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#YourPound: Meet the User – Francis

Over the last two years we’ve been introducing you to our traders – independent business owners who are part of the Brixton Pound family. In this new series we’d like to introduce you to the members of the community who are just as significant: the Brixton Pound users! In the previous months you’ve met PaulAliciaManda, and Vincent, and today we’d like you to meet Francis!

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Francis Walden is a saxophone player and jazz musician who’s lived in Brixton for 9 years. He lives on a little street just off Ferndale Road – where the post office is, and where he initially lived when he first moved to Brixton. “I didn’t know the area well, I used to be in Earlsfield. The flat on Ferndale Road was the first one I saw, and I loved it straight away – got it without seeing any others! It’s funny cause it was the same story with our current house – we saw it, it was great, so we took it! It’s a small street so I know most of my neighbours, it’s just 8 houses each side. It has a very nice atmosphere and feels really safe, everyone recognises each other.”

He also instantly warmed to the area and became a regular at Salon and Market Row Wines (“Conveniently, they are right next door to each other so you can buy cheese *and* wine in one go!”), Burnt Toast Cafe, Franco Manca, Bookmongers… “Does Brixton Cycles take B£ as well? [it does! - B£] I cycle everywhere. Actually I don’t eat at Franco Manca much anymore because my girlfriend and I refuse to queue. I just call and order, they say come in 10, I cycle down and think, look at these mugs standing in line, see ya! It’s odd – young people seem to enjoy queueing, like then they’re part of some buzz. Like they just came for this thing specifically and don’t see that within 30 yards there’s a whole lot of other choices.”

“The market has changed loads. A few years ago it was threatened with closure. Daniel from Burnt Toast Cafe, he and his partner won green cards to the US in the green card lottery and were going to move to Brooklyn. I was pissed off because I used to go there to buy my bread everyday, and now they were moving to Brooklyn! There wasn’t much footfall, I’d hang out there and it would be very quiet. And just at that moment it all changed! Within 6 months it was a busy business, and they never went to New York – chose Brixton over Brooklyn. I love the market: I’ve always used the fishmongers, the butchers, the fruit and veg stalls, the market traders who’ve been here for decades. But I never came for a meal or a night out. Now it’s a wonderful balance – traditional market traders are still here, and there’s loads of places to eat – I hope it can stay this way. You wouldn’t want to see the old traders pushed out.”

Francis first started using B£ in December 2 years ago: “I can remember it actually, it was when you gave 10% extra with each top up, I’ve seen it around or in an email… So I bought £200’s worth in early December and was just running out on New Years Eve. We were playing a gig in the countryside somewhere, going on stage at 11:30pm, and I remembered – I have to buy more B£s before midnight! So I ran outside into a field, frantically looking for signal, to top-up my account and get the free 10%! Once you top up it doesn’t feel like you’re spending money, more like I’m getting free stuff – it’s clever. And I still get 10% off at Market Row Wines!”

Francis has played Brixton Academy twice, with Amy Winehouse’s band in which he played for years. He ends up playing locally quite a bit: at Hootananny’s or the Jamm. “Last summer I decided to do it more and ran a weekly Sunday night jazz at the Market House pub for a few weeks, it was great fun. The Effra does jazz and it’s a really good scene, I should really go more regularly. Another great sax player, Dave O’Higgins, lives down the road in Brixton, he’s a good friend. I’m touring a lot so I end up being away, but I’d love to play locally more often – but I have to spend time with my girlfriend too!”

Francis is actually getting married this month – he and his girlfriend Rebecca got engaged in Brockwell Park, and then went to Burnt Toast Cafe to celebrate with their favourite: the frytato. “Oh, it’s cracking! Definitely my favourite, next to that bread I used to buy at Burnt – they’ve now stopped selling it to take away, but you can still have it to eat in there. Wild Caper also does a really nice pumpkin seed loaf, and Salon has great sourdough. There’s great food at Cornercopia, Mama Lan, Fish Wings & Tings, and that Colombian place next door, El Rancho De Lalo – they have huge plates of meat! Pay by text is so convenient, but the cash – so lovely, so colourful! I probably shouldn’t tell you this but I gave away some notes to friends – some collect money from all over the world, why not Brixton? Oh, I didn’t know you could buy collector’s packs! Almost all my gifts last year and the year before that were from the market – from Brixi, or Rachel & Malika’s – they’re a nice pair who travel around the world and bring back scarves, jewellery, and pretty things from all over the world. And if you need a department store there’s Morleys. We’ve got everything here in Brixton – you don’t have to leave!”

