Charlie’s mother is Arabella Boxer, a great cookery writer and a close friend of my own mother. She used to babysit me, and taught me all about cooking – my mum thinks food is something you eat so you don’t die, but Arabella taught me how to peel tomatoes and grind pepper. Charlie now has two sons, Jackson my godson and Frank, and owns Italo. That’s where all three of us started our businesses; it’s where Frank was before Frank’s Café and Campari Bar in Peckham; where Jackson was before he opened Brunswick House around the corner; and where Tommy Adams and I were before we started Pitt Cue. I met Tommy when I was working here in 2010 and he was at the Blueprint Café with Jeremy Lee, who brought him to a charity evening at the Bonnington Square Café, opposite Italo. We got talking and discovered a mutual interest in wine, and a few months later he ended up working in the kitchen with me. I needed another chef to realise my barbecue food truck dream, and it turned out Tom had been making smoked food since he was a boy. We opened the truck in May last year on the South Bank, and our Soho restaurant in January.I love this square so much that I moved here last summer. Everyone thinks of Vauxhall as just a hideous roundabout, but this place is quiet, and there’s a real sense of community. The Boxers are the closest thing I have to a family here, and I eat breakfast with them at Italo almost every day. They are a sort of South London mafia, and I’m the godfather.
Cafés, bars, funky apartments and famous gay clubs – as Soho loses its cool, Vauxhall is shaping up as London’s next happening location. Nick Curtis looks at SW8’s up and coming attractions
There have even been royal sightings in Vauxhall. Prince Harry and Kate Middleton were separately enthusiastic visitors to the roller disco nights at the Renaissance Rooms on Wandsworth Road back in 2008 and 2009.
To add to the mix, the railway arches not occupied by clubs or showrooms are home to the Portuguese Casa Madeira and Pico Bar and the Italian restaurant Moratti, foodie overspill from nearby Little Lisbon on South Lambeth Road.
There are plans afoot to encourage these lively venues to put out tables on the Pleasure Gardens at the back, as well as Albert Embankment at the front, where diners can stare at the MI6 building, at Jeffrey Archer’s penthouse atop riverside Alembic House, and downstream to Westminster.
Bonnington Square, run for years by a housing association that planted a community garden and lined the streets with palm trees, is now home not only to its original vegan café but also to the cool Bonnington Square Bed and Breakfast and a lovely deli, Italo, run by Mark and Arabella Boxer’s eldest son Charlie with the scion of the south London de Lieto baking clan.
My best find (thanks to Time Out London) was Bonnington Cafe (11 Vauxhall Grove, www.bonningtoncafe.co.uk), not far from the Kia Oval cricket ground, which puts it off the path. But I did have a sit-down lunch of vegetarian squash/chickpea curry over rice and a nice green salad for $8 (also open for dinner). It’s about the dishes, not the decor, at this community-run eatery. Afterward, stroll around the square and you’ll see Bonnington’s pocket park (and head over to the Harleyford Road Community Garden while you’re at it). Because especially in the coming weeks, London promises to be anything but an oasis of calm.
The pleasure garden here was once a bombsite, then a derelict playground, before it was imaginatively re-designed by the Bonnington Square Garden Association, a group of local residents with backgrounds in film, art, design and horticulture.
Funded by grants and local sponsorship, the garden includes a 9-metre Industrial Revolution iron waterwheel, a huge Helping Hand sculpture and evocative, lush sub-tropical planting.
Further planting under the umbrella of the Paradise Project includes trees, groundcover planting, vines and endless street gardens. The pleasure garden is today regarded as one of the finest community gardens in London.
My best find thanks to Time Out London was Bonnington Cafe 11 Vauxhall Grove, www.bonningtoncafe.co.uk, not far from the Kia Oval cricket ground, which puts it off the path. But I did have a sit-down lunch of vegetarian squash/chickpea curry over rice and a nice green salad for $8 also open for dinner. Its about the dishes, not the decor, at this community-run eatery. Afterward, stroll around the square and youll see Bonningtons pocket park and head over to the Harleyford Road Community Garden while youre at it. Because especially in the coming weeks, London promises to be anything but an oasis of calm.
The first-ever Chelsea Fringe, the alternative festival of gardening, opens on Saturday 19 May. A compliment to the Chelsea Flower Show, the Fringe does things it cannot do and reaches places it cannot reach. There are no arcane judging systems, no grand judges, medals, prizes or patronage – and no sponsor, so it is entirely volunteer-driven. As long as a project idea is about gardening and flowers, and is interesting, it’s in. This spans community growing spaces and initiatives, garden installations, performances, street happenings, parties, talks and walks, special dinners, workshops, films and art – all run by visionary individuals who make things happen against the odds.
As mentioned Bonnington Square is not an easy place to liase with but it is very inexpensive, local and in a very pleasing setting so it is worth sticking with it. I cannot ascertain from their scant message if there are any evening dates in June but have been told that there are no evening dates in May so…there are weekends available. We have our Summer concert to prepare for and we are preparing in earnest and in speed for our mini concert in the glories of St Nicholass church in New Romney next weekend. So we are very busy so I not keen to have the concert right up against the summer concert nevertheless want the classical concert to go ahead as a priority and in order to give everyone a chance to perform as not every singer will be performing in each event.
Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Brian Paddick has said that, if elected, he would allow Londoners to patrol their own streets and decide how police are deployed.
With crime and policing high on the agenda for all candidates, Mr Paddick aims to give some of the power back to residents. Back in January, he visited Bonnington Square in south London, whose residents launched their own crime-fighting patrols to combat a spate of muggings and a carjacking.
Gardens don’t have to be productive to be community gardens. The Pleasure Garden and Paradise Project in Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, was established in 1994 when a plot of land bombed during World War II was about to be built on. The residents quickly mobilised, got council approval and took over the plot with the aim of creating a green space that could be enjoyed by everyone, especially those living locally in flats without gardens. The beautifully planted sub-tropical haven was designed by the residents using found objects and is maintained by them as a tranquil refuge open to all.