From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Posts Tagged ‘Community

Pendleton or Poppins

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My first tentative pedal pushes came back in January 2013. I’ve learnt from that experience that if you get the wrong bike, one that doesn’t quite fit, then as a new cyclist you will learn to loathe your bike and it’ll be left to gather dust or rust. Like that toasted sandwich maker.

Since collecting that first bike a nineteen months ago my determination to cycle around London has dwindled. When I moved house and I wasn’t sure the bike would fit in the removal van I mumbled that I could leave it behind if needed, it was the drivers determination that saw it come along to Haggerston from Willesden Green. I’ve picked up the odd Boris bike to cycle small distances. I took the plunge to buy a new bike a couple of weeks back and I now resent walking anywhere. Here’s what I’ve found over the past fortnight.

Having a bike frame that fits obviously makes all the difference. Having a local bike shop near me is even better. Though Better Health Bikes aren’t open yet I had the pleasure of meeting Colin when I had problems adjusting my seat. And as it turns out setting the handlebars correctly, fitting my helmet … it goes on. Keep your eye out for their grand opening by following them on Twitter. The bike shop is also a social enterprise so you’ll get your bike looked at and support a social enterprise supporting mental ill-health. And if you’re feeling particularly Parisian and have a basket on your bike you can pop next door to their bakery for  la baguette.

bike shop

It was Colin who stated that “you either go for Victoria Pendleton or Mary Poppins when choosing a bike. You’ve gone for Poppins.” He is spot on. Perhaps this time next year I’ll be Pendleton, but for now Colin is right (I opted for an upright style bike).

Then there was the fantastic team behind Pru Ride London. The confidence I gained cycling around London on my own, not only on the car free route but the journey I made to get to the start line and back was invaluable. From the steady realisation that actually I am not learning to cycle, that I do. To the giddy excitement I felt riding through Blackfriars underpass with a group of strangers who cheered as I shouted “I’m in the peloton.” Nothing could wipe the smile from my face that day, not even as I lay in the bath with the sorest of bums through forgetting my padded shorts as I dashed out that morning.


And finally, the London roads. That great fear I’ve had, my own personal imaginings of that final scene from One Day (the film version being set just down the road). I am aware I could be blogging in a weeks time completely retracting what I’m just about to type but I’m setting it down as it is now. Aside from one Royal Mail van who decided to drive so far up my padded bum (I remember every day now) that letters were spewing out of my mouth, I have found white van drivers, flash convertibles, our double-decker buses, rattly old motors courteous and conscientious. As long as I’ve been cycling sensibly and showing awareness they have as well. It’s sad to say fellow cyclists, especially around Shoreditch, running red lights have caused me a degree of stress on the roads. But even more than that it’s pedestrians running out into the road suddenly to cross, on the green light at crossings or scattered up and down roads. Even people with prams who appear dashing across from behind parked vans, or buses waiting at stops, that really have caused me the most anger, frustration and worry since I’ve been cycling pretty much daily. I truly don’t believe people would take these risks if it was a car so close to them and I’ve tried to reason with why they do so with bikes. The only thing I can think of is in a car you don’t necessarily see the person behind the wheel, you know you’re not harder than cars. On a bike perhaps you appear more human as you’re seen clearly, a lot of people even make direct eye contact as they jump out suddenly, their facial expression saying “sorry, but you’ll stop or swerve suddenly right?”. I know my blog isn’t going to change much about that, but if you read this and are guilty of this behaviour stop and think for your own sake, and if selfish motivation doesn’t help you see reason think of others.

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East London Loves. #2

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In April this year I moved to East London. I thought I’d be blogging almost daily as there is always something going on. In truth I’ve been so sidetracked by addictive coffee, wandering down Spitalfields alleys to find old buildings inscribed with Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor, discovering art in unexpected places. I started an East London section in June and since then have not updated it, or this blog much in general. Like many great ideas are born from bacon so was this blog post today.

Today, after a kick up the bum from my sister, I woke with a determination to blog. I decided to kickstart my brain by walking down to Dishoom for breakfast. I fell in love with Whisky Sours in their Permit Bar over my birthday and now I have tasted the future…. the Bacon Naan. I could dream of recreating this but it would be pointless, nothing could come close. Bacon with barely a trace of fat with coriander, chilli chutney and a hint of cream cheese with a freshly baked naan enveloping it. Washed down with chai of course.

