Thursday, 27 August 2009

Leabank Square on the Tour Circuit!!

Feel like we’ve really made it now! Last Sunday we had just got back from a family cycle and were just resting our tired legs when we overheard a tour party from across the canal. A guided tour party had just stopped opposite our riverbank and the tour leader was busy telling the group all about the Olympic park and the types of trees that would eventually be planted there, after the games.

So we carried on relaxing, thinking they were just your average Olympic tour group, doing the usual circuit around the perimeter of the fence. However, the next thing that happens is that the tour leader asks everyone to turn around and take a look at our riverbank garden. She spends at least 5 minutes bigging up all the stuff we’ve done up there, throwing in lots of compliments about our recycling projects and our plants.

Not only that, the tour guide was kind enough to mention our blog address and urged everyone to take a look to find out what other things we get up to! How cool is that?!! Our square actually being a part of a guided tour! We were really proud and elated that our little old square is having such a positive and inspirational effect on other Londoners.

Leabank Square Sunflower Art

Hows this for a neat idea?!

Ryan & Zac have come up with a great way to have some summer holiday fun, do graffiti, and bring out our creative juices!

It's called Sunflower Art!

Simply choose an old sunflower that's lost it's petals (they've 'gone over' in gardening terms) - and design a picture, write a message, create a pattern, 'spray' your tag - on the face of the sunflower by plucking the seeds out.

Just please don't forget to save the seeds for next years sunflower growing season.

Thanks Zac & Ryan - as usual you guys have come up with an amazingly creative way to decorate Leabank Square!!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Birds of Leabank Square - Cockney Sparra

Can you believe what we've all done?! After all the trees & hedgerows were chopped down in the Olympic Park opposite - we had a couple of years when there were no Cockney Sparra's visiting Leabank Square. Thanks to all the bird boxes & feeders we've put up all around Leabank Square ( - we've managed to get them to return!!

Thank you to everyone who put one up - if anyone is interrested in putting one up this autumn - please make a comment here - or send us an email. The more we put up - the more we can help this plucky little bird!

Noisy and gregarious, these cheerful exploiters of man's rubbish and wastefulness, have even managed to colonise most of the world. The ultimate opportunist perhaps, but now struggling to survive in the UK along with many other once common birds.

They are clearly declining in both gardens and the wider countryside and their recent declines have earned them a place on the Red List.

Found from the centre of cities to the farmland of the countryside, it feeds and breeds near to people. Vanishing from the centre of many cities, but not uncommon in most towns and villages - and now - back in Leabank Square!

See also:

Steel Skeleton

The great steel skeleton sits high on our horizon and it seems to be moving quickly across what was once our view of the sky. Our bond with our sky, that is now so tragically eclipsed, is intense. These are the same skies that have given my children spectacular shows of double rainbows, lightening storms, distant rains drawing closer and starry moonlit nights.

We are already at a disadvantage with our connections with nature, we live in one of the world’s biggest cities. Many children are growing up in our great city never having had the pleasure of watching a sunrise or experiencing the magical last moments of the day, as the sun slips below the horizon and we enter our time of rest.

Of course, the forces of change are telling us that future generations will benefit from all this disruption. These huge structures will give something back to the children of our community. But, so much has been lost to these forces. So much disruption has entered our lives - like a constant headache – the pain does not seem to cease. It is difficult to see the future vision, when majestic trees have been lost, green land has been taken away and our beautiful view of the sky eclipsed. The loss of all these things has been soul destroying. I don’t think you have any idea just how profound our loss has been.

When people are connected to nature, when they are connected to the seasons, through changing trees, rivers, light patterns, skies and the natural world around them – they are strong, healthy people. Our psyche’s need this connection to nature for our general well being. It is paramount that designers and planners keep this thought with them before constructing buildings, roads and facilities. They need to consider the well being of existing communities and the impact that huge structures will have on them.

Our community here in Leabank Square has been much luckier than a lot of other communities also sharing this great city of ours. We live in one of the greenest places in inner London, with easy access to the canal networks, marshes, nature reserves and local parks. Sometimes I can’t believe just how privileged we are to experience things like watching carp fish return to our canal every Spring, flocks of starlings gathering in the Autumn or even learning how to row our inflatable boat. They seem like simple pleasures but these opportunities do not exist so readily for all Londoners.

