Monthly Archives: November 2011

(Speedy) REVIEW: In defence of Speedy Noodle

After an outraged tweet by Vanessa G about our failure to review Speedy Noodle on Brixton Rd, we challenged her to rectify the wrong and tell us why she loves it so much

Speedy Noodle, which proudly dominates the space between Risky and HSBC on Brixton Rd, has long been serving the community with its extensive menu of far-Eastern cuisine.

Given that Brixton is now celebrated as a foodie haven, with restaurants, bars and delis revered by mainstream press and citizen journalists alike, why has Speedy Noodle, one of our original independent eateries been overlooked? Some might say it’s due to the bright lighting and clinical feel, some might be suspicious that anywhere so cheap could possibly hold any quality. Most, I suspect, are mere snobs who choose not the stray from the Village Tourist Trail. Yet, for those not yet initiated, it offers many virtues, albeit with a lack of shabby-chic bunting.

You enter into a vast area with on-trend communal bench style seating, enabling you to get close enough to listen to other diners’ arguments if you so wish, or to sneak into a far corner for a private discussion with your own lover.

The lighting is indeed bright and somewhat unflattering, but at least this clearly illuminates the menu – and what a vast menu it is.

While so many places now choose to restrict their meal choices to one or two offers, Speedy Noodle offers well over a hundred different dishes, most of which are served with either rice, or noodles (both arrive equally speedily). Vegetarians are well catered for, with a range of vegetable and soya-protein dishes. The restaurant is licensed although there is a good selection of non-alcoholic drink options available.

The portions are large and, quite frankly, delicious. Don’t start protesting with your MSG-related worries. Deep in your heart you know that if some tasty meals were served in a more fashionable location they would be well praised. The fact that, thanks to its convenient late opening times, Speedy Noodle is the perfect late-night eatery after a few pints should not be allowed to overshadow another fact – the food is yum.

Perhaps most importantly, in these budget-conscious times of austerity, Speedy Noodle is cheapcheapcheap, with mains around the £4 range. I would highly recommend a visit  to anyone looking for a cheap, filling and unpretentious meal in Brixton.


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OPINION: Life in the Bus Lane

Life-long Brixtonite, Esther Webber, is a bus obsessive. Here, she talks about the joys of South London buses

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love buses. I ride them every day to work, and every other opportunity I get. There is something about buses quite unlike any other form of public transport. I think if I had to define it in a word, it would be intimacy.

On the train or the Tube, passengers try to isolate themselves. Even when they are jammed, faces in each other’s armpits, on the 08.55 from East Croydon, they are all desperately trying to distance themselves from one another. Plugged into iPods or reading The Metro, the aim is to disengage as fully as possible from the rest of the carriage.

On the bus, it doesn’t work like that. You can try to seal yourself off, but you will not be successful. For one thing, the cosy nature of the seating, where you are coupled side by side with a merry-go-round of strangers, makes for a certain unavoidable closeness. Your neighbour’s elbow is in your ribcage and his conversation is in your ear. He is close enough to read your book (or look down your top, if you are particularly unlucky).

On the bus, as nowhere else, people believe in sharing. The rudeboys on the back seats practise a modern kind of evangelism: they are convinced their music is so good that they have to share it with the rest of the bus, blasting it from mobile phones and singing along. The rudegirls need you to know about who they slept with last night and why they will not be sleeping with them again.

One morning recently, on the number 3 from Brixton to Westminster, the bus was nearly empty. This has its own pleasures. The journey is faster and you can spread out across the seat. I entertained myself by trying to work out what language the man behind me was chattering into his phone. He, in turn, entertained himself by scuffing his trainers against the back of my seat periodically.

Several people have told me this is precisely why they hate buses. If hell is other people, then the number 29 in rush hour must be one of its outer circles. If, on the other hand, you happen to quite like other people, then buses are a good place to get to know them.

The bus, after all, is not as much of an anarchic place as it might seem at first. It has its own set of unspoken rules, a peculiar etiquette, which help keep the whole thing in motion.

So when I finally ran out of patience with the seat-kicker, I turned round and glared. The other language he’d been speaking gave way to a perfectly contrite “Sorry, hadn’t realised I was doing that.” On the bus, it’s easy to get carried away.

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The Weekend Ahead in Brixton

Friday 18: It’s time to transport yourselves back to the 1970s with a little bit of funk from The Soul Immigrants, playing at Upstairs in the Ritzy for their ‘Around the Decades‘ night. 8.30pm, free, The Ritzy

Saturday 19: Another new market for Station Rd  – the monthly Retro and Vintage market starts today from 10am-5pm. Once you’ve got your glad rags sorted, head to Plan B for the Reggae Roast Jamdown session. Reggae Roast, Plan b, from 9pm, £8 Advance and £10 on the door. 

Sunday 20: A perfect autumnal Sunday in Brixton = brunch at The Lido Cafe, a walk to the top of the hill in Brockwell Park for views of the City, and – after a big Sunday lunch – catching the highly recommended film, ‘Weekend’, at The Ritzy at 9.15pm.

