Thursday, 31 May 2007

Sociable or Community Minded?

Another non-walk themed post. I do have plenty to write up but they require more research and these "off the top of my head" ones are easier to get on with.

I recently met up with a colleague who is British but has lived in Spain for many years. I briefly outlined to him some of the things I am involved in locally, from this blog, to, the Forest Hill Society, SE23Living Magazine, Friends of the Horniman, etc.

Now, I admit that this is a little over the top and not exactly common here either, but the fact is that all these organisations exist for local enthusiasts and volunteers to get involved in. In general, the British are "community minded", supporting all sorts of societies, clubs, charities, institutions, .. that are for the benefit of the community, whether specific or general.

In Spain, and to a large extent in many other southern European countries, people are much more sociable than we are here. They are familiar with many more "neighbours" than we are and several generations of families hang out in cafes and bars till all hours chatting generally about life. They are outwardly much more likely to seem friendly and open.

However, my friend pointed out that this rarely carries over to social organisations. People are not THAT interested in their neighbours, and in that sense are less 'social' rather than 'sociable', if I can draw that distinction.

I am a big fan of the outdoor, friendly lifestyle of Spain and Italy, but I think that on the whole I support the idea of being interested in others in a more general sense.

Maybe Forest Hill is unusual, having all these civic groups dedicated to the area (and there are lots more, I know), but I like to think that all sorts of my neighbours are involved behind the scenes trying to make this a better place for everyone.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Does the web have moods?

Is it me, or has the entire WWW been in a dark mood recently?

So many of the sites, blogs and forums (or fora for the pedantic and old fashioned out there) I visit on a regular basis are suffering from some sort of collective depression that I feel it rubbing off on me.

The "vibe" is wrong. Where once it was all positive and energetic, particularly a few months ago, now it seems petty and full of squabbles.

It seemed to kick off around the time of the attacks on Kathy Sierra in April. The news started focusing on the negative stories and the admins started clamping down on users. The result is that everyone feels irritable.

We need a positive blogging and web2.0 community story to clear the air. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Some random thoughts (and not really Forest Hill related)

1. I recently discovered a great singer and performer. Check out Imogen Heap (I use Napster but you can find her all over the place including YouTube - see below). Am I the last to find out?

2. Doing anything succesfully with the garden is much more about planning than the effort involved. I seem to be going around in circles and not achieving much.

3. Chicken!

4. Love your bum! (eberg is great - check him out on YouTube too)

5. I need to get out more!

6. 2-year-olds are suprisingly good at winning arguments. They can simply ignore your entreaties and simply get on with the offending course of action. I feel rather powerless sometimes.

7. Thanks to Fork Handles - check out Pickard of the Pops - a different view on pop videos (almost makes me want to watch them).

As I said, random.

Headlock - Imogen Heap

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Don't forget to snap it too!

Wulf makes a very valid point which I should have added to my Walk It! post.

Another great advantage of walking around London is that you get to see things that escape your attention when you are rushing past in cars and buses (rushing being a relative term in London traffic) or passing underneath them on the tube.

London has wonderful architecture and lots of hidden visual gems, but we so often miss them.

One of the things that has most made me appreciate Forest Hill, and London architecture and design in general, is a group of Londoners that challenge each other to identify photos that can be taken anywhere within London. Check out the "Guess Where London" group on but I warn you, it can be addictive!!

Since I joined this group I look around, and UP so much more than I used to and it is amazing what you see, particularly around areas you thought you knew.

So get walking, and get snapping too!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Walk It I say!

I am not a Green (with a capital G) walking and alternative transport evangelist, but I do admit that I try to walk when I can.

Long before I ever started the SE23 Challenge I decided that I would never stand still on an escalator or take a lift if I could walk up stairs. If you are a commuter, the best free "extra" exercise you can get is to walk up the escalator no matter how tired you are (allowances for baggage can be made). I noticed an enormous difference in my stamina in only a few months.

Having said that, Richard over at Baggage Reclaim mentioned a site I had not heard of called WalkIt.

The idea of the site, and the group, is that you could consider walking your intended route across London, so it offers directions as well as a measure of distance, time required and calories burned! Excellent!

Of course this is not reasonable for all journeys (I work from home now but I checked my old commute and it would take me 196 minutes at a reasonable pace each way) but if you have a meeting to go to, tell the boss you are off, then walk it instead next time. It isn't a lie, and if challenged, tell them you are investing the time in strategic thinking, your health and in minimising the company carbon footprint! Dare them to challenge THAT!

I have added the widget to my site although I think it will need a little more work on their side (it will show you the route from your postcode to Forest Hill station), but if it inspires you to walk a little more, let me know.

Walk It!

Monday, 14 May 2007

Postcode Pilot

Apologies for the extended absence caused by what turned out to be a rather damp visit to Cornwall last week.

I have just read the following on offering more details regarding the "Postcode" show at the Brockley Jack that I mentioned in my last post. If you are interested, or know someone who should be encouraged to take part, please let them know.

I'm putting on a theatrical show/tv pilot at the Brockley Jack Theatre on June 5th and 7th as part of the Brockley Max Festival. The concept of the pilot looks at different postcodes around the country and the show will use SE23 as the guinea pig. The theatre will be a tv studio for the night as this is all in a talk show format. So... I'm looking for residents of SE23 to be guests on the show. Interested? Then please go to this link

.. fill in the questionnaire and return it to Need this by Friday 18th May, this Friday!

Successful candidates will be included in both shows in a 5 minute interview on stage (recorded) where they shall get to wax lyrical about there neighbourhood in a light hearted Norton/Ross/Paxman/Parkinson style interview. Easy-peasy and lots of fun.

If its not you but you know a great local character who'd be up for this then either send the link to them or conatact me via the same email address.

Any queries, I'm happy to respond!


I might even have volunteered myself, but unfortunately I am very busy during that week and cannot guarantee to be there both days on time. However, I hope to catch one or other night (from the audience).

Spread the word!

Friday, 4 May 2007

Upcoming Forest Hill Events

I am likely to be unable to post for a few days, but I thought I would quickly bring to everyone's attention a few events that will be happening in Forest Hill in the next month or so and so that you can put them in your diary:

10 May - Forest Hill Society General Meeting
Venue: Christian Fellowship Centre
Time: from 19:00
Mayor Steve Bullock will be there, as will someone to talk about the plans for Horniman Gardens. Last time there were over 150 people, so get there early and see what is going on.

5 June - 'Postcode'
I know very little about this except what was sent to me, but it sounds interesting and I am planning to go.

"Brockley Jack Theatre is turned into a TV studio for this talk show which focuses on the SE23 area on Tues 5th and Thurs 7th June 2007, 7pm .
A panel of local residents take the place usually reserved for celebrities guests as your host Mike Sengelow, his reporter and this uniquely styled show delve deep to find out what is at the heart of the SE23 postcode area. Free."

10 June - Forest Hill Day
Venue: Horniman Museum Gardens
Time: all day?
Lots of activities, music, and food. Hope the weather cooperates.

10 June - Devonshire Road Nature Reserve Open Day
Venue: pretty obvious really
Time: not sure yet
Chance to get into the Reserve, speak to those involved, and I believe there is even a wine tasting (nothing to do with me though)

Tuesday, 1 May 2007


I'd just like to say it is absolutely glorious in Forest Hill today.

I trust you are having as fine a day.