Back in SE23…

Amber and Millie at Forest Hill station
At Forest Hill station with flowers in our hair

We still have an NHS dentist, you know (such is my respect and admiration for the NHS I turned the chance for private dental care at work).  But finding an NHS dentist in London isn’t so easy, which is why we still make a six-monthly pilgrimage to our old “manor” of SE23 – specifically, Forest Hill, to visit the dentist there.

Amber never lived in Forest Hill so she has no connection to the place; and Millie, despite being born there, doesn’t remember it, as we moved out to Bexley when she was just two.

The Lovely Melanie and I both have fond memories of the place, however – both because it was where we owned our first home and also because it’s where we had our last morsel of freedom before the girls arrived.  We loved our little flat at 22c Brockley Rise – we only left because Millie was coming and the flat was a one-bedroom flat.  If we hadn’t had Millie we might still be there now.

And compared to Bexley Forest Hill still looks remarkably cosmopolitan – something that may not be immediately obvious to its residents, but to a visitor from another planet (i.e., Bexley) the change is obvious.

It’s a bit grimy but there are people walking about (not everybody drives the ten yards to the local shop).  It’s more “distributed – amenities are not solely concentrated in a “shopping centre”.  It’s more varied (1) – not every shop is part of a national chain.  It’s more varied (2) – the mix of ethnicities on display would annoy any BNP supporter (of which, Bexley has its fair share).  And it’s a Labour ward – in fact, some of it is actively Green (Bexley’s Green Party is, effectively, me).

After the dentist – where everyone’s teeth were fine, but Millie got a bit upset when the dentist tried to give her teeth a polish – we went to the wonderful and completely free, Horniman Museum.

We went mainly because we’d come all that way and it seemed a bit of a waste to go straight home after our teeth have been sorted.  Plus, the Horniman is such a wonderfully and willfully eccentric place: originally built to house the lifetime collection of oddities made by Frederick John Horniman back in Victorian days, it’s had some investment lately and is no longer the moribund paean to taxidermy that it was when the Lovely Melanie and I first visited.

Much like Forest Hill, it’s an odd mix of things, with the shiny “new” struggling to paper over the intriguing character of all the “old”, but not quite succeeding – or at least, not succeeding in the way it may have wanted.  But being all the better for that.

Dead Monkey in the Horniman MuseumSo we went there and poked about for a couple of enjoyable hours.  And I took a picture of a monkey skeleton which I’m considering using as my profile pic on Facebook.  In the picture of the girls at the top of the page they don’t actually have flowers in their hair, they have some remarkably red leaves we found, and which they liked so much they wanted to put them in their hair.  And who am I to deny some small children such a simple pleasure? 🙂

Ahh, listen to me waffling on.  And all because the Lovely Melanie is hogging the TV to watch Strictly Come Dancing downstairs and my plans to watch MicMacs on DVD on the computer have been foiled because MicMacs is a Blu-Ray disc and we only have Blu-Ray downstairs.  Bah!

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