I walked off breakfast along Redchurch Street, discovering lyrics from The National in street art from My Dog Sighs. And it was that band that carried my feet all the way to Chatsworth Road Market. Not my first visit to the area but the first time I’ve visited the market (think Broadway Market before it went too middle-class). Full of families, smiles and Pearly Kings and Queens sipping tea. My main reason for walking up there was to visit Clapton Craft’s pop-up in the LBJ shop. I can’t wait until they have a permanent home as the service was exceptional and choice staggering, I went for Elderflower Mikkeller and it’s taking all my will power not to crack open a bottle as I’m typing. Craft beer is my new safe drunk, pain seems lesser in the morning. I swear by it.

I stopped off at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden before heading back indoors for the afternoon and my walk coming full circle. As beautiful in the winter as it is in full bloom. The minute I walk in there I feel my shoulders physically drop (and that was with a back pack stuffed with second-hand books and bottles of beer). I sat down after my wanderings and took stock at how lucky I am to live here. Not just East London but London itself. Come April I’d have been here a decade and truly not a day goes by when I don’t think this. It can come to me at the most ordinary of times, sharing a smile with a stranger at a bus stop. Or it comes on days like this, when I get lost in places now so familiar to me.

East London Loves. #1

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I suspect this will be the start of a number of fawnings I have over East London since moving a month ago. In anticipation of this I shall mark this as number one.


1. My nearest cinema is now The Aubin Cinema in Shoreditch. I got to stretch my legs, sink a beer and nerd out over Star Trek last week. This is independent cinema at its greatest. 3D capabilities, cosy sofa’s and arm chairs draped with cushions and blankets. The attention to detail is above and beyond. They were playing William Shatner’s and Leonard Nimoy’s Spaced Out album as we waited for the film to start. Genius.


2. You have to love London. Friday it was announced that Canalival was cancelled, Saturday everyone turned up and went for  it anyway. To everyone I came into contact with (hipsters, the fuzz, soaked through to the skin drunks with missing shoes and wet iPhones, all the people who came out this morning to help tidy up the carnage) thank you for being hugely entertaining, happy and hysterical!  If you were there you’ll be smiling through the severe hangovers today I am sure.

street feast

3. Friday nights are swiftly turning into “bunk off work as early as possible and head to Street Feast” nights. My flat mate rightly summed it up as “like having a food Glastonbury right on our doorstep”. I’ve had hot dogs and jerk chicken followed by tiny Tiramisu and stunning ice-creams. The atmosphere is always incredible. People always have huge smiles on their faces when it comes to food and drink. Real joy to feel part of the happiness at the start of a weekend.


4. Last Sunday morning I sat out on my balcony with lemon tea and toasted crumpets slathered in London Borough of Jam, made in Hackney by Lillie. I picked up the Strawberry and Verbena flavour from Leila’s shop of Cambridge Circus. It’s sweeter than any jam I’ve ever tasted. Wish I was as talented as my mum when it comes to making scones.

5. Within moments of moving I felt an overwhelming urge to cut something asymmetrical into my hair. One feels the pressure standing next to Hipster’s at the bus stop. It so happens I ended up going through with it in a place that can’t be disguised (my fringe which has been the same for twenty years) at a place of friendly brilliance. Rockalily’s on Kingsland Road is creative and not once did I hear any inane hairdresser holiday chat. It wasn’t until I watched Star Trek a few days later that I realise this new look has actually turned me Vulcan. I’m embracing it.

Live Long and Prosper.

Eggs and Tadpoles

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I grew up in a small seaside town, the type that Morrissey was scorning in Everyday Is Like Sunday. From a young age I learnt how to sneak into holiday camps, how to prise a Winkle from its shell and that if a bird shat on you it was good luck. I also fell in love with books.

Brixham had a small, tiny library in the town centre. It was essentially a hut. Spurred on by my mothers bedtime readings of The Hobbit, Funny Bones and Mrs. Gaddy and the Ghost (my favourite) we would visit the library on a weekly basis and choose a book for the week. A practise that I sadly suspect has declined over the years.

The book that I took out of the library the most was what I referred to as “the eggs and tadpoles book”. For some unknown reason (Feminism, a belief that we should choose our own books, a belief that knowledge is power) my mum let me continually check this book out of the library. Continually. I don’t exaggerate. I loved that book. It was a polite and inoffensive introduction to the reproductive system which left the below image burnt in my brain.

My odd obsession thankfully did not result in an over sexed teenager (in fact the extreme opposite as I was a painfully awkward teenager with bad skin and slightly batty enough to remain ensconced in my own strange little world but that’s another story), leaving my mum worry free and eventually able to be head of the local schools library once we were all at senior school. It seems her entire life, even that strange land us children can’t get our heads around, the time before there was an us, my mum has surrounded herself with books.

I have strong memories of seeing books being dried on the radiators, their pages crinkling under the heat and the print blurring from the shock of water, after she’d inevitably dropped them in the bath. A habit passed down from mother to daughter along with a love of reading.

