Amelia’s Magazine | Crayfish Bob’s at the Two Degrees Festival by Arts Admin at Toynbee Hall

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Clare-Patey Toynbee Hall-photography Amelia Gregory
Crayfish Bob’s. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

This week Two Degrees is hosting Crayfish Bob’s al fresco pop up crayfish shack every evening in the paved courtyard next to Toynbee Hall. How could I resist the chance to sup on South London wine whilst crunching on succulent seafood? I couldn’t, thumb is the answer, doctor and I was lucky enough to secure a seat at the first sitting on Monday evening.

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Claire Pavey Toynbee Hall-photography Amelia GregoryCrayfish Bobs Two Degrees Claire Pavey Toynbee Hall-photography Amelia GregoryCrayfish Bobs Two Degrees Claire Pavey Toynbee Hall-photography Amelia Gregory

Crayfish Bob’s is supplied with Bob Ring’s freshly caught American Signal Crayfish from the Thames, an invasive species that has been busy decimating our native wildlife since the 1970s. At first introduced to be intensively farmed in controlled ponds American Signal Crayfish soon used their ability to walk across land and spread out across the country. One account tells of a late night encounter with a long procession of crayfish walking from an abandoned trout-farm pond and heading directly towards the nearby river. Clever buggers. I’ve encountered a crayfish clambering out of a pond at Hampstead Heath as it goes: it caused much consternation amongst the nudist sunbathers on the women’s ‘beach’.

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Claire Pavey Toynbee Hall-photography Amelia Gregory

American Signal Crayfish carry a plague to which they are immune but which kills our native White Clawed species and they also damage river banks with their tunnelling – but despite their disastrous effect on the environment nothing much has been done to stem their march. Sadly the crayfish that are increasingly used in tasty sandwiches and snacks across the UK are all farmed abroad because it is so hard to trap the American Signal Crayfish found here commercially. So, determined to do his bit, Bob Ring has hatched a plan that goes against the grain of modern business acumen: he hopes to build the Crayfish Bob brand into one of high integrity and desirability so that he can sell as many tonnes of UK caught American Signal Crayfish as possible. His ultimate dream is to go bust due to lack of stock. Obviously I felt very good about helping him on his way to achieving this.

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Claire Pavey Toynbee Hall Bob Ring-photography Amelia Gregory
Bob Ring.

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Clare-Patey Toynbee Hall-photography Amelia Gregory
Clare Patey.

As soon as we were seated Bob’s co-conspirator the interdisciplinary artist Clare Patey darted past, offering us beautiful peach coloured Urban Wine from the gardens of Tooting (it was very good) and stacks of moist sourdough bread. Our food looked utterly beautiful, served with panache by Blanch and Shock food designers, who produce theatrical food productions and educational workshops based on themes of sustainability and the psychology of eating. They aim to provide opulent food with the minimum of waste. Again, happy to help out.

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Blanch and Shock -photography Amelia Gregory
Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Blanch and Shock -photography Amelia Gregory
Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Blanch and Shock -photography Amelia Gregory
Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Blanch and Shock -photography Amelia Gregory

Large glass bowls of locally sourced and wild foraged salad – I never knew that Common Hogweed was so darn tasty – were placed on our tables but for the main course we were encouraged to visit Crayfish Bob’s shack for ourselves to converse with the man who had caught our delicious meal. Crayfish are a messy dish to eat, requiring a certain amount of cracking and sucking to demolish, but with a finger bowl of water at the ready we all got a certain amount of pleasure from the ordeal. There was time for chat with our fellow guests as we were all seated on a friendly communal long table.

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees urban wine -photography Amelia Gregory
Peach coloured Urban Wine from Tooting.

On one side I was joined by food blogger Laura Fleur, who I have conversed with on Twitter (ain’t it always the way these days?!) and her friend Lizzie, aka Hollow Legs. On my other side I chatted with Kevin and Jane of Platform, another organisation which is doing great things by mixing up art and activism and with whom I worked to Redesign the Royal Bank of Scotland for Sustainability in 2009 at the Arnolfini. On my right sat Peter Koenig, a former financial editor of the Independent. What an intriguing and diverse bunch!

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees Blanch and Shock -photography Amelia GregoryCrayfish Bobs Two Degrees Blanch and Shock -photography Amelia Gregory
For desert we were served a gorgeous Douglas Fir Panna Cotta that slid off the spoon in the most delectable manner, with a side serving of strawberries and butterscotch.

Crayfish Bobs Two Degrees kevin smith -photography Amelia Gregory
Kevin with a rescue parrot that came to visit us!

It was a rare and wonderful chance to talk with some new friends whilst remembering how enjoyable good local food can be. As Diana Damian points out on her blog for This is Tomorrow, our act of eating the American Signal Crayfish demonstrated how social engagement can become a political act in itself, and an enjoyable one at that. I couldn’t really put it better myself.

At only £5 for the entire meal this was fantastic value so not surprisingly all seats at Crayfish Bob’s have now been sold out, but there is plenty more going on at Two Degrees over the rest of the week. I shall be taking part in a round table discussion about the state of climate activism on Saturday 18th June between 1-2pm. Please do come along and take part!

