Tuesday, 19 April 2011

All of a Hither

Over a year ago I wrote about the delightful little corner of London that I call home - Hither Green in the borough of Lewisham. It's become one of my most-read posts, with people apparently stumbling across it when researching the area as a possible place to live (not that any of my posts are massively well-read - and none are as popular as the one I wrote about the chap who wears a pyramid on his head, but I'll save that ongoing story for another time). So I thought I'd write a bit of an update to that post to share some other cool things that are popping up in the area.

Manor House Gardens. OK, not strictly speaking Hither Green, but very very close

The main news: Hither Green now has its very own supper club! I went along to the inaugural Wattleseed supper club last weekend, and can't recommend it highly enough. The food was delicious, the hosts - Freya and Trace - were so welcoming and friendly, and it was fantastic to get to know other people in the area; plenty of local tips were shared and lots of gossip about the area was exchanged. There are two more nights lined up for May and June, and I'd urge anyone to go along if they're up for a laugh (lots of laughter, in fact) and would like to meet some fellow Hither Greeners.

Sticking to the food theme, myself and friends have taken to hitting the Hither Green streets once in a while to check out some nearby eateries. So far we've been to Spice of Life on Lee High Road, and the fantastic Villa Moura on Lee Road (yes, imaginatively-named roads in these parts).

These local jaunts have helped me to discover some great new places in the area, so earlier this month I volunteered to write a blog post for the (excellent) Londonist site, who had called out for Londoners to share ten of the best places to go and things to do in their local boroughs. I quickly volunteered for Lewisham, and very much enjoyed writing about my ten favourite places which I have discovered in the two and a half years that I've lived here. 

What many people rightly pointed out to me once the article went live is that there's a lot more to Lewisham than, errr, Lewisham, Lee and Hither Green. Indeed, had someone from, say, Brockley, written the piece instead and had focused on ten places in their locality I, too, would have jumped in and passionately defended my local hotspots. But what's great about the article is that there are now loads of other suggestions for places in the borough to eat, drink and be merry in the article itself and in the comments, so I think - despite my obvious bias to my immediate vicinity, it all worked out OK in the end. 

I like it here.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Collecting: sussed

Just before Christmas work was crazy. Then on one busy day I received an e-mail that was so unexpected that it pierced through the craziness like a laser and filled me with absolute joy.

The e-mail was from a Spanish gentleman and, in endearing broken English, he politely asked whether I might be kind enough to send him a pen. But not any old pen - it had to be a Guardian-branded pen. You see, this chap collects pens, but *only* if the pen is branded with some kind of publishing-related logo. You can check out his dedication for yourself on his meticulously-organised website, where he displays photos of every pen he possesses by country.

I dutifully popped a pen in the post, and forgot about it until this very day, when he e-mailed me to let me know that my pen had been received, logged, categorised, photographed and uploaded to his ever-growing 'Inglaterra' category. I felt strangely proud, and his pen-aticism got me thinking about the notion of 'collecting', and what drives people to do it.

I've never been much of a collector. The only time I can recall ever collecting anything was a couple of hundred or so badges, but that was only so I could get my collectors' badge at Brownies. I detest clutter, get a weird sense of satisfaction whenever I throw something away and I offload my unnecessary yet usable possessions to enthusiastic recipients on Freecycle as often as I can.

However, on the other HAND, I must confess a strange urge which I have so far kept at bay: to keep a log of all the hand dryers I have ever used in my life, and to create the definitive list of ALL hand dryers. You see, collecting actual hand dryers would be a bit OTT, and indeed HOTT. But over the years it has always astounded me how SO MANY brands and makes of hand dryers are out there (this Flickr group is great). So many, in fact, that I often wish that I had started to jot down the makes and models in some kind of book when the seed was first planted in my strange, warped mind. But I didn't, and now it's too late to start, surely? 

Flickr image - Amy Watts
I realise this is a bit of a niche area to TAP into, but I think - when it comes to collections - the more specific the better. That's why I admire our pen-collecting friend, because it has to be a certain TYPE of pen.

If you do a Google search for 'weird collections' a lot of eerie stuff comes up, most notably the dude who has collected all of his belly button fluff and stored it in jars, by decade. But there are also some pretty neat (and by this I mean both cool AND organised) collections out there.

Isn't it just wonderful how the world seems to balance itself out in terms of those of us who hate clutter, and those of us who thrive on it, and that Freecycle allows us all to co-exist in perfect harmony....

If you're still reading, I applaud you. How about you? Do you collect anything weird, or do you know anyone that does?

Monday, 3 January 2011

Two thousand and then what?

So that was the year that was. It ended very pleasantly indeed, with a wholesome trip to the countryside. May I heartily recommend paying a visit to Home Farm Slot Car Circuit if you're ever in or around Liphook in Hampshire. This was the most fun I've had in ages - and the perfect "sporting" pastime for a competitive soul such as myself who doesn't necessarily excel at physical activities. This is demonstrated by the fact that I came second in the individual stakes, and The Dunlop Duo came first out of the three sibling-based teams. We even got medals. Go there!  

And onto the 'end of the year' bit...

Last year I discovered The Mayfly Project for the first time, which encourages people to sum up the last twelve months in a mere 24 words. So, without getting too soppy or melancholy, here are my 24 words for 2010:

Secret bathroom. Two sides of the States. Change, promotion. Splitness To The Beard, drumming down. Nice drinks and dinners. Bitter? Nah. Twitter? Too much.