diamond geezer

 Monday, February 06, 2023

I hope you had a nice weekend.
I had a nice weekend.


Frank F says "whatever the taste experience, chicken must be capable of being more visually appealing."

Indeed. I'm not sure this poster at Beulah Spa was doing the Harvester menu any favours visually, let alone the text staying within the boundaries of factual correctness. It cannot be true that the tastiest chicken in the world is that generated by a chain restaurant rotisserie in Upper Norwood, otherwise Michelin have got their star system all wrong. Also the Harvester menu includes a choice of six different sauces and they haven't deigned to tell us which one takes the crown. I wasn't tempted, I didn't drop in, plus it was too early in the morning for world-beating chicken to be on offer anyway.

I was however intrigued by the location of the restaurant on the Croydon/Lambeth fringe, because it turns out all the Harvester restaurants in Greater London are in Outer London. Those 16 are in Hanwell, Northolt, Edgware, Ponders End, Chingford, Ilford, Goodmayes, Gidea Park, Hornchurch, Sidcup, Bromley, Addington, Eltham, Morden, Sutton and here at Upper Norwood, i.e every single one's in zones 4-6. The Harvester phenomenon, like Toby Carveries, eschews the inner suburbs... perhaps because palates are different or perhaps because it's really important to have a car park.

Ken says "The railway bridge crosses the line between Sutton and Carshalton Beeches, just over half a mile east of Sutton Town centre, and immediately south of a similar bridge between Sutton and Carshalton.

Indeed it is. It clearly wasn't built with modern traffic in mind, nor the needs of pedestrians, particularly given it's the only crossing for over half a mile. Traffic was light so I crossed safely enough but I'm not sure I'd be too keen at night. This narrow bridge on Kings Lane was closed in 2020 as part of Sutton's Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme, but caused quite the uproar and they rolled it back within a year.

Ken adds "Can't begin to work out what brought you to this neck of the woods though?!"

Indeed, it is a bit off piste. I was trying to get from Carshalton to Sutton but no bus was scheduled for the next 15 minutes so I thought I'd walk via the backstreets. I don't expect I'll ever visit again. Nice crocuses in Hilcroombe Road though.

AndrewR asks "Is the Range Rover located (semi-appropriately) at South Wimbledon station?"

Indeed it is. Of all the places to spot a car with an almost-WOMBLES numberplate this is nigh perfact, although alongside Wimbledon Common would have been better. It's impossible to say whether the driver is a massive fan of local football club AFC Wimbledon, a massive fan of small snout-nosed litterpickers or a member of the Beresford dynasty. I tried to see if Tomsk and Madame Cholet were sitting in the back seat but the tinted windows didn't make that possible.

It was an auspicious weekend for a wombly experience because the very first episode of The Wombles was screened exactly 50 years ago on 5th February 1973. It filled that brief transitional slot on BBC1 between children's programmes and the evening news where the Magic Roundabout often sat. The Wombles was made by Film Fair and Ivor Wood using stop-motion animation and memorably narrated by Bernard Cribbins. The very first episode was Orinoco & The Big Black Umbrella, the tale of a very windy day, and I would definitely have been watching being bang in the middle of the target age group. Within a year Wombles merchandise would be everywhere, including my bedroom wall, and Mike Batt's catchy theme song would be making an assault on the top of the charts.


Nobody wrote "That's Croxley station, obviously. What were you doing there?"

Indeed. The entire Metropolitan line was closed all weekend which meant Croxley had a replacement bus service and that allowed the opportunity for a free express journey from Wembley Park. I don't think I've ever ridden a double decker down Batchworth Hill before, indeed the main road between Rickmansworth and London is generally served by no bus routes whatsoever. I spent a pleasant hour wandering around the streets where I grew up and will no doubt be subjecting you to overnostalgic bloggage later in the week.

Cottonsocks said "You should have come in for a cup of tea and a slice of home made lemon drizzle, maybe next time you're in LB Hillingdon."

Indeed, although he said this in December and didn't leave a forwarding address so I had no idea where to go. Also Hillingdon is a very large borough so when I parachuted into Harefield I may not have been at the right end (although I suspect I was). Also my travels tend to be planned at the very last minute which is not conducive to the sharing of tea and cake but thanks for the kind offer (I had an extra-large cuppa when I got home).

The photo shows the duckpond on Harefield Village Green, a rustic corner of a larger open space. It's also a Centenary Field, a British Legion project to commemorate 100 years since the end of WW1 by securing parks and green spaces in perpetuity in memory of those who died. The war memorial obelisk overlooking the duckpond is original but the detailed information board by the roadside is more recent. London's other Centenary Fields are at Grange Park (Old Coulsdon), Harmondsworth Village Green, Ilford War Memorial Gardens, Islington Memorial Green, Kensington Memorial Park and Roding Lane Sports Ground. The idea was to have one in every local authority in the UK but it didn't quite work out like that - Hillingdon and Redbridge have two apiece whereas most London boroughs are bereft.

Andy S says "Last photo looks like where some of Happy Valley was filmed. So maybe a satisfying conclusion to Sunday watching TV."

Indeed it was. These are the streets of Hebden Bridge (as seen from the climb to Heptonstall) in a photo taken five years ago. It's a very independent town, very charismatic, and the surrounding landscape makes the ideal backdrop for a Sally Wainwright drama. I had to go back and watch the first two series of Happy Valley again after I'd visited so I could say "ooh that's under the viaduct in Halifax" and "OMG that's Todmorden".

I loved the third series which was proper apppointment television, with multiple criminal threads you couldn't possibly see tying up by the end but which somehow did. Sarah Lancashire nailed the lead character and the scripts were pitch perfect with understated insight and gentle humour, entirely unlike your usual TV cop drama. I also raise my glass (having had this pointed out) to the perfect connection between the last few minutes of Series 3 Episode 6 and the opening scene of Series 1 Episode 1, the show having opened with Caroline confronting a drunk man doused in petrol... even the bookending sunglasses were the same.

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