Saturday, 29 December 2007

Worcester Park, 1944

I ventured out today in the bright winter sunshine for a gentle amble around Worcester Park, to walk off some of the excesses of the past week - up to the top of Central Road, and into Lindsay Road (opposite the North End Tavern) for a stroll around Cuddington Cemetery. In the far corner of the cemetery are a row graves of civilian war dead of World War 2 - including a family of three - all killed on or shortly after 16th June 1944.

A little web searching unearthed an eyewitness account of the event in Worcester Park, when a V2 'doodlebug' was brought down by ack-ack fire destroying a number of houses in (I believe) Caldbeck Avenue:

"FRIDAY 16TH JUNE 1944 was a day just like any other; it was bright and warm and I was either on holiday from school or it was after school.

Like most of the other houses at our end of the street we had a brick built air raid shelter in the back garden, not too far away from the back door.

It must have been just before 9:30 PM when the siren sounded. The routine was mechanical - get up, dressing gown or a coat and slippers and shoes and off to the shelter. Our house was end of terrace and we would go downstairs out the back door around the side of the house and across the road to our neighbour's shelter. On this occasion, as we went out of the back door my mother said "let's use our shelter, we've cleared it out and it might only be a short raid"


There were five of us; my mother carrying my baby sister of just four months wrapped in a shawl; my father shepherding all of us; my brother and myself. My brother caused a flap by going back into the house to find the cat but my father got him back in the shelter.

As we ranged ourselves across the seats that were across the back of our now tidy shelter we could hear the drone of what turned out to be a V2 or doodlebug. I can see my father now standing in the doorway of the shelter hands against the wall on either side to balance himself and bending his knees as he sank down to maintain his view of the bomb that he could clearly see coming straight for us. He turned and leaped across the shelter and threw himself across us.

I can remember banging my head against the wall, probably the result of my father trying to shield us from the blast, but that was all. The noise must have been tremendous but I didn't hear a thing. The incredible thing was we were alright. My father had a cut on his knee (but not in his trousers!) and I had banged my head, but that was all.

When we collected ourselves we came out of the shelter and round the side of what was left of the house, into the road. The bomb had landed in the middle of the road.

Apparently it had been hit by ack ack fire which had tipped it up so that it hadn't fallen to the ground but had literally dived in creating a massive crater. On both sides of the road was utter devastation; houses closest to the point of impact were just reduced to piles of rubble whilst for those further away it was as if some giant hand had torn the fronts off them and then attempted to gouge out what was inside. Contents of bedrooms were being spewed out into the street as the unsupported floors gradually caved in.


Fires had started from fractured gas mains and the cries of trapped people could be heard some seriously trapped under piles of masonry, others safe but unable to get out from under the stairs - the under stairs cupboard having become an all too popular "shelter".

There was an all pervading smell in the air which remained as one of my most vivid memories - I don't know what it was but I think it may have been stale air that was released when the buildings were destroyed. The houses were fronted by dwarf walls many of which had survived but had been blown over; for some reason I found this amusing.

By now anxious friends and relatives had started to arrive and also the emergency services. We were whisked away. Of our friends and neighbours 10 were killed and over 40 injured - it was not a day just like any other after all.

About a week later, week I watched a funeral in Worcester Park that included a number of little white coffins - they were my friends."

(WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar)

Thursday, 27 December 2007

It ain't what it used to be...


A little nostalgia for you, courtesy of English Heritage, with this wonderful shot of the ornate interior of the Worcester Park Odeon.

You can find the large version of this picture, and a shot of the exterior here - sadly, English Heritage's ' major online resource' of historic photographs boasts only two photos of Worcester Park, and three for New Malden - so some work still to go on that collection then.

After the Worcester Park Odeon closed, it lived out the rest of its days as a Gateway supermarket, only to be demolished in 1998 to make way for Pizza Express. Mind you, a lucky escape compared to its sister cinema in New Malden, which is now the site of McDonalds.

