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Notting Hill Carnival – join the Sunshine International Arts fun, make a costume, party at Europe’s biggest street festival

Carnival workshops - join the fun at Notting Hill

Carnival workshops – join the fun at Notting Hill

 Always wanted to take part in the Notting Hill Carnival?

Then head to the Sunshine International Arts C.A.F.E at Studio 5, 209 A
Coldharbour Lane SW9 8RU

Opposite Loughborough Junction Railway Station

Make your own costume, get involved and get ready to party

You can join the Children’s Day on 25 August with your kids or the Adult
day on 26 August.

Simply phone Ray on 07881571743 for more details

Flyer 1 nh2013 pub

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COME join the party at Sunshine International Arts’ Community C.A.F.E at 209A Coldharbour Lane opposite Loughborough Junction Station

It’s the 1st Birthday of SUNSHINE INTERNATIONAL ARTS’ Community C.A.F.E in Loughborough Junction and a fortnight of events, food, music and cake has been planned from 28 April to 12 May

Founder Ray Mahabir is celebrating to mark the occasion. “It’s been a wonderful – and long – year and we are thrilled to be celebrating with all our friends and the community,” he says.

Ray’s dream has been to “create a community arts cafe for all, where people and artists can have a space to create and enjoy one another’s arts and culture. Somewhere affordable with good service, where I can serve the food I love to cook”.

Birthday highlights: Head to C.A.F.E on 28 April for Brixton Underground Film Factory’s LYRICS 4LOVE FOOD’N FILM from 4-9pm. We’re talking film @7pm ‘LOVE JONES’, plus OneNess and Bro Breis on the mic, visuals by Sam Williams and readings by Sherlock plus Caribbean food courtesy of Trini Ray. Get your tickets in advance from Ray at the C.A.F.E £7 or £10 on the door.

There will be birthday mania on 3 May with free cake and cream all day at the C.A.F.E and then join Ray for a party from 7-9.30pm with Caribbean food and rum punch on sale and music by Creative Unity Steel Band.

12 May is the end of the birthday celebrations and the beginning of the countdown to this year’s Notting Hill Carnival! Join Sunshine International Arts for SUNDAYSOCA @ DE ARCHES – music, stupendous carnival costumes and masks on show, Caribbean food and drinks as we prepare for the road this year. From 6pm to midnight on May 12 and every second Sunday thereafter until the CARNIVAL takes place! Music by Dokta Myx. Members £3, non-members £5

Party food at the C.A.F.E

Party food at the C.A.F.E

Creative sewing at C.A.F.E

Creative sewing at C.A.F.E

There’s a host of other events and loads of cake on offer including Sunday morning stretches, knitting – and free cake, kids craft projects – and cupcakes, crochet lessons – and 3 knitting lessons on how to knit from a pattern too. These begin on May 8 How to knit successfully from a knitting pattern. Week 1, Wed 8th May, Week 2, Wed 22nd May, Week 3, Wed 5th June, 6 – 8pm Cost £7.50 per session

Every Thursdays – the arts and craft of carnival

Every Friday– sewing and alteration classes

Call Ray on 07881571743 email him at admin@sunshinearts.co.uk, visit the facebook page or simply pop in!

We asked Ray about his first year at the C.A.F.E

The five best dishes you like to serve in the C.A.F.E?

My soups

My curry dishes

My cakes

Mm, think I can say those are my best dishes, plus my coffee, rum punch and chutneys

Five highlights so far?

Serving food to my customers

Meeting new people who come in

My Caribbean birthday dinner party

My kids craft birthday party

People’s comments about C.A.F.E – that it’s an oasis in the junction, a place people can come in and enjoy and relax.

What were you intending to achieve with the C.A.F.E? To create a community arts cafe for all where people and artist can have a space to create and enjoy one another’s arts and culture. Somewhere affordable with good service, where I can serve the food I love to cook

How far have you got in achieving those ideas? The past year has been a struggle, as I started C.A.F.E without any capital or funding. There are still thing to do at C.A.F.E and I am trying slowly to build on what’s there.  It’s a very large space made up of railway arches so I know one of the problems is its cold but I’m looking at ways to heat it and am slowly getting there. I know it’s going to take time but my usual reply is it’s slow and consistent, and in this present economic climate I’m happy with what I have. The most important part is that people who come in have had a good experience. That makes it all worthwhile.

What’s struck you the most about Loughborough Junction? It’s like a village.

What are you looking forward to in your next year at the C.A.F.E? I would like more people to experience what C.A.F.E has to offer.

Currently I’m in the process of offering a series of carnival workshops teaching the history and culture of Carnival which starts in June 2013.

