If you reside north of the river a fear of the southern tube stops is a common malady. However, with the increasing rent prices and the word of the month ‘gentrification’ spreading through London faster than pop up shops are appearing. London’s residents that do not earn over 30k a year must seek culture and experience elsewhere. In comes, South East London. The South East has been my stomping ground for the past three years while I studied at Goldsmiths, which is in itself one of the most exciting places in the area. I watched Peckham explode onto the scene in early 2013 when Time Out mentioned Soul Train at Bussey Building in its hot list of the week. Sadly, Soul Train is now so over crowd and littered with Kent’s best and worst dressed that ironically, all the ‘soul’ has gone.
However, fear not! Locals have fought back to reclaim their beloved funk and soul nights with events like the new Move On Up which runs on Thursday nights at Bussey. In the past few years the signs of gentrification have started to creep through, with Costas and Tesco Expresses popping up forcing locally run businesses to shut down such as the much loved ‘Café Crema’ and 'Café 178’ both of which used profits to support local charities such as the Deptford Shelter Charity. However, the chicken shops of the South East stand tall and proud, showing us that what happened to East London won’t happen to the South. It will always remain rough around the edges and that is why we love it.
The A2 runs from Greenwich through Deptford, New Cross then Peckham and Camberwell. Overlooking all of these on top of the hill sits lovely, leafy Brockley. This road connects a multitude of different cultural hubs with so much to see and do.
Here is a little doodle of our journey courtesy of the lovely people at Goldsmiths...
As it is a popular tourist destination (as it should be it’s beautiful) Greenwich prices are slightly more than the rest of the South East. However, this is easily rectified by buying a picnic and a few tinnies and having a lovely walk through Greenwich Park. As undoubtedly the most underrated park in London, its rose gardens and famous observatory offer beautiful views at any season. My tip for Greenwich is when doing your obligatory pub visit stay off the beat and track and head to the Greenwich Union on Royal Hill. They have an excellent selection of craft ales (as you would expect from a Meantime pub) and good food for meat eaters and veggies alike.
Deptford train station has a poster that proudly states its high street used to be known as the Oxford Street of the South. I’m not entirely sure how much I agree with this poster as nothing can compare to Deptford Market. The madness happens on a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. In order to describe Deptford Market I’m going to list things that have been purchased here.
A whiskey globe, collector’s edition Fleetwood Mac vinyl, poppers, dead fish, a burger with only onions in (no meat), old family photos, fake Nike trainers, real Jimmy Choo shoes in wearable condition, sex toys, life size One Direction cut outs, bongs, pig trotters, vegan cake…
The list is literally endless.
Deptford is also home to my favourite coffee shop in South East, Deli X. The family run place has a lovely garden and sells locally sourced produce. They also do an incredible soya mocha.
The proud home of Goldsmiths University, its students inject New Cross with life. They work in its many bars, coffee shops and keep the streets interesting with their clothes.
In regards to a night out the Amersham Arms (only during term time for god sake) or the Bunker put on relatively good nights. Pubs are what New Cross does best to be honest. Monday Quiz nights at The Royal Albert are always a good laugh, with a very eccentric host, fairy lights, bunting and a good selection of London based beers. What more could you want?
Café wise Birdie Num Nums and Chinwags battle it out for the best café title. Only two doors away from each other and both with lovely interiors my suggestion is; Birdies for coffee and Chinwags for food.
The new place to watch out for in 2016 is the new pub 'The Fat Walrus'. The brain child of David Mitchell and Gareth Knight previous managers of the New Cross House (now under Greene King management) is set to take the place of New Cross's favourite pub. Located in the old Haberdasher's spot right next to Goldsmiths University, the vibrant, friendly vibe accompanied by a good selection of beers and ales is not something you should miss. It is scheduled to open in early January, so keep a ear out for The Fat Walrus, it's got a ring to it.
With the biggest Nigerian population in Europe Peckham’s street markets are flooded with colour, exotic smells and its signature ‘tumble weave’. Home to the famed Bussey Building, Bar Story and in the summer Frank’s Rooftop Bar.
If a night out isn’t what you are looking for enjoy roof top yoga at Bussey or venture to Bellingham Road for some incredible Asian fusion food at The Begging Bowl. The artisan foodery Pedlar can be found up by Peckham Rye. Decorated with House of Hackney wall paper it is the perfect place to enjoy a lunch time bloody mary or smashed avocado on toast.
Our last stop along the A2 is Camberwell where you can find London’s best Ethiopian food at the family run Zeret Kitchen and a roast dinner that is bigger than your head at the Camberwell Arms. Camberwell also has the most tasteful and enjoyable life drawing class I believe London holds. Above The Cambria pub is a warm room decorated with ornate mirrors and candles with relaxing jazz playing through an old fashioned gramophone. In this room on a Wednesday and Thursday a class is held at £6 for students and £8 for adults.
There are so many things I haven’t mentioned, but all you have to do is take that tube or bus a few stops further and discover it for yourself. I have never lived anywhere quite like South East London and I don’t think I ever will. It is resisting gentrification but God knows with Boris and David at the helm it is a hard struggle and it may soon be filled with high rises and office blocks. We have already had to battle for Bussey not to be turned into apartments once, and it's bound to happen again. So revel in it while it’s there! The South East is an adventure waiting to happen…