Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wandle Fortnight 2018

Wandsworth, London.

Wandling: Beer, a long walk and a short walk.

We were always planning to come back to the UK in September to celebrate my birthday. But when we heard about the Wandle Fortnight we decided to bring the UK flight forward a few days so that we could take part in a couple of the events. Wandle Fortnight is a "community-led celebration of all things Wandle running from September 8th to September 23rd".

Saturday 15-Sep-18.

Saturday was a bit hectic. It started with an early train to Reigate to do a park run followed by a cup of tea with my sister, followed by lunch with my mother in the residential home, then a train back up to London for the Wandle Beer festival.

They had about 60 beers on tasting. You got a pint glass with marks for a full pint, a half pint, and a third pint. That way, by drinking thirds, you could try a wider variety of beer. You bought a voucher for 5 pounds marked off in 10p. As you drunk your beer they scored off the relevant price 10p's. Any unused value on the card could be donated at the end of the evening to the nominated charity the Cat Protection League - a most worthy cause.

There seems to be something of a trend these days for brewing IPA of which I am not great fan. So I went for the two milds that were on offer and then tried a variety of porters.

It was better attended than the photo makes it look. There were a number of people seated behind me when I took this photo. We were joined for a couple of pints by our friends Gavin and Tania. When we had done enough beer tasting we headed off to Tooting Market for something to eat and a glass of wine at the always excellent Unwined.

Sunday 16-Sep-18.

The 30th anniversary of the inaugural Wandle Trail walk from Charing Cross to Croydon. You might wonder why it started at Charing Cross. It’s because the Long Distance Walkers Association don’t think the Wandle Trail is long enough so they added on an extra 5 miles. Oh my aching feet!

The newly opened promontory at Battersea Park.

The Wandle Creek, now improved by the removal of the barrier .

Looking the other way towards Bell Creek.

A small detour to the underpass by Wandsworth Bridge where a scene from Clockwork Orange was filmed.

My Dad was a great film buff and would have loved to know I lived so close to this spot.

The snuff mills at Morden Hall Park.

We followed the full path down to one source of the Wandle at Carshalton Ponds and then across to the other source in Wandle Park.

A long day and a long walk.

The walk ended up in Croydon and we took the tram home for a long soak in warm bath.

Wednesday 19-Sep-18.

Doing stuff about Wandsworth Town centre I always like to have a peer at the ex-Ram Brewery site to see how the river is doing. A pleasant surprise to see that the site is now open and there is a foot bridge from the High Street over the river so you can now access a stretch of the river previously hidden within the brewery.

The new landscaping is in full foliage.

On both sides. Not very extensive, and one might even say cosmetic, but a great improvement on the previous vertical sided concrete channel.

View back towards the new footbridge, Wandsworth High Street and Southside shopping centre.

View towards the Armoury Way road bridge.

Thursday 20-Sep-18.

Mapping the Mills - Walk 2. "Explore the significance of the River Wandle in establishing a millennium-long tradition of flour milling in Wandsworth. Walk, from Earlsfield Station to the Causeway, Wandsworth Town". Organised by The Building Exploratory.

Not just flour mills but calico, snuff, gunpowder, and more. The reason the river was so popular was that it's steep drop made for a fast stream good for turning mills. We only walked a short stretch of the overall river but covered the area I know best. Fascinating to learn where the various mills had been and some the the political and economic history that shaped the changing industrial landscape.

There are not many photos of this walk as we were too busy listening to our very well informed guide. You can read more and download a map and guide on the Wandle Valley Park Mapping the Mills page.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Giardini di Pomona

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Sunday 02-September-2018.

An absolutely fascinating open day at the Pomona Gardens botanical conservancy with a huge collection of over 600 varieties of fig and a guided tour from the amazingly knowledgeable Paolo Belloni.

It started off with an exhibition of figs, of course, in the courtyard plus other produce.

A circle of hay bales with just some of the various varieties on display.

Quite the selection of black and green figs, cut open to show how different they were inside.

Also other fruits on display, a trough of quinces and some speciality apples.

These apples are not only red on the outside but also have red flesh.

Also nuts - hazelnut, walnut, almond, and pistachio of which more anon.

Chris started chatting to Paolo Belloni who then, Pied Piper-like, lead us on a tour acquiring more and more followers as we went. We started in an adjacent orchard with a collection of citrus fruits and some water lilies with water filtration properties.

Across the road into the main arboretum where we met and tasted a range of figs. I was amazed at how different a fig can taste.

We also encountered a pistachio tree. I've never seen a pistachio tree before although I did know they grow on trees.

Close up of the pistacchio.

The final tree was a Kaki, Japanese Persimmon, with a real story behind it.

"The rebirth of time" Kaki tree project 
On 9 August 1945 Nagasaki was bombed with an atomic bomb. It seemed that any living creatures were dead, however, under the rubble, it was noticed that some plants had survived including some kaki trees, although rather battered. One of these, very weakened, returned to good health after being treated of the botanist Masayuki Ebinuma. This tree belongs to the local variety of the area of ​​Nagasaki called "Tongo". 
From the fruits of this khaki tree, which survived the bombing, seeds were obtained.  So "the second generation kaki seedlings" were born. 
In 1994 Ebinuma started to entrust the small plants to the children visiting the city asking them to grow them to become symbols of peace. 
In August 1995, thanks to the contribution of the artist Tatsuo Miyajima was born the project "The rebirth of time"
Following Paolo in a silent meander through a lavender maze we arrived at the tree.

