CROFTON COLUMN #68

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AUTUMN LOCKDOWN BLOG

I normally write a blog towards the end of August when I outline what I know is happening in the area during September and beyond which is when various events and festivals start up again after the summer holidays. However as we sadly know 2020 is NOT a normal year!! Far from it.

Whilst many of the annual activities are not taking place this Autumn I thought it was time I put pen to paper again as certainly a lot has happened since I posted my last blog, nearly 5 months ago, at the beginning of May.

Surprisingly brand new businesses in the area have opened up with more due to emerge in the next month. Most of our shops/cafes/bars and restaurants have re-opened since they were allowed to in June & July and a few have taken the opportunity to refurbish or change the layout to plan for possible changes in guidelines for operating in the future. Sadly a few businesses have shut down completely & some are still contemplating how they can re-open and be financially viable. I will detail all of what I know about our fabulous businesses below.

Also most events or festivals are gradually being cancelled as the Covid19 numbers are increasing and further lockdown measures are being introduced daily as I’m writing this. Certainly people are being very ingenious and inventive and many activities, events and festivals are now going live online in creative ways. However as we all know this is not the same as actually experiencing it in person but it at least helps us keep in touch with a business or organisation and ensures keeping their presence or business afloat.

If people are new to my blogs, firstly welcome, and secondly I should warn you there are often long and rambling. I feel I have quite a unique, informal style but I keep on writing them as many people surprisingly say they enjoy reading them. I do know quite a lot about my local area, having lived in Crofton Park for 32 years and 5 years in Sydenham before that. I passionately love our community and whilst lockdown has allowed people/families to re-evaluate their life and where they want to live it has only reinforced to me that SE4 is where I will be staying-you cant get rid of me!

I will start with my own views & feelings on the current situation and how I have coped over the past 5 months since my last blog. Anything that I know is happening over the next couple of months I will give a shout out to and will include some community initiatives currently taking place. I will then detail all the business information I’m aware of including any new businesses. I will finish with my regular ‘Snippets of News’ and wrap it up with my conclusions/projections for the future.

I should also add that I’m increasingly concentrating my blogs on the 3 main areas I live in or immediately adjacent to me, namely Crofton Park, Honor Oak and Brockley. Ladywell and Catford are the other 2 areas I visit and use frequently so they will certainly get mentioned. I apologise if your particular postcode is not included but believe me they could go on forever!

PERSONAL VIEWS ON THE LOCKDOWN AND VIRUS.

As I wrote in May I feel very lucky/privileged on how I’ve been able to experience the lockdown as we live in a nice house with a nice sunny garden and following retirement last year we are very fortunate to have a reasonable pension so there are no money worries. Our children are now grown up-my daughter reaching 30 last month and my son is 23 and has returned home after finishing his masters degree last year. Both continue to work with good jobs. However I realise this is sadly not the case for many people who are really struggling with money worries/jobs/housing inadequacies/juggling childcare to name but a few issues. This obviously has serious implications on both physical and mental health/well-being.

Experiencing lockdown during the spring and summer months has helped me maintain my sanity as I have loved being outdoors on the bike/playing tennis and doing things like weekly swims in the beautiful lake at Beckenham Park. We have been very lucky with the weather and there haven’t been many wet days that have prevented us from being outside.

The weather has also helped our businesses considerably as if they have outside space for tables and chairs they have generally been really busy as this is easily what most customers want. I certainly have appreciated sitting in the sun drinking a glass of wine or a cup of coffee at our local bar or café. The good weather also helped in being allowed to have friends over or meet up in parks when the outside rule first came into being during June.

I have enjoyed getting involved in my local community and volunteering. The Irish centre has been providing hot meals to over 40 adults on a Wednesday lunchtime for over 23 weeks now and me and Eamon have been involved in delivering the meals on our bikes each week.

I signed up to Lewisham VSL to help pack food boxes for individuals shielding in June and only wish I had joined the team of dedicated volunteers earlier as it was relatively quiet then and has now stopped. However I will certainly return to help out if needed in the future and plan to get involved in their Christmas project.