What new plans/ideas do you have? I want to do more cooking and food events. I’m known for my carnival arts so now it is time for me to build on my food work! I also want to see theatre and music at C.A.F.E

You’ve been involved in Carnival(s) for years – what’s the secret to a fantastic Carnival? Passion for your culture and history

If you had a magic wand – what would you do with it? (in LJ, the UK, your life, the world?) Make people smile and just be thankful for what they got.


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Loughborough Junction: Takeaway Chicken and Fast Food Station

Site of one of the proposed chicken takeaways

Site of one of the proposed chicken takeaways

An issue that is worrying a lot of LJ residents is the over-abundance of fast food outlets – selling cheap, unhealthy meals – which often attract children.

Two planning applications before Lambeth Council at the moment have especially caused comments. The one is for the site next to the Hero of Switzerland Pub on Loughborough Road and the other is for the site on the corner of Coldharbour Lane and Flaxman Road.

Both have been proposed as sites for chicken takeaways.

We have a lot of takeaway joints already and not many shops selling healthy fruit and veg, healthy meals or even aspirational shops providing jobs or fun affordable clothes or funky fashions.

Anthea Massey co-chair of the Loughborough Junction Group points out in her well-written piece for belowtheriver.co.uk, that the group has researched the issue and found “seven existing takeaways within a two-minute walk of the two proposed new ventures”.

And borough-wide the picture is even more depressing with Lambeth hosting some 91 and 173 fast food takeaways for every 100,000 residents, which is one of the highest ratios in the country.

So it’s a big issue! BUT I wonder what alternatives there are at the moment as recession bites into families’ incomes? You can get a fairly big bucket of chicken for a small amount of money … when you are strapped for time and money it’s an answer.

Some of the objections lodged with the council veer towards the patronising – with worries that locals won’t be able to see past the new venue and walk the extra few metres to the veggie shop or Tesco (a whole other debate) for fruit, veg and other goodies.

There is support for a proposal to stop any new takeaways being approved within 400 metres of a school in Lambeth’s new Local Plan, which is out for consultation.

Again I agree in principle but again it’s more complex than it seems as many of the new proposed businesses are franchise-owned takeaways, often the cheapest way for people to get into the food industry and start their business.

Perhaps we are fighting this issue too narrowly. While people in our areas are struggling with bills, frozen benefits and rising food prices we can’t afford to be too high-minded.

And Save Our School Food Standards! makes another valid point – banning takeaways from nearby schools will be an exercise in futility if Michael Gove’s academies are not subject to the same mandatory nutritional standards as state schools.

The School Food Trust’s 2012 survey of academies found nine out of every ten surveyed were “selling at least one of the snack foods high in sugar, salt or fat that had been banned from vending machines in other state schools”.

While the government refuses to apply the standards to all schools – including academies and free schools – a chicken takeaway or two might be rather beside the point?

There are excellent community projects in and around LJ already for instance Myatt’s Fields Park is growing fruit and veg in its community garden and holds cooking classes.

But without the luxury of time and money, people will use takeaways and surely that is their right unless we can all think of how we can support viable alternatives! SM

* Please feel free to blog about or comment on the situation


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S.i.A Community Arts C.A.F.E at 209A Coldharbour Lane – getting it together

I popped into the S.i.A Community Arts C.A.F.E at Studio 5, 209A Coldharbour Lane (under the arches opposite Loughborough Junction station) for lovely coffee and a chat with Ray Mahabir this week.

Tucked away at the end of the alley running along the curve of the railway line, it’s a treasure trove of art and good food – and the venue for a number of community friendly workshops – from knitting (while enjoying homemade cakes) to sewing groups and craft workshops for kids and adults.

While the unseasonal weather isn’t encouraging any of us to venture out unnecessarily, Ray’s sociability and warm welcome makes this a rewarding destination.

Did I mention the range of homemade chutneys on sale – and the fully licenced bar?

An expert on Mas (Carnival) costume design and creation, Ray’s been working in LJ since 2001 and took over the C.A.F.E (Carnival Arts Food Empowerment) space in 2011, keen to create a venue for ‘community artists’ who need room to create but can’t always afford to hire larger venues.

Everyone’s welcome to the C.A.F.E where Ray has initiated projects for young and old. He wants it to become a small (and possibly big) arts resource.

Blessed with a family background that blended arts and business skills, he’s still utilising his Carnival skills – assisting others to create and amend their costumes, storing costumes and pulling together a C.A.F.E Carnival group while also freelancing on projects nationally and internationally and producing some inspiring food along the way.

Passionate about cooking, Ray built up his skills as a chef while volunteering at a number of charities and is now able to make the most of all his talents while building up the C.A.F.E into a community arts and social venue.

I loved the vibe, the ‘PloughGirl’ lunch looked amazing (I had eaten but vowed to head back for Sunday lunch) and the space is very appealing (as is the host).