Categories ,activism, ,American Signal Crayfish, ,art, ,Arts Admin, ,Blanch and Shock, ,Bob Ring, ,Claire Pavey, ,Climate Change, ,Common Hogweed, ,community, ,Crayfish Bob’s, ,Crayfish Shack, ,Diana Damian, ,Douglas Fir Panna Cotta, ,festival, ,Food, ,Food Design, ,Hollow Legs, ,Kevin Smith, ,Laura Fleur, ,Peter Koenig, ,Platform Arts, ,Pop-up, ,Salad, ,South London, ,sustainability, ,This is Tomorrow, ,Tooting, ,Toynbee Hall, ,two degrees, ,Urban Wine, ,Wild Foraging, ,Wine

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Amelia’s Magazine | Kimberly Anne introduces new EP Liar

Kimberly Anne by Melissa Pierce
Kimberly Anne by Melissa Pierce.

South London born and bred, singer songwriter Kimberly Anne bears her heart on her sleeve, sharing life and love in soulful songs such as Almost On My Feet, which was originally written when Kimberly set herself a challenge to write and record a song in under four hours. Here she introduces the Liar EP, made with a selection of acclaimed producers: Mark Crew (Bastille), Rich Wilkinson (Lianne Le Havas, Bombay Bicycle Club), and Charlie Hugall (Florence & The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Lucy Rose).

Who is a Liar, and why did you write about them?
I am the Liar, especially to myself but purely in a idealistic romantic way. In relationships I tend to photoshop out the blemishes and crop a well composed image on how it like things to be instead of dealing with things properly. I hid from my feelings a lot in the past and thought it was easier to carrier and play house then confront the things that were rocking the boat. It can feel innocent enough fooling yourself, after a while the fantasy will merge with reality and just result in a bit of a blur of feelings. At the same time as fooling myself, it has sadly resulted in deceiving and hurting others which I felt I needed to talk about in ‘Liar’.

What else inspired the lyrics on the record?
This collection of tracks came together and just felt right but now I’m getting a chance to stand back and listen having had a little space I can hear a unintentional theme of general heart ache. Generally a bit depressing but we’ve all been there when it feels like your heart has been in a blender, I just hope a positive can come out of it if someone else out there takes comfort in being able to relate.  

Kimberly Anne By Amelia Grace
Kimberly Anne By Amelia Grace.

How did you get involved with your roster of producers for the new EP?
Production is so important to me so getting it right it key. A lot of the track I record start of as my home produced demos, so when searching for a producer I really want to find someone who can develop and mature my ideas without losing whatever worked about it originally. It’s a real skill and working with a hands on artist like me isn’t always easy, I’m sure I’m a massive pain in the arse! 
It feels amazing to have had the opportunity to look at the albums sleeves of some of the records that I admire with strong production like Bombay Bicycle Club, Bastille and Lucy Rose and be able to approach those involved to see if they wanna come and hang with me. Sometimes if I’m lucky they say yes. 

I hear you have a number of interesting collaborations in the line, can you share any secrets with us?
Yes the collaborations project is feeling very exciting right now! I wanted to have a little musical adventure and team up with a few artists around right now that I just love. Many are completely different from myself which is the best thing. It’s so liberating to break out of your comfort zone and be challenged to take musical risks you wouldn’t normally if working alone perhaps. One of the artists I will reveal is the stunning D/C, he’s beautiful soul/electronica has had be stalking his YouTube videos for three years. I’m so chuffed to have finally been able to get in a room with him and write. 

Kimberly Anne arrows
You recently headlined at the St Pancras Old Church, what was the highlight of the evening? 
As the gig was taking place in a church I really wanted to include a moment that connected with the more traditional use of the space. A choir was just a must have but as the count down to the show got closer and closer I had no positive leads so was looking really unlikely. Luckily 5 of my amazing friends stepped in at the last minute and joined me in performing a cover of ‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They were stunning and it was made all the more special having my nearest and dearest up there on stage with me. 

Kimberly Anne Liar packshot
I believe you are a south londoner like me! Where abouts did you grow up and how has it affected your outlook on life?
Sowft Landon indeed! I grew up in an area around Crystal Palace, the only park in the UK I am aware of with dinosaurs. I still go and visit them when I need a good old think! It was cool being a little out of the way of the main city to be honest but I knew it was never too far away if I needed it. Similarly a bit of country air and green fields was only a 45minute journey away too so if felt like I was nicely sandwiched in the middle. South London was definitely the diverse environment, it fascinated growing up being surrounded by such varying cultures and food. Learning swear words in other languages as a teenager was also pretty essential. 

The ‘Liar’ EP by Kimberly Anne is out now on Polydor Records.

Categories ,Almost On My Feet, ,Amelia Grace, ,Crystal Palace, ,ep, ,interview, ,Kimberly Anne, ,Liar, ,Melissa Pierce, ,Polydor Records, ,South London

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