“When I’m not on tour, I’m home during the day. I mostly work in the evenings, so I come down to the market every morning to buy stuff for lunch, for the day. I get fish from Jeffries, fresh fruit and veg, bread. During the day I’m on my own, practising, so it’s so nice to  pop down, see some smiling faces, talk to traders. It feels like a social experience. With B£s, I feel very smug: I belong here, I’m local because I’ve got local currency. Especially now that there’s so many people coming down from all over the place – which is great, but it’s nice to have a little badge that identifies you as a local. Sometimes someone sees me using pay by text and asks about it, so I explain how it works. Speaking of which, can you show me how to work the app?”

 

Would you like to be featured in our next Meet The User post? We could meet you for a chat over lunch or tea/coffee, or you could write us a guest blog. Drop us a line at [email protected]!

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B£ x BuzzFeed vol.2 (feat. Christmas)

We wrote our first BuzzFeed a while ago telling you the 12 Reasons To Use The Brixton Pound.

Here’s a Christmas edition – kind of like we recorded a Christmas single. Check it out!

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… click here for more!

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BriXmas gift guide from Miss South

This is a guest post by Miss South, author of Recipes from Brixton Village, a cookbook celebrating the diversity of Brixton with a collection of recipes from the market traders, as well as her own recipes showcasing the wonderful produce available from the fishmongers and grocers in the Village. A self-taught cook originally hailing from Belfast but proudly Brixtonite for the last ten years, Miss South became a food writer when she started blogging to combat adverse experiences of chronic illness and a period of homelessness. She has blogged at North/South Food alongside her brother Mister North for the last four years. She is also the Food and Drink editor at the Brixton Blog and the Brixton Bugle.

Recipes From Brixton Village is available at B£ businesses 20 Storey and Cornercopia and is a great gift for anyone with an interest in food!

After writing Recipes from Brixton Village last year, I found I couldn’t shake the habit of shopping in and around Brixton and rarely need venture beyond its borders for anything much. I like to mix my cash with Brixton Pounds and this is where I’ll be spending the later this Christmas:

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table linen

story tiles

Brixi, 1st Avenue Brixton Village: one of my favourite shops in Brixton, Emy picks out a fantastic selection of items from the small stocking filler kind like a fruit sticker notebook, Mexican tin Christmas decorations to gift items like the quirky Story Tiles or hand carved wooden critters as well as stylish unisex jewellery. I snapped up the pom pom tree decorations and the beautiful embroidered table linens and made use of the Brixton Pound discount.

20 Storey, 2A Market Row: my favourite place in Brixton to buy books (and not just because they stock both of mine…) There’s a great choice of local ones and they are displayed in just enough of a casual way to always feel like you’re discovering something new. I always pick some greetings cards when I’m here too, either by local artists or the lovely Letterpress Christmas cards Joe stocks each year. The bestselling I Heart Brixton mugs make a great gift for anyone. Again there’s a discount for using Brixton Pounds.

circus plates

Circus, 4th Avenue Brixton Village: Tabitha keeps a treasure trove of items in her little log cabin for all budgets. This Christmas, grab a copy of local author Brendan McNamee’s debut novel Mut or put Santa’s brandy in a beautiful vintage glass while burning the stylish scented candles. Or treat yourself to something extraordinary with the limited edition Picasso lithographs for sale.

brixton beers

House Of Bottles, 420 Coldharbour Lane: Brixton’s best known off licence is the perfect place to stock up for all your Christmas and New Year needs. From Brixton Brewery beers to a big selections of wines, ciders and spirits, there’s everything for staying in or calling round to people’s houses. I start early and buy rum in the autumn for infusing the fruit for my Christmas cakes here.

A&C Deli, 3 Atlantic Road: better known as the Portuguese deli, this Tardis like shop sells everything you could ever wish to eat over Christmas. I buy their lovely luxury pastas as presents, stunning speckled pulses for New Year’s Day dishes and decant their extensive range of spices into jars as small gifts. The cheeses, olives and salamis will fortify you no matter how many presents you have to wrap and you can always rely on the staff for friendly advice. I shop here all year round.

And don’t forget that a wealth of other Brixton businesses accept the Brixton Pound so you then treat yourself to a meal or drink, book a therapy or beauty treatment, or stock up on fruit and veg in the New Year.

Miss South

 

Thank you to Miss South for this great gift guide! For more gift guides and other festive content keep an eye on our blog – we’ll be posting every day for 12 days of #BriXmas!

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