Friday, October 31, 2008

Las Iguanas at the O2

The other night I went to the O2 to meet with some friends and we chose to eat at the Las Iguanas Resturant.

The O2 and all it's bars and restaurants were very very quiet. We had checked that it wasn't a gig night as my experience of those is that eating is nigh on impossible. However we were surprised at how quiet it all was, "dead" seems to be the word to use.

So do gig nights support the bars and restaurants? Are people put off of going to it as a general "meeting" venue because it is so busy when the Arena is in use?

Anyhow to Las Igaunas we went.

The starters that we had were great, tasty and a touch different, we were all impressed.

The mains however didn't leave up to the opening. I had the Puerto Rican Paella, which was nice but I know that I can cook a better Paella myself, and I don't believe myself to be a great cook. Others had the Carna Asado, both the Venison and Lamb versions, which again were described as being nice enough but nothing great. One of the Brazilian curries was also chosen with once again the same sort of response.

Don't get me wrong, no main course was "bad" and everything was enjoyed but it just wasn't something I would get excited about.

The staff were very good offering a friendly and helpful level of service.

However there is a downside, it was cold, very cold. We had to move tables twice to find somewhere that wasn't in a freezing cold draft. I don't know if the Restaurant had it's heating turned off due to the low level of customers but it really wasn't good.

So the big question, would we go again? Yes, I think that we would. However I'm far more likely to try and east at Rodizio Rico, which happens to also be Brazilian. I've eaten at their Angel branch and it was great, so I'm hoping that the O2 can live up to those same standards.

If you want more information Las Iguanas has a web site here:
The page for the O2 branch is here:
And you can see the current menu here:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blame Newham or Greenwich Council

In a story on the News Shopper web site (click here) John Austin, the MP for Erith and Thamesmead, says that he is concerned about the increase in flights from London City Airport.

"Many of my constituents are naturally concerned about increased levels of noise and atmospheric pollution" he says.

Somewhat contradicting that he also says that many of his residents may not be aware of the proposals as Newham Council haven't informed them.

So it's Newham's fault?

Well not quite.

There is a group called the London City Airport Consultative Committee which describes itself as a forum for discussing Airport issues, keeping people informed and monitoring the local environment.

Deputy Council Leader Peter Brooks is not only the Councillor for Thamesmead (the people right under the flight path) but is also a member of that committee. Which makes a lot of sense, if he bothered to attend the meetings.

As I've mentioned before (here and here)up until the October 2007 meeting Councillor Peter Brooks hadn't bothered to attend any of the meetings for the previous four years.

There was nothing of any impact to Greenwich to be discussed he claimed at the time. Oh no, just an extra 40,000 flights a year and the concerns, as described by the local MP, of his own constituents.

In the January 2008 meeting Councillor Denise Hyland was described as Councillor Brooks' deputy who would attend when he couldn't. Well Councillor Brooks again failed to make that meeting or either of the two since then. Councillor Hyland has attended just one.

So if there is a failure here is it of Newham Council or Greenwich?

Greenwich Council has representatives on the airports consultative committee but in over four years they've attended just one meeting.

Will John Austin tackle the council over it's failure to become involved and it's ignoring of his, and it's own, constituents?

I doubt it. This isn't about the well being of residents, if it were we would have seen the Councillors attending the committee meetings that they were meant to, it's about political point scoring and trying to point the finger anyway but Greenwich.

Edited to add: I thought something ran a bell when I looked up Councillor Hyland, she represents Shooters Hill ward. Who else does? Well non other than Councillor Danny "stuff the people who trusted me when I said I would represent them, I'm off the Australia for 6 months" Thorpe.

Is it any wonder that Councillor Thorpe thought it was acceptable to run off? He probably looked at his colleague Councillor Hyland and thought "well she's on a committee and doesn't bother attending it when she is on the same continent, I can offer the same level of commitment and dedication to my constituents from Australia!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

More on the Horn Fair

I've written about Charlton's Horn Fair before but I've recently found out a bit more about it.

