The East London Line opens its south-east section on 23rd May, inducting a whole new swathe of London into the world of roundels. Given that, for a lot of people, south-east London might as well be populated by dragons, we asked some locals to give you a tour round their gaffs. Today Zoe Whitley Richmond, friend of excellent blog Brockley Central, shows you round her part of the capital.
"Where's that?!?" Having lived in various parts of South-East London, these are the two words I'm most often met with after being asked where I live. Honor Oak Park has been no exception but the East London Line extension is a great reason to discover lesser known parts of the city such as mine. Honor Oak residents are young families and young professionals, perhaps on the cusp of starting a family. There are lots of parks and some great amenities that are likely to improve further.
At the risk of trying too hard to promote the area, I thought I'd model my HOP highlights on the Michelin star model: worth a stop; worth a detour; and worth a special trip - mainly because I can sometimes inflate a place's worth disproportionately just because it's close-by in my excitement to support local business.
Worth a stop
HOP Scotch is a sweet local coffee shop with genuinely friendly bar staff. With Afrobeat, ska, and Bossa Nova shuffling on their iPod, you won't find a better music mix with your latte. Over the hill from the station is sleek little Cafe 2050 on an otherwise unassuming stretch of Forest Hill Road that sells excellent coffee and delicious fresh baked breads.
Yam Hill on Brockley Rise is a nice spot to buy a small selection of organic groceries and health foods. The local tapas restaurant Try serves brunch at the weekends and has keenly priced tapas too. Its decent menu of cocktails are 2-for-1 any time.
Have you ever ridden a see-saw in a cemetery? No, it isn't a line from a Tim Burton film. But something you can actually do. A real quirk of the area is Honor Oak Sports ground. These playing fields, picnic area and playground are nestled in between patches of Camberwell New Cemetery. Incongruous but ingenious use of urban space just down the path from the One Tree Hill Allotments entrance.
The Honor Oak Pub serves locally-sourced food and really caters to the community by also providing the venue for various gatherings such as yoga classes and Boppin' Bunnies parent and baby music sessions.
We're lucky to have two excellent restaurants on our doorstep. In fact, the only time there's been recognition from strangers about Honor Oak, it's been in relation to the brilliant Babur Brasserie's modern Indian cuisine. You can't miss its rampant tiger leaping from the roof. But we've also got the family-run Sardinian restaurant Le Querce where I am proud to call myself a regular. A well-edited menu of starters, pastas and mains is supplemented by a constantly changing list of blackboard chef's specials. I've eaten everything on the menu at least once and have never had a bad meal there. Chef Antonello makes the bread, pasta, bresaola and cakes in-house, as well as a head-spinning array of sorbets and gelati - from the sublime (strawberry and balsamic; rose petal; basil or melon and cinnamon) to the adventurous (chili pepper; onion; garlic or beetroot). And yes, vanilla and chocolate, too.
On your way back to the station, you can window-shop at the bizarre dental laboratory, buy original retro lighting, handmade wooden furniture, a bicycle or even a headstone. Come to Honor Oak and have a nose around a unique little corner of London.
All photos by the author