I feel truly connected to the world around me here in Hackney Wick – these bonds have made me and my family happier and healthier people. For those of you who live here and haven’t yet experienced just how beautiful and exciting our neighbourhood is I truly urge you to get out there to explore and enjoy this amazing corner of London we live in. It’s changing with each passing day and it may never be the same again!

Good Luck Tony!!

Guess what!?!

Tony passed his theory test with flying colours! Well done Tony! I am sure your daughter especially - but every single one of us here in Leabank Square - are immensely proud of you!!

You have no idea how amazing it would be to glance over the canal & see you driving that big ol' forklift truck past Leabank Square. Actually - while you're there - could you educate the rest of the drivers about reverse-bleeper-etiquette!

Tony - we all wish you the best of luck out in Erith withe the practical exam. Think of it as a giant Tonka-Toy - and you can make it do whatever you want it to do. I know it's a lot bigger than the forklift trucks you've driven before - but surely it does more-or-less the same?

Oh yes ......... and Tony has another treat for all of us as well!!

Please check out Maya & Ella ( singing & playing piano. They are Tony's nieces - and definitely the most talented kids around! Please could you give them some excellent ratings?!

But Tony - we are all rooting for you mate. It would be fantastic to have at least one resident getting a job over on the Olympic site. Take it easy, be calm and you'll sail through the exam.

Best of luck!!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Spooky Leabank Square Carrots.

As Sundays are the only Olympic-noise-free days left to us – a very special thanks to everyone who spent the whole day watering, weeding, pruning, tidying, painting the riverbank – getting it ready for the Hackney Wick Festival.

And we harvested some delicious fruit & veg! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

But look at the incredible carrots! Is this just a freak of nature – or is there something toxic floating over the canal.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Update: Olympic Noise & Dust Meeting

Well - look what the postie brought this morning! A rather chaming letter from the ODA. Now - this - is community relations!!

I have no idea what it says - but I guess I am deep in Olympic doo-doo. Please have a read through it (click on each page to read it witout a magnifying glass!) - and then please see if any of you know anyone who can help me out!

I have no experience with these kinds of legal things, so I first of all need someone to interpret it, and then to tell me how to get out of this mess. Please Leabank Square - between all of the 400 people who live here - someone has got to at least have a friend who could advise me. I am also writing to some people who have helped us deal with the ODA in the past for some help - but surely there has got to be someone here who I can have a cuppa with to explain this wierd language?


Please only read further after you have made yourself a cup of strong coffee - as many of you never tire of telling me - I do waffle a bit!

Comfortable? Good!

What follows is my reply. I have tried to best reflect all our concerns & views over this amazing story. Please comment as much as you like on my reply - but Leabank Square.......... be nice. I am afraid that we will have to be a bit more strict in what we allow through to the blog - so please........ be nice.

Hi Shabana

It’s me – Sóna from over the canal – in Leabank Square. Thanks for the email – I must admit – I really can’t understand most of what you wrote (English isn’t my mother tongue – tho’ even some of the native East Enders here in Leabank Square didn’t understand either!) – but I think I get the general message.

You’re pissed that we’ve said some things about Giorgia Sharpe. That’s about it – isn’t it?

Now – I’m not too sure how much of the history between Leabank Square & Giorgia Sharpe you’ve been told – but – I’m sure you are aware that there must surely be two sides to every story huh?

Right near the beginning of our beautiful relationship Shabana – a bunch of suits and Giorgia sat in my lounge overlooking the 2012 site – and promised me that I (as Olympic Liaison Person) could say to the rest of the residents of Leabank Square – that you guys would spray all the dust roads with bowsers (a kind of giant towed water butt with holes in) several times a day.

In addition to that – that you guys would spray all your dust mounds with some kind of foam (you’d have to ask your suits what it’s called) that would sort of glue the sand together & prevent it from blowing over our way.

Well…….. – and this is where we got pissed Shabana – we did not see any of this happen! We live here. We see every move you guys make. We (literally) eat your dust! We hear every sound (& wolf whistle) your construction workers make! In short – we know far more about what happens on your construction site – than you ever will comfortably officed in Canary Wharf many kilometres away!