No one actually knows when it started, one explanation dates it back to the times of King John. It used to take place for three days from St Luke's day (18th of October), the church of St Luke's in Charlton dates back to 1250 which explains the day of the fair and opens the possibility that it really does go back that far.

I've previously touched upon the connection of horns with cuckoldry, there is though an alternate explanation for the horn connection. Apparently the traditional symbol for St Luke is an ox with horns. Many ancient fairs would apparently display some symbol of their being open, and it's easy to imagine that a fair taking place on a saints day would use the symbols of that saint for that purpose. So perhaps that's how it got it's name.

However the story of King John, in which he was caught in the act with the wife of a Charlton miller by the miller himself and thus got permission to hold the fair as compensation, is far juicer and therefore probably became more popular as the years passed.

The fair was opened by the procession from Cuckold's Point for which people apparently dressed up as the miller, his wife and the King. Cross dressing was also apparently the thing to be done for this procession. William Fuller wrote in 1703:

"I remember being there upon Horn Fair day, I was dressed in my landlady's best gown and other women's attire, and to Horn Fair we went, and as we were coming back by water, all the clothes were spoilt by dirty water etc. that was flung on us in an inundation, for which I was obliged to present her with two guineas to make atonement for the damage sustained."

The Victorian's weren't too keen on London's fairs which had a notoriety for unpleasant and lewd behaviour, Charlton's reputation was such that when an law was passed in 1871 that allowed such fairs to be abolished it was one of the first to go.

This additional information comes from the book London Lore by Steve Roud. It's packed with all sorts of tales about London and it's a really enjoyable read, so if you're into this sort of thing it's well worth a look.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Villa Moura, Blackheath

The other night Miss Charlton Above-Average and myself went to the Villa Moura restaurant in Blackheath for dinner. We'd driven past it a fair few times and I thought it was time that I finally gave it a go.

Villa Moura describes itself as a seafood and Portuguese Restaurant, and it is very much, in that order. Most of the dishes are fish, the meat menu seems to be a very secondary add on.

So how did it go?

Well very nicely thank you.

The restaurant is pretty small and feels a bit "old fashioned" and cluttered as it were, not overly so but it's not a "modern" feeling place.

For food we had Mediterranean Peri-Peri Prawns and Avocado and Prawn salad as starters. Both were nice, especially the Peri-Peri Prawns which were nice and juicy with a lovely sauce.

The mains were a special of garlic spinach stuffed Sea Bass and Dover Sole, the Dover Sole was merely good while the Sea Bass was lovely.

For dessert if was Fudge Cake and Creme Caramel. The Fudge Cake was great, nice and soft and not too heavy. It also came with some great vanilla ice cream that we could easily have eaten a whole bowl of itself. The Creme Caramel was good, very enjoyable but not remarkable.

All told it was a great dinner. The "worst" courses were those that I would still say were very good, the best courses were lovely. Everything tasted nice and fresh, it was filling but not overfilling and with some lovely tastes and textures.

The service was good, prompt without being over pushy.

So all told two thumbs up and I would love to go again, which is about the best complement I can give to a place.

After one visit it is hard to tell but I think it is quite possibly the best restaurant that I've eaten in around here. It's certainly better than most of the tourist traps in Blackheath itself and well worth the extra journey out of Blackheath to get to.

Villa Moura has a web site here, you can find all sorts of information about the place and complete menus.

The address is:
Villa Moura
121 Lee Road
Tel: 020 8318 2116

It's located here

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hired Rubbish Lorries?

Yesterday was my bin collection day and, as is usual now, all the right waste was taken.

So what do I see rumble down my road today, a rubbish lorry.

It appears to have been collecting "contaminated bins", that is residents who nearly a year into the scheme still can't understand what they're meant to do and put the "wrong" rubbish in the "wrong" bin.

Interestingly though the lorry wasn't a Greenwich Council one, it was hired from a company called Gulliver's.

Now on the one hand this is a good thing, they're proactively emptying the bins before the fill up and overspill onto the street.

However are the Council having to hire in extra vehicles to do this extra collection?

If so how much is it costing?

Is this a long term "solution" or are they also addressing the problem of contaminated bins that the "normal" bin lorries leave behind?