Congratulations to Matt Day on the opening of Daygustation, Wanstead’s new high street wine and cheese bar. He’s the latest example of a Wanstead resident turning a passion into an occupation. He’s worked in wine for the past 20 years but not had his own shop like this before and decided over the lockdown that now was the time to fulfil his ambition.

The shop has a hand-picked range of wines, plus cheese and meats, and in due course plates will be served at the barrels at the front of the shop, which is in the former Martin&Co office at the Snaresbrook end of the high street.

Good luck to Matt on his new venture!

Artificial Poppies used to commemorate Remembrance Day.

Susan Carroll, Wanstead’s Poppy Appeal Organiser, writes:

This year’s poppy appeal will be going ahead, although in a slightly different format than in previous years.  Poppies will still be available in many of the stores that usually carry them, including Daisy, Moments, Heads and Tails, Ginger Pig and the supermarkets.

The street collection will, however, only be on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th November, when Jim the poppy man and I will be manning a table so as to observe social distancing rules.  This will be based outside the former Percy Ingles bakery to take advantage of the empty storefront and not block anyone else’s premises.  There is a 2020 date pin and a belated VE Day pin, plus crosses and star of David’s alongside the regular poppies but no other items.

The days of relying on phone boxes is long gone, but they remain as loved architectural landmarks. The one outside Wanstead Tube has, however, become a pitiful site.

Neglect and – now – vandalism has completely ruined the box. Its door is now missing, and who knows if anyone cares enough to repair it. The contrast with the post box next to it could not be starker.

There’s some encouraging news from the Music School Wanstead, a High Street-based operation which has been teaching piano, guitar and a range of other instruments to Wanstead children for years.

The school, based above Boots, was hit by Covid getting in the way of face-to-face teaching for months, but it is now starting a series of classes for very young children to teach them the basis of music.

The sessions will use the Kodály method, a Hungarian teaching method which uses a child’s voice and hands as their primary instruments and which is recognised internationally as a way to introduce music to young children.

The sessions will run on Saturday mornings in Christ Church Hall – term starts on 7 November – and there are more details on the Music School’s site where places can also be booked.

Last week we wrote, while launching the all-new Wanstead Bookshop, that we didn’t think Wanstead had had its own bookshop before.

We were of course wrong. Lots of people who read Wansteadium have lived here for a very long time and know exactly what’s what. What’s slightly more embarrassing is that we actually had included a picture of one of these bookshops on a story we ran in 2016. It was called Vanes Library and was next to where Belgique is now.

Vane’s Library in Cambridge Park in January 1959

The photo was sent to us by reader Sharon, who told us at the time that her husband’s grandad owned the building and ran the shop – though she does say he ran it “as a stationery shop”.

Regular correspondent Kerry Renshaw wrote: “Vane’s was a stationer’s and bookshop, though in a small way. I remember ordering Biggles books for my birthday there in the 1950s.”

Gwen Marsh added: “Vane’s used to sell books, stationery and all sorts of wonderments and I used to spend a lot of time in there as a child happily. I remember both Vanes and Stockdales next door, that was luggage store if I remember correctly.”

We’ve also heard reports that there was a second bookshop on the High Street. We’re checking that – any further reports are welcome.

Meanwhile the new Wanstead Bookshop has had a pretty good first week, thanks for asking. There’s obviously plenty of interest and goodwill for Wanstead to have its own bookshop (once again). If you would like to sign up to stay in touch with the bookshop, send your details here.

    You will receive a sign-up confirmation from Wanstead Bookshop.

    And meanwhile these are some of the new books on offer this weekend.

    La Bakerie, formerly Nice Croissant, has emerged like a phoenix from its lockdown, during which time it has been completely refurbished.

    And it is looking smaaaarrrt – quite the transformation. Congratulations to Fabien, Franck, Nasreen and Sabrina on a great job.