Part 1 of 2
Friday, July 20, 2012 was the day I finally got my chance. I had wanted to go Thursday so that if there was anything unforeseen I would still be able to make my trip. Fortunately, though my right foot hurt from periodic cramps (compliments of lots of London sightseeing) I experienced relatively little problems with transportation. I had gotten online earlier and was thrilled to see that our hosts here in Bromley were correct. Only 4.3 miles to my destination of Lewisham University Hospital. And London’s mass transit is awesome!
Only one delay. I had two lithium batteries for my camera. On Thursday on the way home the 2nd one gave out and I was left battery-less! I decided to buy a new one and get the other two charged. I found a camera/photo shop across from the bus stop and was happy to buy the last compatible lithium battery on the shelf. After purchasing it, eager to be on my way, I replaced the battery in the camera only to find that this brand new lithium had absolutely ZERO charge!! Say it ain’t so! “Arrgghhh!!,” I groaned, simply aghast in unbelief that I could be sold a defunct battery right out of the package!
What to do? I’ve come too far to abort this trip. I was on a mission. So I told the salesman, “I’m going to go to lunch. I’ll be back in 30 minutes. Charge all my batteries. When I return I’ll take one with me. Keep charging the rest while I’m gone.” He nodded still showing the sting of embarrassment on his face.
NANDO’S TO THE RESCUE!
So off I went to lunch hopeful I would find the Nando’s restaurant I had caught sight of briefly from the return bus the night before. If you know me you know that I really like Nando’s and their unique South African Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken. I discovered the Peri Peri hot sauce while traveling in South Africa in 2003 and since then whenever I found a bottle of it at a local (or not so local ) store I would buy some no matter the price. A few years ago the first Nando’s opened in Washington DC near the Verizon Center and since I worked across the street from it I became a very regular customer. The Nando’s chain is an international phenomenon with restaurants found in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia and the UK (to name a few), The managers of the DC location were from London.
Little did I know that there were 200 Nando’s restaurants in the city of London alone. Had I known that they were pretty much ubiquitous in town I wouldn’t have been so concerned in locating one! The Bromley Nando’s turned out to be only a block and a half from the bus stop. The meal was delicious and probably the best value of any meal I had on my trip… £6.75 (which is about $10.60 depending on exchange rate).
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
It didn’t take too long to get my partially charged Lithium battery, load it up in my camera and catch the next big red double-decker bus towards Lewisham. The pictures below are of the town of Bromley which is in South London. We were in the suburbs here! They had a very nice mall there called The Glades (half way up the street to the right is the court yard the brings you to the entrance). Funny thing… it closes every night at 6:00pm except Wednesday when it is open till 9:00pm .(!!) Go figure!?!
The red restaurant called Cafe Rouge was Dan and Lariah’s favorite eatery. They were able to find them everywhere they went, even having a meal in the airport the day of our departure! (click on the picture for a closer look!)
I traveled north to Lewisham 20-25 mins stopping every 2-4 blocks. Upon arrival I was greeted by (you guessed it) London showers. The bus dropped me off right at the hospital… 390 High Street, Lewisham SE13 6LH. As the rain came down harder I found my way around to the new wing entrance (Riverside Building which was officially opened in May 2007 by Bishop Desmond Tutu). and checked in to see if the records department might assist me in getting the exact address of my first home in Lewisham. The records department was blocked by construction and there was no way they could see me in person. They also told me I had go the City Registry as they were unable to access any of my records!
Where was this City Registry I inquired? The receptionist smiled and said… next door!
Happily I proceeded out into the now light rain and began snapping pictures of the old wings of the hospital that welcomed this preemie into the world.
BRIEF HOSPITAL HISTORY
This hospital has quite a history. It started out as workhouse for inmates in 1817 and went through various renovations and additions in 1837 and 1865. A separate infirmary was added in 1984. This date marks the beginning of the hospital era. The photos above and below of the red brick building are ones of the infirmary built in 1894. More details of the fascinating history of Lewisham Hospital can be found at http://www.ezitis.myzen.co.uk/lewisham.html
The hospital’s reputation has been none too good in recent years. In fact in December of 2009 there came a “damning indictment of its patient care” and Lewisham Hospital was rated the worst in London. Its bad reputation extended beyond the city and it was named as being one of the 12 poorest hospital trusts in the UK! (http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=lewisham+hospital&view=detail&id=20B94B47CFF1196C6F3D7ED94D79EF3F4BBD6763) No wonder people raised the eyebrows a bit when I mentioned where I came from! LOL! Got out of there none too soon!
Along with this sad note I also found out that there have been plenty of gangs in Lewisham (one of them was called the Ghetto Boys) and they were pretty notoriously bad over the years. Like I said, eyebrows were raised when I said I was born in Lewisham… like saying I was born in Anacostia. I hope to write a future blog called “Can anything good come out of Lewisham?” discussing life in Lewisham for my parents and many displaced Polish after WWII.
But time to move on. Having found the hospital I was ready to visit the neighborhood…
Continued with Part 2 London 2012: Next Stop, George Lane!