CROFTON COLUMN #67

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LOCKDOWN BLOG

I have finally decided to write a new BLOG!

Mid March is the time I typically write quite a long one and is principally where I list all the dates/events/festivals happening ahead in the local area for spring/summer. However as early as February I could see the writing on the wall on how the Coronavirus pandemic was beginning to play out in the far East, gradually coming to Italy and the rest of Europe. I realised that the UK was going to be seriously affected and that we would eventually be locked down which would have drastic consequences for all of us in so many ways. Indeed the Telegraph Hill festival, which is the event that kickstarts the arts/cultural festival season, announced on the 13th March that they had taken the agonising decision to cancel the 2020 festival. Within the next few weeks lots of other local  cancellation announcements followed which were all heart-breaking but inevitable.

In the light of the above I always thought for the past few months there really wasn’t anything to write about. However nearly 8 weeks in lockdown (10 days extra than most as Eamon had symptoms and so we self- isolated early) I couldn’t be more wrong. There is SO much happening in our AMAZING COMMUNITY that is certainly worth documenting that I thought right, stop being lazy, and put pen to paper.

I will attempt to write this in some kind of order. I will first write my current personal feelings on the effects of the virus/lockdown for me and my family and our area. I think I will do it in note form else this section will take forever! I then propose to list all of the wonderful community initiatives that are taking place in the local area and ways in which we can help out/donate/volunteer. The next section will outline all the local businesses that are operating in the area providing us with food/drink/provisions/services and how brilliant they have been in continuing to open under very difficult circumstances. This will also include the amazing SE4/SE23 RAFFLE that was set up nearly 4 weeks ago. In any blog I write about new businesses that have opened up since I last posted. Surprisingly 2 businesses have opened up in the last few weeks which is both brave and amazing. I will do another short section on local information plus my regular SNIPPETS OF NEWS finishing with my conclusions/the future.

Anyone new to these blogs – a warning -they are long & rambling! I have a very informal style and write 10 words when typically 6 would do but I hope they are both informative and of some interest. I also principally cover Crofton Park (where I live) and Honor Oak which are the 2 areas I use the most but I also like to include Ladywell, Catford and Brockley that are the immediate surrounding areas to me. Other areas in Lewisham may get a brief mention. I unapologetically have a love and knowledge of certain local businesses and sorry if certain ones are missed out. Anyway enough of an introduction- here goes…

PERSONAL FEELINGS VIEWS ON THE LOCKDOWN/EFFECTS OF THE VIRUS

As mentioned above our family household– consisting of husband Eamon and 23 year old son Joe started self-isolating on the 14th March as we returned from visiting my father in hospital in Scotland & Eamon felt unwell with a few of the virus symptoms. He was unwell for approximately 6 days but me and Joe did not have any symptoms. We do not know for sure if Eamon did have Covic19 but he feels he did. We may have that confirmed or not if we ever have access to an antibody test. If we did we count ourselves very lucky.

During this first period of 10 days when the majority of the UK population was still meeting friends in pubs/restaurants etc I remember feeling VERY anxious. Obviously I was concerned for Eamon’s health and also for me and Joe if we caught it but I also realise I just felt everyone should be locked down NOW and not going on packed public transport/at events & venues spreading the virus. It turns out that from the weekend that we stayed indoors that should have been when the Govt introduced the lockdown for everyone and possibly saved many more people’s lives! Anyway when on the 24th March lockdown was finally declared I remember the stress and anxiety immediately lift from me and breathing a sigh of relief that this was finally the right decision.

I realise that I am really quite enjoying life under lockdown when most people assumed that JaneCanDo would definitely struggle! Obviously I am really missing having a drink with friends/meeting for a coffee/playing tennis/going to the cinema or theatre/planning breaks & holidays etc but I am also very happy with NOT having a daily structure and the pressure I put on myself to always be on the go and DO THINGS! I really am enjoying being relatively lazy-it is actually quite liberating! Who knows when life returns to the ‘new normal’ whether I take onboard some of these realisations or go back to being constantly busy!

