Fruit-picking in London may sound as improbable an activity as gold-panning or unicorn-spotting, but it is not a fantasy I have plucked from my imagination. In deepest, greenest Enfield, where incidently there’s also a vineyard, is my nearest PYO farm; the award-winning Parkside. I particularly love it because they have cross-terrain trolleys (like the ones at festivals), in which to haul your cardboard-trayed bounty back to the farm shop.
I’ve seen many arresting sights in my neighbourhood, including a man with an alpaca outside Lidl, but the ones that really grate are those of the fly-tipping variety. Rarely a day goes by, when I don’t pass some hideous incident of dumping, be it a broken toilet, full-size plastic palm tree (yes, really), a fax machine or the Haringey-ite’s fly-tip of choice – the saggy mattress.
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Since I last blathered on about it, the topic – with a Haringey slant – has been in the headlines. First David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and one of the most vociferous opponents of the betting shop culture, has blasted the government for not taking action against lax planning law, as recommended by (Queen of Shops) Mary Portas in her retail report. And second, the Association of British Bookmakers has stated that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that the gambling industry targets poorer communities.
It’s clearly a huge, labyrinthine issue. So I thought it might be interesting to focus in on one single case-study – the newest addition to my neighbourhood; a branch of BetFred that opened its doors to Haringey’s eager gamblers in October 2011.
This is what the building – on the left of this glorious sepia pic – looked like many (many) moons ago.
London is primping and preening itself in preparation for the Olympics, in a very ostentatious bunting-and-banners way. But, earlier this month, I joined in with one of the clandestine projects going on.
The Big Waterways Clean Up is an initiative to get the waterways around the Stratford site looking their best for July. Here’s a little experience piece I wrote about my day…
I grew up on the cusp of the communication revolution. Computers and mobile phones existed but they were cumbersome (think Gordon Gekko’s Motorola brick), and not all that common. When I went to uni the first time around I kept in touch with friends by writing postcards rather than emails, called my parents from a public phone box and organised my social life via a pigeonhole (and by ‘pigeonhole’ I’m not referring to some sophisticated piece of software but an actual pigeonhole).