I personally made several phone calls to you guys (unfortunately – for her - it was Giorgia Sharpe who took the calls – if it was anyone else – the same would have been said about them) complaining that we saw absolutely no bowsering, and that we could actually see the dust lifting off the mounds right onto our sausages & corn on the cobs on the barbie! She kept spouting the same tired old regurgitation – the bowsers were definitely in operation directly opposite us – and that the soil was contained in this foam/glue and couldn’t possibly lift off into Leabank Square.

Of course – my duty was to relay this back to the pissed off residents of Leabank Square – and of course some accused her of lying.

Shabana – I’m sure that a (probably) well educated lawyer such as yourself would be able to find an alternative word for something that is not true. But down here in the East End of London – it’s called a lie. The person telling the lie – is called a liar. Simple as!

None of this is in any way personal to Giorgia Sharpe. She was assigned to our case. We had to deal with her. We are not allowed to talk to any of the contractors directly when something kicks off – we have to go through the person assigned to us.

So – Shabana – I have 3 questions for you guys in the Olympics:

1. What are you getting so vexed about – when you are clearly reading our tiny community blog? The blog that these comments were made on is not yours. It belongs to all the residents of Leabank Square. This is how we communicate. This is our virtual community meeting place. This is where we chat to each other. When neighbours chat to each other – they sometimes call other people liars. This is the East End of London. This is what happens here. We use our blog to try and change things that piss us off. One of the things that pissed some residents off was being told that you guys were bowsering and foaming – and that meant that we would not get any dust on our sausages. Your dust even gets into our kitchens!!! When people get pissed – they say things. They get emotional. They probably go over the top. But that’s life innit? What are you doing listening in on Leabank Square’s chats – you do not live here!!!!!

2. The land you are building on opposite Leabank Square is called Arena Fields. This used to belong to us. This was Lammas Land given ‘in perpetuity’ (look it up – cos I don’t actually know all the legal ins & outs of the phrase – but it sort of means – forever) to the people of London to use to walk their dogs, play footie, have a picnic, chat someone up, just chill – on. We used to do all that & a lot more. Then – an Act of Parliament took it away to give to you lot. Now we have the most unimaginable noise, dust & irritation. I know you won’t appreciate it from Canary Wharf – but what we have gone through in a couple of years has been sheer hell. Can you honestly (hey – Shabana – before you get all trigger-happy – I’m not accusing you of lying now) – honestly – say that you might not get a tiny bit het-up? You should be paying for us to get out of this hell with regular trips to Southend – never mind stressing us even more with threats of some legal stuff we don’t even understand!

3. The last thing I really don’t understand is why I personally get the heavies coming after me? Remember when you guys sent Sergeant Port to come & chat about some similar ‘emotional’ comments last year? I don’t actually write the comments Shabana. This blog thing is brilliant. I simply write a story that I know Leabank Square is chatting about - I am the gardener – I get to hear all the stories. Everyone else then comment things like wishing Lucy good luck with the Hackney in Bloom judges, moaning about the dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs (if Giorgia was upset about being called a liar – she should have read what neighbours said about each other!), and – of course comment about what hell you guys are putting us through! There is a long history of calling Giorgia Sharpe a liar on the blog if you really want to trawl through years worth of comments. Of course – you’re probably going to say that I am responsible – because I started the blog. But – in a sense – I drew the short straw. I was asked to set it up in order to have a tool to have meetings in Leabank Square – without actually having physical meetings. In meetings – things get ‘emotional’. I have to reflect this by allowing some flavour of what is getting said – otherwise it would be like shutting someone at a meeting up. I’m sort of like a chair at a virtual residential meeting. So – if that makes me personally responsible – do what you gotta do Shabana.

As you will now see – I have taken the offensive comments down – but don’t be getting all triumphant just yet. I am playing for some time to get Leabank Square & some of our friends to get me some legal advice. As a gardener – I am completely out of my depth here – so please bare with me while I ask around. I will get back to you when I know just how much crap I’m in.


PS – Shabana – one other thing – pleeeeezzzzz reply in understandable English – I hardly know what you are on about in your previous letter. Please.

