Donald Hope Library

The Donald Hope Library is very much a mainstay of the Colliers Wood community situated right in the heart of our town. From my primary school days right up to the current day I use the Library as a place to get a bit of peace when I need to do some work. Although when I visited the library recently it was far from the “keep your voice down” library you see in the movies, when I first went in it had a meditation (Falun Dafa) class sitting in the corner and shortly after that had finished an English Conversation class started up. Neither particularly distracted me from my work though, rather it just proved to me what an important part of the community this building is. If you are interested to know what other classes and facilities the Library offers (apart from the obvious book rental) there is a list here.

The Library also boasts a good number of computers with Internet access and plenty of table space for those who do want to use the Library for research or a place to sit down with a good book. The Library is not perfect by any means, it has a fairly meagre selection of books, especially if you are looking for factual pieces and there is no Wi-Fi so if you come when all the computers are in use you will just have to wait.

Libraries across the UK (especially the smaller ones) are struggling at the moment due to financial cuts and a waning interest in reading, which is one of the reasons that Donald Hope is now fully operational only 4 days a week but there is a group called “Friends of Donald Hope” who are trying to help keep the Library going with volunteer workers and by asking for donations so please do help where you can.

Our little library is by no means perfect but it is nevertheless a hub of our local community and it is an awful lot better than it used to be even a couple of years ago despite all the cuts. Purely on its book rental it would score quite low but for its other values I give it 4/5

Donald Hope Library is located in Cavendish House on Colliers Wood High street, 30 seconds away from the Underground Station, it is open 9.30am – 7pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 9.30am – 5pm on Saturdays.

http://arena.yourlondonlibrary.net/web/merton/donald-hope-library

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Corleone

Corleone is another of Colliers Wood’s restaurants that hasn’t been around for a long time but the site has been home to fine Italian cuisine for a good number of years with the previous incarnation, Rehab. The exterior may fool you into thinking that Corleone is a take-away being no more than 15ft wide but realistically it can seat well over 50 people comfortably serving fine home cooked Italian meals and a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

My most recent visit was for a friends birthday party and despite numbering well into the twenties our party managed to squeeze into the separate area at the back with little problem. With parties of this size a set menu is offered, I actually turned up late so missed the starter but I think I saw soup bowls and some leftover bits of salad, for main I chose a Pizza (I find it hard not to in an Italian) although there were vegetarian pasta and beef as other options. It was very tasty but then I expect that of home-cooked Italian pizza. For desert I had Banoffee pie (which happens to be just about my favourite) although there was a choice of chocolate cake or Ice cream.

The price is fairly difficult to gauge from this visit as the bill was split and came to about £30 per head BUT there was an awful lot of wine flowing around the table which would have brought the price up considerably. I would suggest that it would be on the higher side of average for Colliers Wood dining but definitely not a rip off. The way the restaurant is shaped it always feels full no matter if there are five or fifty people in the building and with a degree of mood lighting it always has a very pleasant atmosphere, and the décor may not make you feel like you are really in a 1930s New York gangster film it does provide a good back drop for the evening.

Based on having many a good evening there whether it be as Corleone or Rehab (which was practically exactly the same) I have to give Corleone a very strong recommendation 4/5

Corleone can be found almost directly opposite the underground station at 186A Colliers Wood High Street. It is open 5-11pm Monday to Friday, Midday-11pm Saturday and Midday-10pm Sundays

http://corleonerestaurant.co.uk/

Delhi Heights

Delhi Heights is one of the newer Restaurants on the Colliers Wood scene. The location has had many guises in recent years most of which have been really quite unsuccessful (Baobab, Royal 6 Bells and something else in between) but Delhi Heights has taken it in a new direction replacing the usual pubs with a North Indian Restaurant and it seems to be succeeding. I visited the establishment on a very quiet Monday evening and thus the atmosphere wasn’t all that electric but I expect that is not the case on the Weekends when they serve their All you can eat buffets. My order started with the traditional poppadoms and then I moved onto a dish called Saag Gosht which was a dish which used lamb and spinach as its basis. It was very flavourful but it lacked any spicyness which I do like. Now I knew when ordering that it wouldn’t be spicy but then there was nothing on the menu that catered for that market which I found very unusual for an Indian restaurant.

