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Take a ‘wade’ on the wild side with Creekside Discovery Centre’s low tide walk

Explore the history and nature of Deptford Creek with the Creekside Center

With the current pace of building in the capital and developers looking to seize every last piece of land to build on, London’s wildlife is being squeezed into increasingly smaller environments. As banks of rivers and streams are absorbed into manmade land and structures, many animals and birds are running out of space to build nests, or even shelter during bad weather. While we need more homes in this overcrowded capital, it’s trying to balance fulfilling demand while protecting the wildlife’s habitats that is a real challenge.

Recently I paid a visit to the Creekside Discovery Center in Deptford, south-east London to join one of their Low Tide Walks. My boyfriend and I were up bright and early on a Sunday (well, by my standards early for a Sunday!) morning to get suited up for our visit to Deptford Creek. We were told to wear old clothes and a hat, with the CDC providing thigh-high waders and a walking stick. The Center itself is a one-storey educational space in a garden full of beautiful, coloured wildflowers. In fact there are over 130 different wildflower species across the site. It was rather amusing to see various memorabilia retrieved from the Creek dotted around like a modern art display, such as shopping trolleys, rollerskates and typewriters. I’m always baffled why someone would find enjoyment by throwing a trolley into a river or creek… perhaps they should get an actual hobby?!

The old lifting bridge, built in the 1830s

The name Deptford comes from ‘deep ford’, with the Creek forming the north end of the River Ravensbourne before it flows into the Thames. We started our two-hour expedition being led down to the Creek by a conservationist Nick. We entered the water – and mud – near the historic lifting bridge. It was originally built in the 1830s for the London and Greenwich Railway, which connected London Bridge with Greenwich, which was incredibly busy at the time due to its naval and royal connections. The railway was the first steam service in the capital and also the first entirely elevated railway. When it came to crossing the Creek, the railway owners realised it was problematic. They couldn’t build a regular fixed crossing as that would have blocked the many ships passing up and down the Creek. Civil engineer George Thomas Landmann (1779-1854) came up with the idea of a lifting bridge, which would allow trains to pass over while in situ, but could be lifted up for passing barges via pulleys, chains and sliding rods with eight men required to operate it. The current bridge you can see today, is a younger replacement, with several bridges replacing the original 1830s one. At time of writing, it’s been out of action for decades and is a listed structure. Read the rest of this entry

New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival 2015: Interview with film-maker of Arthur Sleep

Arthur Sleep filmThis week sees the second half of this year’s New Cross & Deptford Film Festival, which runs until 3 May 2015. Returning to South East London for its fourth year, the festival aims to give locals access to classic films and rising talent through free screenings across the two areas.

One piece showing this week is Arthur Sleep, a modern Gothic romance by local film-maker Sam Harris. Having debuted at the festival last year, this year sees a screening of the film accompanied by a full live score. Described as ‘a broken romance in three parts’, Arthur Sleep re-tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice as Arthur Sleep {somnambulist} journeys into The Underworld to bargain for the return of his lost love, Rose Walker {a ghost} from Sam Hell {proprietor}.

Ahead of Thursday’s screening, I had a chat with Sam to see what inspires him and the story behind the film.

Q) Where did the idea for Arthur Sleep come from?

A) The film actually started with an album of songs I had written and recorded. Having played in bands for many years, I was keen to present them in a less-traditional way that didn’t necessarily conform to the standard ‘guys with guitars’ format, instead being more three-dimensional and immersive. Many people had commented on the songs’ strong cinematic feel, “like music to a film that was never made” which in turn led me to wonder what this ‘film’ might actually look like… It’s accepted practice for music to be written for film but rarely the other way around, and it seemed an intriguing challenge for a musician to be making a film inspired by their songs.

The name ‘Arthur Sleep’ floated into my head, suggesting a character that I might base script ideas around. Referring to the well-worn lyrical themes in the songs (boy meets girl, girl leaves boy etc), it was clear that a strong narrative would be vital so I began researching ‘universal myths’ (the idea that there are really only a handful of stories in existence, continually retold), remembering the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Underworld. This seemed like it might be a close fit for a heart-broken protagonist, and gave the script its narrative framework.

