Sunday was a bright, sunny if a little chilly morning and it was time to turn my back on the road works and building sites on Marsh Wall and head for the wide open spaces of the countryside. Fortunately when you live on the Isle of Dogs, the countryside is not far away, in fact it is only a short walk down the Island to Mudchute Farm.
Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables and a wide range of education activities.
The Park and Farm are a great example of community action, in the 1970s, the Island community fought against plans to build a high rise estate on the land. The success of the campaign against these plans led to the creation of the Mudchute Association which was formed to preserve and develop the area. Since then it has become a well-known London attraction loved by adults and children alike.
One of the ironies of the site is that the hills and mounds were formed in the 19th century by the waste matter dredged up by the construction of Millwall Dock. This foul-smelling mud put off any prospective developers of the land and it remained derelict for much of the 20th century. Another irony was that the mud was actually full of minerals and nutrients and provided ideal growing conditions for the many allotments that were built on the site.
Once inside the gates of the Park and Farm you are transported into another world of sheep grazing in the fields, donkeys, goats, llamas and pigs.
But that is not all, the Park and Farm is proud of its roots in East London and you can even enjoy some mussels and jellied eels.
A visit to the Park and Farm is a pleasant way to get away from stresses of Christmas shopping and crowded trains. You can wander around the fields and look at the beehives, visit the old Ack Ack gun which was stationed in the park in the Second World War, let the kids have a go on the merry go round and enjoy a warm drink at the wonderful café whilst watching the horses in the stables.
Not surprisingly, the Park and Farm is very popular with families but is free and open to everyone who enjoys some peace and quiet away from the urban jungle.
If you are looking for a Christmas treat, the Park and Farm is having a special Christmas Open day on the 9th December between 11am and 4 pm with a Santa’s Grotto, Kid’s craft workshops, Donkey rides, Fairground rides, Cream teas and plenty of food and drink options.
The Park and Farm are also selling Christmas Trees from 3ft to 10ft with proceeds going to the Mudchute charity.
If you have never been to Mudchute Park and Farm, it is well worth a visit at any time of the year and is one of the best and most enjoyable open spaces on the Island.
If you would like more information about Mudchute Park and Farm, visit their website here
Portuguese Navy ship NRP Francisco de Almeida and Norwegian Navy ship HNoMS Otto Sverdrup in West India Dock.
Two new arrivals in West India Dock are the Portuguese Navy ship NRP Francisco de Almeida (F334) and Norwegian Navy ship HNoMS Otto Sverdrup (F312).
Both ships are part of the NATO’s standing maritime group 1 (SNMG1) which has been carrying out operations in the North and Baltic Sea.
NRP Francisco de Almeida is a former Karel Doorman frigate that Portugal bought from the Netherlands. The ship was previously the HNLMS Van Galen and was renamed to NRP Francisco de Almeida in 2010.
The 122 meter frigate has a crew of around 180 and includes a Lynx helicopter on board.
The HNoMS Otto Sverdrup is a Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate, the ships are named after famous Norwegian explorers. The Otto Sverdrup was one of five ships ordered from Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and was launched in 2006. The ship is 440 feet (134.11 metres) long and carries a crew of around 120.
The main mission of the frigates is anti-submarine warfare and the ships are equipped to detect, identify and engage hostile submarines.
The ships involved in NATO’s standing maritime group 1 (SNMG1) are regular visitors to West India Dock, although I am not sure these particular ships have visited before.
As usual with these type of naval ships, how long they are in dock is not known at this time.
Photo – Fraser Gray
Photographer Fraser Gray sent a couple of photographs of the HNoMS Otto Sverdrup heading back to sea.
Photo – Fraser Gray
Regular readers will know that a few weeks ago, I visited the Forge which has become the new home for Craft Central. The Forge is one of the most interesting industrial relics from the time of shipbuilding on the Island.
The seasonal market will be selling handmade products by over 50 talented craftspeople. Home accessories, fashion, jewellery, ceramics, stationery, prints and more will be on sale. The winter market will be a chance to meet and buy directly from designer-makers, take part in one of the family craft workshops and enjoy a drink in the pop-up café.
An added bonus will be Friends of Island History Trust will have a membership and information stall at the market, FoIHT books and calendar will be on sale and there will be displays of Mike Seaborne’s 1980s photographs of the Island and a collection of even older images provided by Frontispiece Antique Prints.
Friday 24 November 5pm – 8pm
Saturday 25 November 11am – 6pm
Sunday 26 November 11am – 5pm
For more information, visit the Craft Central website here
On a grey miserable day, we welcome the arrival of French Navy ship Flamant (P676).
FS Flamant is a Flamant class patrol boats of the French Navy used for fishery monitoring, search and rescue, and patrolling France’s coastal waters.
FS Flamant and sister ships FS Cormoran and FS Pluvier were built and are based in Cherbourg. The three boats were ordered 1993 and entered service in 1997.
Cormoran and Pluvier have visited West India Dock previously in 2013 and 2014, Flamant is 54 m (177 ft 2 in) long and has a beam of 10 m (32 ft 10 in). The ship usually carries a crew of 21 which includes 3 officers and 18 men.
Photo – Fraser Gray
The FS Flamant visited West India Dock at this time last year and the visit is likely to be related to Remembrance Sunday which takes place this weekend.
This weekend, there will be a large number of events related to Remembrance Day around the country and especially London where the Cenotaph will be focus of attention on Sunday.
In 2014, a War Memorial Plaque was unveiled in Island Gardens, to remembers all those from the Isle of Dogs who died in two World Wars, it was particularly poignant considering it was on the centenary of the start of the First World War.
This year, there will be a short Remembrance Ceremony at Island Gardens on Friday the 10th November, it will include contributions from the Friends of Island Gardens, Cubitt Town School and George Green School Choir.
10.55 Welcome from Friends of Island Gardens
10.58 Last Post – Bugler
11.00 Two Minutes Silence
11.02 Reveille – Bugler
Laying of Wreaths
Cubitt Town School – Poem
George Green School Choir will sing the first three verses of “Oh Valiant Hearts”
A hymn remembering the fallen of the First World War
Many thanks to Eric Pemberton for sending in the information.
Regular contributor, L Katiyo over the weekend enjoyed the many delights of the Blackheath firework display that can be often seen from the Island.
The Island does not have a major bonfire display and the Blackheath display is one of the largest in London attracting crowds of over 100,000 people.
Most of the firework displays in London are well organised and family friendly which can be enjoyed by everyone.
Blackheath has a long of celebrating Bonfire Night, a newspaper report from 1885 illustrates Lewisham, Blackheath and the surrounding area really enjoyed the parade of the ‘ Lewisham Bonfire Boys’.
On Wednesday, the Lewisham Bonfire Boys held their annual carnival in celebration of Guy Fawkes Day. At 6 o’clock a procession has formed outside the Lewisham-road station of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway and with bands and banners flying, the bonfire boys started on their perambulation of the principal thoroughfares of Lewisham, Lee, Blackheath, Greenwich, and Catford. The cavalcade, which was about half-a-mile in length, included many vehicles illuminate with coloured fires and a large number of mounted men attired in fancy costumes. The characters were, of a most varied description. The houses and shops along the line of route were all brightly illuminated with coloured fires and Chinese lanterns. The streets were thronged with people, and the motley procession must have been witnessed by some 40,000 or 50,000 persons.