Friday, May 25, 2007

Green Chain Walk

Most SE Londoners will have seen the direction signs for the Green Chain walk all over the place, as it is a network of paths stretching from Crystal Palace to Erith. I decided to write about it after reading a comment by 'the Rev' on a previous post...

'......I walked almost 2 miles either way every day to school. Sadly now I’m lucky if I walk half a mile a day…Shame, I LOVE walking…'

Rev it's not too late to get, back into a bit of walking, and there are some fantastic walks, right under our noses. The route I am going to describe is one I have done a couple of times with my Dad (who will be 80 in August) so it's never to late to give it a go. Apologies that the pictures are taken off the internet, but when I did the walk last year I hadn't yet got my digital camera.

The Green Chain refers to a whole chain of land across SE London which was protected from developers by enlightened Victorians, a sort of 19th century Green belt.

Plumstead Common soon after 'The Links' was built. (about 1900)
The walk I did with my Dad is (mostly) circular so you can start at any point, but we began at Plumstead Common 'cos that's where I live. We headed West off towards Charlton crossing the South Circular and going past the Royal Artillery Barracks, though the Royal Artillery are just about to leave Woolwich after 300 years, the barracks are to remain as a military installation.

The Barracks above in 1900 (see how little they have changed except they are in colour these days) will play host to the Olympic shooting events in 2012.

Charlton House
Then on to Charlton Park and a view of Charlton House which this year celebrates it's 400th aniversary. You then cut through a small Park and follow the route through the wild and wonderful Woolwich Common to emerge at the Old Police Station at Shooters Hill.

Woolwich Common
Then into Oxleas Woods, an area of ancient Woodland, only to be surprised by the 17th century folly Severndroog Castle.

Severndroog Castle

Castle Gardens
You go through the Castle's ornamental Gardens to emerge at Oxleas Meadow with some great views South and the opportunity to stop for a well earned cup of Tea.

Oxleas Woods
After diving back into Oxleas Woods you cross Shooters Hill and go through some of the Fields belonging to Woodlands Farm. This is a Working Farm, run as a educational trust. They have a Open Day on Sunday 10th June. It's their 10th anniversary and it sounds like a really good day out with arts and crafts, sheep dog displays, home grown produce, meet the animals and a whole lot more.

Woodlands Farm

East Wickham Open Space
Next stop is the deserted, but lovely East Wickham Open Space, then on to the wonderful Bostall Woods and Heath. At this point I would recommend a diversion from the circular route and take the walk down through Abbey Wood to emerge at the ruins of Lesnes Abbey.

Lesnes Abbey
It is amazing how many people, even locals don't realise that Abbey Wood actually has it's own Abbey, The area is beautifully maintained by Bexley Council and it is a good spot for a Picnic.

Winns Common
You need to then retrace your steps back through the Wood to Bostall Woods, but this time you take the path through the beautiful Beech Woods towards Plumstead. You cross Wickham Lane and climb Bleak Hill to emerge at Winns Common, with it's spectacular views across East London and beyond, while we all look down on East London, not everyone gets the chance to do so literally.

Slade Ponds

Alfie on the Slade steps (he didn't do the whole walk 'cos he only has short legs)
You then have to go all the way down the Slade steps passing the Slade Ponds on your left, taking the time to marvel at all the good work PCEG do!

The Slade
Then it's back to Plumstead Common, and you are home for tea.

Plumstead Common
There is a guide book available to the whole of the Green Chain, and there is also a lot of information at the Green Chain Website, including guides to the different sections that you can download.

Next time we plan to do the sections round Eltham and New Eltham, and this time I will take my camera, would have liked to do it over this Bank Holiday, but couldn't find my flippers, so will wait for the weather to improve.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The School Run

Having vented my spleen on Nissan Micras and their incompetent owners (with the exception of Shirley). Some of the subsequent comments thew up a couple of other issues, the first is a loathing of people who have 4x4's for effect, and in particular the hideous and pointless Porsche Cayenne (above), but also their use by Mum's on the school run:

t put it like this:

'The worst case of cayennes congregating can be found by Colfes school in Lee with middle class, big-hair mums dropping off their dah-ling little Tristans. They can barely see over the bonnet let alone actually drive the things and beacause of this they block the road up something chronic. '

and Nigel put it thus:

'The school-run mums and others like 4x4s because they make them feel safer and give them a clearer view. So essentially we have some of the most timid, inexperienced, and unsafe drivers, driving around in the biggest and most dangerous vehicles. '

All of which got me thinking back to dim and distant past of my school days in the 70's. Going to Rockmount Junior school in Upper Norwood, out of a School of 360 pupils, only 1 got taken to school by car, and he got the piss taken out of him unmercilessly for being such a wuss. Nowadays either the kids seem to have gone feral by the age of 5 with no parental supervision or control whatsoever or they are so pampered and protected that they can't use a bus by themselveves at the age of 18.

The only way I managed to get a lift to school was to walk out in front of a car and get my ankle smashed to pieces, and even then it was only while the plaster was up to the top of my thigh, as soon as it went below the Knee, that was it, back on the Bus (and my Mum had her own car and didn't work). The other time was my 3rd year at secondary School when I managed to persuade my German teacher Mrs Beric to pick me up, which at least kept me up with all the gossip about who was shagging who on the staff.

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Much has been said about the fire by people who know a lot more than me, but I do have one concern which was prompted by reading the following:

Ian Allchin, a press officer with London Fire Brigade, told Times Online that the firefighters' efforts were hampered. "Initially, we were in defensive mode, with crews standing well back from the flames," he said. "We were able to confirm within about 45 minutes that there were no hazards on board, and began to fight the fire aggressively."

Before anyone jumps down my throat, I do not claim to know anything about fire fighting and I am not saying the response of the Fire Brigade was wrong. What concerns me, and this is a question not an accusation, is that did the fire fighters treat the fire exactly the same way as any other fire or was sufficient consideration given to the fact that what was on fire was irreplaceable? If a mangy old warehouse is burning down then what does it matter if you wait 45 mins to check for hazards, but when the blaze is consuming an irreplaceable part of our heritage maybe there is a case to be made for going in and dealing with it straight away?


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Nick Raynsford

If like me you live in Glyndon Ward, (this includes most of Plumstead Common btw), if he stands again, our new MP will be Nick Raynsford as Glyndon is moving from Erith and Thamesmead to Greenwich and Woolwich. I find this very disturbing, because he seems to be a pretty crap MP, even when compared to profession car hater John Austin. I was doing some research on the Blackwall Tunnel fiasco about which I have commented previously and after following various leads, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Raynsford seems to do very little except coin in a load of cash for his retirement fund. I put this comment on an article on the excellent Charlton Average blog.

'On the subject of Nick Raynsford, (am interested as my ward is going over to Greenwich and Woolwich at the next election) he doesn't seem to have much to say about anything at all at the moment. Is he ill? or just plain lazy? Maybe he is planning to stand down at the next election and just can't be bothered any more?

He seems to have plenty of QUANGOS and directorships on the go

'I am currently Chairman of the Construction Industry Council and a Vice President of the Town and Country Planning Association, Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Royal Town Planning Institute, President of the Labour Housing Group and Chairman of the NHBC Foundation, the Fire Protection Association Council and the London Open House Supporters at Large Group. I am also a Non-executive Director of Rockpools and of Hometrack.'
all of which no doubt are contributing to his retirement fund. But if you try and find out his opinions of any local issues, there is a deafening silence.

He claims to have a new website under construction, but I can find no evidence of it. I can find no press releases from him since 1/11/2006, and not a speech since October last year.
He has only asked one question in this session of Parliament on 15/03/2007 about firemen's pensions.
He has intervened in several debates, but often these have not been related to Local matters, but seem to be either to protect his legacy as a former minister or as a spokesperson for the construction Industry.
I think the area deserves better.'

Seems I am not alone in my view, or even the first to question his work as an MP, found this post on the excellent Greenwich Phantom blog.

Am I being unfair? Is he just not communicating all the good work he does? or is he just a waste of space?


Thursday, May 17, 2007


Got a suggestion to make our roads safer, less congested and faster, that is to confiscate and crush all Nissan Micra's and rescind the driving licences of all those who drive them.
I would suggest a start could be made with the particularly ridiculous Mk 2 'noddy’ car version (see above).

This would have massive benefits in relieving Traffic congestion as there would be far less driving on the outside lane of dual carriageways, just below the speed limit, without overtaking anything, there would be far less gaps in the traffic by people failing to keep up with the car in front and many more cars would be able to get through traffic lights when they are green, thus optimising the use of precious road space. Far fewer cars would be failing to drive through gaps big enough for a London Bus to go through sideways and you wouldn’t have to wait for the moron Micra driver in front of you trying to turn right, but needing the road clear for 2 miles in each direction before they turn out, thus speeding up the flow of traffic. Finally otherwise law abiding motorists will have far less chance of being driven to the edge of insanity by the Micra menace and will not feel the need to execute reckless manoeuvres in order to get past.

What is the problem with these people, is it that they learnt to drive in a Micra (seem to be the most popular driving school vehicle) and they are such poor drivers that they can’t think of using anything else? Whatever it is just get them off the roads NOW!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007



and found this on a lamp post on the corner of Plumstead Road and Villas Road, (Its a notice of planned work related to Crossrail)

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Came across an article in the Times last Friday about our local Hospital and have to say I found it all rather disturbing. If you want to read the full version, just click here. However to sum up, it seems that QEH is 'technically' bankrupt. What exactly that means, who knows, surely you are or you're not!! It's all down to the PFI contract, which was used to build QEH in 2001. The repayments on the contract mean that the hospitals fixed costs (things they have to pay for, before they treat a single patient) are double those of other hospitals, but the money they get for treating patients does not take these extra costs into account, so if you go to QEH for treatment they have 6% less money to look after you. This makes me wonder what they are cutting back on.
I have to come clean at this point that I am not a fan of the place, ever since they nearly killed a friend of mine through incorrect treatment, which they then lied through their teeth about, to try and cover up their ineptitude. But I digress.
The really stupid thing is that in order to try and solve the accounting problem, patients will be directed away from financially prudent hospitals, and directed towards the ones which signed dodgy PFI deals and don't necessarily have the money to do the job properly. This seems to be the economics of the madhouse and if nothing is done the problem will go on for 30 years or so! By which time no doubt, the building will be in such a poor state it will need to be replaced with the help of a new PFI.
So if you have ever have the misfortune to go to QEH you will find one thing they don't spend much on is the food. I don't think I have ever seen such unappetising fare and meager portions this side of a workhouse. I was so glad I was only visiting, would starve if I were admitted.

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Friday, May 11, 2007


Came across this post on a bulletin board

'Plumstead, Is Plumstead rough??????????? God heavens yes!!!!!! you have Barnfield estate along plumstead common road! you cant get any more violent! further along you have Woolwich common estate - again very violent! further into woolwich you have Conaught estate - full of Junkies! Cardwell in Woolwich - i bet its still rough even with new houses!SE18 is just one huge dump!!!!! AVOID THIS PLACE LIKE THE PLAGUE! especially if you have kids!!!!!!! i moved to Scotland to escape that madness! i know all the hooligans of Se18 and i'm still young enough to still know they are still out giving it loads of grief - AVOID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'

Obviously the writer was not too keen on the area!! But a few thoughts spring to mind, firstly, only one of the examples could even remotely be described as being in Plumstead (Barnfield). Secondly the writer clearly has some issues with Council Estates. I take it he or she is not a fan. Thirdly, who in their right mind would want to go and live in Scotland, which has one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe, is in near perpetual darkness for 3 months of the year and whose greatest addition to cuisine in the 20th Century was the fried Mars Bar.

Anyway I think that the writer has rather jumped from the frying pan into the fire if this report in the Times is to be believed.

'Scotland tops list of world's most violent countries'

By Katrina Tweedie
A UNITED Nations report has labelled Scotland the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America. England and Wales recorded the second highest number of violent assaults while Northern Ireland recorded the fewest. The study, based on telephone interviews with victims of crime in 21 countries, found that more than 2,000 Scots were attacked every week, almost ten times the official police figures. They include non-sexual crimes of violence and serious assaults. Violent crime has doubled in Scotland over the past 20 years and levels, per head of population, are now comparable with cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Tbilisi. '

But enough about Scotland save to say it is my sincerest belief that England should relinquish ownership immediately and grant them their freedom.

But on to maligned Council Estates in Plumstead, although not mentioned earlier, one of the largest is Glyndon, which I walk through to get to and from work. I don’t live there and I am sure it’s not perfect, but it is a pleasant place, every morning I see any litter being picked up, on the way home lots of kids are playing happily. There are lots of trees and green spaces. The Council has gone a good job landscaping the area. I have never had one bit of trouble while walking through there (been doing so for 20 years now) , so I thought I would share a few Glyndon pics with you. Don’t expect you would want to go there for a day out, but don’t avoid it because some of the people might not have much money!! It is a nice place.

