Saturday, 28 November 2009
Supper Club trend hits West End Lane
West Hampstead's discerning diners were at The Wet Fish Café on Monday night for the restaurant's first supper club. A few tweeters were present to sample the food including @mayfield22: "Andre the owner explained how he wanted to bring together local residents who enjoy food and wine in a more sociable atmosphere than usual. It worked; six of us at my end of the table quickly introduced ourselves and got on with setting West Hampstead and the world to rights."
Each course was paired with a wine. The fish stew was outstanding - and a little too robust for the Spanish white from Monterrei. The main course of duck confit was paired with a Bordeaux-style red introduced by a wine specialist who surprised everyone by announcing it was an Israeli wine. Service was friendly and efficient, and the kitchen coped remarkably well with delivering great food to 35 of us simultaneously.
@lulupho also raved about the evening, "I had a fantastic time," she said. "I've asked Andre to put a bottle of the Israeli wine aside for my next boozy lunch there.“ The community spirit is flourishing in West Hampstead. Read more about the event on the blog.
Jubilee Line delays continue to 2010
Inevitably, we learned that the Jubilee Line engineering works were going to overrun. Tube Lines (the contractor) and TfL argued the toss over who is to blame, but residents are forced to face 10 more weekends of disruption. The Bakerloo Line is the next to have long-term work, and we can only hope that we never get the Jubilee, Bakerloo and Metropolitan lines all down on the same day. LibDem PPC @edfordham was forthright in his view, while @dasilvajums mused as to how the rail replacement services affected TfL's carbon footprint.
Tuesday's West Hampstead ward meeting presented another opportunity for FCC and Network Rail to hear locals’ concerns about the new ticket office although apparently the session did not cover the topic. Instead, rail representatives were available for discussion before the meeting started.
Belsize ward, meanwhile, focused on more crucial matters. #whamptravel
Tweeters are concerned about Karahi Master on West End Lane. If anyone has the lowdown, do let us know. The racing green empty property at 149 Broadhurst Gardens is being refitted. This quickly triggered the usual reaction to any possible new retail operation. A call to the agents revealed the truth.
That news didn't sit well with everyone. A reminder that there's also a whisky & cigar shop opening in Broadwell Parade, raising the prospect of a fragrant walk to the tube for local residents.
The new supermarket at 194 Broadhurst Gardens is yet to open, but signs have gone up revealing some of the treats that wait in store. #whampshop
First Whamplunch finds the mark
For locals around during the day, the first #whamplunch took place at David's Deli on Thursday. @bubela gives us the lowdown: "Whamplunch was a great success. Meeting people I had only imagined when reading their tweets was fun, and the group of six gelled very well. The food couldn't be faulted and the friendly owner kindly donated freebie felafels (+dip), which were much appreciated.” The next #whamplunch is December 16th at The Alice House. Please let @WHampstead know if you'd like to come. #whamplunch
Bizarre tweets from Elephant Walk
Hit-and-miss Sri Lankan restaurant Elephant Walk has joined Twitter. Rather than alerting followers to special offers or tempting them with photos of the food, it seems to talk the area down and focus on berating Stephen Fry. A highly individual approach to microblogging. #whampnewExciting tie-up with The Winch
We announced this week that The Winch will be our official 2010 charity. There's much more about this on the blog, and please think about how you can get involved. #whampforgood
What early Christmas present does the O2 Centre come up with? X-Factor rejects. Thanks for that.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Last night @SarahReardon and I met Paul Perkins, who is the director of The Winchester Project (aka The Winch). The Winch is a charity that focuses on kids and young people. It is based in Swiss Cottage (on Winchester Road, thus the name), but works with young people from all over this part of NW London and beyond.
You can read much more about how it helps people on its website, but very broadly it has three streams: "Play" for kids aged 4–12, "Youth" for 12–25 year-olds, and "Sport", which cuts across all age groups. The Youth stream is about engaging with young people and helping their development in all manner of ways through workshops, training and general support.