If you're in the mood for more old shots of Worcester Park, you can find plenty at Francis Frith and some old curiosities courtesy of Viewimage

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Anyone for more...

...turkey? Plenty of gravy left over if you want to heat it.

More mince pies?

Have another chocolate.

Xmas pud left, if anyone wants some.

How about some Xmas cake, and a cup of tea.

Sprouts anyone?

Please, please let it all be over soon. Now, where's the brandy....

Monday, 24 December 2007

But once a year...

The Seasonal Shop, Worcester Park

The annual panic has descended on Worcester Park today. Well, we are faced with the prospect of one whole day without the shops open.

I'm ashamed to admit that I fuelled the festive crush by joining the mad (but middle class) looting spree in Waitrose, and even the charity shops were busy (I thought you were supposed to take your Christmas pressies to charity shops, not buy them there).

I arrived home with a bag of chestnuts from Ross's. Goodness only knows why, but I managed to squeeze them in to the 'things you don't actually like but feel stangely compelled to buy once a year' box, alongside the sprouts, figs in syrup and 'Eat Me' dates.

The fridge is full to bursting, the cupboards overflowing with goodies - and yet we've just realised there's nothing to eat for this evening. How on earth does that work??

If you're at a loose end tonight (and don't mind the intrusion of religion into Christmas - perish the thought) then I highly recommend the Midnight Mass (11.30pm) at St Dunstan's Church, up the hill in Cheam Village. If you aren't feeling festive already, then an hour of insense and carols by candlelight will surely win you over.

A very Happy Christmas to one and all in Worcester Park!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

That's when good neighbours...

I awoke this morning to find a Christmas card on the doormat - 'To no. 87 - HAPPY CHRISTMAS - from no. 83'

Now, I've no idea who lives at number 83. Likewise, it seems they have little idea who lives at number 87. Mrs WP thought it was an extremely kind act of Worcester Park neighbourliness. I thought sending a Christmas card to a house number was vaguely pointless. Perhaps I'm being heartless?

Meanwhile, wanting to save those precious few extra minutes of Christmas shopping time I used Comet's online 'Reserve & Collect' service. I turned up at the New Malden store and proudly announced my order number, only to wait a frustrating 10 minutes whilst the checkout girl dithered around the store trying to retrieve my order, as I stood just feet away shelves overflowing with boxes of the item I had gone to the trouble of reserving online. Technology. Who needs it?!

Well, that's all for now. I'm off to M&S Tolworth to pick up the Christmas turkey. If the timing is right, I should get out of there just in time to pop it in the oven on Christmas Day. Ho ho ho.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

More travel misery..

More travel misery tonight, after a woman was struck by a train at Worcester Park around 5pm. No news on her condition at the moment.

The police tape around the station came down at 6:45pm, and it looks like the suspension of service is now being lifted - no consolation for those who had to struggle to get home tonight, with last week's chaos still fresh in the memory.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A brief history of Worcester Park versus Cheam - Part 1

'What, pray tell, is the history of Worcester Park and Cheam?' I hear you scream. 'You're the Worcester Park Blogger' people yell at me in the street, 'Tell me this town's local history!'

OK, well, just this once. Now pay attention class - there'll be a test at the end....

Cheam, if you aren't familiar with the area, is the posh neighbour of the fair town of Worcester Park. Relations between the two towns have long been strained and have deteriorated to such a point that neither will now recognise the others' exisistence.

The breakdown in relations can be traced to 1730 when the residents of Cheam, tired of associating with their lesser neighbours, hatched a bold plan to mark out their superiority. They decided to do so by building a massive hill to allow them, quite literally, to 'look down' on the people of Worcester Park.

After a year of planning, building of the hill began with the now-famous 'Boxing Day Dig' of 1731. Some 160 men, women and children from workhouses of Carshalton began creating the giant mound using earth dug from what was to become the largest pit in south London (now Croydon).

