Ch ch changes (of use)

village

With speculation about what will replace India Jane at fever-pitch – not to mention the gnashing of teeth about the Curry Garden changing to a wine bar (hopefully) – the Radicals give you their take on the changes of use that have taken place during the time we’ve rampaged through the village.

Our system is simple: we RAG – that’s red/amber/green – each of the changes we’ve seen. The rating is our view on whether the change is for the better, worse or makes no difference.

Some of the judgements are not straight-forward: for example, one good place changing to another good place is marked as amber, such as the switch from Sisters and Daughters to Cook – both, in our view, useful things to have in the village (with the former being a rare stockist of Creed aftershave and the latter a useful source of mid-week meals).   At the same time, a change of use from one average outlet to another, such as the switch from Bella Italia to Giraffe, also receives an amber.

In contrast the change from whatever was there before (can anyone remember?) to local fishmonger Coquillage is undoubtably a positive move and so consequently recieves a green.

Anyway – let us know what you think.  What is your fantasy league of village hereditaments?

Our analysis: Ch Ch Changes (in village)

Ch Ch Changes

We’ve got a mApp for that

Apps, shnaps! Ever feel you’ve got apps coming out of your arse?

Well, though we Radicals are at the very #cuttingedge of technology, we prefer nothing better than a proper, non-virtual, map.  Combining this with our in-depth knowledge of the local area and you get the following – an indispensable set of pictorial guides to the village and beyond.

Why not print them out and take a leisurely stretch round the sites?

The village

Blackheath Pubs Map

Blackheath Pubs Map

Lee

Blackheath to Lee

Blackheath to Lee

Shooters Hill

Blackheath to Shooter's Hill Road

Blackheath to Shooter’s Hill Road

Here’s our cartography cupboard: maps

The ‘BS’ consensus

So where’s the revolution?  About what does this blog plan to revolt?  Good questions and ones which are over-due an answer.

Well, as self-declared Radicals you can imagine it’s not the size of onion bhajis in the Village Deli (the size of tennis balls if anyone’s interested – and nice with it); nor, even, the brightly lit facia of a particular village estate agent (though it does give the impression of being a bar – a disappointment every time one passes the place).   No – the revolt is about something far bigger.  It’s about the prevailing consensus view about how best to ‘protect’ the area known as Blackheath.

It goes without saying that all who live/work in the area must like it and therefore want it to be as pleasant and vibrant as possible.  And to those who devote their own time and effort to help achieve this there should be nothing but praise (plus, perhaps, preferential access to the public loos by the post office?).

However, the consensus view appears to be that the best way to achieve this is to object to all and every form of change/development/innovation that is proposed – or even hinted at.  What might be referred to as the Blackheath Society – or ‘BS’ – consensus.  As they put it“If we hadn’t spoken up over the years against the ideas, plans and proposals that have been directed towards Blackheath Village, it wouldn’t be the place it is today – one of the most popular residential areas of London!” 

No doubt the heath would now be covered in high-rise flats strewn with nappies and burnt-out Vauxhall Astras – and the village demolished to make way for a petro-chemical factory-  had it not been for the BS.  Or – perish the thought – that Number 4 Kidbrooke Grove might have a flat rather than a pitched roof extension.

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Perhaps the best (or worst) example as far as we Radicals are concerned is the continued opposition to the heath being used for concerts and events – such as the Good Hope Festival, which this blog is very excited about.  But the consensus would disagree, and have in the past gone to the courts to argue its case.

This is despite the fact that such events would undoubtedly generate more footfall and custom for village businesses.  Businesses – like our lovely pubs  – that make the village what it is.  And whose absence the self-same residents bemoan when they’re forced to close.  Due to, er, lack of custom.  Just think of the additional sales of onion bhajis!

Now we’re not proposing a thrash-metal concert every Friday night; but that’s just the point – there’s a danger in extremes.  The BS consensus represents just such an extreme.  And so maybe it’s time for a little nudge in the other direction.  Radical?  You tell us.

Talking shop

Quite a lot of change in the village at the moment.  Yes, even we Radicals notice these things and actually have rather a lot to say on the topic – so look out for further posts over the next few days.  But for now, let us break it down (whatever that means, Ed.)