I also have to state here that I know in my personal situation and how I’m coping that our household is VERY lucky.  Eamon retired now over 16 months ago with a guaranteed pension so we don’t have any money worries. Both our son Joe and daughter Alex are still in employment, working from home. We don’t have to juggle with work/being a parent and home-schooling young children. We have a very nice house with a garden. All these things are making life much more bearable under lockdown and I feel very privileged compared to many.

I have had worries about both my elderly parents which I’m sure lots of people are similarly experiencing. My 88 year old father lives up in Carnoustie, Scotland and 2 months ago had his diabetic foot amputated in Ninewells hospital, Dundee. This was quite a worrying time for the family but amazingly my dad came through the operation and is coping really well with only one leg! However a month ago he was tested positive for Covid19 and with his age and all his many underlying health conditions we were not hopeful that he would survive the virus. However amazingly he had very few symptoms, is now negative and been fitted with a prosthetic leg so learning to walk with it! All truly remarkable.

Meanwhile my 86 year old mother lives on her own in Blakeney, North Norfolk and is not finding self-isolation that easy as whilst not ordinarily that mobile she would go out in her car daily meeting others and enjoying playing bridge. No family live nearby so we are not able to help out with visiting from a distance with her shopping etc. I am sure that many of you are also in similar situations with parents and other family that live far away. It is difficult to only rely on phone calls with my mum and dad and to be honest I can’t honestly see us being able to see them for many months ahead.

As stated already I am enjoying not having deadlines/pressures to have to adhere to but the one thing I do virtually every day is go out in the morning for either a walk in the local area & combine with a shop if need to buy provisions or a bike ride with Eamon. I have absolutely relished having my electric bike which I bought just over a year ago. It has been liberating & can highly recommend it to anyone who finds cycling quite hard work. We typically do an hour bike ride but every week try and do a longer one & go further afield. I let Eamon go out for faster rides at the weekend with Joe who has really enjoyed it and consequently bought his own bike from Vaidas, our local cycling shop in Honor Oak.

I love that you can be in your PJ’s for a long time and not have to worry about what you are wearing. My hair is growing ridiculously long for me (now over 2 months overdue for a cut!) and I would usually put mascara on every morning but have decided why bother plus rarely now wear a bra-all these things I find liberating and realise that no-one really cares. I think many people are also abandoning such rituals and enjoying this aspect of lockdown.  

Things I’m doing under lockdown and enjoying are regular jigsaw puzzles which I can get immersed in for hours. We have a table tennis table that wanted to get rid of for years but is now used frequently for competitions at lunch times- it’s great fun playing against Joe or Eamon (We are all very similar in ability though got to say if had to call it I think I’m up on victories!!) We are doing a wider family art challenge with my sister, brother and partners twice a week with an agreed theme and is a great way to connect us all and has certainly proved that I’m NOT artistic though Eamon, Joe and Alex are renewing their creative side and really enjoying it so I hope this will continue even out of lockdown. We are regularly playing games in the evening which is another thing that enjoyed doing and coming back to. Like a lot of people we are eating well and making nice interesting meals-the bread maker that has been gathering dust in the loft has come out of retirement & Eamon is making bread which again is a positive. We are connecting with friends and family on ZOOM which has been a great tool to see people and keep up relationships.

I have loved getting out in the garden and Eamon has done a great job with planting and tidying it up. Let’s face it we have been SO lucky with the weather and April showers did not feature, only in the last few days of the month so with lots of sun and then some rain end towards the end everywhere is looking so lush.  

I have also really liked being on social media every day and found it generally a positive experience. Over the last few years I have tried to regulate myself so only spend a couple of hours each morning on any postings even though I receive lots of notifications which I may check that day but try and resist responding to until the next morning. There has been much to share locally on what is happening in the area with businesses plus I catch up on all the current politics. I try and post some photos I find on my travels and share good bike rides/routes. The past month the amazing SE23/4 Raffle has engaged a lot of us and has been an extremely positive initiative (more information about this later)

I think, like a lot of people, I have LOVED only shopping locally. Not having a car for the past 5 years we would hire a zip car once or twice a month to do a big shop at Sainsbury’s and supplement locally but I can’t begin to justify doing that under lockdown and so have totally relied on local shops, within walking distance to provide food and drink. I am so lucky to live within a few hundred metres of my local butchers, Proud Sow, which has done an amazing job in keeping us supplied with fresh/quality meat. Jay’s Budgens have been the other big hit in our local area and have been excellent in maintaining good stocks & keeping us fed and watered, always with a friendly smile. Jone’s of Brockley, Le Querce, the new shop Marvellous Beans & Greens (more on this later) plus Jerome’s wine bar are my other main go-to places plus the 2 corner shops at the bottom of the road have amazing stocks and think across the country have come out winners under this lockdown with us all appreciating them much more. Shopping locally is definitely something I will continue with once we come out of lockdown.

I will finish this section of the blog with my current views on social distancing. As referred to earlier I think the Government locked us down at least 10 days too late and the terms of our lockdown are incredibly lax compared with a lot of other countries. Our death rates are appalling and only going to continue to get worse. So much of Government policy on PPE, testing, care home negligence, not monitoring incoming flights etc are inexcusable and the lies and deceit have been appalling.

However I’m personally delighted that we are able to go out for walks, bike rides and shop, all under the social distancing rules. At first I was angry with how others seemed to flout the guidelines but I’ve now decided to chill out about it and just be responsible for our own actions. I do not for a minute know how difficult it is for a family with kids to be living in a small flat with no access to outside space. There is no question that in the last few weeks people are much more relaxed about the rules and going out more in their cars plus meeting up with friends. I only feel totally safe once back in my own house and whilst I enjoy shopping I don’t feel social distancing is totally adhered to with restrictions of space but this is a risk we all have to take. Obviously I would love the lockdown to be lifted but don’t think it is yet the right time. However over the next month I am assuming there will be a very gradually easing of the rules and life can begin to get back to the ‘new normal’.

COMMUNITY INITIATIVES IN THE AREA

What a surprise our amazing local area has totally stepped up in relation to helping out the elderly, vulnerable people and families struggling during this pandemic. Plus also our front line workers. The initiatives that have very quickly been established to provide support in relation to shopping, befriending, food parcels, meals etc has been remarkable. Lewisham Local have been one of the main organisations that have co-ordinated the various schemes currently operating across the borough and have done an excellent job. There has not been a shortage of people coming forward to volunteer and help out to deliver the services. I am not going to list the different things happening as it is all very clearly set out in the link here However I will provide some details of various schemes I’m more aware of myself.

The demand for Foodbanks has seen a record high with many families and households struggling. People have overnight lost their jobs and income and many have for the first time needed to turn to foodbanks to feed themselves. There has been an incredible effort to bring everything under one roof and the Lewisham Foodbank, seconded council workers & their volunteers have worked tirelessly to keep supplies and deliveries continuing to those who need it. There has been a Mayor’s fund set up and quickly reached £100K in monetary donations and are continuing to accept money-the link is here. Jay’s Budgens are one of the main collection points for people to drop off supplies, either by bringing them in or buying extra on their shop and leaving the donations in the container. This ‘dustbin’ needs to continually be emptied as everyone is being so generous

The Irish Centre in Catford are providing delicious hot meals on a Wednesday lunchtime to elderly and vulnerable adults across the borough. This is a great collaboration between the centre, Catford Fridge, an amazing volunteer chef and Wheels for Wellbeing who deliver the meals on their bikes. Eamon became a trustee of the Lewisham Irish centre 6 months ago and has got very involved in the fantastic work of the centre and we both are delighted to be part of the volunteer delivery team on a Wednesday. The centre, like everywhere, is currently facing tough challenges to keep some of it’s services running and have set up an appeal to help with this. If you are able to donate to this the attached link is here

The Deptford Ragged School have in the last 3 weeks set up a great initiative, responding to those in need during the crisis by helping children learn at home. Katharine from the Ragged school in conjunction with Bear Cubs toddler group and the Bear church is collecting donations of essential school resources, such as pens and pencils, for children who need them. It is in effect like a Food Bank for stationary! She is collecting weekly on a Wednesday evening and my street have been brilliant at donating to a box outside my front door. The fantastic Budgen’s in Crofton Park are have also now just become a donation point. For more details and what they need open the link here

Many local businesses and organisations have been helping our amazing NHS and frontline workers at Lewisham hospital.

A group of local South East businesses which includes Provender, Mont58 coffee, DONDE, Fitness for Mummies, Jumping Bean, Nena Foster foods have come together under the platform of the amazing online local Biz Patchwork who have created a fun contribution page for you to buy a few carrots or a whole food box for staff at the hospital. These are then organised and distributed by Provender in SE23. This ensures key workers have access to good fresh produce. To contribute & support click here

Help Lewisham Hospital’ appeal was established early on during lockdown and has raised nearly £20,000. Together with physical donations from individuals and local businesses they are providing a community hub for NHS staff at the hospital to come along and pick up essential supplies so they do not need to shop themselves after a busy day at work doing the invaluable job of keeping our health service going. For details of how you can get involved see here.

Finally in this section I want to thank all the local food and drink businesses who are getting involved with helping out our amazing NHS staff. Many traders are regularly supplying & donating hot food/meals to the hospital staff. I am personally aware of the Babur restaurant, Raastawala, Bella Roma, Villa Toscana, Jerk Off BBQ and Two Spoons providing pizzas and meals but I’m sure there are many more. Huge thanks for their generosity and I am sure the staff are very grateful to receive delicious hot food in their break or after a long hard shift.

I would hope that there are very few local residents in the borough that have been forgotten and not receiving some kind of help, particularly if they are self-isolating so need support with their shopping or medications. On my street, within the first few days of lockdown, I had a slip of paper through the door asking if we needed any assistance with a number to contact. I understand there are lots of people willing to be volunteers and not necessarily the demand for everyone which is a great position to be in. Once again our area has shown the great community spirit we all know exists and proves how lucky we are to live in such a supportive environment. I don’t know about your street but Crofton Park Road is always out in force on Thursday evenings, clapping and banging our saucepans in support of all the Key workers.

LOCAL BUSINESS INFORMATION

A very special mention in this blog needs to go the SE23 & SE4 Raffle initiative which was set up a month ago by local residents Amanda Pearce and Nicola Johnson following on from the success of one operating over the hill in Dulwich and the draw took place 2 days ago. Basically raffle tickets were sold for £1 each for us to purchase and for every £60 raised a prize was added to the pot which comes from our local business community. However this isn’t like an ordinary raffle where most businesses donate a prize. This raffle’s main aim was to SUPPORT our wonderful local shops/crafters/therapists/artists/cafes/bars and restaurants and online Biz through this pandemic and try to ensure that they survive and thrive again once lockdown is gradually lifted.

Every £ raised goes direct to the businesses as the raffle pays for the prizes. Each prize is worth at least £50 and many are for vouchers to be spent either now, if the business is currently operating or in the future once hopefully they will open again. Over 70 individual businesses have participated many with multiple prizes and £17,595 was raised in total with over £4693 placed in the last 48 hours. The local social media has been a frenzy with activity over the past 4 weeks and lots of people have loved getting involved, buying more tickets and commentating. A real buzz and positivity has been created around this initiative which has been so welcome in this current crisis. Always really useful information was provided by Nicola and Amanda on each different business and we are all suddenly aware of the diverse range and talent of our local entrepreneurs and can’t wait to buy & try out new and different things in the area. HUGE praise needs to given here to the 2 organisers for the incredible time and hours spent on this raffle. They have worked tirelessly on this for no personal gain whatsoever.