The building of the hill was a slow and laborious process, not least because the houses and shops of Cheam had also to be elevated every month (to keep pace with the rising height of the new hill) . The movement of these buildings was performed by a skilled band of so-called "shop-lifters", predominantly from Beddington.

Enraged by these antagonistic actions, the people of Worcester Park took up arms and mounted a permanent guard to head off a possible offensive from the the people of Cheam. Records show the formation of a line of armed resistance in 1754 known locally as 'Sentry Row' (later Central Road).

Building of the hill was completed in 1791, by which time the people of Cheam towered more than 200 feet over its nearest neighbour of Worcester Park from where they taunt us to this day.

The rest, as they say, is history.

A hard shoulder to cry on

The Internet, so they say, arose from the Cold War - designed as a massive network of communication points so resilient the even in the event of those nasty Russians blowing up part of the world, the Americans could still download pornography.
Nowadays, it's a platform for discussion of all manner of things - even, apparently, roads. Today I learned about the existence of the excitingly titled Society For All British Road Enthusiasts. 'Paul & Lorna' e-mailed me (in my capacity as the unofficial spokesperson for Worcester Park) with this A-Road conundrum:

"Do you know anything about a partly built arterial road that starts in Lower Morden at the junction of the A24 London Road and Lower Morden Lane and would have run to Chessington?

It appears that it was to go along lower Morden Lane, then Green Lane, past the cemetry, then across the railway (one of the bridge ramps was built adjacent to Kingshill Avenue). On the other side of the railway the route is picked up in Sheephouse way then Knollmead in Malden. in Knollmead it appears that there was to be major junction where one route was to continue along Alpine Avenue to join the Kingston Bypass.
The other road continued as Knollmead swung south back over the railway on an extremely wide bridge that today goes only to a school but it appears was originally planned to have continued south to Jubilee Way in Tolworth, then along Chantry Way and Gilders Road in Chessington before joining the existing road to Leatherhead.
Basically it would have completely bypassed Ewell and Epsom.
The route can be quite easily traced on google maps satellite photos as the roads concerned are absurdly wide for minor residential roads and cul-de-sacs.If you know anything about this, I would be grateful.
It is currently being discussed here [link removed]"
Well, sadly I don't know the answer to that. My knowledge of local A-Roads isn't what it should be. Or, on second thoughts perhaps it is what it should be.
Anyway, if the fancy takes you, you can head over to that website and discover lots more and chat about about UK Roads, lost roads, arterial roads and road expansion schemes.
Or, you could just carry on downloading porn.

Update

The link where this discussion was taking place now gets redirected to a very dodgy looking page designed to look like a facebook page - but definitely isn't. If you want to take the risk - the link is: http://www.uk-roads.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18076&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0%3E%22. I wouldn't recommend visiting it but hey - it's a free country...

Unfortunately the website http://www.uk-roads.co.uk also seems to have been redirected to dodgyville as well. Sad as I would have liked to have kept open the option to look it further into this.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Dreary & Cold



I'm not quite sure what it is with one particular abandonded shop in Worcester Park - namely Druy & Cole, next to the butchers. They were estate agents with an Abbey National desk in the corner - which just does to show what a relic the place is.

The sign on the front still has the phone number with the old '01' prefix, which was pre-1990 (gosh, I remember the 90's).

I'm curious to know why this particular unit (in prime position, let's face it) has stayed empty and abandoned whilst those around it have changed hands many times in the intervening years.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Keeping cool in a crisis

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to share their transport woes on the comments sections of this blog. It seems that satisfaction is not too great with the way South West Trains have handled this week’s landslide crisis. Most weeks I envy the train commuters as I crawl through the choking treacle that is Worcester Park traffic, but for this week at least I’ve been more than happy being on four wheels.

