Monday, September 5, 2016

Peckham Rye and Dulwich

I went out for a photo walk yesterday from New Cross through Peckham, Dulwich and Herne Hill, all in South London. It was a route I hadn't taken before, and I explored the African immigrant neighborhoods around Rye Lane and the leafy suburban quietude of Dulwich.

The photo above depicts a relatively new arrival in Rye Lane -- a restaurant and pub that opened in February. Some people hate the name (according to the InterWebs) and the sole explanation for it that I could find claims it was "inspired by a magical stuffed childhood toy." Only a rather grinchy personality could object to that. It wasn't open when I walked by, so I didn't go in.

In Dulwich, I went to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, where I saw a show about Winifred Knights, an artist from the early decades of the 1900s who painted somewhat Deco-looking canvases -- and, sadly, apparently not many of them.

I wasn't allowed to take photos in that exhibit, but the permanent collection was fair game. I saw more paintings by my old pal Aelbert Cuyp:

This is "Herdsmen with Cows," from the 1640s. Although it became a favorite in the Victorian era, John Ruskin reportedly criticized the sky for being like an "unripe nectarine."

I also saw an image of a four-year-old then-Princess Victoria by Stephen Poyntz Denning, from 1823, that apparently was so famous in its day that it appeared on biscuit tins:

Poor Victoria was in mourning even way back then. The woman just could not catch a break.

Outside was a sculpture by Peter Randall Page called "Walking the Dog." Hmmmm...

I had lunch at the picture gallery's cafe -- an excellent salmon cake and tomato salad. But I was having one of those unfortunate days when the customer service gods were arrayed against me. The waiters at the cafe seemed to forget I existed (they took the service charge off the bill without my even asking), and not once but twice, someone got in front of me while I was waiting in a queue. At Starbucks, later in the day, the barista called out "Steve" when my coffee was ready and a woman grabbed it and began to walk off. I called out to her and she just kept walking. I had to chase her across the restaurant! "Oh, sorry," she said, half-heartedly, as if it were somehow my fault that she took my order, with my name clearly written on the cup.

My mother used to complain that she became invisible to the world at age 40, and that was exactly how I felt yesterday. Is it middle age, or just the obliviousness of other people?

Anyway, I walked from Dulwich through Herne Hill and northward to catch the tube back home. By this time it was late afternoon. I spotted a sleepy fox lying on a locked, fenced playground in Brixton. At first I suspected it was dead, but then it raised its head and looked around. Funny how it chose to snooze right in the middle of that target -- perhaps not the most preservation-minded fox!


  1. The fox was in a locked, fenced playground so surely he was safe from passing librarians made crazy by poor customer service and queue jumpers. "John the Unicorn" is part of a pub chain that includes "Steve the Centaur" and "Dave the Dragon".

  2. At least the fox and target match...I've had people do worse than that in Starbucks...people are either in their own bubble or just plain rude...

  3. Nonsensical pub name, curious sculpture, fine art, a royal princess, and a fox.
    I really got the price of admission on this post!

  4. I love this post! I think my favorite is the princess in mourning. Bless her little heart. And the fox. Love, love the fox.
    Thank you for sharing. Sorry people are rude. Maybe everyone in Starbucks feels entitled, even to someone else's coffee.

  5. That invisible thing happened to me when I turned 50 and I've struggled with it ever since. Thanks for the photos from the Dulwich Picture Gallery. That is a place that is on my list of places to visit on this next trip.

  6. It's always a good idea to spend time in an art gallery.

  7. That woman in Starbucks may have been completely preoccupied. Maybe her name was Eve and she was having trouble processing the chain of events. I'm pretty slow like that myself some days. It's like I'm trying to move and think through a fog. Usually a result of not enough sleep, but not always.

    Love the fox! It was clearly quite comfortable with its choice of napping area!

  8. Tick, tick tick to every part of this of this post today.

    I love a 'post' visit to an art gallery, I'm now waiting for a photo to appear with Olga by the sculpture and the photo of the fox is priceless. Maybe the fox considered it was a warm, protected spot for a fox-snooze.
    And your mother is so right about being invisible past 40, it's as if you shrink further from sight with every passing decade. It does however have some upsides....


  9. I LOVE that pub name! I would totally visit for the name alone (I would Facebook check-in & make other people wish they were as cool as I was - ha!). I think the Starbucks lady heard your order & decided that she wanted it. Vulture!