Monday, 31 August 2009

Notting Hill Carnival Sunday

CarnivalManThe finale was absolutely outstanding. Hot sunny weather, fantastic floats and a really good atmosphere. Having said that one highlight was watching one guy in the crush, who was a couple of people in front of me and quite obviously the worse for wear suddenly erupt forth with his dinner. Not a pretty sight, especially not for those around him.

Compared to previous years this one I think had a much better atmosphere and special mention has to be made of the police who get to spend all day watching everyone else party.

For Bushers the fact that they opened the Westbourne Park tube at 1800 on both days was excellent for transport - I made it from Meanwhile Gardens to Uxbridge Road in about 20 minutes today - a record time!

I hope you all enjoyed this summer which, despite the incompetence of the Met Office with their dodgy weather predictions, was full of good things for W12. Just look at this, this and this for goodness sake. We're spoilt really.

On a personal note I am going back to Africa for my work for the next couple of weeks so will be updating as best I can from there. In the last few months a lot more people have started reading this blog so for those that don't know I work for this organisation doing things like this to avoid another repeat of this. It makes you appreciate how lucky we all are to live in somewhere like the Bush.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Notting Hill Carnival Day 1


Some pics and a couple of vids - a great day and more tomorrow!

It was really striking today that all of the floats seemed to disappear after about 1830. The police had announced that they were going to do this a while ago and to be honest I doubted whether they'd be able to do it, things that big just tend to go at their own pace but they certainly managed it today. I'm sure it made a lot of sense for security reasons and of course they have to come first but it did go very quiet all of a sudden!

With this in mind it might be an idea to find yourself one of those mini rave things they have dotted around the route if you plan on staying there into tomorrow night. There is one near Meanwhile Gardens but others all along the route.

Enjoy ...


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Historic Bush No 5

Rene's Tobbaconists the ValeNumber 5 in the series, following Historic Bush one, two, three and four. This is the best yet by far, not least because in the act of photographing the building I met the current owner who gave me an impromptu interview, sharing some of the really interesting insights behind this building. Rene's the Tobacconist is on The Vale just after the Uxbridge Road/Askew Road junction in the direction of Southall.

As the sign suggests the original shop was a tobacconists. I've passed it, as have many Bushers on their way to the Tesco just up the road. Its actually just over the border in Ealing but Tescos draws many of us Uxbridge Roaders from the Bush so this counts as a Bush building in my book!

According to Ted, the current owner who should be congratulated for being in the process of renovating the bulding in accordance with its 19th century heritage - iron piping, proper windows etc - the buildings themselves were constructed in 1884. This makes sense since the Victorians' usual way of building was to construct a road and then build up it. In this case the buildings at the Bush end of Uxbridge Road were built in 1874 - so it took ten years to get that far up.

One of the best stories is that in 1912 a horse carriage drove straight into the front of the shop causing much damage. The "Rene's" shop front dates from that period and was covered by a succession of other more modern shop fronts throughout the 20th Century (which is where the damage to each side of the 19th century fronting comes from) but what you see now pre-dates all that.

Ted will eventually sell this property on and expressed his disgust with how other historic buildings are being redeveloped - I'm inclined to agree as I am sure do you. There is really no need to sacrifice these windows into our past when we can take care of them just as well and still use them for modern purposes. I think he's done a real service to our community for spending his own money looking after the place and renovating it properly - one piece of fading London saved.


Thursday, 27 August 2009

Notting Hill Carnival 2009

Carnival2007Ever since I moved to London in 1997 the Notting Hill Carnival has been a mark of the year for me. As a result its one of those times in the year, beyond New Year, that I really take stock of how the year has gone. In fact I have gone every year with the first missed Carnival in 11 years last year when I had to be a long way away in Nepal for work. I remember ploughing through a really humid forest caught in the middle of a monsoon and beset with mosquitos realising that I should have been in Westbourne Park in the sun with beer!

This year should be the best yet - because it gets better every year, and having gone from the Bush the last few years my own tips for Bushers are simply thus -

  • the best way to get into the mix without having to walk for miles around police lines is the H&C line from the Bush to Westbourne Park. Get off there and turn right down the side street you'll be directed down but then take the first left - and follow the crowd, it will put you on the route quickly.

