Replacement trees planted on Fortune Green

Newly-planted limes opposite mature trees on the main avenue

Newly-planted limes face mature trees on the main avenue

If you’re a regular visitor to Fortune Green, you might have noticed the green has lost a few trees over the past months, some due to storm damage, some due to disease.

lime_tree_label2Yesterday, Camden contractors replaced some of the missing trees.

New lime trees have been planted along the main path heading towards the cemetery where several young trees have died.

Spring-flowering white cherry trees (Prunus Serrula) have been planted in the bed alongside Alfred Court to replace the diseased whitebeams. Over a period of time the plan is to replace all the whitebeams with cherries.

A Liquidambar tree has been planted in the bed opposite the Fortune Green Road entrance to replace the sycamore that was badly damaged in the St Jude’s storm.

The Friends of Fortune Green said “We look forward to watching them grow.” Keep an eye out next time you’re on the green and see if you can spot the new specimens.

If you’re interested in being involved with the upkeep of Fortune Green Open Space, keep an eye on the Friends of Fortune Green Events page – they’re always looking for volunteers.


Water: A Fortune Green poem

Today is National Poetry Day. You may not know that Fortune Green has an official poet. Ted Booth is the artist in residence for 2013-14, and has already written a couple of poems, which you can read here, including one about the film screening of Back to the Future.

Today’s poem is inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “water, water, everywhere” from The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Given the forecast for this afternoon, it is apposite.


It  rains
It  rains
Up  above  us  on  the  Heath
levels  in  the  ponds  rise  alarmingly
It  rains
It  rains
Under  The  Green  is  a  fleet  river
it  speeds  downhill
to  the  Fire  Station  and  Pizza  Express  
It  rains
It  rains
The  water  pours
over  the  grass
along  the  paths
flooding  the  roads
pooling  into  unlucky  basements
ankle  deep  in  sodden  gardens
It  rains
It  rains
It  rains
It  pours
Over the page
The  flag  stones  are  awash
at  the  mouth  of  The  Green
the  stone  fountain
after  weeks  of  temperance
drinks  its  fill
and  vomits,  startling
the  doused  pigeons  into  flight
It  rains
It  goes  on  raining
Water,  water,  everywhere.

About Ted Booth
Ted was born in 1938 and educated at the London School of Economics. He is a retired lecturer in creative writing at Middlesex University. A part time poet, Ted has published two volumes; Rough Draft (1998) and Fair Copy (2010) and is anthologised in Football: Pure Poetry, Vols. 1 and 2 alongside Seamus Heaney, Roger McGough and Adrian Mitchell. Ted has lived in West Hampstead for over twenty years.

Vote for the next Fortune Green film

Everyone agreed that the screening of Back to the Future in June was a huge success, and the Friends of Fortune Green raised enough money that night to put on another bike-powered summer film on Saturday August 31st.

Photo via Mark Stonebanks

Mark “The Hills are Alive” Stonebanks, chair of the FoFG, is determined that it should be a musical, but is leaving the choice up to the Great Whamp Public. He’s come up with a shortlist based on some early suggestions and you can vote for your favourite.

The choices are:

  • Bugsy Malone (1976, Jodie Foster, dir Alan Parker – famous for the custard gun scene)
  • Fame (1980, Irene Cara, dir Alan Parker – famous for legwarmers (but not as good as the TV series))
  • Footloose (1984, Kevin Bacon, dir Herbert Ross – famous for the theme tune)
  • The Blues Brothers (1980, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, dir John Landis – famous for being bloody brilliant)
  • Les Misérables (2012, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, dir Tom Hooper – famous for being entirely in song)

You have to go the Friends of Fortune Green event site to vote (scroll down when you get there). Far be it from me to sway your vote in any particular direction. I shall just leave you with this.

Royal status for Fortune Green?

Fortune Green is on the up. QEII status beckons. Which could mean some funding and additional planning protection. The Friends of Fortune Green are excited.

