• It’s festival week in Wanstead, with the annual party on Christchurch Green taking place next Sunday, 11 September. That is also launch day for the Wanstead Art Trail, an ever-more ambitious showcase of art in shops and other buildings across Wanstead. A fantastically produced brochure is widely available, and is also online here.
• The proposals to introduce pay and display parking restrictions to central Wanstead have, in case you haven’t heard, been dropped. It follows a campaign and mass petition, organised by Michael and Valerie Powis of Grosvenor Road.
• Hedgehogs, a cause close to Wansteadium’s heart, are still being spotted. Alasdair Bain sent this photo, reporting: “Saw this little guy trying to hide behind the bamboo in my garden.” Coming soon in Wansteadium, what you can do in your garden as autumn approaches, to make it a hedgehog friendly zone.
• An item of interest in Wanstead Oxfam: a double vinyl EP of Magical Mystery Tour in near mint condition, with the original booklet and artwork – a snip at Â£100. Contact the shop directly if you are interested. 020 8530 3413 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• And items recently added to Wansteadium Classifieds include a piano, an iPhone 3GS and a tumble drier. Details here, at www.wansteadium.com/classifieds, where you can also sell your unwanted goods to other Wanstead residents, for free.
â€¢ Plans for a homeless hostel on Cambridge Park were approved by the Redbridge Planning Committee. More than 150 Wanstead residents had opposed the plan. Voting on the committee was split, but the plan went through on the chair’s casting vote. Opponent Mick Goodenough told Wansteadium legal advice was being taken with a view to mounting a judicial reviewÂ indicated a judicial review of the decision was unlikely to succeed.
â€¢ Litter bins on Christchurch Green are too small for the amount of litter, the Wanstead Society has told Redbridge Council. That, or foxes, or something else, Â might be the reason for the regular sight of overflowing litter, though tweeter Paddy Fantastic (below) has other thoughts. The council says it will replace the bins, when the current ones wear out.
Hedgehogs could be wiped out in Britain within 15 years, a study has warned. They are on a list of the 10 indigenous species suffering the biggest decline in numbers in recent decades, along with the cuckoo, left, turtle dove, brown hare and Scottish wildcat. According to the Eden Species Report, which measures native speciesâ€™ populations and rates of decline, there are about 1m hedgehogs left in the UK â€” a decline of about 25% over the past 10 years. In some parts of Britain the fall could be as high as 50%. With populations becoming more isolated as a result of the decrease in numbers, naturalists fear that the species will struggle to maintain a sufficiently large gene pool to sustain a healthy and viable population.
Wanstead however seemed to escape any activity. Throughout Monday there were lots of jokes on Twitter and Facebook about what rioters and looters would do if they came to Wanstead (e.g. “They’ll be OK if they want olive oil/haircuts/secondhand books/etc” or “Nothing going on in Wanstead – no one knows where it is”), but there were signs of real nerves that trouble would spread, certainly after reports of Tesco in Leytonstone being targeted earlier in the day.
According to reports on Twitter, the Co-op pulled its shutters down early, the George Inn was not serving large groups, and both the George and the Cuckfield stopped serving about 9.30pm.
UPDATE – Tuesday, 1230BST
â€¢ One Twitter user who apparently bragged about taking part in looting in South Woodford has now removed his page, this tweet reports.
â€¢ Tension seems to have eased now; jokes happily reappearing
All Party Statement following civil disorder in Redbridge
Redbridge Council completely supports the quick and decisive action of the Police following isolated pockets of disorder in Ilford on Monday. Despite effective crowd control a number of shop fronts were damaged and shops broken into by small groups of young men.
Councillor Keith Prince, Leader of the Council, Councillor Ian Bond, Deputy Leader of the Council, and Councillor Balvinder Saund, Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, â€œWe are disgusted by the actions of these individuals and our community will simply not tolerate anyone who seeks to cause unrest with lawlessness and senseless vandalism.
â€œThese are the actions of a small minority of criminals, and the Council will do all it can to help the Police bring them to justice. The Council are working with the Local Community ands Businesses to offer support and advice to keep our shopping centres open for business as usual.â€
Plans are in place to tackle any further disorder should it occur and policing will continue in the Borough to keep the community safe.
You can contact the Police anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the new non-emergency 101 number. You should always call 999 in an emergency.
An interesting article in Saturday’s FT about the future of high streets, points out that the pressures from out-of-town stores and internet shopping are happening to high streets all over the world. But drawing on the experience of Marylebone High Street, right, which has been completely reinvented over the past decade, the paper says it has become “the model of an innovative, independent and successfully varied community-orientated street”, and has four art galleries alongside its restaurants, cafes and clothes shops. It concludes: “Ironically, the lack of choice facing most high street businesses could, eventually, improve choice for customers. Certainly, the high streets that do succeed will become far more interesting and community-orientated than they currently are.” More lessons for Wanstead here.
