Saturday, 8 April 2017

No.4 & No.67 Westow Hill

The Triangle's range of fantastic independent shops, cafes and restaurants is one of the reasons I started this blog. And I'm glad to say, that six years on, local businesses seem to be thriving. Smash Bang Wallop has just this week celebrated it's 10th birthday, while Joanna's has reached the grand old age of 39, so congratulations to both! Meanwhile, sadly, Mandy Raven decided to shut shop, and head for new adventures on the south coast. Glitter & Twisted was a local favourite, and will be much missed. 
There seems to have been no shortage of new openings lately, and we will soon be seeing two more. No.67 Westow Hill has changed a few times over the years. When I first moved to the area, it was part of a Budgens store, before becoming Betty's Bakery. Now work is under way on an exciting new venue called Salt & Pickle, a new project for Manish of Good Taste just along the road. It will be a licensed cafe/bar featuring all things pickled and cured. It's scheduled to open at the end of May, and I for one can't wait! You can keep up to date with their plans via Instagram and Twitter @saltandpickle.

At the other end of the street, No.4 is the brainchild of Tine Bladbjerg, the jeweller currently based in Cooper's Yard. She has taken on this former internet cafe next to the Sparrowhawk pub, to house not only her jewellery shop and workshop, but also to serve as a gallery for the work of other local makers. The store is to be called À L'Étage 2, and should also be open very soon. Watch these spaces!

Tine Bladbjerg

Friday, 31 March 2017

Tractor Factory - Jake Dunn Designs -

A tractor factory, in Crystal Palace? Seriously? Well, not exactly, but believe it or not, until quite recently, No.69 Church Road was the location of a company which bought and sold farm machinery. I always wondered what the story behind this was, as it just seemed so improbable. Apparently they used to buy up old tractors and recondition them, for sale to farmers in developing countries. And it wasn't the only unusual shop in the area. As someone reminded me, there's somewhere else along Church Road selling old shop tills, and does anyone have any idea what exactly Dohm Industries on Gipsy Hill makes or sells? Something to do with scientific instruments I believe.
Anyway, since 2013, the former tractor shop has been home to Jake Dunn Designs. You can't fail to have noticed the colourful window displays, which currently feature, three oversized, spray painted skulls, and a couple of chickens. So although Jake is predominantly a carpenter and furniture maker, it comes as no surprise that among other things, he used to design and builds sets, for stage and traveling trade fairs. Originally from the beautiful Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, Jake spent many years working in California, before landing in Southeast London nearly a decade ago. Beyond the random skulls, chickens, an old Sinclair C5, and a pair of slot machines, the space displays Jake's colourful furniture designs, from stools, side tables and coat racks, right up to built in shelving, cupboards, and a DJ station. The shop is the outward manifestation of Jake's creative mind, brimming with ideas and inspiration, mixing his own creations with stuff he picks up here and there. Just talking to him, you get a sense of someone with boundless energy and enthusiasm for what he does, and someone contented with life above the shop, on the edge of the Triangle, with his workshop out the back and its views across Kent. Having said that however, as we are talking, I become aware of one fly in the ointment. Jake is understandably concerned by the huge trucks which squeeze along this narrow stretch of the Triangle. In the past, he has tried to take matters into his own hands, putting up a 20mph speed limit sign outside the building, but naturally the authorities took a dim view. But it seems that it may not be a truck that takes out this corner, but rather, yet another new development of flats. I feel sure however, that should that happen, Jake will quickly find a new outlet for his creativity.


Jake with some of his smaller creations

Impressed with Jake's work, I commissioned him recently to make a radiator cover for the hall in my flat. I was really pleased with the result. As well as hiding a fairly unsightly storage heater, it also provided much needed storage for shoes.

Tractor Factory
69 Church Road
020 8771 2435

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Mosasaurus and other creatures

Until I first ventured on to Dino island, I had no knowledge of the mosasaur's existence. Hidden away on the far side by the weir, he is partially submerged, and up until the latest round of conservation, was barely visible through the abundant undergrowth. He has now emerged, looking splendid in his eye-catching green scales, next to the brand new weir.
This latest phase of work, was not just about conservation, but also involved some major engineering. The lake had to be drained, as the focus of the conservation was on the semi-submerged creatures, and a temporary barrage and bridge were installed, so that the new weir could be constructed. Undertaken by Skillingtons Workshop Ltd., who had successfully worked on the 6 sphinxes, progress during the winter months was slow, with all work having to stop during periods of heavy frost. You may have spotted some of the sculptures wrapped in bright blue tarpaulin for their protection. Now that the wraps are off, the impressive work of the conservation team, headed by Mark Porter, contrasts starkly with the remaining unrestored beasts, but will hopefully spur on the fundraising for the additional £800,000 required to complete the restoration programme. 

I made several trips over to the island to document the works, starting last october.

Dino dentistry

Pedro Jimenez working on a Teleosaurus

Elizabeth Esteban Teruelo working on the Ichthyosaurus

Mark Porter attending to a Plesiosaurus

Weeds sprouting from one of the sculptures

Mark pointing out the rusting inner framework

The fibre glass head of the Plesiosaurus would have been added during the last restoration programme, 15 years or so ago

Catarina Ramalho

December 2016

Mosasaurus with new nose and colourful coat

The barrage

Temporary bridge to the island

The new weir

February 2017

And finally, my most recent visit to the park, was to see the newly installed signs and information boards.