South London Grid Girl
I’ve lived in Balham, then Tooting, then Furzedown for nearly 25 years. I love its diversity, creativity, community feel & green spaces. I love bumping into people I’ve known for years & waving at new faces I’ve not known long.
In my 20’s (The 90’s) I discovered dance music & clubs. So me & my mates would be out most weekends sampling south Londons’ legendary club nights. There was Come Dancing in Clapham Junction; Club UK in Wandsworth; The Fridge & Mass in Brixton, under the arches in Vauxhall; Ministry of Sound, the list goes on.
Then in my 30’s (The 00's), some of us got married & had kids. My 2 boys (now 13 & 7) were born at St Georges in Tooting & before I could blink, my new hangouts were Tooting Common, soft play areas, playgrounds, doctors surgeries & kid friendly cafes. Now in my 40’s (wtf did that happen?) my favourite spots have changed again.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, when you live in an area this long, through many chapters of your life, you think you know every part of it. But it just ain’t so. Places change hugely in 20+ years.
Setting up Arting About SW16/SW17 6 months ago has allowed me to discover new places yet again, and connect with talented, passionate & creative people. So here are some of my top spots, that I’m loving at the moment, in no particular order.
Sprout Community Arts, Furzedown SW16
Sprout is 5 minutes walk from where I live and it’s the sort of space every community would be lucky to have. A not-for-profit, volunteer-run organisation, they hold exhibitions of local artists, run workshops, art classes & provide a supportive, nurturing environment for everyone interested in art & creativity. Check their website for news of What’s On.
Naked Loaf Pizza, Furzedown SW16
You know you’ve hit the jackpot when your pizza place is Naked Loaf. It’s 5 minutes walk from my house & I count myself lucky to have them on my doorstep. Delicious pizzas, friendly staff & a glass of Aperol while you wait. Get yourselves down there pronto!
Love Art Classes, Tooting Market
Gemma & Claire have created an oasis of inspiration & colour in the heart of the Market. Love Art run weekly art classes for children, adult classes & stock an impressive & well curated range of cards, books, prints & homewares from a growing collection of artists including Jane Foster, South London Club & many more.
Cut The Mustard, Furzedown SW16
A fantastic & welcoming cafe in Furzedown, Cut The Mustard is much loved by locals. Jimmie has created something really special, through blood, sweat & tears, & we’re so lucky to have him on our doorstep. All the food is homemade, brunch is delicious & best of all, he names his bread! The sourdough is called Frank.
Tooting Lido & Tooting Common
The largest fresh water swimming pool in England, Tooting Lido is at the heart of Tooting Common. In the summer months it’s so popular that cars are often queueing all the way along Tooting Bec Road. It is home to the South London Swimming Club , one of the oldest swimming clubs in the country. They run regular events & training sessions & are a friendly, all-inclusive club. When the temperatures soar, this is the place to cool off. I also have friends who plunge into the icy waters in the depths of winter.
Tooting Common is a glorious green oasis, & stretches from Tooting Bec to Streatham. It’s home to dog walkers, tennis players, keep fit classes, football teams, bird watchers, swimmers, bat walks, dog shows, jazz festivals, Halloween processions, fishermen, mum & baby groups & more. TC has it all. To find out more visit the Friends of Tooting Common website.
Brick & Liquor, Tooting
I’ve only been here once, but don’t they say 1st impressions count? As soon as we walked through the door, Brandon & Shane were welcoming, friendly & seemed genuinely interested in our inane chatterings, even after 2 of their unbelievable cocktails. This bar is a little gem in the heart of Tooting & we should cherish it. B&L2 opens in Clapham soon. Congrats guys!
The Rookery Walled Garden, Streatham Common
Way back in 1659 there were mineral springs in Streatham. I kid you not. The Well House was built in the early C18 to house visitors to the spa which developed around the mineral springs, and the adjacent house (The Rookery), was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the numerous visitors. The 3 acre site was saved from redevelopment & presented to London County Council in 1912. It was then added to Streatham Common and opened as a public park in July 1913.
For me, the highlight is the fantastic walled garden. Once you enter you cannot believe you’re in Streatham, let alone London. It’s like being in the garden of a country house. If you love nature, gardening, flowers, peace & quiet, you must put this on your list of places to visit.
Furzedown Oak Project, Furzedown
In 2012 when the council were felling an old red oak tree in The Rec in Furzedown, local resident & Labour councillor Candida Jones knew she had to save it. And so the Furzedown Oak Project was born. A group of residents, artists & friends pulled together & decided to turn the timber into a sculptural arts trail for Furzedown. A few of the sculptures are finished but funding is still needed to complete the project. Furzedown resident & London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has provided additional funding but there is still a way to go. Donate now if you can & support this fantastic project via Spacehive. No amount is too small.
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