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‘Brixton Experience’: Saturday 26 November

The Brixton Market Traders Federation is launching a month-long celebration of Brixton market with a big event on Saturday 26 November. Around 40 local businesses will set up stalls in the market, representing four categories – food, fashion, creative arts and media, and lifestyle. The businesses must be based within a 400m radius of the station and will include high-street shops as well as independent ones. Named the ‘Brixton Experience’ (bit cringe?), the month-long series of events is funded by the Mayor of London’s High Street Support Scheme Fund (a post-riots initiative to get London businesses back on their feet). It will also include business clinics run by Lambeth Enterprise and workshops with local makers from Makerhood.

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Meet Brixton

We are organising a meet-up/tweet-up with the Brixton Bugle team for Brixton-based twitterers, facebookers, blog readers and any others who fancy it. It’ll be on Dec 7 at Mango Landin. Check out details here, but most importantly, come and say hello!

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Brockwell Park playground and building plans

Anja Stobbart reports on the renovation of the Brockwell Park playground and the broader changes taking place in the park

I’d known for ages about the work planned on the playground in Brockwell Park, but it was still a shock to turn the corner with my two children, heading for their beloved playground, only to come face to face with the earthquake like devastation.

They stood for a while looking at the places we once played.

My two year old described the scene: ‘Broken, Mummy’.

Brockwell Park dates back to 1892 as a public park, though the Brockwell Park Hall Estate was created 200 years ago in 1811.

Land Use Consultants (LUC) has been working on the rejuvenation of the Park since 2005 (with Lambeth Council and Brockwell Park MAC), originally securing £3.5million of Heritage Lottery Fund / BIG Lottery funding in 2008. Lambeth brought the total up to £5 million.

The new and improved Brockwell includes the ‘natural’ children’s playground (already completed) – better known as the sandpit and paddling pool – along with the re-building of the main playground, the restoration of the lakes and improvements to the paths, and plans for new trees and planting, new railings and gates. There will be a new centre for the Community Greenhouses and Gardens Project, plus restoration of the Walled Garden and Temple Building.

The paddling pool was the first part of Brockwell Park’s planned transformation. And, after the usual moans from some, including myself, it has proved a huge success (and no one seems to have knocked themselves out on one of the architect’s sculpted boulder[s] yet).

The paths around the park are also being dug up for new sewer runs – all of which appear to be going to plan too (and mostly finished). It looks like Brixton Water Lane will be the last one to be completed – running from the gate up to the fork of the road near the BMX track (still very much near BWL entrance at present, and a long way from the BMX track).

The end of October sees the closure of the Temple and toilets, as well as the Walled Garden. Winter is, obviously, the best time to close all these areas – but they will be missed. No secret winter garden this year.

The new playground is due for completion by the end of March 2012. Although there have been conflicting rumours, with some mums gossiping that it might be earlier, in February 2012. The various changes are all ahead of schedule at the moment – lets hope the snowy depths of winter don’t strike with such venom this year.

Paul Carter, the park manager, has been writing a regular report about the progress of the work – see here

The equipment has all gone now. But, in the age of recycling, it will be reused if it is in good condition. The ageing roundabout had probably seen it’s last spin – believe me, the sound of dragging metal had got rather grating.

I have had many conversations starting, ‘Why spend money on a new playground when it is fine as it is?!”

Well, the plans certainly look amazing. One report said the old children’s playground was poorly integrated in the park with little tree cover. The new playground and equipment has been designed to sit better within the park landscape, and provide that much needed cover – something come summer we will all appreciate.

The plans show how the playground will increase in size (reaching out to the new curved path ‘above’ the old playground area).

The toddler area will boast a platform playhouse and hut, a small platform hut and wide slide. A snake sandpit and wobble dish are bound to be popular along with the obligatory toddler swings of course.

Junior play may well tempt a few daring toddlers that way as they behold the suspension bridge, sand building site with chutes and wheel, along with a sand transport system, slide and fireman’s pole. And the list goes on.

Senior play has the big money entertainment with a large cableway – which may entice the odd embarrassing parent, along with the whirlwind roundabout. Playhouses and walkways beneath tree level, with huts, bridges, slides and ladders make the new playground sound like a true adventure for all.

Leaving to go home may become more of an issue, but there’s always the Chocolate Box round the corner for a carrot to dangle. Once in a while at least!

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The Weekend Ahead in Brixton

Fireworks were cancelled at Brockwell Park last year when Lambeth cut two of three of its local displays. But, thankfully, it’s our turn to host the remaining itinerant event this year. And it’s the 200th anniversary of Brockwell Hall. Double win.

Friday 4: New Brixton Market pintxos bar, Seven At Brixton, launches tonight from 7pm. They’ve got several rooms upstairs curated by different artists and some pretty tasty cocktails.

Saturday 5: Brixton Station Rd is becoming a new hub for temporary, often themed, day markets (see above). Today is the first of a monthly flea market – there’ll be bric-a-brac, clothes, jewellery, furniture and hopefully lots of useless tat.

At 7.30pm head up to Brockwell for the fireworks, starting at 8pm. Grab yourself some sparklers on the way.

Sunday 6: Upstairs at The Ritzy is hosting the appropriately-named reggae night, Catch a Fire. African reggae performer, El Fata, will be playing.

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