‘Anonymous’ has got in touch to relate his own particular tale of woe:

Yesterday I arrived at Stoneleigh station only to find that the train times had changed from Tuesday which meant I had just missed one. The 7.20am was then cancelled. After asking the ticket guard where and when the replacement buses were running from, he replied that he wasn't too sure what had happened to the buses or what exit they went from, or if they were even running.

After waiting for 1 hour and 30 minutes (it was freezing!) with no information about what was happening until ten minutes before it arrived, the train eventually rolled up at the same time as the replacement bus service. 45 minutes later we arrived at Waterloo.

So despite leaving home 30 minutes earlier than normal I still ended up being an hour and a half late for work. So whilst I understand that incidents such as landslips happen, I (along with everyone else stuck on the platform!) felt that the situation was very poorly managed. The guy in the ticket office obviously wasn't being told anything by the communications centre despite all the phone calls he kept trying to make. However once he did get through he was great by keeping us updated with the station the train was at.I did contact Southwest Trains to see if I could get a refund on my weekly travelcard but as the 'land slip was not their fault' they aren't obliged to give me anything.

The guy on the phone from Southwest Trains mentioned that they can't always get replacement buses when they need, or get sufficient to provide a good service. He also mentioned that the centre their employees use to get information about for Customers (train times etc) is often busy in the morning so their guards can't get through. However he was sympathetic and mentioned that he was glad it wasn't him who was getting caught up in this every day!So considering that the earliest they will fix this is Monday, I'm dreading my daily commute into London even more than usual!”

It all sounds horribly familiar from my days on the daily commute up to Waterloo. South West trains can’t be held to account for the landslide occurring, but they can for their reaction to it and the emergency arrangements put in place.

From the comments coming in to this blog, it sounds like they haven’t acquitted themselves at all well this week.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

One track mind...

Oi you. Yes, you. The three thousandth web searcher who Googled 'Worcester Park landslide' and ended up on this page.

I'll have you know that back in the good old days (last Sunday), this was a witty monologue about life in and around Worcester Park. Then it became a traffic and travel information page. Well no more.

(Oh alright, then, one more time and just for you - there's a half hourly stopping train service between Waterloo and Epsom in both directions, and four trains an hour betwixt Waterloo and Chessington South in both directions. Replacement buses running elsewhere, yadda yadda, details here).

O.K. Can I get back to blogging business now?

Well, just a quick catch-up for now. In the tireless pursuit of service to Worcester Parkers I have added another few to the list of Worcester Park eateries which I blogged about here. I can highly recommend The Munal - for those who haven't tried Nepalese food, it's similar to your traditional Indian but lighter and far more flavoursome.

Then, of course, was the long-anticipated visit to Silks, which you can scroll down to read all about. I've also stumbled in to the Cafe Experience the past couple of Saturdays, and give two thumbs up to the cooked breakfast there.

Rest assured I shall leave no stone unturned (but probably several stone unweighed) in my mission to eat my way around Worcester Park.

Meanwhile it seems that almost whoever I blog about is reading this, and gets in touch. It was nice to get a brief comment from 'The Acorn Project' who read my post about them here.

And finally, a nod to Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Kingston Bart Ricketts who it turns out is also a reader of the blog and left a comment here. Nice of you to cross the borough boundary to join us.


Landslip of the tongue..


'A landslide in Worcester Park?' a work colleague asked me in the corridor this morning?

Momentary panic as I wondered how she knew that I was the Worcester Park blogger, then a wave of relief as I realised that she had just heard about it on a traffic bulletin.

'Yes. Terrible. Half the town gone.' I replied, shaking my head with grief.

She gave me alook of frozen stupidity, for the full 5 seconds it took her sarcasm sensor to break down the ridiculousness of my reply, couldn't quite compute a response to and shuffled away looking perplexed.

Humour. It's wasted on some people.

The great Worcester Park landslide...

So how big exactly is this now notorious landlside/landslip that hit Worcester Park on Monday? Given that South West Trains have lamely announced that services will be knackered until next Monday, one imagines a landslide of biblical proportions sweeping away all in its path and wiping out Stoneleigh.