And best of all they have a Temple dedicated to Me, my very own Temple!!

The Si (bonetic) Temple.
They love me on the Glyndon.

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Coming soon...............

Dr. Potts of Plumstead


Monday, May 07, 2007

PCEG MEETING 6th May 2007

Went to my first PCEG meeting yesterday, have to say that I enjoyed it, lots of friendly people there committed to making PC a better place for all of us. As with any voluntary group, they can always do with more help so if any of you can spare some time to get involved that would be great.
I am not putting up this post in any official capacity, but just thought I could let people know of a few things that PCEG is up to at the moment, as some of you may want to get involved. So in no particular order.


The group has in the past had a campaign to highlight this problem, but that was several years ago.

" The group held a "dog-poo awareness day" in which we flagged over 900 offending "items" on the Plumstead Commons, hoping to bring dog-owners to a state of conscience about the extent of the problem."

Now they are looking at a combination of something similar, combined with pressure on the council to enforce the by-laws, this may, however be a problem as the council apparently only has one dog warden for the whole borough, and if this post on Greenwich Watch (05/03/2007) is to be believed, the by-laws have apparently lapsed.

"There was it seems a local Bye Law that allowed for prosecution but it expired last year. Our readers will be glad to hear that the Bye Law - when it did exist - was so effective it secured the prosecution of a grand total of zero offenders. Apparently this was because there were rarely any witnesses to the act itself - which is understandable as, let's be honest, you'd have to be pretty strange to want to watch a dog empty its bowels.

Never fear though, for whilst all dog owners can currently allow their four legged friends to defecate all over the Borough with impudence, the Council is looking at "options" available to it which will include a "strategy" for solving the problem. The Council expects to "allow authorised officers to issue on the spot fines to offenders" and it will be a "co-ordinated response".

If this is the case all the more reason to get involved, because if we don't nothing will happen.

2. Summer events on the Commons

PCEG always has a stall at the Make Merry festival (Saturday 9th June, Plumstead Common, 12 noon-5pm) where you can chat to members, buy lovely plants, take part in a raffle or two, maybe win a bike to get around our lovely area, and even join up, it only costs £4 to become a member

They are also hoping to be represented at some of the other events on the Commons this summer, these are:-

Vaisakhi Mela (Sunday 20th May, Winns Common (10am-7pm, though if we can get a stall, I expect PCEG will be there in the afternoon, If anyone knows who to contact about this festival and whether it is possible to get a stall there, please contact me, my e-mail is at the top of the page.

Asian Mela (Sunday 24th June, Plumstead Common 10.30am-8pm, but we hope to be there daytime)

Great Get Together (Saturday 30th June, Winns Common 11am-5pm)

3. Graffiti

For regular readers, you may remember that I signed up to PCEG, to help with this plague on the area, have still not got my tin of paint for the Heavitree Garages, but it is on its way. which is good 'cos last Thursday the goodwork done by 'cleansweep' was undone by another attack.

I was also really upset to see graffiti had been sprayed on the Tennis Courts opposite the garages, which is a real shame as they are a great asset to the Common, well used, well constructed and until now largely untouched by vandalism.

I would hate for them to become just another piece of decaying Plumstead Common infrastructure. One piece of good news is that the Local police SNT (safer neighbourhood team) has made Criminal Damage one of its 3 top priorities for the next few months following pressure from PCEG and Nick Day.

4. The old Post Office

(yes I know it has had new windows since this pic was taken!!)
There still seems to be much conjecture and little hard evidence as to what is happening here, beyond the fact that it appears to be being put back into use, though exactly what no one seems to know for sure!! (answers on a postcard please!!)

5 Prince Albert

Some controversy here so don't want to stir up a hornet's nest as I am a new member, save to say that given the councils schizophrenic attitude to the building, PCEG have asked the council to look into the possible incorporation of the existing building into the proposed new development at Plumstead Manor school. I may do a separate post some time saying what I think (for what it's worth).

So that's about it, as i said at the beginning, this is not an official PCEG communication, nor an exhaustive list of what happened, I hope I have not got anything wrong or upset anyone, let me know if I have, and if you want to get involved then join up!!

Got to tweak this a bit and add a few more links etc. but off over to see my dad now so will publish anyway and update later, not proof read so feel free to correct my English!!