In August I also joined the team of amazing volunteers at the Lewisham Foodbank at Malham Rd, SE23. I have enjoyed playing a very small part in contributing to the life-changing work this charity does in providing individuals and families with essential weekly food deliveries. The demand for their services has only increased during the last 6 months with many more people facing financial difficulties.

Thursdays at the wonderful Wild Cat Wilderness have returned for volunteers. Any tasks we undertake are suitably socially distanced from each other but it is great to be back and part of a team at this beautiful outdoor space and certainly good for our well-being.

I haven’t had any real holidays in the 6 months and certainly not flown anywhere. We were lucky in that in January & February this year we managed a couple of trips to Ireland & Lanzarote. We went up to North Norfolk for 2 nights with our son & daughter at the August bank holiday, staying at a guest house and so finally saw my mother along with my sister, brother and their partners so this was a lovely reunion. Not sure quite what will happen at Xmas!

We are due to take the kids up to the Lake District for 5 days in Mid October as they have never been & it will be great to explore the countryside together with long walks (plus a lot of eating and drinking will be involved). I really really want this to happen but with the ever changing situation I’m not holding my breath!

What is remarkable is that when Glastonbury and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival were cancelled in the spring, with the former guaranteeing us tickets for next year we never dreamt that this might now be in jeopardy! Sadly I can’t see lots of the things that were deferred to 2021 like the Olympics going ahead-can you? It would certainly need either the virus to suddenly get much weaker worldwide or a vaccine be distributed on a grand scale and I can’t see either a possibility at the moment, within the timeframe.

I will now briefly write about my views on the current Covid19 situation…

I’m sorry but the handling by this Govt has been appalling, just appalling. Okay I don’t envy anyone trying to deal with this unprecedented pandemic but beside the furlough scheme there is very little that they appear to have got right. Care Home, PPE, Test & Trace are just a few crucial areas that have been seriously mishandled. Perhaps the major thing that upsets me daily is their constant PROMISES & then LIES of ‘world-beating’ and never admitting that they have made mistakes and trying to rectify them!

TEST TEST TEST was the mantra by the World Health Organisation back in March and this govt had 6 months to sort it out. I’m sorry but anyone could see that come September when schools and universities returned plus encouraging workers to return to the office there would be a spike in infections and demand for tests would be HIGH but also essential for things to continue to remain open. The lack of testing centres available locally & if you are lucky to be sent somewhere the results can take many days to return is not only just unforgivable but actually potentially costing lives. I am SO ANGRY-it is so obvious test and trace needs to be taken away from the poorly performing private companies and bought under local authority control, via the the Public Health Authorities who know their residents and communities. This is NOT rocket science.

As if the above wasn’t bad enough we have BREXIT looming in the next 3 months and I am convinced this Govt only wants NO Deal. Come 2021 not only will we be out of the European Union which to me is heart-breaking but also chaos is guaranteed to ensue with no-one ready for this. To put businesses through this on top of having to grapple with the fallout of the pandemic is just CRIMINAL!! I fear many will suffer and could go bankrupt whilst Johnson/Farage/Gove/Cummings and their hedge fund cronies will make millions on a no deal. Again I am just so ANGRY but feel so helpless. I can only hope that all the ministers and people involved in both the disasters of Covid19 and Brexit will be one day be held to account once this is all over and public enquiries show who is to blame.

Okay enough of my opinions, let’s get on with the blog that I’m assuming you are most interested in and that is information on the local area.

HAPPENINGS IN THE AREA

Cinema has now re-opened in SE6 at both Catford Mews and the Fellowship Inn. I haven’t yet been to see a film as in the summer months I rarely go to the movies as want to be outside if I can but intend to book very soon as the cold days and dark nights are upon us. I understand that social distancing is certainly in place and you sit far away from the nearest person plus you have to wear a mask. We need to support both these great venues if you feel up to going to see a film (fully understand anyone having reservations) as I’m sure they are struggling with the reduced numbers and it would be tragic if they had to close permanently.

Since I last wrote my blog we received the awful news that Saima from Masala Wala café in SE4 sadly died at the end of June. She had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer in early 2018 and for over 2 years received treatment that kept her cancer at bay. She was amazing at raising the still taboo issue of living with and dealing with cancer and death, particularly with the BAME community where such life threatening illnesses are just not commonly discussed. She created a face-book group to support others going through cancer and wrote many articles/made podcasts, radio & TV appearances and addressed workshops/conferences. At the café she held a number of fundraising events and touched so many people’s lives. Saima truly was an inspiration and is so missed by family, friends and the community. Luckily for us her mother Nabeela and sisters re-opened the restaurant in August and continue to provide Brockley with delicious home-cooked Pakistani food. Pop in and support-their new October menu will be out in a few days time.

Crofton Park Community Railway Garden-This beautiful oasis running alongside the northbound platform at Crofton Park has been so well used during lockdown as a sunny outside escape/refuge for lots of people. From families to the elderly, but also people who don’t perhaps have their own garden or just want to drink coffee/eat lunch in this community tranquil space. More seating has been provided and has now been concreted in so hopefully will not get stolen! It has been lovely to see the differing flowers/plants come and go over the seasons, attracting bees and other wildlife. I go up Marnock road frequently and always walk on the side of the garden to look in and admire it. The intention of the garden was to be of benefit for the whole community and accessible for all and it has certainly achieved that.

Events were a big part of that vision but obviously the past 6 months most of our ideas were put on hold. However after much debate we decided to hold 2 outdoor markets in August and September. These were a resounding success and the local traders/stallholders were very pleased with the support they received. Sonia at the Blue Room treated us to delicious  Mexican street food and was very popular. We planned to hold another in October but have recently made the decision to cancel the market, considering the current Covid19 situation. We hope to resume from next Spring, assuming it is safe to do so.

The Fourth Reserve – We are so lucky in Crofton Park to have 2 beautiful outdoor spaces. The area by the footbridge at the top of Eddystone Rd has been transformed under lockdown facilitated by the tireless work to 2 local residents, Anna-Maria and Nick with the help & assistance of lots of volunteers. Attractive wooden planters have been put across the road making it totally car free. A small pocket park was created from what was previously concrete, with a mural on the wall as a backdrop. Wooden seats with attached planters in the corners have been placed in the area and then finally a beautiful large wildlife mural was painted last week by Lionel Stanhope and Martin Travers. It is just a beautiful place to now cycle or walk through and if have time sit on the benches and contemplate. When I was sitting there at the weekend I saw so many families pass and saw WOW at the mural with immediately creating a conversation with the children about nature/wildlife. It really is a DESTINATION. However I haven’t even begun to discuss the actual nature reserve which has its entrance to the side of the road, just before the footbridge. Again so much hard work has been undertaken during lockdown which I was able to witness at their open day at the end of July. Having visited the site over the past few years and seen it gradually develop it really is a delight to see so much more has been cleared and built, with the wooden platform/performing space in the midst of the woods being the ‘piece de resistance’ All truly amazing and so together with the Railway Garden just two stunning outdoor spaces which we all can enjoy in SE4.

Coulgate Street– This has been an added bonus to life under lockdown with various roads around the Borough and indeed across London, closed to vehicles, under an initiative by the GLA called Low Traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs). I am not going to begin to discuss the Hither Green scheme which I can’t speak from experience as don’t have a car but lets just say it has been VERY controversial! Being now a cyclist I can see both sides as we certainly need to tackle traffic congestion and if were are to seriously address the Climate emergency we need to take drastic measures that may not always be popular.

ANYWAY closing Coulgate Street in SE4 has not really been controversial as it was already a one way street and has not caused any traffic chaos in the surrounding area. During the past few months it has been a delight to see the 3 main businesses, Parlez, Browns of Brockley and the Broca have tables and chairs spill out onto the road and create a relaxed café society vibe outside Brockley station. In these difficult times for hospitality it has been great to see them all benefit. Obviously things will not quite be the same as winter approaches but I still believe we will be happy to sit out if it is not raining and take along our own blankets whilst drinking coffee or something stronger!

One thing I should add here is that I understand the decision has been reluctantly made to cancel the popular Coulgate St Christmas market. This is a huge blow but fully understandable under the current circumstances. I know that should the road remain closed next year and the Covid19 situation improves it is hoped that regular markets could take place along the road.

Beckenham Place Park, along with lots of our beautiful outdoor spaces has come into its own under lockdown. It has been used by so many people, from families to dog walkers to runners/cyclists and many more.

The lake re-opened in July under the management of PTP coaching and has been very efficiently run. Me and Eamon have massively enjoyed our weekly open water swims here on a Friday visiting the excellent Homestead café in the park beforehand. There has been nothing better than to swim outdoors, round the lake encountering ducks & plants along the way! It has proved very popular with everyone from families (you have to be over 8years and a competent swimmer) experienced triathletes to the casual swimmer like ourselves. I am happy to report it is continuing throughout the winter, assuming Covid19 regulations allow, with a pay monthly system or pay as you go option. Winter swimmers will need to sign up and attend a winter safe induction on how people can safely swim in open water at colder temperatures. PTP are even planning to run Xmas day & New Year’s day swims – watch this space! Altogether an excellent facility in the area that I’m sure has helped people’s well-being during this difficult time.

Paddle boarding also started in September and has gone down well and so will continue into October at least with hopefully some expansion with instructed sessions and even some kids clubs sessions.

Catfood Food Market – this popular outdoor monthly market in SE6 has been suspended since February and was due to hold the first one after lockdown on Sunday but after much agonising they have made the decision to cancel until the foreseeable future. However important to note that during lockdown a number of people have kept themselves very busy creating the Catford Cookbook which has recipes from local food traders in SE6, many of which have had stalls at the market. It has been beautifully illustrated by local artist, Nancy Ellis. It is due out in a few days time and I can’t wait to get my hands on the copy I’ve pre-ordered. You can order yours here

Catford Arts Trail-BIG news, this event is due to go ahead! Over two weekends in October (3/4 and 10/11) 11-6pm you will be able to visit 31 venues around SE6 and check out over 70 talented local artists/photographers/crafter and makers in their houses or studios. It is always such a lovely event. Obviously this year will be a bit different and you may have to wait outside if there are too many people in one place to allow for social distancing but to actually have a festival go ahead is very exciting. Further details here and see you wandering around Catford in October.

Crofton Park Library – this popular community hub closed its doors in March but the second hand bookshop ‘Crofton Books’ run by local resident Jason Shelley has continued to be operate both inside and outside on the forecourt during lockdown. However the library is currently undergoing quite major refurbishment for the next 6 weeks and so the bookshop is now closed with the very real possibility it will not re-open within the library. Jason is hoping he will find a suitable local location to remain operating as many people really love his bargain books and also the vintage collection.

BUSINESS NEWS

Many local businesses have done pretty well over the past 6 months as more people have worked from home and so shopped/ate and drank in their locality rather than travel uptown. Supporting LOCAL has been the mantra that has gone down well with our amazing community. Obviously much of our hospitality industry was not able to open until July unless they provided take-away food or drink but once open they have generally seen most of their customers return, even though with social distancing measures capacity has been reduced.

Speaking to many businesses the ‘Eat out to Help Out’ scheme in August has been a major boost to trade and hopefully bought out people who would otherwise be reluctant to sit in a local café/bar/restaurant. I personally have been using many of our local businesses and found them all really safe. The new 10pm curfew will obviously have a negative effect on some local Biz though to be honest it won’t effect me as I always eat early and typically have left a place by that time anyway. I’ve got to admit I have really enjoyed and felt safer sitting outside and with the colder/wet weather looming this will be a challenge for many businesses to attract people to come inside.

The only businesses in the areas of Brockley/Honor Oak and Crofton Park that I know have actually not re-opened yet are the Brockley Deli, the Gantry, the Rivoli and Brockley Jack theatre. I believe the Deli will remain shut (not sure if selling) and the Gantry is looking to change the way they operate with possible opening again in October as a take-away and deli which seems a sensible way forward.

Both the amazing Crofton Park venues of the Rivoli and Brockley Jack Theatre have not really been allowed or able to open safely since March. The Rivoli were going to hold some of their popular discos (with greatly reduced numbers) but have now cancelled them for this year.  They do however plan to show a number of films, starting in October– see here for details. Pop along to this stunning ballroom if you can and support. I’m so hoping both these SE4 gems will still be viable after all of this is over as that would be tragic!

Quite a few businesses have undergone major refurbishments to adapt to the new situation. DONDE in Honor Oak has split the business in 2 concentrating on his Spanish tapas on one side, emphasising the take-away/delivery service and the other side more a coffee shop. Seating outside has really helped over the last few months.

Just up the parade on the other side of the road the Mediterranean restaurant Hattush shut for quite a while but eventually re-opened towards the end of July with a different layout. The open grill was removed, re-located to the kitchen, and replaced by a light airy bar area which has allowed more seating in both sides of the restaurant.

Staying in Honor Oak, on the parade, Jumping Bean, had to have major damp works carried out with a new floor fitted throughout so also used the time to have new lighting and a re-paint and got to say it looks beautiful. Pop in and say hello.

The Larder in Ladywell took the opportunity a month ago to have a good internal refurbishment of the shop and re-opened a fortnight ago looking very bright and much more spacious.

Gently Elephant in Brockley re-opened in June having undergone a refurbishment and reorganise the merchandise in the space to make it easier for social distancing.

Finally the award winning Brockley’s Rock replaced their equipment in August with a much bigger, state of the art fryer which has allowed for quicker and more efficient service at this popular café which is only doing take-aways for the time being.

New Businesses

Surprisingly quite a few new businesses have opened since the pandemic began. I wrote about Ganoush and Marvellous Beans and Greens in my last blog and both are doing very well. I will outline all the new ones I’m aware of with a few Biz only opening in the last few weeks and a few more yet to come.

Sans Store was one of the first of the new businesses to open recently. Max and Cloe have always wanted to have a vegetarian grocers and after getting the keys to the old newsagents at 5-7 Brockley Rise, SE23 they very quickly transformed the place. It opened on the 12th August and has been doing very good trade since with an ever expanding stock. They believe passionately in sourcing and supporting local suppliers and providing us with quality produce. They have applied for a drinks licence so hope to be selling alcohol soon plus looking to have re-fillables in the New Year. Pop in and say hello (they are very friendly) and pick up some goodies whilst you are there.

Only 2 doors down, round the corner and officially on Stansted Road is the new Caribbean Restaurant & Lounge that opened up at the end of July ‘Junction876’. It has an attractive fenced off forecourt with tables and chairs and then indoor seating. One of the co-owners, Boyth said ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ was a great success with lots of families visiting and couldn’t of come at a better time as they had just newly opened. They have big plans for providing an outside catering service plus bookings for celebrations but all of this has to be put on hold for the time being. I haven’t yet ate here myself but hope to pop down very soon.

My Eco Brockley is located at 7B Harefield Road, SE4 and is a joint venture by 2 local women, Charlie and Milda. Opening in mid-August it sells sustainable, ethically & locally sourced products/refill cleaning products & package free food like flour/pasta and rice. Jewellery made from sustainable materials and repurposed metals is also sold plus toiletries and beauty items. They also have an online shop. A very welcome addition to the area.

Do people remember the wonderful Smilies Thai café on Foxberry Road? Sadly it has been shut for nearly 7 years and after much speculation of various possible new owners it has finally re-opened as another Thai which is great news. It is only take-away at the moment but from reviews I can see online it is getting excellent recommendations. It is called Tai Kitchen.

The wonderful Good Food, from Sangley Rd. in Catford finally opened it’s second grocery store in SE26 on the 14th September. I popped along there this week and was very impressed and Sydenham is very lucky to have this quality shop on the High Street. Sadly for me both stores aren’t really walking distance but I can pop on either a 284 or 122 bus to visit. One day there may open another shop even nearer!