Following the opening of the new British Heart Foundation shop in Wanstead High Street, Wansteadium reader Guy writes:
Another charity shop, bad bad bad. The high street doesn’t need another. Is anybody actually attempting to sell Wanstead to young relatively affluent professional families (that Wanstead now has many of)? We need a decent clothes shop for the ladies e.g Whistles, and a family restaurant. Both would be good for the area and make an absolute killing. [Hardware shop] Robert Dyas, which was rumoured to be interested in the area would have been fantastic too. Shop freeholders lower your rents! It’s killing everybody new and putting off enterprising people who would like to set up shop!
Wansteadium’s food blogger Suki Orange adds: I quite agree about the need for a good family restaurant. The continuing closure of Cook’s (formerly Seasons), apparently for refurbishment, is leaving a gap and I know some people are wondering if it will reopen. Like lots of people, I generally prefer independents to chains, but how often have I craved having a Strada on Wanstead High Street?
On Wansteadium’s Facebook page, Najma adds;
Wanstead has relatively affluent professional families, a decent clothes shop for the ladies and a family restaurant would make an absolute killing yet shop freeholders should lower their rent? It doesn’t quite make sense.
The name ‘farmer’s market’ covers a pretty wide variety of ventures, from the earthy and truly local, through designer and oh-so-trendy, to the travelling street market with not very much to do with farms. Wanstead’s, which is held again this Sunday, thankfully has enough of the authentic about it to make it worth returning to.
For anyone who’s not a regular, I suppose I should say that there are usually about 20 stalls with a mix of fresh produce. You would find something for most sittings – pastries and cakes or bread from Le Moulin; eggs, sausages, game and venison, pies and fish; vegan and vegetarian offerings from The Parsnipship; Kent apple juice and pickles and preserves. It’s the full plough to plate experience.
There’s also a couple of non-food stalls selling jewellery, old photos, a nik-naks (not the scampi-flavoured vile crisps from the 80s). One stall sells bacon butties made to order, though last time I looked interest seemed limited – most passing trade went to the warm indoors of Caesars a few yards away. Perhaps they need to rethink their offer – maybe a roasting pig or large leg of lamb sliced and smothered in some of the pickles from the stall next door all wrapped up in a crusty roll would see more interest.
Near the end of the line is the unusual-looking vehicle known as the Cheesewheeler – odd enough, in fact, to make it possible to imagine it trailing from one charming deserted French village to another, keeping les baguettes of vieux hommes on banquettes stocked with slimey smelly fromages. The side of the van flips up and hey presto more than 100 different kinds of cheese – British regional and overseas varieties – are on offer. In some ways the presence of Cheesewheeler, or a stall like it, is a measure of the authenticity of a farmer’s market. As the BBC’s Mark Easton wrote a few months ago, the past 20 years have seen an amazing resurgence in the art of cheese-making in the UK as farmers respond to changing times.
“[W]hen the price of milk plummeted in the 1990s, the resilience and imagination of Britain’s dairy farmers was tested,” he wrote. “They desperately needed new products to survive. Perhaps they opened the old trunk at the back of the barn and found great-great grand-mother’s recipe. Or maybe they experimented with cheese-cloth and press on the kitchen table.”
Now a country which ate four kilos of cheese per head in the 60s is eating more than 12, and the presence of specialists as well as growing supermarket awareness has all helped.
The cheese on offer at our farmer’s market is not all British, of course, and I hope in future months to explore this a bit more. Any recommendations from fellow Wanstead folk are welcome. I’m interested in this business of cheese, but to be honest it’s not my chosen specialised subject. I’m not a cheese bore, you might say. But I decided to conduct something of a practical challenge, and I chose Brie de Meaux – one of the names common to delis as well as supermarket shelves – as the guinea pig for my taste test. How would the Cheesewheeler brie fare against a seemingly identical sample brought from Wanstead’s favourite, the Larder? I didn’t really expect there to be much difference, but my dinner guests two weeks ago were in no doubt. The Larder’s version was decent enough; it held its form and didn’t offend. But the van’s version was pungent, runny in the middle and almost al dente on the outside; it felt like it was oozing to get on to a biscuit. Visitors to my fridge hadn’t appreciated it, but visitors to the table did.
These guys have obviously got a passion – they must have to drive around in a van which is, frankly, unlikely to be pleasantly smelling. They’re approachable enough. If their web address – Cheesewheeler.com – pointed to something other than a 404, I’d be even happier with them.