Delhi Heights boasts more than just food, it also has a comprehensive range of Cocktails and other drinks and also has an outside area for people to smoke a Shisha (flavoured tobacco) pipe if that is your thing. I didn’t partake in either on my visit and stuck to a nice Indian lager. This though, like the food was definitely a touch on the expensive side. As previously mentioned, there is a buffet option on the weekend and then the value is entirely up to your stomach capacity but for a normal dish I paid £25 for just a main dish with rice, a naan bread and one pint of beer.

The food was tasty even if the menu was a little sparse, there are many facilities including a UV toilet which makes you feel like you are on the set of a horror film but for me the price is a little too much for the experience that I had. 3/5

Delhi Heights can be found at 222 High Street Colliers Wood and is open 7 days a week 12noon – 3pm and then 5.30 – 11pm.

http://www.delhiheights.co.uk/index.html

Venus

Venus is a lovely little Bar and Restaurant located just off the High Street a full 10 seconds walk from Colliers Wood Underground. Many Making Colliers Wood Happy veterans will be familiar with Venus as it has played host to a number of Quiz nights over the past couple of years, even one written and hosted
by yours truly. For those that don’t know, Venus is described as a ‘Metropolitan Restaurant with Ancient Roman influences’, I would suggest that is a bit much as the only influences are a couple of pictures and a chalk board with a few facts on but nevertheless it is a lovely place. I have eaten there on a couple of occasions and have always been impressed by the quality of food. The food served is much more up market than your usual bar food and so definitely deserves to be called a restaurant, but if it is ‘pub grub’ that you want they also do a mean plate of Nachos. Both the food and drink is, in my opinion, very good value; you’ll get a pint of lager cheaper in Venus than any other high street venue.

When Venus is not packed to the rafters with quiz goers it is usually a very quiet place to relax and maybe enjoy a romantic meal. Due to its quiet ambience, Venus is another of Colliers Wood’s attractions that I have been able to use as a resource for my work as it is a great place to go for a chat/meeting. Although it is open late into the evening, Venus can’t compete with other Colliers Wood pubs for a night out atmosphere but then I don’t think that it is particularly trying to.

If you want somewhere to relax in Colliers Wood and watch the world go by with a cocktail in hand then there really is no better place for you than Venus. 4/5

Venus is located on Christchurch road, next to the tube station and is open midday until 11 pm Monday to Saturday and Midday until 10:30 pm on Sunday

http://www.venusbar.co.uk/

Andrew’s Gents Hairdressing

Andrew’s is a relatively new business in Colliers Wood and one that I had never entered before this visit. My hair was too long and I needed some new material for this blog so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. Barbers/Hairdressers are never places that I particularly enjoy visiting due to the forced small talk and fear of a bad cut but on first impression Andrew’s appeared very clean and welcoming with a good selection of that days newspapers to peruse whilst waiting to be seated.

I was seen to very promptly despite going at what I thought would be quite a busy time and luckily for me there was minimal small talk made, now clearly this isn’t what everybody desires as the guy getting his hair cut next to me was chatting away with the guy cutting his hair so it does appear to cater for both tastes. Now for the real importance for going to a hairdressers, the cut, as a guy with longer hair it was clear to me that the barber was more used to the short back and sides style of cutting and my hair did become a lot shorter than I had intended BUT it was nevertheless a good cut.

