions about things in Greenwich we’d like to see opened and even tried the odd campaign to see that happen.

Greenwich is pretty poorly served for openings – just two pages in the catalogue and many of them are places that would be open anyway. Not that I’m knocking anywhere that chooses to open their doors for this incredible event – a heartfelt thank you to all of them. I’ll do my pick of the openings at the end of today’s post. But there are places I would love to persuade to open their doors too.

One I keep meaning to contact is Our Lady Star of the Sea on Crooms Hill – a church I understand has Pugin interiors. Yes. I’ll put that on my list for pestering next year. You can see the lovely White Dog of Crooms HIll at the same time if you’re lucky. She’ll be feeling lonely now the paths are open again in the park…

I did try to get the roof of the Observatory opened a few years ago – they said they’d think about it, and that’s the last I heard of it, hint, hint.

Forget the Observation Tower at Greenwich Borough Hall. Several Phantomites have had upleasant encounters with the letting agency who have no intention of allowing anyone at all up there, ever. Why Greenwich Council ever gave that up I still don’t know. It’s an observation tower, built for the people,  from which only the pigeons have a view.

I’ve lost count of the number of different places I’ve written to to try to get power station tours – never with any luck at all – it seems such a missed opportunity for a place that most people think is closed down (I get a lot of emails from people suggesting this derelict hulk be turned into an art gallery/peformance space/shopping mall)  to become part of the community but I’ve had virtually no repsonse.

The closest I got to an answer was mutterings of ‘security issues’ – but I don’t buy that. There are much higher profile buildings (including strategic-industrial) quite happy to do tours. My problem is that I’ve never been able to pin down the guy (or gal) who could actually make a decision and I’m passed around jobsworths who don’t want to stick their necks out.  Maybe next year we could have a concerted effort together – anyone know the exact person we need to talk to?

My final wishlist ‘want’ is the fabulous Rotunda -Nash-designed, incredible history, odd construction methods – and absolutely locked up.

But that’s enough of what we can’t see. Before I go onto what we can, I really want to talk about the book that’s come out celebrating the event. It’s not cheap, but it is beautiful, and one of those books that you’d want as a physical presence, rather than on your Kindle.

A hardcover, full-colour exploration of the kind of buildings open across London, it features heavily the modern, achitect-led constructions rather than the historic ones I tend to graduate towards. The great thing about this is that, flicking through, I find myself fascinated by them – my eye doesn’t really catch listings in the brochure about modern buildings, but seeing a photo of a particularly odd/innovative design makes me want to read the write-up and the write-up makes me want to see the real thing. Often the sculptures inside very large, airy atriums pull me in more than the buildings themselves.

Obviously other people’s homes are particularly nose-worthy and the ones in this book are, for the most part sleek, smooth and design marvels, especially the ones created in teeny spaces, using innovative technology. But how on earth would you live in such places? Don’t these people have clutter? I note that at least one place has children living in it. HOW? Where are the books? The toys? The papers? The mess? The crayons? Those poor kids…

There’s only one actual Greenwich place in the book  - if you’ve never been to Greenwich Yacht Club, it’s worth a sneak around there, and reading the background to it and the GMV, but there are close things – such as the extraordinary cathedral of sewage, Crossness (never been? Go!) and the very wonderful Trinity Buoy Wharf – so near, and once, so far – now a little easier to visit thanks to the cable car. It’s also worth checking out Marlborough House in Pall Mall to see the loot from the greatest act of Royal vandalism Greenwich has known. Both are discussed in the book.

So -onto my Greenwich recommendations for the 22/23 September this year:

Blackheath House – I don’t know this, but I think I read it’s recently been listed. I may be wrong.

Charlton House – owned by the council and thus pretty empty, but the panelling, fireplaces, ceilings etc remain and are majestic.

Devonport Mausoleum – you can get pretty close to this anyway these days but I’m hoping to be allowed inside the fencing.

Dreadnought Library – I’ve never seen this – I always seem to turn up on the wrong day – but it’s apparently a good example of new within old.

Eltham Lodge – make sure you’re in plenty of time for this fabulous old mansion – I arrived on the stroke of 12.30 and was unceremoniously (and quite rudely) kicked out.

Greenwich Heritage Centre – nice place, not really sure why it’s on the list – it’s always open.

Greenwich Yacht Club – definitely worth a nose for the stilts alone.

Old Royal Naval College – the tours you normally have to pay for are free.

Queens House – absolutely seminal building – again, not sure why it’s on the list, being open all the time (except during the Olympics, natch) but deffo worth seeing if you’ve not been inside yet (where have you been? )

Ravensbourne – an utterly amazing building from the outside – one of my faves, but rather dull inside.

Ruins of Garrison Church, RA Barracks – normally only able to be squinted at through iron gates, worth a view.

Sevendroog Castle – Supeb views and well worth the long queue, not least for the mouldings (and mould) on the inside. Sponsor a brick while you’re waiting; I hope to see it reopen as a tea room and observation tower sometime in my lifetime.

St Alfege Church – book one of their Crypt tours and see the tombs of General Wolfe, Thos. Tallis and Lavinia Fenton.

Call: 020 8853 0687

St Mary Magdalene School – I don’t know this one.

St Saviour’s Church, Eltham – ditto

Station Officers’ Mess, RA Barracks –  If this is the cute bit in the middle, it’s well worth joining a tour.

Thames Barrier and Information Centre  - not sure this is particularly worth it – the REALLY interesting bit is the barrier itself and that bit’s not open.

The Coronet Cinema, Eltham – in the middle of some serious change – probably worth seeing while it’s still at least partially there.

Tudor Barn – a beautiful place.

Woolwich Town Hall - I’ve only ever been in the foyer – it’s on my list for this year.

Enjoy Open House Weekend, folks.

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.

Pun-Free Jubilee Headline

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I’ve had a lot of questions about the Jubilee celebrations in Greenwich and, not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I’ve been directing people to the council websites’s Jubilee Page and it’s worth reading to the bottom to find out the answer to Pat’s question:

I read that the Bank Holiday celebrations in RNC will end with the opportunity to see the flotilla on the Thames which sounds very exciting!

BUT on the official flotilla website it would appear that the ships/boats will not be coming down as far as Greenwich terminating at Tower Bridge, I think.

Any idea what we might hope to see down here in dear old Greenwich?

Pat’s right – the official flotilla will terminate at Tower Bridge, but some of the ships will continue down to Greenwich, including that nutty floating belfry:

“The elements of the flotilla reaching Greenwich will be led by the belfry barge and will be made up by the Gloriana rowed barge, 10 rowing boats on their way to London Yard, 55 sea cadet boats going to Greenwich Yacht Club, 250 historic, recreational and working squadrons, 8 herald music boats, 10 Thames Clippers going to Greenwich Pier.”

So if you don’t want to brave temperatures of 11° and twenty-deep crowds in town, it could well be worth going to Greenwich around 5.00pm for an hour’s worth of ships going by (thought don’t bother going to the official pageant website for more information as the council site suggests; there’s nothing there at all) on their way home – I’m assuming a fair few of them will have left their kit at the various rowing/boating/yachting clubs around here.

Happy Jubilee-ing!