The Winch is not a new charity – it's been going for more than 30 years. But that doesn't mean that it has everything figured out. Like all charities it relies on support from the wider community, both in terms of money and time.
That's where we come in. I hope! I'd like to make The Winch our WHampstead charity for 2010.
I am absolutely NOT about to ask you all to dip into your wallets. Although of course any donations would be more than welcome. What I am asking for is your time. Yes, that's a bigger commitment than money, but also a far more rewarding one and it's up to you how big or small you want that commitment to be – whatever it is you can guarantee it will be warmly appreciated.
There are two big areas in which people can get involved. One is volunteering to work directly with young people. The other – and I can't stress enough that this is at least as important – is volunteering to help on the administrative side. This covers everything from PR to fundraising to design to planning to... well, the list really does go on and on.
Maybe you have a talent for negotiating sponsorship deals from blue-chip corporates; maybe your company would like to offer a young person a supported work placement; maybe you're really interested in Health & Safety issues (someone must be?!); maybe you're a fantastic events organiser. These are the sorts of skills they need. Or maybe you want to get involved on the sports side – The Winch is especially keen on promoting sports for girls at the moment, so maybe you'd be interested in supporting that.
Between us I reckon we must have an enormous range of personal and professional skills that we can bring to the table. So let's do it. Let's show that the buzz of having a community extends just a tad further than drinks at the Alice House and grumbling about the Jubilee Line.
What next? Well, I guess have a think. Have a think about what you might be interested in doing, what contacts you have that might be useful, what sort of time commitment appeals to you (if it's volunteering for half a day at a one-off event that's fantastic. If it's seeking to join a working group on fundraising that's fantastic too). Oh, and follow @the_winch. In January, it's holding an open day. Come along to that; meet some of the other volunteers. Most importantly meet some of the young people. Between now and then drop me any ideas you have (DM me to get my e-mail if you don't have it already). Or of course contact The Winch directly – you don't have to go through me, I'm simply trying to get the ball rolling and am happy to help coordinate some of this to the extent that that is helpful. In the meantime Sarah and I will be finding out a bit more about the precise, pragmatic ways in which the whampcommunity may be able to help. So there'll be more information to follow.
I hope that's covered the basics. A few FAQs:
I really don't think I have anything to offer, but I'd like to get involved?
Great. You may well have more to offer than you think, but at the very minimum being prepared to help out at events would be great. Have a think about your work skills and your personal interests and how those might be relevant in running an organisation or in motivating and inspiring someone.
The whole charity thing isn't my scene. Are you going to be banging on about this for ever now and will I be ostracised for not being interested?
Hell no. The whole #whamp thing is supposed to be fun – a way to meet people locally and be sociable (and eat and drink). I know not everyone is interested, and that's absolutely fine. Nor will I be constantly going on about it. From time to time I'll promote events or maybe ask for more specific help but there's no way I expect everyone, or even a majority of people to end up getting involved. All other whampness will continue as normal!
Is it ok just to make a large anonymous donation but not spend any time on this?
You bet. Go to the website, or just send 'em a cheque.
What about a small donation?
See above. Everything is extremely welcome.
What happens in 2011? Are we just going to walk away?
Obviously not. For the moment I'm thinking the idea of a charity to support for a full year is a good concrete one. It's very likely that at the end of the year we just continue the relationship and anyway volunteers can do whatever they want to do! We may add another charity for 2011 if any of us are still doing the whole Twitter thing. But I'd like to think that some of us will be so involved with The Winch by then that it won't even be a question.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. All thoughts, feedback, comments welcome.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Thirty five guests arrived on a blustery Monday evening to sit at two long candlelit tables for the ultimate dinner party. Andre the owner explained how he wanted to bring together local residents who enjoy food and wine in a more sociable atmosphere than usual. It worked; six of us at my end of the table quickly introduced ourselves and got on with setting West Hampstead and the world to rights.