Alas, no such luck, as my sources tell me Stoneleigh is still there (not quite sure why), but whatever the reality of the size of this mishap, the impact on rail travellers goes on.

So, today SW Trains have shovelled enough soil off the track to offer a twice-hourly stopping service between Waterloo and Epsom in both directions, and a massive four trains an hour between Waterloo and Chessington South in both directions. Big whoop.

Trains between Waterloo and Guildford, which normally travel via Epsom, have been re-routed via Cobham all day (how scenic), so buses replace trains between Leatherhead and Effingham Junction in both directions I'm afraid.

It was a busy day on the blog yesterday, with a flood of over a thousand extra visitors looking for news on the great Worcester Park landslide. So welcome to you, one and all, and do take the time to read the voice of Worcester Park and call again soon.

Now, skidaddle. Haven't you got a replacement bus service to catch?

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Landslide defeat...

Welcome to the Worcester Park blog - the voice of Worcester Park!

Severe train distruption and travel problems from Worcester Park to wake up to, I'm afraid - South West train services are up the spout for the rest of this week, apparently, because of a landslide (well, landslip) in Worcester Park.

All of this means emergency engineering works, so an extremely restricted rail service (SW Trains' talk for one crammed train per hour, no doubt) between Raynes Park/Epsom in both directions. Replacement buses (oh how we love those) will be laid on along that route, and you're also stuck with the replacement buses if you're trying to get between Leatherhead and Effingham Junction.

My advice? Spare yourself the battle of Waterloo and head on the 151/213 bus up to Cheam Station for the London Victoria/Epsom 'Southern Train' services from there instead. Chances are they're accepting SW Trains tickets in any case.

UPDATE:
15:30 Until close of service today there will be a bus replacement service between Raynes Park and Epsom and between Leatherhead and Effingham Junction.

From 16:00 until approximately 20:00 a limited rail service will operate in both directions between Waterloo and Epsom. There will also be additional trains to Chessington South during this period.

Southern trains are accepting SWT tickets for travel on their services between Clapham Junction and Epsom via Cheam.

From 19:00 a replacement bus service will operate between Epsom and Effingham Junction calling at all stations in both directions.

P.S. - Hello to all new Worcester Park readers visiting for the first time. Be sure to bookmark the Worcester Park Blog and visit regularly - we'll take your mind of train travel hell, guaranteed.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Christmas stopping

video

Determined not to replicate the blind panic of Christmas Eves past, I braved the crowds in Kingston today for the obligatory hell that is Christmas shopping - an unprecedented (by male standards) full fortnight-and-a-bit before the big day.

If we are in the throes of an economic downturn, then that information clearly hadn't filtered down to the thousands who were clogging up the car parks and stampeding round the Bentall Centre chucking their cash in all directions.

Alas I was just over two hours into my shopping ordeal when fire broke out in MacDonalds in the Lower Ground Floor, the emergency alarms sounded, and a recorded voice urged us to leave 'quietly'. Now, for those unable to imagine several thousand crazed Christmas shoppers leaving the Bentall Centre quietly, the video above will help you with that concept.

The centre was closed for nearly an hour at the height of Sunday trading - at the cost of thousands of pounds to the retailers, but much to the delight of John Lewis who welcomed the sudden influx of rain-sodden evacuees with open cash tills.

No information yet on exactly how the MacDonalds fire started, but no doubt somebody lost at least one star on their name badge for causing that little kerfuffle.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Hamptons - planning permission refused

So, common sense prevailed at the planning decision meeting on Monday evening in respect of St James' application to slap another 184 dwellings on the site of The Hamptons development in Worcester Park (with wind turbines) taking the site 30% over the capacity for which original permission was given.

The common sense was, mind you, coming solely from local residents and traders - unlike Sutton Council's 'Development Control Committee' (DCC) which originally recommended permission be granted for this further expansion.