Village fish & chip shop

A welcome return following a short break for refurbishment.  We can’t see much sign of refurbishment – except that the window seems to have been replaced having previously had a worryingly large crack running left to right.  But – unlike some – we Radicals are very pleased to see it back serving potato based chips and fish based fish with optional sodium chloride and acetic acid.  Not an organic olive in sight, thank goodness.

India Jane

Next door and it’s a a rather different tale.  After only a few years in business – having taken over the site previously occupied by the village video/DVD shop (yes, such a thing did once exist) – India Jane is closing down.  Purveyor of pricey trinkets and all-round loveliness, this place was never likely to be a natural haunt for your self-respecting Radical, but nonetheless it’s a sad sight to see any business in the village close.

Changes are all of a blur

Changes are all of a blur

It has to be said that at least part of the antipathy we felt towards ol’ Jane was down to her Christmas lights policy.  For some reason, this was the only shop in the village where the lights remaimed off.  La di da!   That is of course until 2013 when they were all off, but that’s another story.

Though not yet closed – and do take advantage of its 30% off closing down sale if you’re in the market for a lovely vase or two – speculation will no doubt turn to what will replace India Jane.  It’s certainly a prime location.  What do you think? Cheese shop anyone?

Curry Garden

Mmm, curry.  Mmm, wine.

Mmm, curry. Mmm, wine.

Lastly to this popular Indian restaurant.  There’s currently a planning application with Lewisham Council to change this in to a wine bar.

Planning application details

Sounds good to us – the village is well served by Indian eateries and arguably rather less so by decent wine bars.  But does anyone know if Le Bouchen is a chain?

Doubtless plenty of non-radicals will complain about ‘yet another’ (sigh) drinking establishment.  But the licensing committee has already agreed to a license on the basis that the current place serves booze.  So what’s the problem?  Feels like a trade up to us – and who knows, it may partly answer the prayers of local olive lovers…

Let us know what you think – this blog is very much open to hearing what people think and indeed, through being at times a tad provocative we hope to generate  discussion.  So, let’s have a heated debate!  Or maybe a nice sit down and pint of mild. 

Boulangerie Jade on Telebox

Well, what a great advert for Boulangerie Jade! Christophe (owner) and Joshua (pastry chef) did us proud on ITV1’s ‘Britain’s Best Bakery’ on Tuesday (catch it on itvplayer). SPOILER ALERT: the result is in the final para!

Up against Chiswick’s Outsider Tart and Haringay’s Yasher Hallim(?) Jade excelled. The first round of signature dishes saw judges Peter Sidwell and Mitch Turner claim that Jade’s Croquem bouche (‘crunch in the mouth’) pastry tower, whilst “impressive”, was not “memorable” enough. Unlike a cheesecake (I’m always disappointed by lack of stilton) from Tart and flaounes (stuffed bread) from Yasher…  Clearly a classic yet challenging bakery dish done exceptionally well is not ‘sexy’ enough for ITV’s X-bakery on ice in the jungle. Obviously this Radical is not biased – although getting hungry.

Round Two was a ‘wild card’ challenge requiring the bakers to be imaginative with flakey pastry and ricotta. Yasher got the pastry wrong and Tart the cheese wrong. All of a sudden a classic bakery, without a silly name, “nailed it” in Peter’s words with a Corne D’Aboudance (horn of plenty (titter)). The cornetto-esque flakey pastry was filled with honey, whipping cream, chopped pistachios, white chocolate and the ricotta. Jade won the round by a mile.

The final challenge was to bake 13 orange Viennese biscuits. Jade opted for a traditional finger biscuit where Tart and Yasher went for less traditional offerings. The judges had taken against ‘traditional’ in the first round so a risky strategy by Jade. Yasher was deemed to have won the round with a “refined, wonderful” biscuit. Tart’s was good. From Jade the judges (as feared) wanted something more than traditional and felt that the biscuit was slightly over-done and the flavour not balanced enough.

So, Tart won the first round, Jade the second, and Yasher the third. The winner was… Outsider Tart. But Jade was certainly not a loser. The team came across as knowledgeable and experienced,  producing high quality food that everyone can enjoy. Just the sort of bakery we want. Now, the big question: will Corne D’Abundance be featuring anytime soon?