West Norwood Food Week: 13th – 21st June

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So this is pretty exciting. The brains behind West Norwood FEAST (who we’ve raved about here) have come up with a whole week’s worth of foodie events aimed at pretty much everyone (well, except for those who don’t like food. But never mind those sorts.)

The week appears to be aimed at making the most of both the independent locations the town has to offer, and the sheer variety of food it boasts now too. The weekends are family orientated, while the weeknights have most international cuisines covered. If anything it’s a great opportunity to try out a new place in the area. The list is as follows:

13th June – A Taste of Victorian History – Foodie Cemetery Tour in West Norwood

14th June – Remember your childhood with a free family picnic

15th June – Share a Bangladeshi Family Feast at Lal Baag

16th June – A British Celebration Supper at the Tulse Hill Hotel (check out our views on their menu if you need any further convincing)

17th June – Summer Sharing Feast under the Stars at The Great North Wood (check out our thoughts on their brunch and dinner offerings)

18th June – Share an Italian Summer Dinner at The Garden Gastro Bar

19th June – A DIY DJ evening, with local craft beers and paella at the Book and Record Bar

20th June – A Summer Afternoon of Art in the Park and Picnicking in Norwood Park

21st June – A Taste of the Caribbean – A Midsummer Evening at the Portico Gallery

You can book your place via Grub Club (we used this facility to book our visit to PaoCha and it’s worth bookmarking for unique pop ups in the capital). If you’re interested in the British Celebration Supper, email eat@tulsehillhotel.com.

We’ve got our eating trousers on and ready…

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Brunch at The Great North Wood, West Norwood

We’ve already had dinner here on a number of occasions and it’s just recently that the Great North Wood have extended their opening hours to offer a brunch option at the weekend.


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If you’re looking for super healthy, you might struggle. If you’re looking for hearty, you’ve hit the right spot. It’s basically gastro brekkie. For die-hard caffeine fans you’ll be pleased to hear hot drinks are served in huge cups, while healthier smoothies are on offer, too.

green smoothie for brunch at the great north wood west norwood

Probably the healthiest thing to be served in a dimple glass

The menu is quite traditional brunch fare, but more imaginative than your typical greasy spoon. We tried the avocado on toast (complete with egg and chorizo – which can be substituted for salmon), French toast and a dish comprising of baked eggs, bacon and ‘Boston’ beans – smokey, rich, saucy.

Avocado, egg and chorizo on toast

Avocado, egg and chorizo on toast

Prices range between about £6-9 – add drinks and you’re probably paying up to £15 per person.

French toast featuring bread the size of a doorstopper

French toast featuring bread the size of a doorstopper

While the pub fills up during the day, only two other tables were occupied while we were there, so it’s worth chancing your arm and making a spontaneous visit, especially when it gets warm enough to eat outside.

tea and brunch at the great north wood, west norwood

Baked eggs with bacon and beans. Bigger than it looks

One of the nicest things about brunch here is the pace – there’s no hustle and bustle like in cafes, no rush to clear your table, and there’s newspapers to hand too. It’s all too dangerous to watch brunch turn into afternoon drinks…

The Great North Wood, 3 Knights Hill, West Norwood SE27 0HS

South London fitness: The Shala, West Norwood

The Mysore studio at The Shala

The Mysore studio at The Shala

In the past year or so West Norwood’s had a little mini fitness boom, with the Better Leisure Centre opening last year, and The Shala arriving in 2013 from its original home in Clapham.

To be honest it’s probably a bit flippant to put The Shala just under a fitness category, as yoga and Pilates is a lot more than that. The centre offers these two classes covering a broad area of levels, from kids to ‘Mysore’ self practise (more on that in a bit) and pregnancy.

I’ve been practising yoga and took myself down there months ago to try their beginner 4 week course, comprising of one 1-hour session a week. If you’re new to yoga, I’d go for this option. The practise is completely broken down – we spent the first session simply going through the Sun Salutation pose – so it’s a lot less daunting then going straight into a regular class.

I’ll happily admit I thought yoga wouldn’t challenge me. I’m relatively fit but soon enough understood that this is a completely different challenge to the body to the likes of spinning and running. It was a little embarrassing at how inflexible I was. However, as you’d expect, while you’re encouraged to push yourself, it’s an incredibly laid-back atmosphere with none of that competitive element you’d normally get from ‘keeping fit’.

Unlike ‘hot’ yoga, The Shala practises Ashtanga in rooms heated to around 25C, so for some (aka me) it’s a far more comfortable experience.

There are a number of teachers here, and they all have their own style. I attended Ian’s introduction course who was very patient and constructive, making sure I got the poses right, and now go to Gingi’s (the founder) weekend classes on a semi-regular basis who quite frankly, is the most chilled out, amiable person I’ve ever come across (well, you wouldn’t want a ragey yoga teacher, would you).

As well as ‘taught’ classes The Shala run ‘Mysore self-practise’, where you’re encouraged to lead yourself through the poses. It might seem like the more advanced option but it’s welcome to all levels if you “have adequate knowledge of the standing sequence”.

Apologies for the lack of photos – I’m sure it’s bad etiquette to take pics in this sort of environment so there’s just one of the main studio before the rest of the class turned up. To see it in all it’s glory check out their brand new website here.

Artwork on West Norwood shop fronts

artwork on shop fronts in West Norwood

Walk along West Norwood high street on a Sunday and you’ll notice that the some shop shutters are more creative than your average.

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It’s part of a long-term investment from the Outer London Fund to smarten up city boroughs, which has been reflected in the likes of FEAST (check out our post on the monthly event here) and basically sprucing up the image of the high street.

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The simple illustrations feature prominent buildings (recognise St Luke’s Church?) and the bright colours are a refreshing alternative to a drab, grey landscape.

Spring shopping in south London

Spring shopping in South London

It’s taken a while but the weather is definitely losing some of its edge and with the days getting brighter it’s time for a bit of a spring spruce up (pfft like we needed an excuse to shop).

There are some great gems sold by south London dwellers that will make easy additions to your home.

1) Clapham Bandstand Print, from £35 (unframed), Postcode Prints – we mentioned this local print company on our post about FEAST. Their limited edition prints are a cute and quirky way to illustrate the area and we’re particularly taken with this picture of Clapham.

2) West Norwood Tea Towel, £8, Ray Stanbrook Prints – we found this on Etsy, and there are tea towels for several other towns including Crystal Palace, Wimbledon and Brixton. Almost a bit too nice to use to dry your dishes, though…

3) Rob Ryan Bells Cushion, £30, Fred & Pickles – when splashing out on a new sofa isn’t an option. Fred & Pickles is a gorgeous boutique site run by a team in the Balham area.

4) Fridge magnet, £4.95, The Indigo Tree – spring clean your mind? Naff as it sounds, but we find that a good old mantra can help motivate you on a dreary day.

5) Candle, from £15, Charlotte Harley Candles – Hither Green based Charlotte sells beautiful soy wax scented candles through Etsy. The scent has a good throw and a great way to get a fresh fragrance into your home. Plus they’re way cheaper than your average posh candle.