Phase one of the major improvements to the green took place two years ago: resurfacing paths, expanding the dog-free area, improving the entrance by the bus stop and new planting. Phase two will include excavating the remains of a WW2 air raid shelter (in the quadrant near the playground) and returfing that area, adding new noticeboards, creating a small children’s landscaped area and a running/exercise trail starting at the green, winding through the surrounding streets and finishing back on the Green. These improvements will involve fencing off part of the park over the winter.

All this has led Camden to nominate Fortune Green as a “QEII field”, all part of the Jubilee celebrations. Fields in Trust (formerly the National Playing Fields Association), a charity dedicated to protecting and improving outdoor space for sport, play and recreation, has set up the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge to add protection to community recreational facilities.

Consultation is imminent, but naturally the FoFG are strongly in favour.

Get down and dirty on Fortune Green

The redoubtable Friends of Fortune Green have an Action Day coming up at the end of the month. They say “day”, but really it’s more of an Action Afternoon.

This isn’t action in some vague fist-waving “we really must do something about those damned [insert bête noir here]”. This is proper action (the words “hard” and “labour” have been bandied around).

The FoFG has had action days before, but it’s on a mission to make them better and more regular. This will be the last one of 2012, but after the winter they will take place in the afternoon of the last sunday of the month. Everyone is welcome – not just members. So if you’ve got some green fingers, or want a bit of a workout without paying for gym membership, this could be for you.

The excitement kicks off at 2pm on October 28th, and the goal is to set up the beds (as in flower beds, not that kind of action cowboy) for the winter.

From 2-3pm:
– formative pruning of the hedge
– some pruning of the perennials
– weeding
– picking the sycamore seedlings
– plus the usual litter picking

That’s an hour of hard graft, but someone’s got to keep the green looking ship shape right? So, why not you? If you can bring your own tools and gloves then please do.

From 3-4pm the type of action is a bit more up to you. The FoFG really want your feedback on the planned children’s landscaped corner. The aim is to revitalise the tired hedging at the corner with Ulysses Road, and the group has worked on this with Beckford School. The team will show you the plans so far, mark out some of the areas, and try and convey some of what they envisage.

As if the reward of a job well done wasn’t enough, there’ll be tea and biscuits and (I have it on a good authority) even a bit of home made cake. Contact if you’d like to join in.

Stand By Me on Fortune Green

Short notice, yes, but I just got confirmation that the second Friends of Fortune Green outdoor film screening will happen this Saturday evening. It’s Stand By Me.

If you came along to Breaking Away earlier in the summer you’ll know how this works. Basically, the film is powered by bicycle. Now, Breaking Away is a film ABOUT cycling, which probably inspired people. Stand By Me isn’t (although I do seem to recall a couple of scenes on bikes?), but people still need to be willing to do a 5-10 minute stint on a bike. It all worked fine last time, and there’s no obligation at all to get on your bike and ride.

The film, if you don’t know it, is a 1980s coming-of-age classic, starrring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix and Corey Feldman (Richard Dreyfus and Kiefer Sutherland are also in it). It’s based on a Stephen King novel and was directed by Rob Reiner. So, basically, it’s a good film. If you’ve already seen it you’ll know it’s well worth watching again and if you haven’t then now’s the perfect time to rectify that.

The screening starts at sundown – which is 7pm, though if you want a good spot I’d get there quite a bit earlier as the bikes do slightly limit the viewing angle. Last time there must have been at least 200 people there, so hopefully there’s a similar turnout this time – and hopefully it’s too cold for the mosquitoes that plagued us all. Bring a picnic blanket, bring a picnic (Nautilus should be open for a sustaining fish & chips takeaway), and bring some friends.

The event is free, but FoFG will be asking for donations to help cover similar future events, so be nice and give a little something for this great community event.

Fortune Green needs PR help

You might not think it after the great turnout for the outdoor screening this week, but the Friends of Fortune Green is after some help. Maybe you’ve got the skills they need?

FoFg is looking for someone to help it on the PR and communications side. It’s FoFG’s weakest link. Specifically, we need help building and updating a simple website and help with newsletters (striking the right balance between getting information out to the public without swamping them). We also need to keep our logo and image coherent and are interested in dipping our toes into the world of Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. On top of all this, a willingness to help out at action days every now and then (e.g. weeding and litterpicking) would be greatly appreciated. The PR/comms person could also join our effective committee meetings (one evening a month) although this may not be essential. Perhaps attending a couple of meetings would be good, just to determine the best way of working.

If you’re interested, please send an e-mail to .

Large crowd for Fortune Green film

As the sun went down on Tuesday, a crowd began to assemble on Fortune Green. The screen was slightly smaller than some had anticipated; the bikes that would be used to power the equipment blocked the wider viewing angle; there were a couple of technical hitches and everyone was bitten to shreds by mosquitoes.

And it was great.

Photo via @chipstoph

This felt like a real community event. People brought picnic rugs and bottles of wine, volunteers got on the bikes to ride for as long as they could; there was free popcorn courtesy of the Mayor of London’s Showtime funding; and the film was the charming Oscar-winning 1979 coming-of-age cycling film Breaking Away.

The Friends of Fortune Green, who put on the event, are already making plans for a second screening – most likely at the end of September. Keep your eyes peeled.

Love Parks; Love Fortune Green

This week is Love Parks week. Fortune Green is getting involved with a raft of events. 

Monday 6 to 8pm: Evening drawing class – come after work and do some drawing on the Green, with an informal glass of wine! Class led by Andrea the artist

Tuesday 1:30pm for one hour: Health walk -a gentle walk in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Tuesday from sundown: Outdoor film – on our third attempt we will be showing ‘Breaking Away’.

Thursday morning: Photography class on the Green -a little walk round the Green taking photographs on and of it, led by local photography teacher Peter Coles.

Free outdoor film back on

Back in May, the Friends of Fortune Green planned an outside film screening on the green. For free! It rained. Obviously.But as the weather seems to be improving, the screening has been rescheduled for this Tuesday July 24th and has now received a small grant from City Hall as part of the Mayor’s Showtime scheme.

And now you can unleash your inner Bradley Wiggins (he’s from Kilburn y’know), because this screening will be bike-powered. If you can lend a bike (and ideally your legs) on the night then please e-mail

Each shift on the bike will be about 20 minutes, but you can be inspired by the choice of film. Breaking Away is a 1979 classic film starring Dennis Quaid. I’m not going to recap the plot here, come and watch the film dammit. But I will tell you that the film won the 1979 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Picture. It’s also number 8 on the American Film Institute’s 2006 list of America’s 100 most inspiring movies (which is actually a pretty good list of films worth watching).

The film will start at around 9.30pm on Fortune Green, but I’d suggest turning up from about 8.30pm with a picnic.

More Sundance, less raindance

On Friday May 18th, the Friends of Fortune Green are going to do something I think sounds great. An outside film screening on the green. For free!

STOP PRESS: Unfortunately, due to the high chance of rain, this event has been postponed until June 22nd or 23rd

This is a great example of the sort of community event West Hampstead needs more of – something with broad appeal, irrespective of age or income.

It’s Olympic year (I expect some of you knew this), so the FoFG have opted for a film with a sporting bent. Breaking Away is a 1979 classic film starring Dennis Quaid. I’m not going to recap the plot here, come and watch the film dammit. But I will tell you that the film won the 1979 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Picture. It’s also number 8 on the American Film Institute’s 2006 list of America’s 100 most inspiring movies (which is actually a pretty good list of films worth watching).

The screening will start about 8pm, and there’ll be popcorn for sale courtesy of The Kitchen Table to raise funds for the community group. You may also want to bring a picnic (and maybe a blanket unless the weather picks up).

Those of you on Twitter, keep an eye out for the hashtag #whampfilm for updates. We’re hoping for upwards of 200 people on the night, so should be a great event.