Persimmons on the tree.

After that we went up to yet more fig trees where Paolo was experimenting with a system of micro-terracing using small linear mounds filled with organic materials acting as both reservoir and water run-off control. An absolutely fascinating couple of hours.

A fitting final view, the Kaki tree and lavender maze:

Friday, August 31, 2018

Aperitivo Classico 2018 - August

Bar Fod, Cisternino, Puglia.

The season continues...

Wednesday 01-August-2018.

A bonus, mid-week Aperitivo Classico to celebrate 20 years of this excellent tradition. A tribute to Edith Piaf with songs and stories of her life. The maestro who produces the series is the leftmost man seated next to the singer.

The acoompanying nibbles just had to be birthday cake!

Sunday 05-August-2018.

No concert because it was the town's patron Saints' day: Cisternino Celebrates San Quirico 2018.

Sunday 12-August-2018.

Clarinet and Pianoforte by M Goffredo and A Palasciano.

The nibbles were Capocollo from Martina Franca in a rosetto roll - "a traditional capocollo of Apulia. It is smoked with laurel leaves, thyme, almonds, Mediterranean herbs and pieces of bark of Macedonian Oak" [Wikipedia].

The recommended wine was a rose. Mine had a hint of cork taint but Mary's was fine however they were from different bottles.

Sunday 19-August-2018.

Song and Pianoporte by G Palma and L Tanzarella.

Nibbles: Hummus with crudités and prosecco.

Sunday 26-August-2018.

Guitar solo by G Calo. This guy was good. Not that the others weren't good but this man was a virtuoso.

Bar Fod kindly posted this picture in which you can see, on the back left table, Mary and I with our friends Chris and John, Michael and Gail, and Trudi and Steve with family. In the left front row other regulars, the German couple (Alex and Barbara) and the Italian couple (whose names escape me).

Nibbles: Aubergine dip which Fabio described as a "savoury cappuccino" with cream cheese, mango sorbet and a small croissant. The recommendation drink was a vodka-based cocktail which was delicious!

The last session of August is the occasion for the "team photo" with all the regulars, Mary and I right in the centre.

Update: Sunday 26-August-2018.

A supernumerary Sunday concert after all the Italian tourists have gone home. A triple bill with piano accordion ...

... clarinet and pianoforte ...

... and singer with pianoforte.

Nibbles: a re-presentation of insalate caprese with rocket (rucola) purée, mozzarella and tomato with mini friselle.

A wonderful memento of a great Cisternino tradition.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wandle Trail GPX and KMZ for Walking

Wandle Trail (version 1.0). Wednesday 29-August-2018.

I have created a GPX file of the Wandle Trail [new window] for walkers to use with hand held GPS. There are versions out there but they are either for cyclists or behind a paywall or chargeable. Mine is free (hey, I'm retired I need a hobby). Feel free to use.

If you find any errors please let me know at:
Suggestions for improvement welcome.


I started with the Google map (above) which I exported as a Google Map KMZ version then converted to GPX using GPS Visualizer, tweaked and converted back again.

There are several versions of the Wandle Trail out there so I have used the route from the Wandle Trail Map on the Wandle Valley Park site.

At several points the Wandle Valley Park map shows alternatives, I picked the one that best suits my recollections of walking the trail.

Links [mostly not in new window]:

Wandle Trail v01 Google map



More about the Wandle Trail [Wikipedia]

Bike trail versions from The Guardian [New window]

You're welcome!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Notte Verde: Acqua e Sale 2018

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Saturday / Sunday 18 / 19-August-2018.

Another festival. As it says on the poster: Music, Culture, Gastronomy. Two nights to wander the streets of Cisternino and soak up the atmosphere.

Our street, Corso Umberto I, was dedicated to craft stalls. From Piazza Marconi up Via Manzoni it was the turn of the food stalls including a demonstration of passata making and local organic produce of all kinds.

As Via Manzoni segues into Via San Quirico we came across a local artisanal beer stall by Birrificio Birranova so we had to try their range. The Myra was my favourite, dark and sweet, brewing using mosta di primitivo (leftover must from wine making).

We took our beer up to the Ponte - the raised section of via San Quirico - found some plastic chairs from the earlier cultural talk and sat to oversee the scene and listen to the music.

The live music was Arheref Chargui Trio, a French-Italian-Tunisian group comprising drums, bass and oud. You could tell the drummer was the Italian - he was wearing a scarf, presumeably to protect his neck from draughts. A very North African sound, you could almost be in the Mahgreb. We bought their first CD rather than the second because I think first albums always have something fresh and special and avoid the Second Album Syndrome.

The next night it was a case of "rinse and repeat" with an intervening lunchtime Aperitivo Classico, lunch and siesta.

We strolled around with artisanal beer in hand then went to Chirico Bistrot for a cocktail whilst listening to the DJ set.

And so to bed after the witching hour.