Oh yes...... While I have all your rapt attention - I told you to make that coffee STRONG! - quite a few of these kinds of offers have come in from a couple of TV stations - but LOADS of newspapers. Please get in touch through the email system if you are keen to get your beautiful mugs in the news.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Griff Rhys-Jones on the River Lea - 16th Aug BBC One

I don't know how many of you have been following this excellent series - but I have been absolutely hooked. Last week there was a story about one of the kings way back when - actually moving a river - because it didn't look right as it flowed past his country mansion!

These are the small - very interesting - stories that have come out of this programme that I love.


This week (tomorrow - Sunday 16th August - BBC1 - 9pm) - Griff Rhys-Jones travels from the source of the Lea in Leagrave Common, Luton to the Thames, stopping off at the heritage site in Waltham Abbey, now a popular attraction for families, on the way. He explores the role water played in the industrial revolution - and research and development processes in the gunpowder mills 300-year secret history.

Of course - the actual River Lea is the one on the other side of Arena Fields (now on the Olympic site) - but I wonder if Griff will take a stroll down past Leabank Square? Even if he doesn't - I'm sure he'll come up with some amazing fact about our history that none of us knew before!

I urge all of you to watch this amazing series - it's one of the best things the BBC has done!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Leabank Square Security Alert!

I am sure that you have all heard about the break-in at one of our neighbours homes last night. It happened at about 11pm when there were still loads of people in the square and on the green. The thieves gained access through the back garden and went to town inside - gathering up saleable items & other very personal possessions.

They also then got hold of the car keys and as casual as you like started the car & drove off. This must be so utterly devastating for our neighbour, and thanks to all the residents who have lent support and shown brilliant community spirit towards this family.

Please imagine that this has happened to you & your own family, and then think if you saw anything out of the ordinary last evening. If you did - please call Sergeant Port & his Safer Neighbourhood Team on 020 8721 2938 - or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The next thing to think about is your home. Please lets not have another robbery in Leabank Square. In this hot weather - it can be so tempting to leave doors & windows open unattended - but this is almost as good as inviting these thieves in to rob you. Please beef up your security as much as you can - and the best weapon we have is each other.

The more vigilant we all are - the less this kind of thing will happen. Please keep a look out for anyone acting suspiciously in & around Leabank Square. If you are not too sure about anything you see - it won't hurt to let someone else know. Either dial 999 - or if it's not too serious - call 0300 123 1212.

At last weeks Community Action Panel (CAP) meeting - which is where we sit down with the police to chat about recent developments - the Safer Neighbourhoods Team agreed to step up patrols in Leabank Square - and generally put in more of a presence. Please come along to these meetings - they are so happy to chat with us & see what is worrying everyone.

We all love Leabank Square so much - and the more we look after it and our neighbours - the better we will all feel about living here.

Carter-Ruck vs Leabank Square?

Good news Leabank Square!!! We have finally made it into the big time!!

Our moles over in Canary Wharf have informed us that the MIGHTY Carter-Ruck are allegedly (thanks Ian!) interested in sorting us low-life East End scum out! Apparently the ODA are a tiny bit upset about some of your comments in the Skanska thread!

So........... 2 things:

1. Expect the police to come calling again (remember the last time we upset the ODA - they sent Sergeant Port over to 'ave a word) .......

and 2. Isn't it just a bit curious that the ODA get a bit het-up over a small community's blog? I mean - what are they doing poking their colossal construction sized noses in a residential neighbours internal affairs? Are we merely a thorn in their side - or is there something else we haven't yet been told?

Anyhow - it's nothing some of us haven't dealt with before - so - this is just a heads-up. Some of us WILL be 'aving a word with Sergeant Port some time soon - and some of us WILL be 'aving a word with Private Eye's favourite lunch buddies.

Oh - and some stuff lifted off their web-site says the following:

"One of the UK's best-known law firms, Carter-Ruck has a long-standing reputation for its expertise in the field of litigation and dispute resolution. We are recognised as the UK's pre-eminent media law practice, while our work in the commercial litigation and international law sectors is also regarded as being of the highest calibre.
Our lawyers are known for being dynamic, determined and thorough in pursuing our clients' objectives and protecting their interests. A large number of our cases attract the attention of the world's media and we are well-used to dealing with the challenges that this presents.
Carter-Ruck's practice is truly global in nature and its lawyers have considerable experience and expertise in cases having either a multi-jurisdictional or a political/diplomatic angle. At any one time our lawyers are engaged in litigation relating to 50 countries or more."

.... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm