Regular readers of Riversniffers might recall previous articles about Venturer Photography.

2011 dates have been set for the photographic cruises we arrange on the Thames between Richmond and Molesey. Check out  www.venturerphotography.com for more details.

The venue is the Richmond Venturer, a 26 metre Dutch barge converted for trips on the Thames for small groups and offers a unique combination of class-room space and stable platform for photographic work. The barge is owned and operated by the River Thames Boat Project, and is fully equipped for use by people in wheelchairs or with other mobility problems.

We offer a full day training cruise in April and October, or the more relaxed summer evening cruise, the perfect opportunity to take photos and drink a glass of wine as the sun goes down.

All funds earned by Venturer Photography support the charity The River Thames Boat Project.

In recent years we’ve stopped going to Pizza Express in Richmond. The reason being that whenever we went it seemed to be full of families with small (and rather noisy) children. Now we have nothing against small children (we had some ourselves) but in pubs and when paying for a decent meal we’d prefer a quieter atmosphere.

So we noted the refurb of the Richmond branch with interest. Would they perhaps divide it into areas to suit different types of customers?

The restaurant reopened, and last Saturday we went along to try it.

We arrived at 6:05pm. The place was packed, but we were shown immediately to a table for two. So far so good. Then we began to take in our surroundings.

The first problem became apparent within seconds of sitting down. At the next (too close) table for two, there was a person talking to her companion across their table so loudly that it was impossible to ignore what she was saying. This was going to be a pain. It was rather like being on a commuter train ( perhaps stuck at a red light) where the entire carriage has to listen to someone bellowing banalities into their mobile phone.

Our eyes met, we shrugged. Better get on with the menu. But before that, we began to take the place in. It’s noisy, very noisy. They’ve covered the ceiling with painted plywood mushrooms. Now in the Albert Hall, ceiling mushrooms help the acoustic. In Pizza Express Richmond they do nothing for the acoustic. In fact I’m sure they make it worse. And they look contrived and fussy.

As does the rest of the decor. Glaring primary colours, blobby shapes. It’s reminiscent of a kindergarten. Which it seems it has become. Right front and centre in front of the food preparation area, half a dozen kids were rolling out dough, while a staff member span a pizza dough in the air and caught it again for the entertainment of the young clients. And scattered throughout the restaurant, maybe 40 to 50% of the tables had parties of young kids, many in a state of full and vocal enjoyment of their treat “meal out”.

Our eyes met again. Oh well. Look at the menu. Starters mostly £5 to 6. Pizzas £10 to £11.  Have the prices gone up? We thought they had.

Meanwhile, our neighbour was still sharing her conversation with us. And it dawned on us that we’d been sitting there for 10 minutes and no-one had come near us.

Our eyes met again. And we didn’t need to exchange any words. We just left. On the way out, they said “Bye, see you again”. I’m afraid I replied “no you won’t”.

I’m sure Pizza Express have done their market research. They must be comfortable that there are enough people with young families in Richmond who don’t mind paying mid-range restaurant prices to eat in what approximates to a kindergarten.

But we thought it was ghastly.

Of course the reason we think this is we’ve become too old for the demographic this place is aimed at.

But we’re happy with that. And we definitely won’t be going back.

On Monday 20th September the Bishop of Kingston conducted a service of induction for Richmond’s new Team Rector, the Reverend Canon Dr Robert Titley.

The service took place at St Mary Magdalene church in the centre of Richmond, in the presence of the Mayor of Richmond, local councillors and a congregation of more than 400.

The bells were rung for half an hour before the service

At 7:30pm, the Bishop began the service of Institution and Induction

Robert trained at Westcott House, Cambridge. He was ordained Deacon in 1983 and priested in 1986. His entire ministry has been in Southwark diocese. While Vicar of All Saints, West Dulwich Robert lead his congregation in a huge restoration project to rebuild their church after it was gutted by fire in 2000.

Canon Dr Robert Titley

Here are some photographs of the service

Speaking of Richmond, Robert said “if ever there were somewhere to show that Christian faith can be at home in the public square, Richmond is such a place: historical, political, commercial, educational, cultural and and recreational currents all converge here – and this on the threshold of a world city. But Richmond is above all a place that people call home, with a distinctive character and a clear centre of gravity…”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, and we wish Robert a long and happy stay as the leader of Richmond’s Team Ministry in our home by the river.

P.S. see here for Revd Julian Reindorp’s retirement service last November

No. you’re not seeing things. That is a butchers counter at the back of this restaurant. Which tells you that this is going to be an unusual place to eat.

This long-established butchers shop in north St Margarets (in the shopping parade near the junction of St Margarets Road and Talbot Road) has recently branched out to be a cafe during the day and a restaurant by night (open Wed through Sat up to 9pm).

They also do catering, which is how Mr Riversniffer heard about it. At a function, on enquiring who had made the delicious party food, the answer came back “Thomas the butcher, and they’ve also opened a restaurant in part of the shop”. Well, that was intriguing, so we just had to try it.

A friend was staying with us, and she generously declared it would be her treat. So three of the Riversniffer family and our friend lost no time in booking.

Having had their party food previously, Mr Riversniffer had a hunch it would be good. It turned out to be faultless. From the moment the free pre-starter nibbles arrived (see picture above), through 4 starters and four main courses it was absolutely delicious.

I hope they won’t mind me reproducing a couple of exerpts form their menu:

Three of us had the avocado with crab, which was fresh and very tasty. No 1 son Riversniffer (being almost completely carnivorous) had the beef carpaccio, rated first class.

The main course menu is fairly (but not exclusively) meat orientated:

Three of us had various forms of steak, one had the lamb shanks. The steaks were predictably top notch, and the lamb shanks had that unctuous texture that they have when they’re done really well. Chips with the steaks were big, real, home made and very tasty.

And the wine? Well, they’re not licenced at the moment, so one must make the arduous journey (all of twenty yards!) to The Good Wine Shop on the corner of Talbot Road. There we bought a bottle of red and a bottle of white and took them back to Thomas. The wine proved outstanding. So you get the best of both worlds – a great meal and a shop stuffed full of great wine twenty yards away…

I think you can tell by now where this review is heading. From our experience you would never have guessed it was early days for this establishment. From start to finish the food and the service were very assured. V Thomas is a brave and original venture, which absolutely deserves to succeed.

The bill? Just under £90 for the four of us (we didn’t have puddings because we’d done too well on the earlier courses). The government gets about £12.50 0f that in the form of VAT,  so for the calibre of food we thought it very good value indeed. Wine, of course was separate, but the Good Wine Shop has some outstanding wines for under a tenner and Thomas generously do not charge corkage.

Given its position, surrounded by long-standing residents and the more recently arrived residents of the former Brunel site, I hope and believe V Thomas will soon be beating the customers off with sticks.

Book  early for a unique dining experience.

V Thomas

387 St Margarets Road



Tel: 020 8892 3725

It’s more or less a year since the first mass protest on Twickenham Riverside about the plan to redevelop the site of the former swimming pool. And it’s 10 months since the “funeral march” for the Riverside (see previous posts on Riversniffers).

One week before a local election on May 6th, the situation now boils down to this: If the incumbent LibDem council is re-elected they will go ahead with the redevelopment plan. If the Conservatives get in they will scrap the development plan, put the land in trust for the public in perpetuity and draw up a plan for the site which involves public use/amenity.

Local campaigners (including it must be said a fair number of Tory activists) gathered at the Barmy Arms on the evening of the 27th April and marched one last time on York House, where the council were due to meet.

Brief video footage of the event is included here for interest.  We’ll return to this issue again, after the election.

The Petersham

The Petersham on a sunny Sunday lunchtime – a special occasion.

We were seven, two families celebrating a double birthday, one in each family. Tipped off about the double birthday, they had kindly given us the best table in the house.

Our table was at one o clock. By one thirty the place was completely full – it was apparent we had been wise to book well ahead.

We pushed the boat out. Montagny Premiere Cru to start, Mercury 2007 (Faively, Riversniffers’ favourite Burgundy shipper) to follow.

Four had oysters to start, and three had pidgeon and sweetbreads.

Our main courses were two roast beef, two guinea fowl and three sea bass. Mr Riversniffer had the roast beef. Pink, accompanied by a wonderful horseradish sauce and proper, perfect roast potatoes (not dunked in semolina to crisp them up).

The room is elegant, reminiscent of say the Savoy in the fifties (that’s last century for any youngsters reading this). The service is urbane, correct, flawless. And the cooking is bang up to date. All the main course were pronounced delicious.

Then the puddings arrived.

Here are some examples:

Apple Financier

Vanilla Ice Cream

Rice Pudding with Prunes and Armagnac

And coffee to finish:

With lovely chocolates of course...

Three hours had flown by very enjoyably – it was nearly four o clock when we asked for the bill.

Ah, the bill. Including pre-dinner drinks, service and lots of the aforementioned Burgundy, it came to £66 per head. Not cheap – maybe it’s a good thing that birthdays come but once a year.

But nobody said perfection comes cheap. And the Petersham on a Sunday lunchtime is as near perfection as makes no difference.

You owe it to yourself – but do book ahead.

The Petersham,

Nightingale Lane,


TW10 6UZ

Tel: (restaurant) 020 8939 1084

The Britannia

Riversniffers has confessed before how outdated we can be on Richmond pubs. The last time we went in the Britannia it was full of shaven-headed tattooed folks with pitbulls.

Yes, skinheads – remember them?

Well it ain’t like that now. This must be the only place in Richmond that regularly serves oysters (Thursday to Sunday, when there’s an “r” in the month).

And they have draft (we mean by the glass) Macon Villages, our favourite everyday white burgundy. You don’t find that in many pubs in Richmond either.

Youngish demographic, upmarket, attractive bar staff – you could be in Hampstead or with that edgy red ceiling, maybe Hoxton even, rather than provincial old Richmond.

It’s got a more intimate atmosphere than the other nearby gastropub, The Duke. And it feels more like a pub than a restaurant (a good thing in our view). For some it may be a bit noisy, but there is an upstairs room which is quieter.

The beer when we went was Timothy Taylor Landlord, which was good. They usually have other real ales as well.

At 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon at the tail end of this never-ending winter it was packed. Recession – what recession?

We were impressed, and will return

Richmond wasn’t exactly short of pubs – now we’re getting spoilt for choice…

The Britannia

5 Brewers Lane



Tel: 020 8940 9786