LC Brazilian café, butchers and grocers finally opened last weekend. It sells lots of different things with coffee and cakes at the counter. I bought some steak a few days ago and got to say was very impressed with the quality and price. It certainly is an interesting addition to Brockley Rise and suddenly that part of SE23 is looking very impressive. It is located next to Le Querce restaurant which is now open to eat in again but also has the shop element, Le Querce daily selling delicious homemade food, Sardinian specialities, cheeses and fresh fish.

Brockley finally has a record shop! Lorenzo’s opened earlier this week on the main Brockley Road near the Esso garage in the area I call Midtown Brockley. It is a small unit, next to the Co-op funeral parlour. Lorenzo had previously traded out of an arcade unit in Peckham for 5 years but ideally wanted to have a high street presence. He buys and sells LP’s and there is a turntable with headphones for listening before you buy. He sells funk/soul/reggae/electronic plus more and is open 7 days a week from 1pm though I suggested he should extend those hours at the weekend-he will monitor the situation. Certainly a great addition to the area that I believe will prove very popular.

Just along from Lorenzo’s on the other side of the road, next to Brickfields is a quite large empty unit that has been undergoing extensive refurbishment. No-one seems to know who or what exactly is going in there so watch this space.

Meanwhile I am aware of another 3 businesses that are due to open over the next month or so. There is Krazy Crab, a seafood restaurant in Brockley Cross-sounds interesting. Another (yes another) pizza restaurant, called NoonaMaria I believe is opening along Brockley Rise on the parade opposite the Adult Education centre. Finally the rather strange building at the end of Brockley road, opposite Beecroft school has had builders inside for quite a while but when I popped my head round the door there was a counter at the end but was none the wiser on what it will be. Rumour has it a juice bar but all I would say it looked rather small so don’t know if many would fit inside given current Covid19 guidelines.

Lastly but perhaps the most exciting for me personally is that ArtDog Gallery is opening along Brockley Rise. Extensive works are taking place at no. 23 and it is scheduled to open in a couple of months time. I have known Pippa Graber, the founder, for many years and she always selects diverse and exciting art to represent or exhibit. It will certainly be an interesting addition to that end of the Rise that is suddenly having lots of new businesses open when there was a time a few years ago that it was a very neglected stretch of SE23.

SNIPPETS OF NEWS

The Blythe Hill Book shed has been created under lockdown and you can pick up a book or leave one in the delightful shelter created on Blythe Hill Lane/Congratulations to Team Catford and Catford Mews, both of which received well deserved planning awards recently/L’Oculto Cocina is doing a regular Saturday lunchtime delicious paella to take-away and is now opening on Wednesday eves/Shannon’s Garden Centre is now selling autumn bulbs plus everything else you could possibly want/need for your garden/Mark at Me on the Map is showcasing his lovely local maps at Jerome’s Wine Bar-pop in for a drink and a browse!/The Telegraph Hill station café is now open inside with pancakes on Sunday and pizza Thursday to Sundays 2-9pm/Parlez is hoping to create their popular Halloween event this year with possibly a pumpkin competition outside on the road-watch this space/Joyce is now back open 6 days a week and opening earlier each day to compensate for the earlier closing time of 10pm/Two Spoons continue to provide delicious breakfasts in the mornings through to exciting cocktails in the evenings/Nabil and Karine will guarantee to greet you with ‘Bonjour’ at the very friendly Le Delice café in Ladywell/Brockley Brewery have opened both taprooms in Hither Green and SE4 & continue to deliver by bike to the local area/The ice-creams & sorbets have proved very popular for Sundae during the summer but Bekir will continue to be selling them plus crepes & waffles/The stalwart Orchard bar/café/restaurant in the heart of Brockley continues to provide excellent food & drink, 7 days a week/The fab hyper local print newspaper ‘The Lewisham Ledger’ is due out mid-October-not covering a specific area this time but lots of interesting articles including a tribute to Maggie from Maggie’s café in Lewisham/The friendly Rise café in SE23 is opening its doors again this weekend when previously been take-away only. Burgers are available Weds-Saturday from 5pm-ideally need to book a table to avoid disappointment/The WildCat Wilderness outdoor community project in Catford would love volunteers on a Thursday 12-3pm or Fridays 10-1pm/The Blue Room is now back operating and Sonia is taking bookings for her fine dining for October-she is also still doing takeaways in the week for lunches, afternoon teas, Jerk Sunday and bespoke cakes/Pop along to Jones of Brockley for quality groceries plus more-you can’t beat their cheese selection/Oli and the boys at Proud Sow are continuing to provide us with excellent meat-I’m looking forward to my slow casseroles in these winter months/Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet (HSDY) have sadly not been able to hold their regular discos but every Saturday are online with virtual disco dance classes 11-12pm that are proving very popular/Jay’s Budgens are continuing to provide the SE4 community with all the necessities and updated us throughout the height of lockdown with availability of stock-they are a vital Lewisham Foodbank collection point so please consider donating/The Chandos is doing 241 on their delicious pizzas Monday to Wednesday throughout September-catch the last few days as not sure if this is continuing into October/The wonderful So Last Century has gone online and the next virtual vintage fair is happening on Instagram Stories on the 14th October/Magi Gifts are operating a very safe one way system in the shop so pop down and say hello if not been in as they have such brilliant cards and gifts plus if didn’t know they do helium balloons which are great for an extra treat for a celebration/Amazing Street Art has been painted locally under lockdown, often spearheaded and organised by the talented artist Lionel Stanhope. The hoarding by Lewisham DLR is due to be gradually painted-check it out/Artmongers have secured funding for the Lewisham school of Muralism and so expect lots of big walls and buildings in the area to be brightened/transformed over the next six months/The stunning marquee at the Babur has provided additional seating for this award winning restaurant but I believe it is being taken down at the end of September so grab a table if you can in the next few days/Have you tried Deja Brew in Midtown Brockley?-they serve delicious lunches-great quality.

Okay I’ve finally finished and got to say it is one of the shortest blogs I’ve done for a long while (though is still just over 6,000 words!) Anyway I always say if you have honestly read it all and are still here congratulations-you deserve a medal. Why it is shorter than normal is sadly that as we are in a pandemic most live events/markets/fairs/festival have unfortunately had to be cancelled and so there is just not so much to write about.

However as you can see from above the majority of our amazing local businesses are now open and operating relatively successfully. However it is all very fragile and with the current Covid19 numbers only going one way a full lockdown could happen at any time. Certainly the 10pm curfew will effect some of our bars and restaurants so try and pop in earlier if you can. They are all definitely going to struggle with the weather getting colder as some people were only coming to eat or drink outside and I think quite a few are still wary of being indoors. If it helps I have got to say I’ve personally found most places locally very safe and following all the guidelines but it is for you to decide. However most businesses do operate a take-away or delivery service so that is another way you can continue to SUPPORT them-it is without doubt going to be a very TOUGH six months ahead for all of us.

I’m under no illusion that we are all going to experience some very bad times and I try not to think too far ahead as that is only depressing with no real light at the end of the tunnel. What you have to remember is that we are all going through these uncertain times together and so do not be afraid to reach out for support. One day you may be feeling positive so be able to offer good advice to friends/family but another day look to others to help you. I certainly plan to return to some of the things I did successfully at the height of lockdown like do my jigsaws, play board games again, return to our family art challenge, get absorbed in lots of Netflix series plus I vow to take up reading-something I love doing but rarely find time for but I need to make time!

This Govt are sadly not helping & I would even go as far as to say they are PLAYING with our LIVES-however beside despairing daily & occasionally ranting on twitter there is little I can do about it so I think, like most people, I have decided it is down to each of us to act responsibly and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

I really do wish everyone the best of luck over the next few months in both their physical and mental health. Remember a huge positive is that we live in the most AMAZING SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY.

Bye for now and keep safe

Jane x

Please follow me on twitter for more local information @JaneCanDoSE4