Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Blowing Dandelion - Artisan Chocolate Cafe

Keeping out of the spotlight, in the basement of this recently opened chocolate emporium and cafe, Michaela Simova is busy putting the finishing touches to the latest batch of her beautiful handmade chocolates. Row upon row of delectable treats are being lined up on their wooden display frames, like beads on an abacus. Perhaps an unconscious nod to her former career as an accountant. After having a baby, Michaela decided she wanted to do a job that made her happy, and as she told me, "chocolate makes people smile". The name of the business, Blowing Dandelion, was also chosen to invoke happiness, and simple pleasures. Since 2011, she's been selling at markets around South London, including, Herne Hill, Greenwich, and Oval, gradually building up a devoted following. When Michaela took the plunge last year, and opened the shop and cafe, she needed someone to train her to use the coffee machine. Enter Neil Le Bihan, who was only supposed to be in for a few days of training, but has since become the cheerful smiling face of the shop and cafe. The premises, at the top of Belvedere road, is bright and welcoming. Michaela designed the space, and got local joiner, Jake Dunn, whom I hope to feature here soon, to make the rustic wooden fittings.
But back to the chocs, which are miniature works of art. Michaela uses edible paint on the inside of the moulds to give pattern and colour to the surface of each chocolate. And I hear that she's using this technique to create a range of Easter eggs, currently in production! So what better way to put aside all those worries about Brexit, and Trump, than to indulge yourself at Blowing Dandelion.

Neil behind the counter

Home made Gingerbread decorating kits
Chocolate Greetings Cards
The cafe is currently exhibiting the work of Lene Bladbjerg
Meanwhile downstairs…

Michaela at work
Back upstairs I tried one of their delicious unsweetened hot chocolates

3 Belvedere Road
07930 156520

Monday, 19 December 2016

Upper Norwood Library Hub - Christmas Window

You may have noticed, that the local branch of Plumbase has closed. Now, most of the time, it was a shop you would walk past, scarcely noticing the wall-hung WCs or the thermostatic shower valves, but every christmas it would become a show stopping winter wonderland, with the annual installation by Joe Field. Fortunately, Plumbase having departed, Joe's imagination has been given free rein just along the road at the library, and with a space twice as big, he's really gone to town.
In addition the windows have been beautifully painted by local illustrator, Suzanne Pink.

That the library is still open at all, and has not been a casualty of local authority cuts, is down to the intense local campaigns of dedicated and passionate individuals. Chief among these campaigners, has been Robbie Gibson (below right). Robbie, as I'm sure you all know, went missing in June, and his whereabouts is still unknown. My thoughts go out to his family this Christmas.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Twelve Gifts from the Triangle

Don't even think about doing your Christmas shopping anywhere else! There's so much you can buy from our wonderful local shops, right here on the Triangle.
Here we go.

TWELVE - Panettones from Piast

ELEVEN - Duffle Bags from Dennis at D'Solo's

TEN - Mermaid Bookends from Brave Girl

NINE - Moulded Glass Bowls from Perry at Coconut Trading

EIGHT - Sequinned Party Dresses from Backstage

SEVEN - Retro Telephones from Do South

SIX - Pink Suede Belt from Josephine's

FIVE - Rings! Gold, Silver or Bejewelled from Tine Bladbjerg

FOUR - Beaded Kenyan Heads from Andy at Bambino

THREE - Gift Sets from North Wood Clinic

TWO - Pestle & Mortar from Smash Bang Wallop

AND ONE - Bottle of Pedro Ximinez from Good Taste

Happy Shopping and Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Paxton Centre

In the course of the last five and half years of blogging in SE19, I've met some pretty inspiring people; people who campaign and contribute hugely to the local community. Beth Mander, whom I first met on the Handmade Palace stall at the market a couple of years ago, is someone of huge energy and determination to get things done. She originally set up the stall as a Transition Town project, and its success spawned off-shoot Christmas markets and the monthly Makers market. At the same time, she was pursuing her own creativity as a potter, as well as offering pottery classes. Now she has brought all those threads together by taking on the lease of the former Paxton Hotel, halfway down Anerley Hill. With this large, light and airy high-ceilinged space, it has been possible to house all her projects under one roof, and throw in a cafe for good measure. Here, the work of artists can be displayed in a way not possible on a market stall, creating a gallery setting for regularly changing exhibitions. In addition, The Paxton Centre not only hosts pottery classes, but a variety of other activities, including life drawing classes, an adult and kids' art club, a venue for choir practice, quiz nights, a hot-desking / co-working club, and with the cafe in place, it's able to hold regular creative social events. Coming up soon, there will be a Bonfire Night, pop-up curry evening, and in the new year, a series of music events is planned. Impressively, Beth runs the centre with a team of volunteers, who in return, can earn free classes or hot-desk sessions. There's a buzz about the place, and Beth is delighted that what started as Handmade Palace, has been opened up to a whole new audience.
The 150 year old building housing all this, has an interesting story too. Beth was drawn to the building's "resilience" in the face of adversity, after seeing old pictures posted online of the structure standing proud, while surrounded by bomb sites. On 11th July 1944, a bomb fell nearby, killing 13 people. A split second earlier and it may have killed many more, as a bus had just pulled away from the scene. Drinking at the bar at that moment, was a man named John Markham, finishing his pint. He dashed out to help rescue people from the bombing, and 11 years later, when the pub finally re-opened, there was a pint awaiting him on the bar. As Beth relates this tale to me, she is busy finishing a ceramic plaque, which will be fixed to the building's exterior to commemorate those who died in the attack.
So this is the start of a bright new future, for Beth, for the building, and for the creative community in Crystal Palace.

Prints by Gerri Keniger and David Wolverson
Jewellery by Nicoletta
Tea-Lightful Candles by Harriet Jarvis
Cushions by Laura Hawkins
Cushions by Terri Dean
Postcode cushions by Saundra O'Shea
Familiar looking coasters!
Photographer, Janet Berry

Ceramics by Sally Durran
Crochet cards by Libby Holloway
Baby Kimonos by KIKI

The multi-purpose mezzanine with a painting of the building by Martin Jessup


Paintings by Mila Moroko, the current featured artist
Beth Mander
Beth at work on the commemorative plaque

The Paxton Centre
52 Anerley Hill
020 8659 4701