For a wash and cut I paid £11 (plus tip) which is the kind of price I think you would expect to pay at most high street barber shops. My overall experience was a good one but not the best I’ve had whilst getting a haircut, there was no radio or TV volume and so for the small talk avoider there isn’t much to keep you interested but for the short haired men out there I would recommend it for a good, basic hair cut. 3/5

Andrew’s Gents Hairdressing can be found at 97 High Street Colliers Wood and is open 9-6.30 Monday through Saturday and 9-5.30 Sundays (although the window and advertising board say two different things so be careful if you are going towards the end of the day)

Colliers Wood Recreation Ground

Colliers Wood Rec. is one of 3 parks in Colliers Wood and the most sport friendly area our little town has to offer. The site covers 2.93-hectares and boasts a Children’s playground, a paddling pool (complete with notorious crocodile), an all-weather Tennis/Football pitch, a paved Basketball-cum-football court, a large sports field, a table-tennis table, a memorial garden AND a host of floral wildlife. The park has I believe has 3 entrances, Cavendish Road, Clarendon Road and South Gardens. The latter entrance sees it run past local school Singlegate Primary who use many of the facilities within the park.

Colliers Wood Rec. really does have just about everything you could want no matter what age; the kids will appreciate the playground and paddling pool in the summer months, the adolescents will appreciate the host of FREE sporting opportunities, the parents have somewhere to ship their kids off to when they want a bit of peace and quiet and the older generation (the ones who aren’t already sinking hoops on the basketball court) could happily relax with a newspaper in the memorial garden.

I was intending to write a near perfect review of the rec. but when I was out taking the photos for this page, the kids on the all weather pitch kicked the ball over the fence. I attempted to kick it back but a tree blocked the balls path. I was then greeted with “Just F***ing throw it” by a pre-adolescent female, I of course decided to leave the ball where it was and walk on. The one negative of the park therefore, is nothing to do with the park itself but that sometimes your experience may be spoiled  by some of the local youngsters who the park so capably caters for.

Despite this setback I will still give the park a good rating as it does have a wonderful array of activities for all of Colliers Wood’s community. 4/5

The park is open from 8am till dusk weekdays and 9am till dusk weekends and bank holidays

http://www.merton.gov.uk/environment/openspaces/parks/parks_in_the_mitcham_area/collierswoodrecreationground.htm

The Sultan

The Sultan is Colliers Wood’s hidden gem; a pub located on Norman road deep within a residential area. The Sultan is not the kind of place that you would just stumble upon, it is somewhere you have to look for and if you take the effort I don’t think you will be disappointed. The Sultan is very much what a local pub should be from the fine ales courtesy of Salisbury’s Hop Back brewery to the cosy, lounge like feel to the indoor seating areas. For the warmer summer months, the Sultan also boasts a very pleasant beer garden with plenty of space and even a barbecue area (not that I have ever seen that in use).

Lets be clear that this isn’t the kind of place to be starting a raucous Saturday night out but it is a perfect place to wind down for the evening with a few mates and nice pint. The staff are always very welcoming even if I am not one of the more regular locals and the prices are more than competitive for the area. I highly recommend the Summer Lightning Ale, as a lager drinker it is not often you will find me recommending ale so that in itself says a lot in my opinion.

Less than a five minute walk from the big Sainsbury’s on the High Street, The Sultan is somewhere you should definitely take a look at if you have nothing to do one evening, make it the place you reacquaint yourself with a local friend you haven’t seen in a while. It comes with my highest recommendations 4.5/5

The Sultan is open noon-11pm Mon-Thur, Sun; noon-midnight Fri, Sat

Frankie & Benny’s

My first review of one of Colliers Wood’s many chain restaurants. I will try and review these based on the general experience and in comparison to other restaurants in that chain, assuming I’ve been to one. Frankie & Benny’s is certainly one that I have been to many times, for those that don’t know; Frankie & Benny’s describes itself as a New York Italian Restaurant which is a pretty fair description. On the menu you will find both your American classics such as Burgers and Steak and also your Italian Pizzas and Pastas.

F&B Colliers Wood is one of my favourite places to go for a casual meal, as soon as you enter you are serenaded by 60s American pop music and if you shop right it can be very good value. I went recently to celebrate a family birthday and the majority of the table chose food from the 2 Courses for £10.95 deal, which has a good selection of dishes. I started with the stuffed mushroom for starter which in all honesty wasn’t all that wonderful but some of the other starters that people had did look tasty. I followed this with the ‘New York’ Burger, a definite American Classic; Beef Burger with Bacon, Cheese and BBQ Sauce. This I tucked into so fast I forgot to take a picture. Don’t expect gourmet cooking at F&B, it is there purely for a bit of good hearty food in a cheerful environment.

Personally I have always found the staff in the Colliers Wood branch to be very helpful and well mannered and although I may be accused of bias, this is not something I have always encountered elsewhere. I remember both in a London branch and in Kingston feeling rushed.

This might not be for you if you want a quiet meal due to the aforementioned music and also more often than not there is a fairly noisy party going on close by but if you want good value food in a friendly and spacious environment then I would definitely recommend the Colliers Wood branch of F&B to anyone. 4/5

Frankie & Benny’s Colliers Wood can be found in the Tandem Centre and is open 9am – 10.30pm 7 days a week

http://www.frankieandbennys.com/restaurant/frankie-bennys-colliers-wood

Ban Yai

Ban Yai is one of the many MANY restaurants that can be found in the Abbey Mills. It serves a range of Thai cuisine with both indoor and outdoor seating in the very pleasant surroundings of the Abbey Mills.  I apologise for the strange photo, it originally had me in it but I decided to cut it out.

On getting to the Abbey Mills I had not intended to go to Ban Yai but rather to another one of the restaurants there but as I hadn’t been there before I decided to give it a try. It was a fairly nice evening so my Girlfriend and I sat outside. I am not particularly a connoisseur of Thai food so I picked pretty much at random the Red Duck curry seen on the right. It was very good, my Girlfriend picked a stir fry which too was very tasty. The problem with her dish though was that she had asked for it with no Cashew nuts on, yet when it came it was quite clearly sprinkled with nuts.

Unfortunately this was not the only example of poor service, we asked for a round of drinks that never found their way to us until it was prompted about 20 minutes later. This can be understood on a busy night but there were only 3 tables of customers in the restaurant at the time.

This was just one ‘untipped’ waitress though and I wouldn’t suggest that all the staff are like this but this detracted from the good quality of the food and thus I shall only score Ban Yai a mediocre 3/5

As I said it can be located in the Abbey Mills and is open 12noon-10pm Monday -Friday and 11am-10pm Saturday and Sunday.

http://www.banyai.co.uk

Deen City Farm

Deen City Farm has been a huge local attraction since it began in the 1970’s. As a local resident who has lived here my entire life, I went and awed at the animals as a school child, I took my girlfriend there for a cheap date and I’ve even managed to use it as a resource in my working life.

The first and most obvious thing about Deen City is a chance to see a range of animals from Pigs and Sheep to peacocks and alpacas for free and without having to drive miles out into the countryside. This though is by no means the only attraction it offers, Horse Riding lessons, Gardening workshops, Volunteering opportunities and Teaching facilities to name but a few

The Farm only covers a relatively small area and certain parts are only open on certain days of the week so if you are planning to go along it would probably be best to plan out what you want to do before hand as if you aren’t booked onto any sort of course or tour it probably won’t be the place for a full day out.

Deen City Farm is located at 39 Windsor Avenue, SW19 2RR and is easily accessible by both bus and by car but if you are thinking of the latter it is fine on a week day but you may be up for a fight on the more popular weekends. The Farm is open 10am-4.30pm Tuesdays-Sundays. Personally it is no longer something I would go to for my own enjoyment but I do think it would be a great place to take the kids if you have half a day to spare and it is a great addition to our area and for those reasons I give it 4/5 stars

http://www.deencityfarm.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/deencityfarm