The block on which I live is more interesting than most. One edge of it is the A11 and another is the A12. Its perimeter is three quarters of a mile long. Crossrail runs underneath the block, precisely from one corner to the corner opposite. At the other corners you'll find the Bow Roundabout and Bow Bus Garage. I walked anti-clockwise starting from the corner of Fairfield Road and Bow Road. Let's see what's new on my block.
A11 - Bow Road
» The cash machine where my bank card was stolen earlier this year has been removed. And good riddance. It was one of two on the side of the former Nat West Bank (or 'Westminster Bank', as the uncovered signwriting on the front now says)... and which are about to be replaced by one new machine. This is a Grade II listed building, so stonemasons have been along to restore the wall, good as new, and then to cut a fresh hole in the centre. A different set of workmen could be seen through the open hole yesterday, extending a tape measure to check everything's spot on. Let's hope the new cashpoint is unriggable.
» If anyone fancies a shop assistant job at the Nisa supermarket, please hand over your CV in person at the counter.
» The vacant office space above the supermarket is expected to become a "non residential education and training centre", so will be getting a new doorway, lobby and staircase adjacent to the current entrance to the supermarket. This is what you discover when you read the planning notices on lampposts.
» At Kebabish, scribbled marker pen confirms that the price of a 2 skewer kofte with pitta bread and salad, originally £2.75, has been raised from £2.99 to £3.50.
» The shabby exterior of City Lodge London, the 2-star hotel gracelessly converted from the former Kings Arms pub, must depress every traveller who arrives seeking "total renewal just steps away from the city's numerous attractions". Alas the latest Tripadvisor review tells how "a charming, funny and smart mice (I named him Bernie) smelled and explored my backpack especially by night". It is perhaps no surprise that those two Russian spies chose to stay up the road instead.
» November's exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery is Visions In The Nunnery P2 | Melanie Manchot. Her audio-visual work Out of Bounds "continues Manchot's ongoing exploration of the socio-economic and ecological microclimate of a Swiss mountain and its alpine community" and "addresses structures of maintenance, support and the socio-political urgencies of precarious environments in our care." It's closed on Mondays, which may or may not have been a blessing.
» The Carmelite Cafe, which has been the sole local bijou coffee'n'cake dispensary since 2012, went into liquidation last month and served its last Nude Espresso last weekend. Bow Arts promise "another café will be opening in the same space very soon".
» At Bus Stop M, the timetable for route 108 is missing. In more competent news, the timetable for route 425 has been updated to show it now goes to Ilford, and the timetable for route 25 has been updated to show its frequency has been halved. Weekday daytime services were previously "every 2-6" minutes and are now "every 6-10". The spider map in the shelter has not been updated, so still shows the 425 terminating at Stratford.
» The major housing development at 219-221 Bow Road has its own Instagram account, unusually focusing solely on construction rather than selling. The account is proudly advertised on the safety noticeboard out front, with a poster urging passers-by to "Follow us" by scanning a QR code. The account has 14 photos, of decreasing interest, and somehow has 17 followers. Meanwhile the latest pinned-up newsletter is dated August 2019.
» A company called Maximus Networks has put in a planning application to install a "public call box" on the corner of Bow Road and Payne Road, alongside McDonalds. It's hard to imagine a worse location for a shelter-free touchscreen audio connection than on the approach to the traffic lights at the Bow Roundabout, unless you're a greedy start-up keen on embedding digital advertising screens alongside major road networks.
» McDonalds has become a busy hangout for moped crews, keen to speed Uber Eats burger deliveries to surrounding streets, and hanging around watching their phones during the inter-order lulls.
A12 - Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach
» Checking the flyers on the lampposts on the exit from the Bow Roundabout, it seems Sevyn Streeter is live at the Electric Ballroom on 13th December, but you've just missed the Heartless Crew at Scala.
» According to the sign outside Harbrine Ltd, "a door is only as good as its ironmongery".
» This is a really unhealthy place to be walking, according to the nitrogen dioxide spikes on this London-wide3D pollution map. I should not walk round the block too often.
» The footpath ahead beside the A12, under the railway bridge and along the back of Bow Quarter is open again, at long last, now that Crossrail are done.
Wrexham Road/Baldock Street/Ridgdale Street/Jebb Street
» For a bit of variety, here's a quartet of terraced streets built in the 1910s on the site of the Grove Hall Lunatic Asylum, and not quite demolished when the A12 was carved through in the 1960s.
» Everyone gets a tiny front garden, alas half-filled with obligatory refuse bins. You can park your car outside. All the streetlamps are special ones, from the Conservation Area catalogue. These are 'proper' houses, in sharp contrast to the stacked flats on Bow Road.
» Several residents still have carved pumpkins by the front door. Someone's left their keys in the lock. Linda & Val's house is full of knick-knacks. The roofing contractors are up on the scaffolding at three separate properties. £700,000, you say?
» Signs along the side of Bow Bus Garage urge staff (presumably the smokers) to be "Quiet please, this is a residential area".
» The Fairfield Express corner shop has seen better days, but still serves a mean cup of Nescafe instant cappuccino. Having an automated parcel collection point outside can't have hurt trade.
» A scribbled poster reveals that Mr Patel has a double-size room to let in the Upton Park area for £140 a week. A lot cheaper than living down here, that's for sure.
» This end of Fairfield Road has some superbly aspirational Georgian terraces, maximising the architectural contrast around the block.
» Bus drivers exiting towards Bow Road - which is every single one of them - are warned of low trees ahead, which just goes to show the importance of arboreal preservation in a conservation area.
» The cashpoints on the corner are being replaced, but then you knew that...