Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The "Much Sought After" Tonsleys

We live on the edge of a half-kilometer square of two- and three-story, Victorian, terraced houses known as "The Tonsleys" (Tonsley Street, Tonsley Road, Tonsley Place, Tonsley Hill and other streets) - bounded by Fairfield Street, East Hill, Trinity Road and Swandon Way (inside that green square). Or as they are often described by estate agents as "the much sought after Tonsleys".

To quote an old article in The Independant: "Because of the village atmosphere and convenient transport, the Tonsleys attract young professional couples who, living in small properties, have to begin thinking of moving when they start planning to have children. Some move to a larger house within the Tonsleys, but when the next child arrives they have to move again, out of the Tonsleys altogether.

Since working in Victoria I now walk to Clapham Junction and in the 7 ½ minutes it takes me to cross The Tonsleys I counted two Aston Martins, four Porsche and un-numbered Audis, BMWs and Chelsea Tractors. Who knows what is parked in the other streets and we haven't seen the Ferrari for a while.

Two Aston Martins and a Porsche

I get a monthly update from - here are sales from the last three months in Tonsley Place / Road / Hill:

2 Tonsley Place £670,000
7 Tonsley Road £620,000
80 Tonsley Hill £875,000
41 Tonsley Place £1,150,000
32 Tonsley Road £975,000

For more up to date prices see the search.

Clearly not for the young graduate trainee. It was not always such an affluent area according to the cabbie I had the other week. Brought up in Southfields and went to school nearby. He claimed - "no word of a lie" - that 80% of the kids from the Tonsleys were on free school meals. How times change.

Now if we could just move our house one street along!

[Yeah, I know, then we wouldn't have been able to afford it in the first place]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sotto Le Stelle 03 - Walls Stripped Bare

The builder is in, the plaster is off, rubble is away and the wonderful vaulting is revealed.

Pietro has been taking photos and sending us regular updates on the cleaning.

Cleaning the plaster off the walls and ceiling

Where the arches of the vaults meet each other at right angles you get a lovely "Christmas star".

1st christmas star
Christmas Star

The stonework will be sand-blasted and repointed. The plan is to plaster the vertical surfaces and leave the arches stonework exposed. Which walls get re-plastered depends on how we plan the re-build. The jury is still out on that.


We will also need to put in some additional steps to improve access to the stairs up to the roof.

Stairs from street and up to terrace

Saverio spotted that the doorway into the kitchen had traces of an arch. Here he has taken away the narrowing walls to reveal a wonderful, elegant arch.

Archway into the Kitchen

The external walls also need cleaning, repointing and painting. So up goes 14 metre scaffolding.

Scaffolding on valley side

We go out in mid-February to see the progress for ourselves (and pay the first part payment). Seeing the apartment "in the flesh" may help firm up our remodelling decisions. Can't wait.

Loads of photos on Flickr:

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Thames Path 05 - Thames Barrier to Erith

To help walk off the New Year's Eve indulgences we planned the next stage of our Thames Path walk. The idea had been to walk the eight miles from Staines to Windsor and Eton Riverside but flooding caused by recent rains had other ideas. Instead we went for the recently opened extension from the Thames Barrier downstream to the River Darent.

Lynn, John, Ros, Bob Mark (me), Mary

The route took us past Thamesmead (mostly social housing developments built in the late 1960s) and Crossness Pumping Station (a sewage pumping station designed by engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette at the eastern end of the Southern Outfall Sewer). The latter is a Grade I listed building and looks like a must see for fans of steam engines and Victorian engineers. Write up of the route:

It was a glorious sunny day as we set off and stayed that way. The one downside of this stretch was the absence of anything other than housing and industrial estates; no shops and no pubs for our normal lunch stop. As a result we kept walking and, after nearly three hours uninterrupted walking, decided to call it a day and peeled off at Erith for the train home.

Distance this leg 13.2 km
Previous legs 105.4 km
Total so far 118.6 km

Monday, January 07, 2013

New Year’s Eve 2012 / 2013

Mary has been travelling so much she wanted a quiet festive season at home. We had cancelled our planned trip to Ghana and settled for a dinner party for 10 instead. We provided the main course whilst other provided canapés, desserts and cheeses.

We started off with a blind wine tasting for a bit of fun – four sparkling wines – just to see what people made of them without preconceptions from seeing the labels. Personal preferences varied and everyone reckoned that one or other of the South African wines was French.

A - Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1996 (M&M cellar, current price £150!!!)
B - Waitrose Blanc de Noir NV (Waitrose, £20.99) - Mary meant to buy their award winning vintage one @ £24.99 but it was sold out
C - Simsonsig Cuvée Royale 2005 (, £14.50)
D - Graham Beck Brut Blanc de Blancs 2008 (, £13.99)

Chateau Meyney 1989, Chateau Canon de Brem 1998

A couple of fine clarets to go with the steak. The meal lasted from 7pm to midnight followed by more chat till 2 in the morning, past my normal bedtime.

Five people stayed over so I am grateful that the local launderette does a service wash for all the bedding otherwise the house would still be festooned with sheets and duvet covers.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Goose is Getting Fat

Our 4.5 kilo goose generated a whole litre of fat. Goose fat is recommended for roasting potatoes so we wanted to keep it but not as one great lump. We hit upon the cunning wheeze of freezing it in cup-cake cases then bagging up ready to dispense in handy sized portions throughout the year.

We used the first block on New Year's Eve to create some very tasty roasties :-)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Christmas 2012

This year it was our turn to host my parents for Christmas lunch. We take turns with my brother and sister; Mary aims to do the same for her mum with her sister and brother; last year we hosted Mary's Mum in the Lake District. Although it doesn’t always quite work out that way that is the plan,

This year we decided to go for goose and the excuse to open some fine wine from the cellar.

Chateau LaLagune 1993

Decanting over a candle is so 19th century, I use a torch instead. I also use a laboratory grade filter to strain the dregs and sediment and squeeze out an extra small glass for use in the gravy or drinking later. I used to use a coffee filter but that gave some paper taste taint - a lab paper works a treat.

Mum and Dad arrived mid morning by taxi for a late lunch and a relaxing afternoon and evening. They stayed over so were with us for Boxing Day breakfast and lunch. We were trying to feed Dad up as he had lost some weight with recent illness and needed fattening up - he certainly seemed to have regained his appetite.

A full fridge is a happy fridge

Then we relayed them over to my brother’s in St Margaret’s for supper with Sarah’s family and a couple of nephews.

More good food and good company although there was a surfeit of desserts – Sarah having gone into overdrive in the sweet department.