A massive 300 objections to the development were received, the main objections being

  • The effect on road traffic and parking

  • Noise pollution from the wind turbines

  • Further strain on local services (schools, doctors' surgeries etc).
In the end, the application was refused on on all three of the above points.

But what a close shave we had. The DCC's original recommendation poo-pooed all of these conerns. What all a load of silly worry worts we must all have been as they orignally reassured us that:

'The proposed parking and access arrangements and other initiatives to promote sustainable transport would not result in an increase in parking pressure or congestion for the surrounding road network.'

Hmm... well parking pressure may not be an issue but the 'initiatives to promote sustainable transport' issue had me convulsing in laughter (or was I just choking on the exhaust fumes?). This, presumably, refers to their vain hope that a few woolly 'go green' messages, bike racks and signposted foopaths will tempt us out of our cars and back onto public transport.

It strikes me that they're missing the whole point - Worcester Park traffic is already so diabolical that most people for whom public/alternative transport is a practical option are already using it.

In the 15 minutes it takes us Worcester Parkers to crawl one-eighth of a mile down one of the 'feeder roads' onto Central Road in the morning, our fellow commuters are already aways past Clapham Junction on their train journey.

Then there's the 'access arrangements' - the majority of traffic from The Hamptons will continue to be funnelled out of Green Lane (the only access point currently) and snarl itself up in the traffic queues of Green Lane, Longfellow Road, Caverleigh Way and others. And then there will be a secondary access point for use by traffic from 100 or so of the homes in the proposed Pase 5c development which will be able to escape via Boscombe Road but then have to navigate onto the same streets to empty onto Central Road.

It seems that people power prevailed in Worcester Park. No doubt there will be an appeal pending - having bought up such a vast area of land, there's no way that St James will let this go without a fight.

Ding ding, Round 2....

Sunday, 2 December 2007

F is for Fusion...

The whole thing with Silks started with a throwaway comment at the end of a hurried posting of my thoughts on the various Worcester Park eateries that I’ve worked my around. "I've yet to try Silks (what is fusion food anyway?) " I wrote. Little did I expect James, the new proprietor of Silks (pictured) to be reading the blog, but he was and threw in his own two penn’orth to the conversation.

Since then, James tells me around half a dozen customers have been in to Silks mentioning the blog (and presumably quite a few others who didn’t mention it) – so it was about time I made it across the threshold myself.

Now I’m quite adventurous when it comes to food, but then again notoriously hard to please. I have a ‘thing’ about bad food and poor service in restaurants. Mrs WP knows this all too well and has grown accustomed to (and developed coping mechanisms for) my notorious fussiness – that has seen me at best kick up the Mother of all fusses and, at worst walk out of one establishment refusing to pay a penny for such appalling service and food.

Looking back I can't really recall what it was that put me off dining at Silks. I think perhaps it was the zebra print chairs that put me off. Then there was the feeling that it looked like a great place for a hen night or an office party, but not for a quiet meal – and by association that it would be great fun but not great food.

I think, though, it was the whole thing about ‘fusion’ – consigned, in my mind at least, to the food-fashion history books, along with nouvelle cuisine and carveries. For a start, there's the problem of what fusion really is – it certainly flies in the face of Gordon Ramsay’s obscenity-filled mantra of simplifying your menus and concentrating on one-f*#king thing.

Were it not for James’ reassurance on this blog that they did have three specialised chefs concentrating on each area of cuisine, I would have gone on assuming that attempting to blend Chinese, Thai and Italian meant being a Jack of all trades and master of none.

Once I had arrived, and unmasked myself as the mysterious Worcester Park blogger, the first challenge was to get to grips with the extensive. By them time I had read through the main courses I had all but forgotten what I’d selected for starters – but better to have too broad a choice than too narrow.

For starter, I opted for scallops wrapped in pancetta with asparagus and cooked in Sake wine, whilst Mrs WP went for the Pan Fried Gyozas Pork Dumplings. For the main course, the delightfully titled ‘Moo Yang’ (that’s char-grilled marinated pork with thai herbs and chilli sauce) and for Mrs WP the somewhat less pronounceable Phad Bal Krapow (stir-fried pork, garlic, basil and chillies, in case you were wondering).


Expectations were high, and I’m pleased to say the food certainly didn’t disappoint. Balancing flavours correctly in any dish, especially those with an oriental influence, is a hard craft to master - get it slightly wrong and one flavour can completely overpower the others. Yet all the dishes we had displayed the perfect balance of and blend of complementary flavours in the meats, the salads and the vegetables - every mouthful seemed to bring with it a new rush of flavour, and no on element was overbearing.

For Mrs WP, brought up in a land far far away where food comes straight from the field and not the freezer, freshness is a must - so a definite thumbs up for the freshness and flavour of the ingredients at Silks. (Incidentally, it took Mrs WP's feminine insight to notice that, for some reason, the restaurant’s clientele were over 80% women).

Right from James’ initial comment on the blog, his boundless energy and passion for his restaurant was clear, and this was evident on the evening as he enthusiastically worked the floor chatting to the clientele, guiding them through with the somewhat daunting menu choices and filling the place with a clear passion for good service and good food.

James doesn’t shy away from the restaurant’s historic failings – under his management improvements are already underway to the d├ęcor, customer service has been sharpened up and with time the menu will be simplified and honed. Perhaps the ‘fusion’ idea will give way to concentration on one specific area of influence. Most would have no problem with the co-existence of Chinese and Thai, but the Italian aspect to the menu seemed out of character with the predominantly contemporary-Oriental theme, so perhaps that would be the most logical aspect to drop (besides there is already a glut of Italian eateries in Worcester Park).

My New Year’s resolution was to avoid chain restaurants. Granted, some can serve up perfectly good fare, but not for me their blandness, their uniformity and the staff in them who care little for the food or the service they provide. A trip to Silks confirmed my reasoning behind that resolution. What you have in James is a proprietor who has a passion for what his establishment does, and channels that into attention to detail, a fantastic welcome and mouth-wateringly fresh and inviting food.

For flavour, service and quality I can't fault Silks at all. I’m genuinely pleased I made the discovery and will definitely be back again soon. So perhaps next time you pass, you too will look beyond the zebra print chairs. And when you do go in, tell them the Worcester Park blog sent you. ;-)

UPDATE: Silks restaurant closed on January 1st 2009

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Weather, or not

I finally made it to Silks restaurant last night for the much-anticipated meal. I'll hopefully get round to doing a full write up tomorrow.

Suffice to say, last night's Central Road Christmas extravaganza was all but washed away in an evening of torrential rain. The brass band had to take refuge in a shop doorway, the free hot chocolate would have been tempting were I not obsessed with finding shelter and the other attractions were more unfair than funfair, with every ride magically transformed into a watersplash.

The evening for me started off in the Chinese herbal medicine practice opposite Iceland, as I went to collect Mrs WP who had been having her chi rearranged and chakra realigned, which seemed to involve needles and laxative herbal infusions.

As we were preparing to leave, the Chinese practioner apologetically enquired whether the Christmas event in Worcester Park was traditional, or just commercial.

I considered a devastatingly insightful reply - something along the lines of it being rooted in tradition but now largely commerical, much like Chinese medicine (Mrs WP was entering her PIN number in the keypad at that point, so it could have worked a treat).

But my brain wasn't working quickly enough for that so I admitted it was purely commercial, much to his apparent disappointment. I suppose I could have made something up about it being traditional, but I really didn't want a foreign national thinking that teacup rides outside KFC and a few stalls proffering knock-off toys as prizes were in any way an English tradition.

And besides, my stomach was rumbling and I had the evening in Silks to look forward to...