I want to talk briefly about all the local businesses and the impact this pandemic is having on them. I have earlier referred to the shops in the area that are still open and how many have kept me personally supplied in food and alcohol. However I believe the biggest impact during the past 7 weeks and in the future is on our hospitality industry which is cafes/restaurants/pubs and bars. (and also of course cinemas, theatres and other entertainment venues)

We are very lucky as many of our local cafes and restaurants have remained open and adapted their business model to do take-aways and deliveries. The Brocca, Brockley’s Rock, Villa Toscana, Bella Nova, L’Oculto, Malaysian Deli, Jerk Garden, Royal Tandoori, Donde, Two Spoons, Babur and Blue Room are the main ones that I’m aware of in the Brockley, Crofton Park and Honor Oak postcodes.

 Over the last few weeks more and more businesses have announced they are opening again and adding to the fantastic choices available. Sundae opened last week with Le Delice and Oscars also opening in the last few days for take-aways in Ladywell. Mamma Dough are also back providing people with their delicious pizzas from Honor Oak and their Ladywell branches with Hattush opening last Thursday. We have just had an announcement that the Orchard in Brockley is hoping to open again next week for take-aways and I’m aware that Parlez are looking at different options of how they can open and provide a take-away meal service very soon-watch this space.

There are still a few that I haven’t heard anything about yet but I assume they are looking at how and what they can do safely for both staff and customers. I personally believe that the hospitality businesses have got to start opening and get take-aways/deliveries under way to survive as when lockdown is gradually eased cafes and restaurants will only be able to open to sitting customers under social distancing rules and so capacity/margins will be drastically reduced. However a mixture of take-aways plus a few seated customers may be the difference of them surviving or not! Pubs on the other hand I’m just not sure how or when they will be able to open-however I’m dreaming of sitting sharing a bottle of wine with friends in our local wine bar.  

Meanwhile we are very lucky that we are still able to get deliveries of quality wine, beer, ciders and spirits from lots of our fab local businesses who are using various methods to deliver alcohol to our door. Jerome’s Wine Bar, Two Spoons, WaterintoBeer, Salthouse Bottles and Brockley Brewery are our immediate local suppliers with Bottle Bar and Park Fever ones I know operating in Catford/Hither Green.

Local businesses are continuing to adapt and lots of local artists/craft-makers have enhanced their online presence and stepped up marketing and so sales have continued. I have bought a few pressies from local makers online recently as it is a good way to continue to support them.

To finish this section I want to say something about one local business that has totally adapted under these lockdown conditions and made a big success of the changing situation. Sonia at the Blue Room has been running a catering Biz from her own kitchen for the last 5 plus years. She does outside catering for parties/events and pops up at festivals/markets trading with various delicious cuisine for sale. She also runs a fine dining evening on a Friday or Saturday night at her house where you book and pay in advance for a 4/5 course meal. I have only been once but can honestly say it was a VERY special evening. With the pandemic her business faced disaster overnight as neither the outside catering or in house dining could continue. However she quickly worked out a brilliant lunchtime Monday to Friday menu and also expanded her Jerk Sunday meals to every week for take-away/collection. They have been a resounding success and have kept her and her daughter Shannon very busy during this difficult time.

NEW BUSINESS OPENINGS

Amazingly over the last few weeks we have had 2 new business openings in the area.

Firstly Ganosh is a Lebanese restaurant that I believe opened up very briefly in February but had not established itself before having to close again under the lockdown. (to be honest I never  knew it had opened at all) It is located next to Bella Nova in Midtown Brockley and is a welcome addition to that stretch of the High Street. I picked up a menu earlier in the week and last night collected a take-away from there. Got to say we were all impressed-all the food was fresh and plentiful-we would definitely return.

The business that I really want to focus on and has been totally created under lockdown is Marvellous Beans & Greens on Brockley Rise, SE23. This greengrocers opened up a fortnight ago with 3 good friends Mateusz, Mattia and Berouz (or the 2 Matts & Bruce) coming together and realising their dream of setting up in a business together. It all happened within 3 weeks from seeing the shop unit, negotiating the deal, fitting it out to then opening. Within a few weeks it has created a real buzz on that parade and everyone is loving it.

There is an excellent range of  fresh fruit and vegetables to pick from wicker baskets under the awning on the forecourt. They are also selling fresh bread from popular baker ‘Coopersbake’ and have a coffee machine. There are other bits being sold but I am sure they will expand over the coming weeks. It is already such a fantastic addition to the area and they have truly captured a gap in the market. However like most small businesses what makes it a real success is the people and their customer service and this the boys have in abundance. If you have not already been pop down and say hello-I don’t think you will be disappointed. Oh yes they also do home deliveries so if you are self-isolating or not able to get out phone and arrange a slot.

OTHER HAPPENINGS IN THE AREA

I thought I would write a short paragraph about our fantastic local street artist Lionel Stanhope as over the past 2 months he has been continuing to do some murals reacting to the pandemic. A canvas has been erected at the bottom of Hillyfields, on Hilly Fields crescent, attached to the hedge, depicting the NHS as superheroes. This has also been recreated on a larger scale under a railway bridge up in Waterloo, near St. Thomas’s hospital. Another tribute to our amazing NHS staff can be seen on the hoarding near Ladywell Place. Last week he completed a stunning large mural, again in Ladywell, depicting the ‘Supper at Emmaus’ by Carravaggio with the addition of protective gloves. His work has quite understandably attracted a lot of media attention.  

Meanwhile his classic railway mural signs around the area have been transformed onto T shirts so you can buy one showing BROCKLEY, FOREST HILL, CATFORD, HITHER GREEN plus more. I have already bought a Brockley one but am still holding out for CROFTON PARK! For details of how you can purchase T shirts click here.

The wonderful Brockley Jack Studio Theatre had to immediately close once lockdown was announced and it looks like such venues will be one of the last to re-open-they have indeed posted that shows are suspended until at least October 2020.  Like many fringe spaces it receives no public funding and relies on us, the audience, for its income. To be able to survive and hopefully continue in the future they have set up a donations page to cover ongoing essential overheads. You can also choose to be a Theatre friend or Theatre angel. For details click here. It would be devastating if such an amazing local resource were not able to re-open.

The beautiful outdoor community space the Wildcat Wilderness in Catford has not been able to open up to the general public since lockdown began and had lots of events/activities planned which have unfortunately had to be cancelled. A plant sale was one of them and to replace this and provide much needed funds for the project 2 different kitchen garden growing kits for both indoors and outdoors are available to purchase. They are a bargain and come with instructions/tips. For details see here.

In the last few weeks a SE23 podcast ‘Portrait of a Londoner’ has been established with two local women, Muna and Catriona. I had no idea this was happening and have loved listening to the episodes with local inspirational creative Karen Arthur and CEO of the Horniman’s museum, Nick Merriman. What I’m really chuffed about is that I bought Muna & Catriona together, now 6 years ago when I set up a local community netball team at King’s College hospital ground called #OnTheRise. The netball team is still going strong (obviously halted at the moment) and plays indoors at Forest Hill school sports centre. It has been fantastic to bring local women together, playing sport but also creating very special and lasting friendships. To listen to the podcasts check out here.

Artmongers, led by the unstoppable, enthusiastic Patricio Forrester, have been creating amazing large murals around the Borough for many years, perhaps the best known ‘His & Hers’ in Deptford, along with 14 others. Over the last 4 months a fundraising package has been created for a very exciting initiative the ‘Lewisham school of Muralism’ and details of how to pledge are here. They are just under £5,000 short of the target amount needed to make this become a reality, with 17 days left. It would be fantastic to see this scheme happen and enable training for up to 35 young people to have the opportunity to create participatory murals under the guidance and experience of Artmongers.

SNIPPETS OF NEWS

Our local second hand bookstore Crofton Books are still operating, either by an arranged appointment with Jason or he will deliver books to you direct/The local family run garden centre ‘Shannons’ are still taking order by email-can then deliver for a small fee or provide a contact free collection outside the back gate/The wooden planters on Eddystone Road, SE4 leading to the footbridge are greening the area/The Fourth Reserve, very close to the railway line, have received funding from Feminist Review to create a welcoming space for women refugee/asylum seekers with well being sessions and fund an eco-toilet in this nature reserve./The Crofton Park Community Railway Garden is now open to the public Monday to Friday for everyone to enjoy-please keep to the social distancing rules./Kate and Mark, the editors of Lewisham Ledger, announced the delightful news a fortnight ago of the birth of their daughter, Edie./Laugh Train Home have taken their comedy club online every Tuesday evening via Zoom-check them out/Jumping Bean in Honor Oak have taken the opportunity to carry out quite major works to the shop whilst closed and have ripped the floor up! all will be restored very soon/Vaidas cycle shop have stayed open for NHS staff and key workers but anyone else can also get repairs and still buy bikes-all at a safe distance/Catford Mews are doing online film quiz’s plus other useful movie news-check out the website/Good Food over in Catford are doing a great job in keeping residents of SE6 fed and watered-so wish I lived closer/Another deli-grocers The Larder, Ladywell are also doing a great job in updating customers daily on what’s in stock but you need to get there early for that all allusive flour!

CONCLUSIONS

Under the first section I have already listed my personal thoughts and feelings on the effects of lockdown. There are definitely some wider implications that I think the majority of people, whatever their personal situation, are finding beneficial. There are very few aeroplanes flying overhead which is great for noise but also air pollution. Less cars/vehicles on the road is also reducing pollution with many more people walking or turning to cycling. Lewisham council plus the wider London community are looking at ways to improve these forms of transport and hopefully these won’t be temporary but a longer term solution. We are hearing birdsong again and getting back to nature in so many ways. Community is paramount and as detailed above we are so lucky to have that in abundance in this area. We are appreciating what we have lost and so once we have access to them again I hope we will not take people/relationships/businesses for granted. The creativity of that has come out of lockdown has been amazing and people have been so flexible on what they have done online to keep us all connected from choirs getting together to seeing comedy shows to cookery demonstrations. I think/hope this will continue.

I personally am devastated that all of the amazing Spring and Summer events will not take place this year. The Telegraph Hill festival/NewX & Deptford Free Film festival/Nunhead Cemetery Open Day/Brockley Max festival/Hillyfields Fayre/Blythe Hill festival/Havelock Walk open studio weekend/Brockley Open Arts Studios/Lewisham People’s day plus lots of other church/school and community centre fetes have all obviously been cancelled for 2020 but I’m sure next year will come back bigger/better and stronger than ever before.

The future for lots of people in the short/medium and long term will be very different and often hard to predict. I hope working at home will become an option for many to continue as allows flexibility and makes the home/work life balance better not just for those with young families. The survival of every one of our amazing local businesses will be tricky to navigate and unfortunately I’m not sure all will make it but whatever we can do to make it possible I’m sure we, the community, will do our best to ensure we SUPPORT them.

I think that is enough of my ramblings and I really want to get this posted. As ever if you have managed to read up until the end thank you & I often say you deserve a medal! This is approx. 6,000 words which is quite a bit shorter than most of the blogs/dissertations I write. I normally post another blog in August/September when I detail information on all the events happening in the early autumn-who knows what life will be like then & if/what the ‘new normal’ allows us to to be doing.

APPRECIATE OUR AMAZING COMMUNITY – WE ARE VERY LUCKY TO LIVE IN SUCH A GREAT AREA

Please Keep Safe everyone

Love Jane x