Q) Which films or film-makers inspire you?

A) My biggest influences on Arthur Sleep undoubtedly come from the German Expressionist era of the 1920s and ’30s — films such as Vampyr, Das Cabinet of Dr Caligari, The Phantom Carriage, as well as the numerous films of F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang. These films still have incredible resonance and power, being as fresh and relevant almost a century after they were conceived – and from a more practical perspective, I reasoned that if my film was ‘silent’ (i.e. dialogue-free), it would make the combination of songs and film far easier. I was also inspired by more modern directors such as David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Roman Polanski and Werner Herzog, film-makers in no rush to explain their films.

Q) What was the biggest challenge of making the movie?

A) My ambition for the look and feel of Arthur Sleep – having shot the majority of the film over four days on a shoe-string budget necessitated a vast amount of post-production, a process which took almost two years: editing, colour grading, rotoscoping backgrounds from behind actors (a job I wouldn’t wish on my enemies!), replacing skies, adding details, etc. This has given me a renewed and enormous respect for the amount of labour and expertise that goes into making any film.

Q) Watching a film with a live score is quite an unusual cinematic experience, what do you hope it will bring to the film?

A) My aim has always been to present an immersive audience experience with the combination of film and live music, an alternative to the slightly more passive viewing of a ‘finished’ film. In performing the score live, I hope that we bring an energy and spontaneity to the audience experience, the sound being made by the people in front of you and each show being slightly different – it’s an attempt to combine as I see it the best elements of film and live music. For the performance on Thursday we are going to be introducing the film with the songs for the first time, so it’ll be interesting to see what this combination brings to the audience.

Arthur Sleep – trailer from Arthur Sleep on Vimeo.

  • Arthur Sleep will be screened for the first time with a live score on Thursday 30 April 2015. Door open at 7pm, DJ Dom Tuck 7.30pm, Arthur Sleep 8.15pm at St James Hatcham Church (Goldsmiths), St JamesNew Cross, SE14 6AD. Nearest station: New Cross or New Cross Gate. To register for a free ticket, visit the Eventbrite link, although some tickets may be available on the door on the night.
  • For more information on the New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival, visit their official website here.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival 2014: Classic films and undiscovered talent comes to Lewisham

© New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival 2014

Attend a free outdoor screening of a classic film (pictured Skyfall screening at Fordham Park at the NXDfff 2013)
© New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival

When you think of the word ‘film festival’, screenings and Q&As are generally what comes to mind, right? Well the New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival is so much more. Shockingly, the London borough of Lewisham doesn’t have any cinemas so this annual event provides residents to finally get the chance to watch movies in a grander setting than their front room.New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival 2014

Now in its third year, the NXDfff is bigger than ever, with 35 events taking place in 23 venues over nine days. The variety in events mean there will be something for everyone and the beauty of the festival is it’s all free.

Local buildings such as the The Hill Station, The Amersham Arms and Sanford Housing Co-Op will be transformed into pop-up cinemas for the predominantly evening events, with daytime screenings on during the weekends. Fordham Park in New Cross will be hosting bike-powered screenings of Attack The Block (Sat 26th) followed by a DJ set, while Telegraph Hill Park will have a bike-powered singalong of classic musical Grease (Fri 3rd).

One quirky feature on the line-up is Ping Pong, a film about octogenarian ping pong players, which will be screened at Old Tidemill School in Deptford (Sun 4th). Other highlights include Stateless – a mini festival within the festival (Wed 30th) – featuring screenings exploring the meaning of statelessness and a triple bill of films curated by London’s Film Africa Festival (Sat 26th). There will also be an experimental documentary screening of Surname Viet, Given Name Nam in the open air on 6mm film in Deptford’s Douglas Square (Wed 30th). No doubt proving a popular draw will be a screening of Coen Brothers classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? in Old Deptford Police Station – how fitting! – with live music from Danny & The Moonlighters and The Hellfire Orchestra (Fri 2nd).

  • This year’s New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival runs from Friday 25 April to Sunday 4 May 2014. Full programme details of all screenings can be found on