  • pace yourself and plan to end up around Meanwhile Gardens. At the end of the day (and you might want to walk all day or you might want to do just a few hours) if you stand in this park there are stalls selling cold beer and food, and you get to watch the floats go by without having to move. For the men the rear wall of the park seems to function as a mass urinal - so don't sit near there!

  • You won't be able to get back in to Westbourne Park tube because it's exit only and all the others are shut, so .. from Meanwhile Gardens you can walk out of the back of the park, turn right beside the canal and it will take you to Harrow Road where there are buses to paddington and edgware road. And then H&C back to Bush.

  • seriously watch out for pocket thieves. You're going to be crushed up against people so forget bags, especially handbags, and if you have any wear bottoms with zip up pockets. If not keep checking them or keep your hands close to them.

Enjoy! The Carnival home page is here and London Transport's special Carnival page for travel details is here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Appeal for Catriona cyclist launched

CatrionaFollowing this post, I wanted to help in some way with the appeal for information that Catriona's husband has just launched. With thanks to my fellow blogger at Stockwell news for the info, the appeal reads as follows:

My name is Anish Patel and I am the husband of Catriona. On Monday 29th June 2009 at around 0820, Catriona died as a result of a collision with a green tipper lorry at Kennington Park Road, at the junction with Harleyford Street.

I would like to make a personal appeal for anyone who was in the Oval area that morning, who saw Catriona or the tipper, to come forward as a potential witness.

Even if you did not see the incident directly, you may still have useful information on the lead up to, or aftermath of the incident. So, please, I urge you to come forward.

Any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, may be crucial to the case. I and the entire family would like to understand what happenned on that day and you may have seen something that is relevant. Please contact the Collision Investigation Unit Witness Line on 020 8941 9011 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you have any information.

Many thanks, Anish.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Askew Road closed

general_night_workThe top of Askew Road this evening on the corner with Uxbridge Rd resembles a major incident, lights flashing and lots of noise. I hadn't really noticed the yellow signs that in fairness have been up warning that this was going to happen for the next 2 weeks.

So in case you're as unobservant as me the Askew Road will be shut from 2100 to 0500 every day from today for 2 weeks. For resurfacing apparently. Bugger.

If you're inconvenienced spare a thought for those unfortunate enough to be living next to that racket - it really is loud!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Accident on Shepherd's Bush Road

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed a rather large jam on Shepherd's Bush Road (the A219) this morning. It was a car accident, and was being run on BBC London this morning but details seemed to have disappeared from their site as I write this. I dont know how serious it was but it resulted in a lengthy closure so that's never a good thing.

Meet the police

Following this little episode I looked into how the community here can better talk to the local police. The first chance is to come along to one of the meetings the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams are holding in and around the Borough.

I've seen a proliferation of PCSOs in the last few years around this area and to be honest although its nice to see them always wondered what exactly they could do, other than act as eyes and ears. They don't have the same powers as fully fledged police officers and are not armed with a baton so unlikely to intervene in anything serious.

But the council has put a lot of money into to the local police and Shepherds Bush has been a pilot area for things like crack downs on street drinking which they deserve praise for. I will try and get along to one of these meetings and report back. Why not come along.

The meeting details are all here

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Score bore draw for QPR

QPRI wasn't going to go to Nottingham Forest after seeing this display on the opening day, but when I saw the hoops shirts milling around up and down Uxbridge Road I thought twice. Then on the 228 going past the stadium I thought thrice. But hearing about the game afterwards and seeing the report today my word I'm glad I saved my 30 quid. Here we go again...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

7/7 Memorial

7/7 memorial hyde parkIt' still only a few weeks since the commemorations of the 4 year anniversaries of both July 7th and 21st 2005. On a wander through London today I decided to stop by the memorial that was unveiled this year to the 7/7 victims. I deliberately didn't go to either the launch or the first few weeks after that because the atmosphere of the place wouldn't have been right.

But for reflecting it's really quite perfect now. Quiet and with banks on three sides that shield the noise from traffic a little bit but also form natural seating. Well worth a visit at some point.

Historic Bush Number 4

Historic fish & chipsFollowing Historic Bush one, two, and three this little fish shop, which is actually just outside the Bush but next to Homebase so well frequented by W12ers, is number 4 in the series. It hasn't been in business for many years, at least not the time I have been here. Its like the place that time forgot with insides that look like a 1940s restaurant and everything left as if the last customer only just left.

Sights like this in London just remind you of how much and fast everything changes - so I wanted to capture it before it gets redeveloped for ever. An ominous sign has appeared on the building from a developer so I fear this one last window into the past is shortly to be closed forever. Anyone know anything about this shop?[gallery]

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Street robberies in the Bush

burglars on the prowlIn the last week we have had two of these unwelcome pieces of paper through our door, which basically means that a crew of burglars are targetting our street at the moment. It begins to make a mockery of H&F's propaganda about crime but the real point is how many of these ever get solved. I have never been a victim myself but have known many who have, including several who didn't bother reporting it.

I think in terms of crime, including violent crime, the Bush is generally very safe. Some of my former haunts in this fair city have been nowhere near as good. Looking back now on a walk home from the tube after dark in Finsbury Park I'm reminded of some of the places I get sent to for work these days.

But we also seem to live in an area that is capable of producing the bad and really bad of the prison population. And I'll never forget the day I was walking to the gym at 6am on a dark morning vaguely aware of someone in front of me on Bloemfontein Road. Suddenly this person, a small woman as it turned out, had wheeled around and was glaring at me with some kind of self defence posture. She looked terrified. I just mumbled something about being really sorry and walked around her. And then felt terrible all week for managing to scare someone like that without even thinking about it - goodness knows what must have been going through her head.  

So I guess the figures are one thing but its how you feel that makes difference. I still think we're lucky compared to other areas, but what do you think? And do lock your windows, there are thieves on the prowl in W12.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Central line fire?

Did anyone else get caught up in that incident last night? About five o'clock I was in Oxford Circus trying to catch a central line back to the Bush only to be confronted by a strong burning smell, no visible smoke though and what looked like a blacked out train!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

London Mela 2009 Gunnersbury Park

This is on today - get either the 237 from the Bush to Gunnersbury Park, or get the district or Piccadilly lines to the same destination. Based on my experience 2 years ago don't even think of using their car park - it will take you quite literally hours to get back out again, and your abiding memory will be of frayed tempers!

Capital Ring walks

the viewFollowing on from this post about the London Loop walk yesterday I ventured out to another set of walks called the Capital Ring. Both of them circle London but the capital ring is slightly more inside the city wheras the London Loop is very much on the outskirts. But you can still get to both by tube/bus.

The Richmond-Boston Manor route is amazing. From the Bush either get the 272 to Turnham Green and then district to Richmond or if you do it the other way around get the 237 from the Bush out to the middle of the route near Syon Park.

You walk alongside the Thames for half the way and the Grand Union Canal for the other half taking, among other things, a vertigo inducing walk across Richmond Lock, an island nature reserve and pubs that just sit out looking over the Thames which is so slow (and apparently clean) at this point that kids can play on the banks!

Well worth a trip. The only thing that spoils it are the low flying aircraft that quite literally thunder overhead with their wheels already down. Surely there has to be an alternative to expanding that airport to encompass the Bush under a flightpath?! Both our council and local MP Andrew Slaughter are opposed but the government very much in favour. I doubt any of them live in Richmond.[gallery]

Friday, 14 August 2009

Cycle Friday?

21_93_2---Bicycle-Sign_webDid you cycle this friday as part of the Mayor's campaign?

In case you feel like doing so next week the nearest route to us departs from Ravenscourt Park and is escorted by experienced riders to Trafalgar Square. It departs at 0800 sharp.

The snag is you will have to find your own way home!

My own tip if you want to avoid the roads altogether is the Thames Path from Hammersmith Bridge, which will take you on a country track next to the river all the way into Putney, and from there you can either cross into what is basically the west end or if you're like me on your way south press on a bit towards Clapham Junction. Beautiful views. And no cars!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Greenhalgh writes in Pravda

H&FPravdaI have written about the poor state of our local media before, and warned what would happen if the area is only really served by a council propaganda rag. Here is an example straight out of the pages of yer best Pravda!


On the letters page a woman has written in, and to be fair to H&F News, has been published as she questions the bright new world that Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh talked about here.


However, she also gets a 'right of reply' instant response from the very same Supreme Leader Greenhalgh! I have read this paper every time since it started to be published after the election and I have never seen this before. What it tells you is not only how a lack of local press scrutiny is a real gap but also just how sensitive the council must feel about its housing plans at the moment.


I note that the woman's question - where are these replacement homes for evicted residents - is well and truly dodged unless Cllr Grenhalgh is saying that the 900 new socially rented homes will go to those evicted from current housing. In which case that means a no real terms increase in social housing doesn't it? (Assuming the existing estates along the Thames are sold off privately to become private flats)


I will be speaking to the leaders of the campaign to save the estates shortly, so watch this space for more. And to my readers at Hammersmith Town Hall Cllr Greenhalgh would be welcome to respond on here too - but then so would the leaders of the opposition groups on the council as well. Just in the interests of balance, you understand.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

W12 Business: I love my postcode

ilovemypostcode.comIn the past couple of months I have been collecting some interviews with local businesses in the Bush, and will be sharing these in a series. Can you think of anyone I should include? At the moment its just really my own experience as a Busher - I'm particularly looking forward to profiling my local barbers who have yet to understand what this internet thingy actually is. What does that matter when you get a good haircut?

Anyway, on to

Run by Rachel and based within W12 on the Goldhawk Road this is a service that is among the most vulnerable to the recession - really nice to have but not essential - and yet I have known them since last year and they seem to be going strong - so much credit to them just for that.

Whats the idea? To wear your postcode simply. Ona  t shirt, a fleece, a piece of any description.

And the good news? Readers of this blog can even claim a discount. There is a £5 discount on t shirts, £3 on pants and vests and half price on kids t shirts. To get this discount you will need to email rachel at and tell her you are claiming the Shepherds Bush Blog discount

Rachel describes as follows:

"we're a W12 based business and a small independent online retailer experimenting with clothing and community pride. We design, print and sell top qualit items of clothing with London postcodes printed on them. Choose your garment, choose your print ink, choose your postcode and voila we'll print it just for you"!

Check out their website for more details, and once again well done to - both for weathering the recession and more importantly building people's sense of pride in their area into a viable local business.

So there we are, first review done. Any other ideas? I shouldn't need to say this but I probably do - I have accepted no payment or other inducement for any of these!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

QPR Blackpool 8th August 09 match report

blogshotNowhere near good enough. Maybe flirting with the bottom end of the playoffs but nothing more without much better finishing skills from this team. Thats my conclusion of our season ahead and from the words of those seated around me and on the way home what seemed to be the general conclusion of the fans of Loftus Road.

The game started as brightly as the sunshine, and at times during the opening 15 minutes it was almost embarassing for Blackpool. Chance followed chance for QPR, with some particularly impressive skills from Balanta who seemed to defy the laws of physics at times to turn no-hope situations into the basis for chances, but what we saw at the end of each move was almost breathtaking arrogance, with players apparently all believing that they were going to have so many shots they may as well have a punt themselves. We saw players nonchalantly just lob it  goalward and for it to be in turn gratefully gathered by the keeper.

And then Blackpool got going. All of a sudden it seemed like they were the ones with the momentum behind them, and chances started building up for them too. The difference was they were actually making an effort to convert each one at the finish and by the time the 37th minute score went in there was a resigned sigh from Ellerslie Road.

Half time saw a procession of the women's team who have just won promotion, so very many congratulations to them. Lets hope the men can draw som inspiration because ...

...the second half was sluggish to start with from QPR, and Blackpool appeared the quicker team both getting to the ball and then doing something creative with it. By midway through the half the crowd was beginning to get on the QPR players backs, with one shout asking about the retirement plans of certain defenders who seemed consistently second to the ball. I don't think this helped matters and when Rowlands went off injured there was a general downward feeling among everyone, that a day which had started so bright was really returning to QPR form.

The equaliser, when it came, was a really welcome shot in the arm for the crowd but you'd have to say it didnt look like it was coming and QPR were lucky to get it. Credit to the players for lifting themselves to get it though. And its also worth saying that the last 5 minutes of extra time (due to Rowland's injury) were nervy ones for the Blackpool crowd.

On this form there is no way that QPR will get anywhere near Middlesbrough, Sheffield or West Brom so its play offs for us. Unless something radical changes though we'll need that same luck that allowed us to equalise to even have a place in those. As if to rub it in those of us sitting opposite the VIP area were treated to the sight of Bernie 'some of my best friends are Jewish' Ecclestone storming out of the ground at 80 minutes!

Lastly, and very movingly, there was a heartfelt and warm tribute to Bobby Robson at the outset. Much deserved.


Friday, 7 August 2009

Our tube heritage

In the last 2 years we in the Bush have seen more change than most. Europe's biggest shopping centre has transformed a lot about the area and not always for the better. Many of us, me included, have fought against our lives being impacted negatively by that. Two new tube stations and one overground station later, my journey has just about improved.

But when did you become a Londoner? I realised on a visit to the part I first moved to, Finsbury Park, that I had become a Londoner 12 years ago. I've never wanted to leave.

How about this, then, of a reminder of all our heritage - a 1938 tube train! I actually remember tube trains looking like this from the mid 90s when I used to visit my girlfriend here who lived on the Northern Line. Which tells you something about how much investment the network was starved of

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

QPR Blackpool 8 August: Hope

Hope springs eternalThe talking is over, now is the time to do. Which is just as well since the less talking the likes of this odious little man does the better.

And shouldn't there have been a little more spending as well as the hot air? After all compared to F1 a couple of championship players are but a new set of tyres in a pit stop surely.

Either way I shall, after sitting out last season's great big puddle of disappointment, be there with the rest of W12's footballing fraternity. Hoping and shouting, and then hoping some more.

Match report to follow - come on you Hoops.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The London Loop

Gravel Lake - London Loop Walk Seriously good recommendation for a day out from West London - go for a walk on the London Loop trail. More info here.

A few weeks ago, at the Acton Carnival, Transport for London, with whom I have had a hate-hate relationship in the past, were giving out leaflets about various walking trails around London. The aim being to entice people to use their feet for leisure and maybe to start thinking about using them for work as well. Whatever you think of that aim these walks are fantastic judging by what I have seen so far. And they are free!

The London Loop is a series of nature walks on the edge of where countryside meets the capital, and if the other routes are even partly as good as the one I did last weekend they are fantastic.

Quiet, serene and surrounded by nature from the rabbits running around you to the birds. The closest route to Bush is route number 12 which you can see here. It means getting the central line to the end of the line at West Ruislip and then a bus to Uxbridge - and within minutes you're on the Grand Union Canal walking past locks and the odd ancient tea house. Its well worth a try - what have you got to lose?!  Let me know what you think - here are some pics.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Summerfest'09 White City

summerfest'09Having been critical of our beloved local council recently its worth saying that I am making thorough use of the new swim for £1 deal for kids during August and think its a fantastic initiative. So well done H&F Council.  

In fact at Janet Adegoke Pool today I picked up this flyer for Summerfest'09 which is also an excellent initiative. Phoenix School, which its fair to say continues to have issues despite the miracles worked by its formidable headteacher, is currently the home to a co-operative food market among other things.

One or two of the offerings on this flyer might remind you of the severe challenges that remain for the youth of W12 though - and my goodness does this bring it home.

A popular blog!

statpornI think its appropriate at this stage to thank my friends, family, pet dog (which I wish I had but don't) etc. Either way I thought you might be interested, particularly regular readers to have a sense of how many people now regularly come here for news and views on the Bush so here it is.

This month (July 2009) there were over 3,100 visits and as you will see the trend has been broadly upward ever since the start. Popular articles regularly get over 200 people looking at them although compratively few of you comment - which is fine. So long as it serves a purpose.

Not bad for a one man band started after this incident in the Bush one cold November morning.

So enough of the self back slapping thank-you for coming back and giving us a reason to continue. A particular thank you to those who have contributed, in some cases anonomously, stories or leads. I have and always will respect people's anonimity. And of course to those who have contributed information, in some cases eye witness information, of breaking news - which the traditional media took over a week to get around to.

Together we've shown that there is both a need and a way of sharing news about the Bush that uses the best of the web and is genuinely local. Here's to more of the same.