If you’re into arts and crafts, dance and stretch classes (Sunday mornings), getting into the Carnival spirit or just feel like a bit of socialising – head through the gates and make for the C.A.F.E.

Oh yes, the space is also available for hire – and is due to host a birthday party with a Caribbean theme next week.

I think we’re onto a winner here!

C.A.F.E details: The workshops are an opportunity to meet like-minded people, sit, chat, eat and drink and learn from one another. C.A.F.E is a registered Charity and intends keeping prices affordable.

What Ray says about contributions: £2 goes toward space and just keeping the place open, £4 contribution and a pot of tea and £5 contribution, pot of tea and a cake.

WEDNESDAYS Open from 11am – 7.30pm

Knit N Tea, Stitch N Cake… Learn to knit or practise your knitting

15.00-19.30

THURSDAYS Open from 11am – 6pm

Kraftea 14.30-18.00 Open Craft Workshops,

Card Making and Embroidery.

FRIDAY Open from 11am – 9.30pm

Afternoon tea, come sit read chat have a tea/coffee and a cake.

4-8pm: Sewing and Alteration classes. £5 per hour

7-8pm Adult Street Dance class WITH ALIX ROBINSON £3

SATURDAY Open from 11am – 5pm

11am-12.30pm on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.

Kid’s Arts and Craft.

Kids from 2 years old and up. Cost £4 per child (include snacks, fruit and juice)

2-4.30pm: MAKE – Adults Craft

Bring your craft or learn a craft enjoy with like-minded arts and craft people and enjoy 2hrs of making, chatting, eating and drinking.

SUNDAYS Open from 11.30am – 3pm

Bi-weekly family Sunday lunches

1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.

Sunday 11am – 12pm:

Sunday Morning Stretch Out Class WITH ALIX ROBINSON £3

Ray and some of the artwork on sale at the C.A.F.E

Ray and some of the artwork on sale at the C.A.F.E

Ray would love to hear from anyone who would like to set up an arts/ crafts project or would just like to come to C.A.F.E and finish your own project.

Check the schedule on facebook or the website, email admin@sunshineiarts.co.uk or give Ray a ring on 07881571743


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The House in The Junction flashmob success on Good Friday

Good Friday turned out to be a shiny kind of day – not only did we have sunshine in the morning – real, actual sunshine but we ended our day getting smiles out of people at a flashmob organised by The House in The Junction.

The aim of the flashmob was to ‘welcome people back to Loughborough Junction’ and to make everyone feel at home in LJ.

We arrived a little bit late for the initial part of the event but still managed to get two messages to hold out to passing motorists and pedestrians. Mine was a huge favourite, for obvious reasons, saying ‘Oh, I forgot how gorgeous you are!’ Boy did I get some big smiles back – and LJ suddenly felt like a community sharing a laugh … I’m hoping The House in the Junction organise another one soon!

While I’m normally shy about these kinds of events, I loved taking part.

Even though the sky was grey by 5pm and it was getting very chilly – we were warmed by the smiles, laughter and banter. It was almost as sunny as being in Ray Mahabir’s warm and welcoming C.A.F.E in the arches.

Great idea, well executed

Flashmob at LJ 29 March 2013

Bright and light


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The Green Man – At the heart of Loughborough Junction

Rumour has it that the old Green Man pub may be about to be transformed by a new project for the area. I don’t yet know about the details of the project but work may commence before the end of the year.  By the sounds of it, this project is just what the Junction needs, a new focus and a hub for the community. Sorry to be so vague but we should know more about it in the coming weeks.

What do you think about that?


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Local shops in Loughborough Junction

Loughborough Junction has come a long way in the past five years, new businesses have started up where the old haunts were shut down, but much of the shopping is the same but improved. There is a good range of shops, you can buy pretty much anything you need for day to day life but there is also a proliferation of low quality fast food shops and believe it or not hair dressers / nail bars. Why on earth does Loughborough Junction need 4 hairdressers. Some how the area needs to attract new and varied business.

Just a little further towards Camberwell, between here and the Sun & Doves, there is a stretch of shops that began to considerably improve about 3 years ago. This stretch now includes a Portuguese cafe / shop, a bed maker, newsagents, a pub, a pretty grim cafe, a dry cleaners, a music shop, a solicitors and there is space for more business too. Loughborough Junction on the other hand has 4 hairdressers, countless low quality fast food take away outlets, one quite decent supermarket, a good chemist, a green grocer, and a news agents / off license, three churches and a Vietnamese restaurant (which is actually quite good).

Is Loughborough Junction so on the road to nowhere that nobody wants to invest? It actually has quite a lot going for it, and certainly has more of a centre than the stretch of shops I mentioned above. The train station, (love it or hate it) attracts a lot of people, and the area itself is attracting more proffessional families. It seems to me that Loughborough Junction is ripe for investment. But please no more hairdressers.