Each course was paired with a wine starting with a delicate fish stew paired with a white wine from Monterrei in Spain. The main course was introduced by a wine specialist who challenged us to taste and guess the red wine selected to pair with the upcoming duck confit. My companions guessed the Bordeaux style but were pleasantly surprised to hear it was from Israel. Dessert was delicious; a modern, light interpretation of trifle. Some of my table thought the rosé wine jelly too bitter, I disagreed but found the accompanying Australian pink Moscato too sweet.
As always the serving team were super friendly and along with the kitchen coped remarkably well with delivering great food to 35 of us at the same time. I think the music could have been quieter so that people could hear one another better across the tables but I think it’s a great idea and hope another will be planned in the not too distant future.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
(Click here for the one-page PDF version)
Accidents, Algerians and aggrieved locals... It must be #whamptravel
The challenges of getting to, from and around this part of London have once again dominated the local chat. Digest came out too early last week to catch the news of another traffic accident involving a bus on West End Lane.
Calls to change the traffic system came in, with suggestions of zebra crossings near Tesco's. Perhaps, however, West Hampstead should be more cutting edge and take the approach that is gaining traction across Europe of Shared Space. The idea is to de-segregate road and pavement users. This might seem counter-intuitive but, where the idea has been implemented, the statistics show that there are fewer accidents because everyone (and especially drivers) tends to be more cautious. It is not a scheme that will work everywhere of course but perhaps West End Lane, which already has slowish traffic, could be a good testing ground. Already there is a campaign to bring the idea to Hampstead.
The other excitement of last weekend was that the Metropolitan Line made its inaugural stop at Willesden Green (which it will now do on weekends when Jubilee Line is shut ). Thanks to @PkerUNO for the photograph. Of course this weekend both lines were down. Plus ça change.
Wednesday evening was football evening, and demonstrated neatly the evolving nature of Kilburn’s population. Early on in the evening, Algeria beat Egypt to qualify for the World Cup, and immediately messages began to appear about honking horns on the Edgware Road and Kilburn High Road. A few hours later when Ireland were denied the chance of a penalty shootout by the hand of Thierry Henry, there was nothing but silence from the traditional Irish enclave, once affectionately known as County Kilburn.First Capital Connect is never far from the news at the moment. Its timetable continues to be a work of fiction as staff work to rule. It has got to the stage where questions are being asked in Parliament.
To add to FCC’s woes, there is now a late-stage minor revolt about the proposed new station on Iverson Road. @joe_sayegh spotted this article in the Ham & High about residents arguing that the plans will remove parking bays and destroy the embankment. There will be a meeting on Tuesday, but Digest’s readers were largely unsympathetic.
The plans are exempt from requiring planning permission, and the company will argue that it has made efforts to liaise with the local community using measures such as the drop-in meeting at the library a few weeks ago. Is this going to run and run? It seems a certainty that there will be a station on Iverson Road, but will residents manage to gain any further concessions? #whamptravel
Remembering the place of politics
Electioneering at public ceremonies of remembrance is frowned upon. Both Brown and Cameron have apologised for the photographers at Westminster Abbey to capture their appearances at what should be an apolitical event.
Old news for Camdenites. A council hoo-ha kicked up after Lib Dem PPC Jo Shaw was accused of muscling in on the borough’s Remembrance Sunday event and filming it. She issued a statement saying she would not be using the film for party political purposes and emphasizing her per-sonal connection to the armed forces.
Adding fuel to the fire, Lib Dem PPC (Hampstead & Kilburn) @edfordham posted footage of himself at an Armistice Day ceremony in West Hampstead on his You Tube channel. This incurred the ire of both Tory and Labour representatives alike.
Ed replied, but never explained what the facts to be checked were. See @RichardOsley’s blog for more.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Literati on the Lane
Most of West Hampstead seemed to be squeezed into West End Lane Books on Thursday evening for Phyllida Law’s reading from her new book Notes to My Mother-in-Law. Several local actors were present along with the author of some people’s book of the year, Me Cheeta.
As well as some lovely back-chat with daughter Emma Thompson, Phyllida shared her views on living in the area for many decades, regretting the loss of fresh fish shops and butchers, but of course happy with the excellent book shop. #whampculture
Every which way but home
For once the tube was in everyone’s good books this week following the announcement that the Metropolitan Line would stop at Willesden Green when the Jubilee Line was closed for engineering works. A victory for Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather.
Anger shifted to the rail network with First Capital Connect's timetable collapsing into disarray as staff worked to rule. First Capital Connect has agreed to compensate some affected passengers. Details on the website.
Saturday saw traffic chaos outside the O2 centre as a combination of lane closures and a broken-down car led to lengthy delays. @allaboutcarl kept us all updated.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Ever since Camden council closed the Primrose Hill fireworks, locals have had to make more effort to go and see a decent organized display (although some people still just keep coming to Primrose Hill armed only with ignorance and the phone number of the New Journal).
Two hours later, the sporadic distribution of fireworks hadn’t changed. In just 8 minutes Digest received these three:
Glo's temporary closure has become permanent. The West Hampstead branch has been dropped from the company's website and then a To Let sign went up in the window a couple of days later. Glo always seems to have struggled with its confused menu and slightly odd location. It was rarely full, and must have competed with the ever-popular and good value Banana Tree just up the road.
The local Twitterverse got all excited at the prospect of a new shop replacing the convenience store opposite the Thameslink entrance.
Wednesday morning got off to a bad start.
Cycle accidents in London are on the rise, as more of us turn to two wheels in the wake of high public transport ticket prices. Ride carefully! #whamptravel
The Jubilee Line was open south of West Hampstead this Sunday. Digest urged readers to make the most of it.
But Councillor Keith Moffitt quietly dropped a bombshell earlier in the week. Details were not forthcoming. I think we all dread to imagine. #whamptravel
Thursday, 5 November 2009
What he could tell me, however, is that there is planning permission for retail, restaurant, and gym use (A1, A3 and D2 if you're a planning geek). And that there is a clear recognition that there is not the footfall to attract big mainstream chains. The aim is to "create something special," and it sounds like there may be a collection of different outlets rather than, say, one big retailer.
It's going to be 3–4 weeks before the first transactions are completed, at which time I should find out exactly what is moving in.
So, no definite news, but an indication of the direction things are taking.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Thursday Nov 5: an informal trip to Roundwood Park in Willesden to see the fireworks. By which I mean, I'm going and if anyone wants to come along - or meet in Willesden - then let me know. Fireworks start at 8pm.
Wednesday Nov 11: #whampreview. FULLY BOOKED. The first #whampreview dinner at the Czech & Slovak National House. Keep an eye on twitter for details of the next one, but it probably won't be until the New Year now as places switch to their Christmas menus.
Thursday Dec 10: #whampgather. The second edition of NW London's premier tweet-up. Once again The Alice House is hosting, and there should be some free food and wine (details tbc). Starts at 7.30pm and we have the sofa space at the back reserved. There'll be the chance to win dinner for two at The Wet Fish Café. Everyone welcome (it's a mixed crowd, so no-one should feel out of place). By all means just turn up but, to give us a good idea of numbers for our conversations with the venue, it would be really helpful if you could let me know whether you're planning to come (quite a lot of you already have, which is great).
Tuesday Dec 15: #whampcarol. Still being finalised, but a small band will be playing Christmas music on West End Lane that evening. We'll be collecting money for charity, and mince pies (and maybe mulled wine!) should be available. Watch this space for more information as we sort out the details.
November/December: #whamplunch. Dates to be decided, but expect 2-3 of these mini-whampreviews to be happening before the end of the year for people who are around West Hampstead during the day. Very open to suggestions as to where to go.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Updates to Newcommers [sic]
The unit next to the florists may not be empty for long. There’s an application in for it to become a whisky and cigar shop. It’s seeking a license to open until 10pm even on Sundays.
More alcohol in West Hampstead? Perhaps a good thing that the Camden housing advice centre by the tube station (currently unused) is destined to be a Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhoods unit. This is intended to be a base for PCSOs rather than a place to charge/hold members of the public.