It’s National Libraries Day on Saturday 4th February. It’s so important we keep literacy alive and our libraries from becoming extinct. Do go support your local library, even if it means getting out a book on the reproductive system.

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August 20th Mixtape

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Friday night after drinks with a friend I found myself wandering around London with my camera. I was cold, a bit drunk, feeling run down, a bit bloody scared of the future as I’ve recently been made redundant, also slightly relieved as I was miserable at my last placement. Above all these emotions I felt a massive need to fall in love with London again.

All week I’d reminded myself how much I love it here, a drink alone in The Endurance, a walk around streets where the old buildings are allowed to co-exist with the new, inspiring drinks with my dearest friend, geeking out in Gosh! and surprise lunches from Lolita.

Unemployment scares the shit out of me frankly, I’ve never been out of work. This week the following panics have gone through my mind. What if I have to move to Milton Keynes? What if I start going loopy and try to grow my armpit hair? What if I have to work in Chicken Cottage? I don’t know why any of these thoughts have haunted me, but they have.

Where I’m lucky is that I’m really self-motivated and haven’t let this crush me (entirely) so I’ve been overly proactive on the job hunt. Where I’m even luckier is I have a lot of people who really believe in me, unconditionally and without question. They have kept me buoyed.

Music has played a massive part in keeping me positive as well. The songs that came on the jukebox at just the right time when I was sat alone and feeling down. Songs that have made me think anything is possible. Songs that keep me connected to all the things I adore in my life. You can listen to them by clicking anywhere on this post that says mixtape.

Last weeks mixtape was dedicated to strangers that inspired me. This weeks mixtape is for those that have been pretty awesome to me this week, putting up with the phone calls, the moodiness around the flat, the pints purchased and especially Lolita who has talked me out of my moments of Milton Keynes madness.

  1. Moloko – Familiar Feelings
  2. Metronomy – The Look
  3. Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
  4. CSS – Music Is My Hot Sex
  5. John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett – Really Free
  6. Billy Bragg – A New England
  7. The Kinks – This Time Tomorrow
  8. Band Of Horses – Factory
  9. My Morning Jacket – The Day Is Coming
  10. Bon Iver – Holocene
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Written by Anon PA

August 21, 2011 at 9:17 am

August 14th Mixtape

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I can’t remember the last time a week traipsed & pulled me through such a wide range of emotions. Utterly exhausted but ultimately ending it on positive feelings. I hope this weeks mixtape echoes that emotion.

I’ve swept streets after the riots. Been made redundant so wondering what my next move will be & how much to panic. Shed tears over lives lost, shed tears over homes & businesses lost. I’ve felt overwhelming support from friends & loved ones. I’ve felt utter joy at bees on a rooftop, pollinating flowers on the Southbank with high-rise buildings looming grand behind them. I’ve had my first official review of a live event put up on a website that is not my own, Sound Revolution.

I started the week sitting in front of the news for hours watching London fall, it was literally heartbreaking. Then the madness spread to other places. Initially, for a split second, I thought I’d feel ashamed of a city I love so much, it made my stomach turn and left a bitter taste in my mouth. But instead, because of the selfless & amazing actions of others, I have never felt so much pride. Pride in communities, human nature, charitable actions & deeds. So many people played their part and if I could somehow throw you a party & shower you with good karma then I would. Instead this playlist is for you, the people who have inspired me this week, a lot of you strangers that I will never meet. Thankyou. 

  1. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
  2. Blur – Tender
  3. David Bowie – Heroes
  4. Julian Casablancas – 11th Dimension
  5. Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can Work
  6. Patrick Wolf – Together
  7. OK Go – All Is Not Lost
  8. Bill Withers – Lean On Me
  9. Paul Weller – Brand New Start
  10. Elbow – One Day Like This
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Written by Anon PA

August 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm

London Still Calling

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On Monday night I was genuinely scared I’d wake up to Armageddon. I kept waking in the night and bursting in to tears after spending the night watching the horror unfold across London, the place I love unconditionally. I did wake to unrest, destruction, scars and cracks split open across the city. But I also woke to something else. Riot Clean Up

Thousands of tweets streaming from people all across London rolling up their sleeves and rushing to the aid of our communities. It felt like the most brilliant, sane, compassionate act of vigilantism I have ever witnessed and it made me feel so proud. It’s all thanks to Dan Thompson from who started the idea and it soon spread like wildfire. And you know why it did? Because the vast majority of us are decent people who care for this city.

