All change around Putney

Putney is having a facelift. Everywhere you look there are roadworks, scaffolding and plenty of new shops, bars and restaurants springing up too. The Exchange is still undergoing a transformation while the works at the station are fascinating to catch a glimpse of every once in a while to see how things are progressing.

The crossroads has been a bit of a mess for a few weeks now but it looks as if that is reaching its end, with those fancy timer crossing guides now up and running. They must have been installed after numerous crashes and near-misses at that junction.

Down at the bottom, meanwhile, there’s two new bars – the Swift (review to come) and The Toy Shop both give more options for the going out brigade beyond Fez and Citizen Smith (oh, fine Lost and Co, if we must) while Bills is now a nice established part of the high street. Flames, which always overpowered the smell of the nice little flower shop next door with its doner kebab odours, is also, mercifully, gone too.

As mentioned, it’s the station where most interest lies. For months now it’s been undergoing serious work to make it able to handle the huge numbers of people that use the station – which can be seriously busy – to meet this demand, and at present it’s in that stage where it look as if nothing is being done. Yet you know that once the new staircases go in and the ticket hall starts getting expanded and all that it’ll feel like a different place. It’s not hard to imagine people looking back at photos of it from 2011 and seeing it as utterly different and impossible to comprehend as we do in of photos from 1911.

Putney Station

Putney Station

Meanwhile over at East Putney tube the new apartment blocks are slowly taking shape and altering the skyline. The fact a small Waitrose is going in underneath for residents to shop at after leaving the tube is a huge bonus too. Can’t say the Exclusive Foods shop really entices us in very often for some essentials. Putney Hill was given some new tarmac the other day too!

All in all, then, things are looking up and it’s very welcome as Putney deserves all the improvements it can get.

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Filed under Bill's, Cafes, Citizen Smith, Lost and Co., Putney Train Station, Restaurants

Tried and True review

Tried and True cafe on the Upper Richmond Road

Tried and True cafe on the Upper Richmond Road

On a grey, overcast Saturday a week or so ago, The Putney Paper visited the Tried and True cafe on the Upper Richmond Road, near the Arab Boy pub.

Having walked and ran past many times it was great to finally go in and the first impressions were good. Staff were friendly, immediately gave you a free bottle of water with glasses and got you seated. The menu was full of choices and the special – jalapeno cornbread, poached egg and pulled pork (pictured) – was divine. So much so our friend had it the following day when we returned for a second sampling.

The special - delicious!

The special – delicious!

We also tried a very tasty, well made sausage sandwich and a deliciously simple salmon bagel, that came with a little side of capers to add as you wished. The tea and coffees were more than adequate and the price, while not ‘cheap’, is certainly not expensive either.

They also have nice music playing in the background and the decor is plain and simple, a nice change from the wood, antique-y feel of so many cafes and coffee shops (there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just been done to death).

All in all, Tried and True is a lovely place and well worth the visit, even if it is a little further down the Upper Richmond Road than you may otherwise be inclined to walk.

Tried and True cafe on the Upper Richmond Road

Tried and True cafe on the Upper Richmond Road

As a final tempter, they even give you a free badge when you leave. You can’t say fairer than that. You can follow them on Twitter too.

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Filed under Cafes, Food, Good Putney

Review: Beer tasting at The Duke’s Head with The Beer Boutique

Duke's Head Sign

Duke’s Head Sign

Have you noticed how popular alcohol has become? Everywhere you go these days you see people quaffing drinks of different hues, textures, colours and tastes. And not just in Putney but all over London. No doubt folk in others parts of the UK think it’s just another “London thing” but we wouldn’t be surprised to find folk back home take to it just as quickly as we fancy lar-de-dar city folks have.

Anyway, with this in mind, it was with a joyous heart and a spring in our step that The Putney Paper headed to The Duke’s Head on Thursday evening for a spot of sophisticated beer tasting courtesy of those fine chaps at The Beer Boutique.

For those not aware (do you live under rocks?) the Beer Boutique is a lovely little shop just down the Upper Richmond Road near the Fresh fish and chip shop (if you don’t know where it is by now you’ve no chance). It aims to offer a lovely selection of taste ales, lagers and bitters, from exotic locations around the world, and a few brewed here in good ol’ Blighty.

So, back to the Duke’s Head, and our two amiable hosts Mark and Jonno, the latter wearing a marvelously colourful jumper, took The Putney Paper, and a good 25-30 others, on a beer-tasting treat of beers from the UK, US, Belgium and Germany. Some courses were accompanied with ‘paired foods’, such as cheese crackers or spicy pastrami, and we learnt a little about each beer and how it had been made as we went. Lovely stuff.

This was great fun and what was also good was the sheets we were given to note down our thoughts on each beer. While this started with good intentions, and notes such as “ a pleasing aroma, reminds me of honey” and so forth, once the fourth beer arrived pen use on paper became more liberal and comments such as “tasty, give me another one” soon started appearing, followed by weird and wonderful doodles, comments and graffiti.

This was part of the charm, as while wine tasting still retains that air of snobbery and silly over-the-top phrases – “yes, I’m getting a hint of damp towel and badger sweat” – beer tasting seemed a much more informal, yet no-less-educational affair. We’d definitely do it again, and if you’re in the need for some fancy beers, be it for a gift, an ‘occasion’, or just as a break from the usual fizzy lager in the supermarkets, we couldn’t recommend the chaps in The Beer Boutique enough to help guide you on your way. Roll on the next sessions chaps, we’ll be there…

Also, as an aside, The Wolsey Room in the Duke’s Head is a bloody lovely little venue, – well worth investigating if you’re after a venue for a small-ish event. Plus some nice views too from the window, as you can see below:

View from Duke's Head Wolsey Room

View from Duke’s Head Wolsey Room

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Filed under Alcohol, The Duke's Head

In praise of…the river

A meeting of cloud, sky and sun over the Thames

A meeting of cloud, sky and sun over the Thames

Yes, yes, it’s an obvious choice and hardly needs pointing out, but then again it’s perhaps because it is so obvious that it does need praising. Aren’t we just so lucky to live on the River Thames?

Growing up far from London the idea you could live within strolling distance of the Thames would have been met with incredulous scoffs about price, availability of places, and other derision, and many friends in other areas of London often seem surprised by the closeness of the river when they come to visit: “What, it’s just down there?” “Yeah, come on I’ll show you.”

What’s so nice, so engrossing, is the endless change that it brings to the area. Any stroll down to the banks and you’re greeted by the tides in various states of rising and falling, sometimes pouring over the edge of the pavements, other times leaving huge expanses of dry shingle shore expose for dogs to charge along and children to play on, even runners to jog across.

Heading across Putney Bridge, on the tube or on the foot bridge, always brings pleasure, even surprise, no matter how often you do it, that you should be greeted to such fine views from a tube carriage – so often that clichéd-comic concept of sweaty armpits shoved in your face. Those people have obviously never travelled in through the back street houses of Fulham and out onto Putney Bridge to be greeted by the beauty of an ebbing tide and a long, slow sunset flitting between the cast-iron fittings into the carriage as you rattle home from work.

River Thames on New Year's Day 2013

River Thames on New Year’s Day 2013

Then, for running, walking, cycling, as you curve up and around to Hammersmith Bridge, as the road gives way to a woody, earthen track, perfect for a feeling of escape and wildlife, the rowers stroking in sync,  the birds circling around. You can follow it for miles if you wish, or just loop back around through Barnes, Putney Common, or back on the north side past Fulham FC.

The boat race – we’ll save that for another time – and the boats you can ride up the river to Embankment, Blackfriars to get to work – we’ll also save that for another time…there’s so much to enjoy and be intoxicated by, to help you ruminate, to escape the London that can get you down – the mad, over-the-top, over-priced, endless-battle city it can sometime seems.

But there, at the bottom of the hill, Old Father Thames – the same river the Romans saw when they first arrived, the same river generations of Kings and Queens have ruled over, the same river that has inspired Shakespeare, Dickens and Wordsworth, just keeps rolling in and rolling out.

We should remember this, and praise it, because right now in all that rich span of history, stretching out over millennia, it’s ours.

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Filed under Good Putney, Sunsets, The Thames, Tides, Water, Weather

Bill’s to open in Putney, replacing Slug and Lettuce

Bill's set to open in Summer 2013

Bill’s set to open in Summer 2013

Putney high street has been on a mini downward spiral recently, what with the closure of some decent shops and the opening of the likes of Poundland and What a Chicken, but some good news was spied this week when bland highstreet boozer Slug and Lettuce closed to be replaced by a Bills in the coming months.

As you can see from the image to the right it’s expected to be open by early summer (which given the current weather could be some time in 2014) but we’ll hold out they mean around May time. It’ll be nice to have a good quality restaurant on the high-street and Bills does a good all-day selection of stuff, as you can see from its website.

It’s already advertising for jobs, so it’s nice to see some more inward investment to Putney of the sort The Putney Paper can get behind and happily spend its few remaining groats and guineas at of an evening.

What do you think? Pleased to see a new restaurant or would you rather something else? What else is Putney lacking at present?

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Filed under Bill's, Food, Restaurants

Parrots photo from the number 14 bus

Man with two parrots taken from the top of the number 14 bus

Man with two parrots taken from the top of the number 14 bus

So our humble post on the number 14 bus turned into an epic piece of internet folklore – sort of – thanks to some kind social promotion by Putney Social (the clues in the name we suppose) on its Facebook page. Thanks!

Two nice things happened as a result. One, a bus driver of the legendary 14 bus turned up on the post to say hello. So, we say hello to you “david” and thanks again for your excellent driving skills!

Secondly, a nice chap named JimC, has let us use the incredible picture above that proves the man with two parrots (because one  just wasn’t enough) is a real person and has been seen by others from the top deck of the 14.

From Putney to Warren Street via birds of paradise from the Amazon – what a route!

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Filed under Buses, Fulham, Transport

In praise of…the number 14 bus

Behold! The Great Number 14 Bus

Behold! The Great Number 14 Bus

Putney high-street is a bit of a mess. As recent meetings that have taken place have shown, there is a need for a change, especially because the traffic problems could be KILLING US! Well, we exaggerate but it’s a problem.

One of the main problems must be all the buses that lurch their way down the high-street. The 93, the 85, the 430, all great double-decker beasts of red that stop-and-start down the street, causing endless hold ups for the rest of the traffic trying to make its way down the road.

However, one bus we cannot fault despite its part in these problems,  is the 14. The sight of a solid 1 and a funky 4 appearing in the distance, or pixelated on a dot-matrix display at a bus stop always lifts our spirits. The 14 rises at the Green Man pub, like a river’s source, and then flows all the way to Warren Street in the heart of London. On its way it’ll take you through Fulham, via Kensington, and then on up to Piccadilly Circus and Shaftsbury Avenue. It is an epic route.

Men have told tales of great sights and sounds they have seen on this route – we once saw a man with a parrot on his shoulder in Fulham! Of course the folk back home didn’t believe us, but we don’t care, it was a real, live parrot, on a man’s shoulder. Sadly he didn’t look like a pirate.

We digress. The 14 runs all day and all night too, so you can always get home. Get yourself to Piccadilly Circus from anywhere in the capital and wait long enough – you may to wait a long time, but patience is a virtue – and eventually that bold, stark 14 will appear like a chariot to bear you home. You can even get off opposite either the KFC or the Subway on the high-street, to end the night with a feast fit for a on-the-run-from-a-rebellious-populous king.  All thanks to the 14.

So, thank you TFL for plotting this route through the South West heartland and into the city, starting with Putney, and thank you to the drivers, who deliver us with grace and charm back to our spiritual home, south of the river.

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Filed under Buses, London, Transport