[Peckham Rye corner mosaic]
I feel I now know the long, slow A202/A2 road in South London that links Vauxhall to Camberwell to Peckham to New Cross to Lewisham to Greenwich. These are all almost magical realist places I've heard about in the mythological and media tales of London south of the river, but are places that I've never had reason to visit until recently. It's a fantastic journey full of greengrocers, delis, sirens, two famously creative colleges (here and here), even a pie and mash (and eel) shop, and people, so many people, on the streets. It's magical, and it's real life acted out in front of you, fascinating to watch as you drive.
[aerial map of Peckham outside a Peckham Rye cafe]
So far I haven't stopped to look around or deviate from the main road, except when we visited the South London Gallery (lovely building, great little bookshop, art that's beyond me) and the very good cafe. But Peckham beckoned, especially the area around Peckham Rye which sounds so bucolic and poetic it's hard to believe it's SE15. As if to confirm my suspicion that places like PR might not actually exist, it's a place of great stories; there's the strange, very magical realist Ballad of Peckham Rye, and the Review Bookshop where you can buy a copy of All the Birds, Singing from the author.
[Peckham Rye from Brick House Bakery]
It's also got some lovely corners. The bookshop is on a corner, there are two huge PR mosaics on corner houses, there's a handsome old corner pub, and Petitou (highly recommended) is in what looks like an old butcher's shop on a corner of Choumert Road.
[Prince Albert pub, corner of Bellenden Road and Chadwick Road]
Then there's Bellenden Road and the contrasting Rye Lane, Peckham Rye bread on sale at Anderson & Co, the PR Common (where William Blake had a vision of a tree filled with angels), the Bussey Building, and the Peckham Plex (great prices and great films, I'm told). There's also the 1865 PR station, now on the Overground (an amazing line - just look at the map) where, one day, I want to see the Old Waiting Room. Now there's a true piece of London magical realism.