If I could have escaped from my desk I would have been there, and although I hope and pray there will be no call for it tomorrow I will be there if more help is needed. This is my attempt at spreading the messages I’ve seen on Twitter today, how we can all help rebuild and move on from these mindless atrocities. I know there is a lot of anger out there, but if we channel that angry energy in to helping just think how much we can all achieve.

Please, please if you know of any charitable groups, individuals or communities that are going above and beyond the call of duty email me at so I can keep updating this blog post and keep momentum going within the volunteer community. 

  • Follow Dan Thompson and Riotcleanup who have been tirelessly organising volunteers. If you’re needed you’ll know from them first. Also, a lot of local council’s have also been keeping people up to date with details so find your borough on Twitter
  • Donations for those made homeless by the riots are being taken at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre by Haringey residents. Updated list from them as of August 12th is on their website for what items they need. If you’ve been hording your Boots Advantage points now  could be a good time to trade them in for people more in need of essentials?  They are open 9am – 8pm and the number to call if you want to contact them is 02084895308. Again it may be worth checking with your local councils in areas badly hit if they are arranging drop off points closer to home.
  • Collection points have also been arranged by some fantastic people on Twitter (Katie Khan, Kate Nash, Emmy The Great, KnitnhealthyMilla Traylen & Sonny Malhotra ). Future pick ups listed below
    • Thursday 11th. 9am-11am Elgin Avenue/Portebello Road. Follow Emmy for details
    • Thursday 11th. 11am-2pm. Majestic Wines in Camden. Follow Knitnhealthy for updates on Twitter
    • Thursday 11th. 11am-2.30pm. Hoxton Square. Outside White Cube Gallery. Follow Sonny & Kate for details
    • Thursday 11th. 6am-2pm. Enfield Chase Station. Follow MycoffestopUK for details
    • Thursday 11th. 6pm Paddington Library, Porchester Road. Follow Emmy for details
    • Friday 12th. 6am-2pm. Enfield Chase Station. Follow MycoffestopUK for details
    • Friday 12th. 3pm-7pm. Clapham Common (near the tube station) Look out for Nennie Pops sign
    • Saturday 13th. 11am-2pm. Hoxton Square for the items in this link ONLY. Follow Sonny & Alex for details
    • Monday 15th. 6am-2pm. Enfield Chase Station. Follow MyCoffestopUK for details
  • Shop local to help get the businesses in your communities back on their feet. Commerce is so important in recovery. A Facebook group has been set up for Thank Turk It’s Saturday as a great example of this. Shop local this Saturday and show some love for an East London community who stood tall during the rioting.
  • To get your name on the clen up list for Croydon please call 02087266000 and choose option 7. They will keep you updated
  • If anyone knows places that are taking in furniture for those left homeless from the riots can you please get in contact with me urgently? I have had tons of emails today from people wanting to donate.
  • A donation page has been set up for Ashraf Haziq who was robbed as he lay bledding in the street. You can donate on the fund raising page set up for him here 
  • A donation page for Aaron Biber has been set up by interns at BBH as they were so moved by his story. You can read details in The Telgraph and make donations here
  • Sonny is a photographer and has offered his services free of charge to those that lost everything in the fires. How many of us say the first thing we’d rescue from our homes if it was on fire say our photo albums? Spread the word if you know people affected. Click on his name for details
  • A donation page for Siva Kandiah, a local shopkeeper in Hackney, has been set up for donations. Help him get his local  business back on it’s feet. You can donate here
  • Citizens Advice Bureau have some practical information/advice on their website for if you were affected by the riots. Click here to be directed to the page
  • Another fund raising page for Nick who lost his home in Clapham and needs some help getting back on his feet. This page was set up by his best friend who lives the other side of the world and wanted to help still. People are still finding ways of helping from across the globe! You can donate here
  • There is huge support for Pias who lost their stock in the Sony Distribution Centre fire. You can follow Pias or RecordLabeLove on Twitter to find ways to support an independent, much loved label. Jarvis Cocker has also put together a compilation of his favourite Pias label songs available to buy as a way of donating AND getting some amazing music. Win – Win
  • A website has been set up to help bring positivity back to Peckham. Their wall of messages alone made my heart skip. So many wonderful people out there
  • Red Cross are collecting for 400 people made homeless in Croydon. Parchmore Methodist Church in Thornton Heath. Donate generously 
  • Those that want to donate to the Tottenham Fund can do so on Haringeys website
  • Riot Rebuild has been set up to help mobilise the UK construction industry to help with the repairs. You can also follow them on Twitter

Stay Safe and to everyone that has helped, whether it’s sweeping shards of glass or donating the bin bags to put the debris in, you are hero’s!!!! ♥ ♥ ♥

Image courtesy of We Heart It

Written by Anon PA

August 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm