CROFTON COLUMN  #62

CROFTON COLUMN #62

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All things CHRISTMAS…………………..2018

This is now my 6th annual Christmas blog where I try and detail all the events/fairs/happenings in the area plus a shopping guide to our fantastic LOCAL shops. I will also include my round-up of business news-openings/closings-in the area with a final paragraph ‘Snippet of News’ If anyone is new to my blogs, apologies, they are rather long and rambling but I think/hope they contain lots of useful information/dates for diaries. Also I haven’t actually done a new blog since May, (I normally do one in September but for lots of reasons that didn’t happen) so that means there is quite a lot to catch up on!

Firstly let me put it out there that I unashamedly LOVE Christmas! I write this every year but it is my favourite time of the year and particularly the 6 week run up to the big day, when from around mid- November we start seeing Winter fayres/markets/special events/decorations etc. Okay it has got very commercial but I love it for the opportunity to get together with friends and family and just have lots of wonderful celebrations!

Also with the awful current political climate of Brexit/Trump etc the message “Goodwill to ALL people” is not exactly being shouted from the rooftops. I think it is even more important that we use this festive season to send out goodwill messages to all those around us and join together in our amazing community to show solidarity and support to EVERYONE

I will try and put the information in some kind of logical order. As ever there will be things I miss out and I apologise in advance but there is only so much I can know/cover! As I write this over a number of days I keep seeing new things all the time that I feel I should add but there is a point I have to stop! To note the area I mainly concentrate on is Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park but the surrounding areas of Brockley, Ladywell, Catford, Hither Green, and Deptford I also include but not necessarily in the same detail. I’ve also decided I just can’t include every fair in smaller venues like church/community halls as it really would never stop so there are a few exceptions on ones I’m more familiar with but otherwise the list below covers the larger Xmas fairs/markets.

So, here goes……………..

CHRISTMAS FAIRS/MARKETS

The first big fair I am aware of in the area is the now annual Blackheath Christmas Fair and this really kick starts the festive season off. This year it is on Sunday 18th November from 1030 to 1645 and is held in the beautiful Blackheath Halls. It’s a big event with 40 plus stalls this year selling gorgeous gifts and food items for Xmas plus a large raffle and tombola & Father Christmas upstairs for the little ones. There is a small entry charge (£2.50) and all proceeds go to the local charity Age Exchange. Local favourites ‘My Gorgeous Cards, Bloom Bakery, Belle and Bean, and delicious cake makers Brett & Bailey are having stalls so why not go along, support and get ahead of the game with early pressies!

The weekend of the 17th/18th November is also the Lee Green Open Studios which is their final weekend having also taken place the weekend just gone. This year there are nearly 40 artists in 19 venues, opening their houses/studios to the general public. There are also talks/demos/workshops and a children’s arts trail. See website for details.

With just over a month to go to the big day the weekend of the 24th and 25th November is a bumper one in the area for fairs/events.

On Saturday 24th there is the annual Winter fair at the wonderful Chelwood nursery school from 12-3pm. This is always a good one with lots of fun things for the kids along with stalls/food/music and a great raffle. The artists/designers and craft-makers from the Brockley Open Studios are also having their 3rd festive fair on Saturday 24th at the beautiful St Peter’s church from 12-4pm. Later that day the Telegraph Hill Traders group are holding their annual Xmas market at the Hill Station Cafe from 6-9pm selling lots of homemade gifts/goodies. On a slightly different note but equally as exciting pop along on Saturday 24th to Wild Cat Wilderness, SE6 to watch Big Gay Al demonstrate pickle making 1.30-3.30pm. You do need to book ahead as spaces are limited so check out and register here

The regular monthly Catford Food Market is having its last outing this year on Sunday 25th November 10-4pm. It has been a huge success down in SE6 and beside the regular stallholders there is a definite Xmas theme with festive music (peddle powered!) and free splatter art bike for the kids along with bauble and mosaic making. To finish there will be carol singing and the big switch on of the Christmas lights at 4pm with some of the panto characters-one not to miss! Finally to conclude for this weekend there is the Ackroyd Community centre Christmas Fair on Sunday 25th November in SE23, 1230- 4pm. I understand you can still have a table at this popular local fair so if interested in selling something get in touch with them. I certainly know the Honor Oak WI will be there with lots of delicious jams/chutneys/crafts so pop along.

The following weekend we have a couple of excellent local events. On Saturday 1st December it’s CROFTMAS from 11-5pm which is now an annual festive event running along the High Street of Crofton Park with the Community Library and Beecroft Garden primary school as the main hubs. There will be Santa’s Grotto at the school with craft stalls under a large marquee/food stalls a big raffle/bouncy castles and much more! The library will also have lots going on inside for all the family. There will be Xmas treats for sale at the café with craft sessions/story telling plus more! Xmas trees will be on sale outside on the main forecourt. Lots of our fantastic local businesses will also be having offers/special events so watch out for details nearer the time. This promises to be a great day celebrating the fantastic community of Crofton Park, SE4 so come on down (sorry but I’m entitled to be biased as I live here!)

Meanwhile on the same day, Saturday 1st December, there is another favourite local fair over in SE13. From 12-5pm Staplehurst Road will be lined with over 40 stalls and together with local choirs and musicians creating a very ‘Christmassy atmosphere’ at the Hither Green Xmas fair.. Certainly it is possible to go along to CROFTMAS and Hither Green so why not try and support both for a great festive day out!

Also on Saturday 1st December over at the Wild Cat Wilderness, Catford there is a great family activity 1030-130pm with a wild festive wreath & decorations workshop. You need to book a place on this and the link is here

On Saturday 1st December through to 24th December there is the Culverley Green Advent Calendar, Catford This is a wonderful initiative taken by a group of local residents in SE6 to brighten up the houses of the area and is the 3rd year that it’s taken place. Every night for 24 days there is a new window lit up with a festive theme. I’ve not managed to get down and visit but really hope to this year. For further information check here but watch out for the poster with the address details. 

Over both days 1st/2nd December there is the ever popular ‘Winter weekend’ Open Studios at Havelock Walk from 12-6pm. This beautiful cobbled street in the heart of Forest Hill will have their artist studio doors thrown open to welcome you to wander/look and hopefully even buy! It’s an exceptionally friendly creative environment with highly talented artists/printers/photographers and sculptors. There will also be stalls and food/drink plus music provided by local talented musicians-line-up yet to be finalised. This is one not to miss so get it in your diary.

The Horniman museum and gardens, our local gem in SE23, are having their annual Christmas Fair on both Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd from 10-530pm. Plus there will be a special late night Xmas shopping evening on Friday 30th November with independent makers and local designers, mulled wine and festive music. So this year a 3 day event!-always a great local occasion and FREE to pop into and only 5 minutes up the hill from Havelock Walk so you can happily combine the two.

Also on both days the Quaggy Printmakers are exhibiting members artwork in the Ladywell cemetery chapel from 1030-330pm plus there will be printmaking workshops. They have been doing this now for the last few years during the Brockley Max festival and if you’ve not been I would highly recommend as there will be lots of excellent prints at very  affordable prices.

Finally on this weekend of 1st/2nd December Deptford Does Art are having a Festive Fair teaser 10-7pm for artists/makers/designers so sounds well worth popping into this great SE8 arts café on the High Street and checking out the local talent.

We now come to the weekend of the 8th and 9th December and one of the events I so look forward to all year is the Brockley Christmas Market and this year it is going to be amazing! On Saturday 8th from 12-6pm you can be treated to 62 wonderful stalls set out on Coulgate Street, by the station, with wall to wall live musical talent on the stage at one end. However due to continuing demand for stalls they have expanded the area to include Foxberry Road, the area by the Brockley Barge with more stalls and an additional performance space. There will also be 10 hot food stalls. The Broca and Browns always throw themselves into this event and Parlez will also be repeating their successful Santa’s grotto and from 3-7pm there will be live music (expect funky Xmas renditions & some singalongs) The Brockley Xmas market really does promise to be the biggest and best one yet and a great atmosphere is guaranteed-I will see you there!

Also down in SE8 there is the weekly market at the fabulous Deptford Market Yard ‘Deptford Bites’ organised by Eat Me Drink Me and on Saturday 8th December 10-3pm it is a special Festive Market so if you haven’t been down and checked this out it would be a good time to visit!

On Sunday 9th December there are a couple of really interesting events in the area. The wonderful ‘So Last Century’ who have bought us delightful vintage fairs to Catford in the last few years are popping up on the 9th at the beautiful Beckenham Place Mansion house. From 10-4pm there will be vintage stalls, live music, street-food and more. Meanwhile over on the SE6/SE23 borders there is the ‘Catford Comic and Zine Fair’ on Sunday 9th from 5-9pm at the fantastic Blythe Hill tavern. The poster says live music and poetry so following on from the success of last year I’m sure this will be well worth checking out.

Sadly this year there is NO big Ladywell Xmas market but on Saturday 15th December it is hoped there will be a Xmas shopping day that most of the businesses in the village will participate in with discounts/special offers etc so this sounds like a good date to visit/support the lovely independent Biz in SE13!

I don’t know of any other major Xmas fairs on in the area during this penultimate weekend but I’m sure there will be more events over to the west of Brockley in Southwark, certainly in the vibrant areas of Nunhead, Peckham and Dulwich but I can’t begin to cover these postcodes else this blog really will go on forever!

The last weekend before the big day doesn’t have that many events I’m aware of except for Deptford Does Art where following on from the teaser weekend of 1st/2nd December the Art Fair is bigger and spans over 3 days from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd December. This is the perfect opportunity to grab some last minute creative pressies for others or just treat yourself!

SCHOOL CHRISTMAS FAIRS

Chelwood Nursery school – winter fair –Saturday 24th November 12-3pm

Dalmain primary school –Xmas fair – Friday 30th November 3-6pm

Beecroft Garden primary school – Xmas fair as part of CROFTMAS Saturday 1st December 11-4pm

Kilmorie primary school – Christmas fair – Saturday 1st December 130-430pm

St. William of York Catholic primary school – Christmas fair – Sunday 2nd December 1230-3pm

Gordonbrock – Winter fair – Friday 7th December 330-530pm

Stillness infant and junior school Winter fair- Friday 7th December 315-515pm

Prendergast primary school Christmas Fayre Friday 7th December 315-530pm

Fairlawn primary school– Xmas fair – Saturday 8th December 12-3pm

Turnham Primary school – Christmas fair – Wednesday 19th December 2-5pm

 

ENTERTAINMENT

Theatre/Panto/Film

This year’s community panto in Telegraph Hill is ‘Hansel and Gretel’ There is lots of talent on the Hill and this is bound to be another winner. All proceeds go towards two wonderful causes – The Telegraph Hill Centre and the 999 Club in Deptford. It is taking place over the weekend of the 7th-9th December with 4 performances. Click here to check out times/tickets & book early to avoid disappointment as they go quickly

I always know Xmas is coming when the Brockley Jack Theatre festive show is announced and this year looks to be another good one! It’s the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Cinderella and expect imaginative re-telling of this all-time favourite story from rags to riches. Performances start from the 12th December and runs until Saturday 5th January. A crowd of us go every year, now without our children, and we always have a great time. Shows get sold out quickly so you need to book asap-for details and link to tickets see here

The wonderful Albany Theatre in Deptford always put on a lovely family Xmas show aimed for the younger audience (from 3 years plus) and this year is no exception with an adaption of the classic tale Pinocchio. It runs from Sunday 2nd December and continues up until Sunday 29th December. Many of the early performances are already booked up as school parties go along but shows after the schools break up look to have good availability so with a fab family deal check this out for a holiday treat. Ticket link here

Down in Catford after a few years absence there is the return this year of the classic panto to the beautiful Catford Broadway theatre and it’s a great one! Aladdin is the choice to entertain the families in SE6 and beyond from Friday 7th December until Sunday 30th December. Tickets are from £20. Check out here

The panto over at Greenwich theatre is always extremely popular with local families and this year it is a the classic swashbuckling story ‘Robinson Crusoe’ It always has a long 7 week run starting from 23rd November to 13th January-expect a magical adventure. Ticket link here.

Meanwhile there are a couple of festive film screenings I know about. The beautiful Rivoli Ballroom is continuing their film offerings with a couple of classic family Xmas films ‘Home Alone’ on Thursday 13th December and Elf on Friday 14th December. The kids don’t often get a chance to enter this stunning space so why not treat them to one of these films! Ticket information here.

Whilst not strictly a Xmas film I can confirm that over at Little Nan’s in Deptford there is a big screening on Sunday 25th November – billed as a sing-a-long Spice World 90s brunch-4 hours of fun/booze and food with £200 prize for the best dressed!-sounds like great fun and a good excuse for a festive gathering with friends!

Disco

Over in SE6 the fab ‘We Do Good Disco’ team are putting on a Retro Catford Crimbo Party on Saturday 1st December at the Catford Broadway Theatre. The fantastic duo,Hatty and Debs, always provide great entertainment so expect festive disco bingo, dance and lip sync competition, 70s/80s disco & TV room, party games, buffet, nibbles provided by Big Gay Al plus lots more. This will definitely be a fun evening and whilst there are still tickets available (see here) they will sell out! See you there

Back in SE3 the fantastic Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet team are holding their big Christmas Disco Ball at the wonderful refurbished Blackheath Halls from 730-midnight on Saturday 8th December. Guaranteed a fun night of 70s & 80s soul/funk and disco. Tickets I understand are flying out the door. Check out the link here or buy tickets at Ottie and the Bea or the fab ‘You Don’t Bring me Flowers’ shop in Hither Green.

Our very own beautiful Rivoli Ballroom is holding their annual Christmas 70s/80s disco and funk night on Saturday 8th December 8-1am with DJ Kobayashi. I believe tickets are already sold out but keep a look out as there may be the odd return. Over 30 of us from Catford Wanderers tennis club are having our Xmas social night out here again so I’m very excited (as only 4 minutes walk from my house good choice I think) See you there!

Music

On Saturday 24th November from 5-7pm there is a Festive concert over at St Swithuns church, SE13 with choirs, musicians and Christmas carols. This is a family fundraising event for the Ella Roberta Family Foundation which raises awareness of asthma and campaigns for Healthy Air after Ella’s tragic death from the disease in 2011, aged just 7 years old. Tickets are £6 for adults and £2 for children over 3 years old. Click here for tickets

ART

A piece of art/crafts/ceramics makes a great, unique Xmas gift, or for me it’s a good excuse to treat yourself to that little (or big) something. We have a wealth of artistic talent locally and I have listed above the main open studios/events I am aware of in the next month. Namely Lee Green Open Studios/Havelock walk/Brockley Open Studios fair/Art Fair at Deptford does Art/Quaggy Printmakers at Ladywell cemetery chapel. Of course all of the wonderful markets and other events also have lots of craft/artist and designer stalls.

Under Art I should mention the Someth1ng Gallery on the main drag in Honor Oak. The owner, Rebecca, has a great eye for fabulous, exciting art. I love so much of the work there and whilst there isn’t that much in my price range there is often affordable art in the back room drawers. If you have not been in already I would encourage you to pop in as Rebecca will make you feel very welcome, with no pressure to buy.

SHOPPING

Gifts/clothes/books

We have lots of gift and clothes shops in our wonderful area that are already getting ready for the festive season with new stock coming in daily. Firstly there is the fabulous Honeybourne’s in Ladywell village where Hannah will give you a very warm welcome as you look for quality gifts for both children and adults. On the last weekend before the big day 22nd & 23rd December the highly popular Santa’s Grotto is happening here again with I believe a few spaces left. At £12.50 kids get a personalised/high quality pressie plus long chat with the big man himself and his Chief Elf-see Hannah to book. Zenubian was also in the village but moved to larger premises over in SE13 last summer so you really should pop up to 136 Hither Green Lane where Michelle will be delighted to see you and if not been you will be amazed by the new, bigger space. Whilst in Hither Green pop down to the 2 wonderful shops in Staplehurst Road, You Don’t Bring me Flowers and Crimson and Clover which are opposite each other and both stock lovely gifts. (whilst also being able to buy flowers and a cup of tea/cake at YDBMF)

In Brockley we have Gently Elephant selling fantastic children’s toys/clothes/shoes whilst a few shop units down the main high street Magi Gifts is always packed with beautiful gift items for all price ranges from pocket money to more luxury goods. The men’s section is very impressive! Plus they stock a big range of gorgeous Xmas decorations which I can’t resist every year and it is even bigger and better this year!

Crofton Park has 2 lovely clothes shops, one very established and one relatively recent. Paraphernalia celebrated 21 years on the block in September and Mandi sells new, newly new, vintage & designer clothes and accessories. Pop in if haven’t already been as you never know what you might find-I’m presently writing this wearing a dress I bought last year that everyone raves about! Meanwhile Lucy and Donna have been nearly 4 years on the corner of Ewhurst road at The Workshop and are very welcoming. Besides creating patterns, designing clothes and doing alterations they have a great collection of winter jersey garments/coats and scarves to buy. Indeed on Thursday 29th November from 7pm they will be having a shopping evening so this is a great opportunity to pop in and say hello.

There is also in Crofton Park a fantastic gift shop. Gentle Home opened at the beginning of July 2017 and has been a great addition to the High Street. It is the adult version from the same people who own Gently Elephant and is open 7 days a week selling beautiful gifts/books/cards and homeware. Pop in and support them in the run up to Christmas.

We shouldn’t forget our local bookshop ‘Crofton Books‘ based in Crofton Park library, run & managed by Jason Shelley. It has massively expanded over the last few years with an incredible amount and range of books/films from adult fiction & non-fiction to children’s books/comics but also a large collection of vintage books that are often snapped up so you need to get in there quick! It is open 7 days a week so pop in and grab a bargain!

Talking of books there is a new kid on the block this Christmas. The beautiful Moon Lane Ink Bookshop opened on the South Circular on the borders of SE23 and SE6 in April. It specialises in children’s books but is expanding all the time and now includes an adult section and gifts/games/cards so is certainly one to check out for festive ideas.

In Honor Oak there is the wonderful Jumping Bean on the corner which is a very popular shop that opens 7 days a week with hours convenient to commuters. The back room has children’s gifts whilst the main shop is packed with lots of lovely gifts/some clothes and homeware. Finally I cannot leave this shopping section without mentioning the Lovely Lady Zoe who owns Muck n Brass, now with her main workshop and showroom on Codrington Hill SE23. Zoe is an inspirational designer and her bespoke upcycled pieces of furniture are delightful. She is constantly evolving (and becoming a TV star!) and if you want something different certainly pop in and see what she has to offer or see how she could transform/rejuvenate an old piece of furniture. I have now had 2 beautiful chest of drawers and am delighted with them. She is having a Xmas shop Launch night on Thursday 22nd November from 5-10pm with free drinks & nibbles so a great opportunity to check out her product ranges of paints/cushions/lampshades/fabrics and furniture plus more.

FOOD

Delicatessens

We are very lucky to have 4 brilliant deli’s in our immediate local area. I personally think food and drink make great luxury/treat pressies particularly for that person who has everything. I think all of the shops detailed below offer hampers where you can also create your own bespoke hamper of goodies.

The Larder in Ladywell is owned by Cynthia and Catherine and has become a firm local favourite. This is their 5th Xmas and they are already continually bringing in extra delicious supplies for the festive season. Over in Brockley Cross Zoltan and Martin at the Brockley Deli are a very popular addition to the area and sell lots of exciting and interesting goodies. Just over 3 years ago the Honor Oak Provender opened it’s doors and have had an amazing selection of luxury chocolates, panettone plus other goodies for Xmas. It has however had a turbulent time this year, being closed for a good few months and very little stock on the shelves now it is open so it will be interesting to see if there is a commitment to the business over this festive season! Watch this space. Lastly but my no means least is our own local Jones of Brockley in Crofton Park. Whilst Michael would not describe it as a deli (more grocer) it sells excellent quality food and drink items that make great presents. He has a great alcohol collection, with lots of specialist gins, whiskeys etc. I personally think the highlight of the shop is their cheese selection-varied and all delicious so you can certainly create a wonderful festive cheeseboard.

I would also like to mention Good Food over in Catford. Sadly it is a little too far away for me to visit regularly but when I do go I love this local grocery store/fine food deli and it is a great addition to the area and anyone over in SE6 should certainly check it out for festive goodies and alcohol. If reading my blog early I can confirm there will be a Xmas launch shopping evening on Thursday 15th November 6-8pm with free mulled wine and mince pies plus 10% off your shopping. Pop in and say hello!

Another business to add is the fabulous L’Oculto on Loampit Vale. This is run by the lovely Ana and Teresa who own the company ‘Flavours of Spain’ Beside serving amazing tapas during the week they sell their wines, sherries, cheeses and meats weekly at Brockley market and in the shop. Pop in to pick up a hamper of Spanish goodies or create your own. I will be writing more about their exciting expansion in ‘Business News’ below.

Other Food news

Truly Splendid, vintage tea rooms over in Catford, at the Abbotshall Healthy Living Centre are open 7 days a week serving delicious tea, cakes and savouries They are offering a special ‘Taste of Christmas Afternoon Tea’ over this festive period for just £15 per adult and £7.50 a child. It is a bargain for a full afternoon tea and a great alternative for a group of friends/family to celebrate together.(A few of us went last year and it was delicious so can certainly recommend)

The Blue Room, a restaurant dining experience at home, over in Manwood road, Crofton Park is run by the delightful Sonia. It is a truly unique night out and she is offering a 6 course Christmas tasting menu in December, back by popular demand. You need to book to avoid disappointment as places are filling fast. Details here

Most of our restaurants/cafe/bars offer special Christmas menus, often at a set price and are usually great value. Local stalwarts The Orchard, The Gantry, The Talbot, the Brockley Jack pub, Babur, Le Querce, DONDE, the Beer Dispensary and Jam Circus all have festive menus whilst many of the ‘relative’ new kids on the block such as Hattush, Parlez, 2 Spoons and Honor Oak pub, Ladywell Tavern and Catford Bridge Tavern are all taking Xmas party bookings with exciting special menus.

The main place in the area that always provides a Christmas day dinner is the Brockley Jack pub and I understand there are a few early bookings still available. I have also seen that the Honor Oak pub in SE23 are doing a 3 course dinner on the big day for £65 which includes a glass of fizz-it looks well worth checking out if you would rather not cook. Also the Babur restaurant are offering a very interesting Xmas day menu as a great alternative option and the quality here is always guaranteed!

Butchers

I am very lucky to have Proud Sow as my local butcher (it is only 2min walk at the bottom of my road) and I love popping in/engaging in friendly banter with Oli, Josh, Harvey and now Herbie. Obviously Christmas is a butcher’s busiest time of the year and they rely on orders for turkeys and other cuts of meat for the festive period. I can certainly recommend Proud Sow-the quality of their meat is all excellent and I always order my bird from them if I’m in town for the big day. I should also add that they sell lots of extras besides meat so you can also grab a bottle of wine, craft beer, olive oil or a luxury marinade! Also not to forget the daily delivery of delicious fresh bread from local bakers Coopersbake.

Whilst I may be biased in my choice of butchers we also have some fantastic other meat suppliers in the area. Heckstall & Smith in Ladywell, owned by Callum, is proving very popular with the locals whilst The Butchery in Forest Hill, owned by Nathen and Ruth, opened 7 years ago and is very successful over in SE23.

Beer

I added this category 2 years ago as we now are very lucky to have some wonderful local businesses selling quality beer in the area. Craft beer is continuing in popularity and sales will only increase as the festive period approaches, both for personal consumption, taking round to friends/family or as presents.

Waterintobeer opened in August 2016 in Mantle Road on the west side of the tracks at Brockley whilst on the east side a month later Salthouse Bottles opened up. Both are great additions to SE4. If you haven’t yet been to either pop in and pay them a visit. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for beer (plus cider and other alcohol choices) is infectious.

Meanwhile I musn’t forget the very established, highly popular Brockley Brewery in Harcourt Road,SE4 who sell lots of gift ideas with their brilliant branding on T shirts, tea towels, beer gift sets etc. I should also add here that Jones of Brockley plus the Brockley Deli, The Larder & Good Food also sell a good selection of craft beers.

I can also happily to the list this year the wonderful Bottle Bar over in Catford. It opened just in time for Xmas last year and sells beer and wine but also specialises in handmade bottled cocktails and infusions. They are delicious & beautifully packaged so make great festive pressies-I certainly intend to buy quite a few for friends and family!

Christmas Trees

I will mention below the 2 main outlets I know in the area locally that will be selling real Xmas trees.

The nearest largest supplier is outside the Crofton Park library. John is setting up again this year at the end of November and certainly will be there at CROFTMAS, Saturday 1st December. There will be lots of trees of all sizes and prices right up until the last weekend before the big day and I believe they deliver locally for free.

The wonderful locally family run business Shannon’s Garden Centre in SE23 have informed me that the pot grown Christmas trees have already arrived whilst the cut trees should arrive from the 22nd November. They always have a huge selection and offer free delivery. They also have lots of other festive decorations and a large selection of LED lights for indoor & outdoor use. I also think plants/ornamental trees/gardening tools/pots etc make great presents so pop along and check out their extensive range. On Sundays in December they will be serving mulled wine and mince pies to help make the shopping experience a better one! Support our only independent run garden centre in the immediate area.

Christmas trees will also be sold at Brockley Market again this year whilst many local shops will have a selection of real trees such as Budgen’s, Ladywell DIY plus of course the local florists.

American Express small business initiative Shop Small

Anyone who has an American Express card should know that from Saturday 1st December to Sunday 16th December you only need to spend a minimum of £10 in participating small independent businesses and you get back £5 credit on your statement. I visited over 10 of our local Biz using my card last year and so gained £50 back! This is a win win situation and I remember that Honeybourne’s, Zenubian, Magi Gifts were participating and many more. There certainly is a list of the shops/bars/cafes/restaurants involved in the scheme so go on their website.

South London Card

I will finish the shopping section with highlighting the wonderful ‘South London Card’ that I have just renewed again. It is a discount card that entitles you to reductions/offers in the area at lots of our local shops/cafes/bars/restaurant/businesses. It is a great scheme to promote LOCAL shopping and the team have expanded its area of operation to include Lambeth, Greenwich, Merton, Southwark, Wandsworth plus of course Lewisham, the original borough. Over 850 businesses are now included in the scheme. You do have to buy the card-1 for £15, 2 for £20 or  for £38. I have saved an incredible amount of money and easily covered the price of the card. I have just bought 4, one for me and my husband plus the other two for friends-indeed it is a lovely gift to give to some-one and would make a very useful/different Xmas present.

BUSINESS NEWS

As it is nearly 6 months since I last wrote a blog there has been quite a bit of local business news with comings and goings/openings and closures etc and I will try and outline the key ones I’m aware of- remember I can’t profess to know everything and as its my personal take on things my preferences will inevitably come through!

So I will first address the closures. As I wrote in May Mr Lawrence finally closed its doors after 25 years serving us fine wines in Crofton Park. This was devastating news to the area & they are certainly missed. I had optimistically hoped to see a new business open in the same unit by now that would fill this loss, ideally serving alchol. Unfortunately it is still shut but I understand from Graham Lawrence that negotiations are looking hopeful and we could even see a new owner in the New Year – that would be great news! Watch this space.

The Malaysian Deli in Crofton Park shut unexpectedly in May and no-one seemed sure about its future. However I am pleased to report it finally re-opened at the end of September with a refresh and more tables and I can confirm the Beef Rendang is just as delicious!

Barclays Bank in Crofton Park also finally shut its doors in July much to the dismay of local business users and individuals who have come to rely on this local facility. This was part of a large scale bank closure scheme and despite opposition it went ahead. The large corner unit is still empty but I understand/hope there is a move to take over the space for community use. I’m not too sure of the details but am hopeful that we will see it re-open in the New Year and it will benefit lots of the locals in the area. During the summer I suddenly felt that the stretch along the High Street in SE4 felt rather neglected but I’m hopeful that all of the main empty units will be soon occupied again.

The other main closure I’m aware of recently was Norbet over in Brockley, on the west side of the railway. It took over from Noak at the beginning of the year and promised to be a welcome addition to the area. I have over the last few years popped into both businesses for lunch and had delicious fresh food and always been very impressed with the large, bright and relaxed space. However it seems that not enough people visited the café to ever make it work. I think one of the failings of Norbet was that they never officially re-launched themselves to show they were different from Noak that had a reputation for irregular hours and staffing problems. There is only so much money you can keep injecting into a business to keep subsidising it and sadly the owner Lucca had to bail out in the summer. This large space is currently up for sale and I think it would be a great opportunity for someone to get right!! I can’t believe that there aren’t enough people living on ‘this side of the tracks’ to make this work.(if the fab WaterintoBeer can do it don’t see why others cant follow their example) However I believe the rent/rates are prohibitively high and this is an issue that needs to be addressed before a new business can make this a success. Lets hope something happens here in 2019.

So now to the OPENINGS which generally is a much more optimistic picture and over the last few months there have been quite a few new additions to the area.

Firstly the Rise café on Brockley Rise, next to Attractions the hairdressers, finally opened its doors in September after Nolan and Sarah, the owners, spent a good few months over the summer gutting and refurbishing this to create the relaxed ‘Hygge’ space it has become! The original brick walls are painted with wooden seating and they serve coffee/cakes/breakfast/lunch and brunch. I have been in a few times and been very impressed. Sarah is exceptionally friendly and welcoming  (I haven’t properly met Nolan yet as he has been spending time in the kitchen) They are both Stillness school parents and live locally. I think they have ambitious plans in the future for the café and I certainly consider this an excellent addition to SE23.

Only last weekend there was another new opening along Brockley Rise and that is much further down, towards the south circular. The large corner unit has been empty for a long time and so it is great that it has finally had some love and attention with two local families taking it on and opening it as an Italian/pizza restaurant. It is called Pizzarte and whilst there are many people questioning do we really need another pizza place in SE23 it has already received some good reviews so I hope it does well and hopefully will extend the pasta/salad side of the menu to add a different option in the area. I plan to pop down very soon!

Also at that end of town I understand the café ‘Small World Coffee’ that had a very limited opening last year but closed after only a few months is opening very soon under new ownership. I hope it has a longer life than before. Also I understand the old Fish Bar on Brockley Rise, opposite the Adult Education centre, is opening soon as a brand new art gallery! All sounds very interesting and certainly that end of Brockley Rise really has been badly neglected so an injection of new business openings is just what the 2 parades need.

A new hairdresser The Rise also opened last week on Brockley Rise-I would say we have quite a few hairdressers in that end of SE23 but who am I to judge! I wish them luck.

Finally in SE23 the big opening that has been threatened for years (campaign going back to the Old Bank days) finally happened. Domino’s became a reality approximately a month ago on the main Honor Oak Park parade despite much local opposition. I can see on local forums that it is already creating a noise nuisance with the mopeds racing up and down the street and using the side streets as a rat run. They are supposed to be using electric bikes to reduce the noise impact but I’m sure this will be closely monitored by the locals!

In Ladywell the new business opening was the Funeral Parlour that opened in the summer in the large old grocers unit on the corner with Malyons Road. This wouldn’t be everyone’s choice of business but it is hard to argue that there isn’t a steady demand for their services!

In Catford the main business opening (albeit temporary) that I’m aware of is Catford Cornucopia. This is open at weekends and celebrates all things Catford and has arisen out of the success of the monthly market. There are lots of gorgeous items from local artists Hazel Nicolls and Chitter Chatter Arts plus Big Gay Al’s marmalade and soaps. Team Catford’s own range of popular Catford merchandise, including the coveted Catford hoodie and T-shirts are also for sale. All make great pressies for local friends and family so pop in and support the local community!

In Midtown Brockley the works to the old Turners Stores are taking far longer than was expected but I feel confident that we can hope to see a new business opening in 2019! Watch this space.

The BIG anticipated opening in the area is the long awaited expansion of L’Oculto into the former Brockley Mess premises on the main Brockley Road. I have received some information from the lovely owners, Ana and Teresa and their team that I can happily pass on and whet your appetite (literally!) Firstly they want to stress that they are NOT closing their tapas place in Loampit Hill, SE13. It is continuing with the same hours and similar ethos-this is great news for their loyal customers of this intimate venue. So…. works are ongoing in the larger premises in Brockley to create a more restaurant feel. ‘Their food offering will continue to remain ingredient focussed using high quality Spanish ingredients sourced and imported by us, alongside local/seasonal/fresh produce to create exciting and great tasting dishes’ Opening hours are yet to be confirmed but will differ significantly from Loampit Hill. They are aiming to be open from Tuesdays through to Saturdays in the evenings for dinner and Wednesdays through to Sunday for brunch/lunch. Due to a larger space they will have an expanded shop element within the restaurant. There are also plans/ideas to have lots of one-off events/special evenings such as cheese and wine tastings/meet the producer/themed supper clubs plus more!! I for one can’t wait for this new business to open and it is certainly nearer for me to walk to so I expect to be there much more. The big news you are now waiting for is when will this open? They are certainly hoping it will be sometime in December but as you can imagine it is taking a longer time with bureaucracy/approvals needed for the building works than originally anticipated. The main thing we can say is this EXCITING new venture is imminent and once it is OPEN we certainly need to SUPPORT it as they are certainly investing in the community!

To finish this section on Business news I want to point out a few other expansions from our local businesses. Perhaps the main one that has been on the cards for over six months is Proud Sow. Oliver has been wanting an additional shop in the local area for a while and found a great empty unit in Dulwich Village. However planning/regulations have frustratingly delayed works but he can finally see the end game and hopes to be open at the end of the month. The village has no butcher and so I’m sure the residents will embrace the new addition. I should also add that Jones of Brockley are having an area in the new shop selling their cheeses and other dairy items-I love a collaboration! I wish everyone good luck with this new addition to Proud Sow.

Another expansion from Crofton Park is the Beer Dispensary. Southey Brewery, the owners, have opened a new outlet in Dulwich in October called the ‘Dulwich Beer Dispensary‘. It is situated just off the south circular on 481 Lordship Lane in a great corner location and whilst I’ve not visited yet it sounds really interesting as the unit was originally a pharmacy so all of the old fittings are still in place. Pop down and support this great local brewery with its main brewing operation in Penge where there is a large popular tap room. Me thinks there could be a local Southey Brewery bar crawl possible here in SE London!

Finally over in SE8 the fabulous Buster Mantis have expanded their operations to open a new bar half a mile along the High Street by the anchor. Stockton opened in the summer and is already proving a great addition to Deptford.

In other Business news I wanted to say a bit about Masala Wala Café in SE4. This wonderful award winning Pakistani café has been through a tough year. It is a family run business with a mother and daughter partnership.Twenty nine year old Saima, at the beginning of the year developed health problems and after lots of investigations she was diagnosed in April with Stage 4,non small cell terminal lung cancer. This was obviously devastating news and over the last six months she has had to come to terms with both her physical health condition and dealing with the side effects of the medication she’s been taking. She has also had to learn to cope with the anxieties and stress this would naturally effect anyone in her situation. Over the last few months she has been writing blogs where she has put down her thoughts on everything -from explaining the cultural differences in a Pakistani society where no-one openly talks about illness to how she has struggled with her mental health during the most difficult early months of receiving the diagnosis to how she continued trying to run a food business. They are called Curry and Cancer and I have attached the link here to these inspirational blogs. Meanwhile during this time the café suffered a couple of attempted break-ins which left the family needing to find much needed finances to repair the damage. There was an outpouring of support on social media for the family and so myself and another local resident Nicola decided to set up a crowd funding page to help pay for shutters for the café. In just over 48 hours £3,500 was raised (helped by a £1,500 anonymous donor) which was amazing and proved what a fantastic/loving community we live in. Saima and her family are immensely grateful for the support they received and it is hoped shutters will be put up very soon to give the café the added security. Meanwhile Saima has been interviewed by many media outlets recently about her situation and is devoting her time to helping and supporting others in a similar situation to her. Certainly not the year that Saima ever imagined for herself in 2018 but her strength and positivity is an inspiration to others.

The Lewisham Ledger is another significant local news story of 2018. The Peckham Peculiar and Dulwich Diverter have been local community newspapers established by the same team and they decided to create a community paper for the borough of Lewisham. After a successful kick-starter campaign early in the year the first edition rolled off the press in June concentrating on Catford, with edition two covering Deptford and the final one in October was a New Cross/Telegraph Hill special. Forest Hill is the area being covered at the end of this month/beginning of December and the first one in 2019 is a Brockley special. The quality of the journalism and photography in all of the newspapers has been outstanding with lots of interesting articles and stories. I have read every detail and really look forward to their arrival. Well done Lewisham Ledger team, a great addition to the community and proof that the printed press is alive and kicking.

Green spaces in Crofton Park we are very lucky to have 2 community green spaces in the area. The Railway Community garden on Marnock Rd, running alongside the northbound platform at the station has been really established over the last few years and has certainly brightened up my route to reach the High Street. It is hoped further major developments will take place next year but meanwhile volunteers are always needed to help out and they should subscribe here to get their newsletter. The Fourth Reserve, at the end of Eddystone Road by the railway bridge, is a recent green space open to the public (on limited days) and having visited it for the first time in the summer I was amazed at how extensive and beautiful it was and it is being continually extended so watch out for volunteer days and get involved!

Space 61 over in Nunhead, run by the inspirational Shona, is the only business where I have broken my rule of not including any information outside of Lewisham but it is only just over the borders and there are lots of local people/entrepreneurs who use this wonderful space/resource for networking/pop-ups/interesting events. I’m not going to say too much more but have attached the link of what’s on here for you to check out and hopefully visit.

SNIPPETS OF NEWS

Check out the beautiful planters installed by the Honor Oak community at the station/Budgens have a great Xmas selection of goodies,decorations,cards etc now in-store/If you volunteer in the Borough of Lewisham you become eligible for a ‘Lewisham Local card which entitles you for discounts at many local businesses/The regular Saturday market at Telegraph Hill is now thriving so pop along/Devonshire Road Nature reserve urgently need VOTES for funding towards a visitors centre-follow through here/Parlez won a recent Lewisham award ‘Best Environmental Champion 2018’ whilst the Bottle Bar won ‘Best London Living wage employer’ and Ignition Brewery over in SE26 won ‘Best Independent business’ congratulations to all/DONDE in SE23 has a great Happy Hour deal before 7pm each day-check out/There is a festive wine tasting eve at Two Spoons on Thursday 29th November with Clement & Black details here/Abbotshall Healthy Living Community centre urgently need your help to continue serving the local area. See here for details to contribute/Poetry & spoken word eve Wednesday 21st November at the Blythe Hill Tavern from 7.30pm/Brockley’s Rock has a wide variety of GF and vegan options-pop in/The Chandos has a 241 deal on their pizzas all day Monday/Brickfields Bar are hosting wreath making workshops with Bloom East on the 4th & 8th December see here for details/VOTE here for two fantastic projects at Chelwood Nursery school/There is a great new menu at Jam Circus/The Rushey Green Timebank are celebrating 20 years on Wednesday 12th December at St. Lawrence Centre-see here/There is a meeting on Saturday 17th November with the Cinderella Line, rail operators & Vicky Foxcroft for updates on the current railway timetable at the Rivoli ballroom 2pm/Brockley Brewery are having ‘Brew School’ days in 2019 book online here/The next Featured in Fifteen is Thursday 22nd November at the Control room, Signal pub, SE23-book here for an inspirational eve/Longhorn Diner does regular specials-pop in and check/Catford Wanderers tennis club always on the look out for new members-friendly & all welcome/Tuesday eves are comedy night at the Honor Oak Pub with Laugh Train Home & run until the 17th December see here for information

Phew! I think I’ve finished or as finished as I will ever be. As with the nature of this festive blog I see new information all the time but there has to be a point I draw a line and I apologise if I’ve missed off your event. It is over 8,500 words!!-nearly a dissertation and if you have read it to the end well done. I hope it has given you lots of information and useful dates for the diary. As ever there is SO much HAPPENING in our wonderful area and once again proves what an amazing community we live in.

To note here that this is the first posting of my blog on this update local website-it is hoped this site will become much more active and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kay Pallaris who works tirelessly in the community to enhance our area (particularly the Community garden) and has sat very patiently with me (as a recognised technophobe) to explain how I post my blogs.

HOPE YOU HAVE LOTS OF FUN OVER THE FESTIVE PERIOD AND THAT YOU ENJOY/APPRECIATE THE TIME SPENT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

IT IS TOUGH OUT THERE FOR OUR INDEPENDENT BIZ SO REMEMBER TO SHOP/USE/EAT/DRINK LOCAL 

See you in 2019

Bye for now

Jane x

Follow me on twitter for local info @JaneCanDoSE4