CROFTON COLUMN #72

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AUTUMN NEWS 2021 

Time for another blog methinks as a lot has happened since my last post in May, including quite a bit of business news with new openings, closures, expansion and things in the pipeline.

There are also a good few events scheduled in the calendar ahead for the next couple of months before the festive season seriously begins from Mid-November.

As most people will be aware,who regularly read my blogs, I always start off with a personal introduction on what has briefly happened in my life since I last communicated plus often throw in some rants about this Government and how badly things are being handled!

Anyway here goes…

Firstly if you remember our 24 year old son Joe had moved out in April into a shared house in Sydenham with 5 past school mates. I’m pleased to report he’s having a great time and besides having to quarantine a couple of times over the last few months they are all enjoying communal living and finally escaping from their parents after lockdown! We keep in regular touch & see him often.

Next up is our darling daughter Alex, who, as I post this is nearly 33 weeks pregnant! Can’t believe how quickly time has passed and so at the end of October we will hopefully be grandparents-how very exciting & so will begin a whole new chapter in our lives as she & Priyesh only live in South Norwood so I’m sure/hope we will be actively involved in seeing them all & helping/supporting.

Another significant happening in my life this year has affected my twin sister,Helen. She was diagnosed with serious breast cancer just before Xmas and I am delighted to confirm she has finished all her major treatment now, after 7 gruelling rounds of chemo & then a successful double mastectomy with lymph nodes removed towards the end of May.  She has been incredibly resilient throughout her treatment and everyone is so pleased and relieved that all her scans are showing she is cancer free.  She’s certainly made up for lost time and having lots of mini breaks and visits to family & friends around the country.

We have chosen to not travel abroad ourselves this year as just think it is too stressful and costly with the added price of testing & always the possibility that things could change whilst away & the country could suddenly go into the red zone etc. We don’t have any family or close friends who live abroad and so that decision has been much easier to make. Okay I would love to have a week of guaranteed sunshine but feel can wait until next year to hopefully fly again.

Instead we have had lots of days out on the train, with or without our bikes plus extended breaks around the UK. Our first trip was to North Norfolk at the beginning of June to stay in my sister’s deluxe mobile home she had recently purchased and it has already proved a great success with the family and allowed myself and my children to visit my mother/their grandma in Blakeney.

A few weeks later, towards the end of June, we hired a VW campervan from the fab local business, Campervantastic, for 6 nights and travelled to Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales which is somewhere I had always wanted to visit. I was not disappointed as the town itself and countryside around there was beautiful.

During July we largely stayed in SE London as Eamon had jury service.

We have had another couple of breaks in August, firstly to Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire to stay with a friend who had moved there 4 years ago but hadn’t yet visited and everyone had told me was a great place to visit plus then stayed with friends for our second trip of the year to Whitstable which I’ve got to say I’m becoming very fond of! Both lovely trips away and got to say with our 4 mini breaks over the summer we have been exceptionally lucky with the weather with hardly any rain and only warm, sunny days.

I have also loved watching the Olympics in August and more recently the Paralympics. There was great excitement in our area with local boy, Alex Yee, getting two Olympic medals in the triathalon but more about that later in the blog. I also enjoyed watching the Euro’s in June/July and was very proud of our men’s football team on reaching the final and how they conducted themselves.

It has been fantastic that everything has opened up since I last wrote the blog in May and businesses have been able to operate both inside and outside. I wrote about this in the recently published article by the wonderful online Catford Chronicle. I was delighted and honoured to be the first in their series Beyond the Borders. Check it out here but also take the opportunity to read some of the other great articles of other local people and businesses.

I have also loved being part of the Inside Out Project where our photo was taken by a special van/machine and blown up to be huge and then lots of us have been pasted up on the side of the town hall in Catford. It is beginning to look a bit weathered but I believe will continue there until it really does deteriorate. Pop down and see if you can recognise any of the faces that are smiling down on you on the Broadway! (I’m on the second row from the top, at the end by the South Circular & frowning!)

Many events and festivals have taken place over the last few months with my faves being the fantastic Brockley Max at the end of May-a highlight was watching The Mocktales, a highly talented teenage band, perform on top of Geddes hair salon in Ladywell. It had the whole of the area stopping to listen, with passing cars honking in excitement. It was also the first live music event that many of us had been to for nearly a year so this added to the occasion.

It was also fantastic that Hillyfield’s Fayre could take place this year and whilst it was held later than the normal Mid summer Saturday 17th July was very memorable for being one of the hottest days of 2021 but also for what seemed the whole of SE4 and beyond coming out to meet each other, celebrate and support the event. I personally had a fab time helping volunteer on the children’s competition table and there were a record number of outstanding entries. It certainly was one of those special days that once again shows what an amazing community we live in.

Also last weekend was another of my favourite annual events, Blythe Hill festival and what an amazing event it was. The weather was just perfect being warm, indeed perhaps one of the hottest days of the year, and NO wind which for stallholders is just right. It was pushed back to September because of Covid19 but again proved good timing, with everyone back from their holidays and ready to take part in a community festival and get together. All the businesses did very well, as evidenced by the long queues everywhere. I had a great time, finding people to chat to on every corner!

Whilst I certainly have had a lovely summer I have to keep reminding myself that we are still in the middle of a major pandemic! I am finding myself often thinking it is all such a weird time and whilst the last few months have been ‘nearly normal’ we all know that everything is far from normal and the Autumn/winter ahead could become very difficult!

Our appalling government have certainly been on holiday both from the Houses of Parliament but also on deciding that Covid19 is over & everything is back to business as normal. They seem to have completely washed their hands of the situation as cases are still very high and hospitalisations/death are creeping up!

With schools just returning back and universities opening in a few weeks time numbers are inevitably only going one way as no mitigations are in place to protect children, students and staff. I am planning to really go out and safely enjoy September/October as I’m just not confident that restrictions and even further lockdowns are not inevitable. This government is totally absolving itself of the situation and passing it all back to us-it is therefore our personal responsibility and only until the NHS becomes overrun will anything happen.

In other political news Brexit is an absolute disaster, the corruption & bare faced lying of Johnson and his cronies is shocking and the crisis in Afghanistan is heart-breaking. However the Tories are still up in the polls-I’m daily beyond speechless!

Anyway I think that is enough of an introduction and I will get on with the main blog as I’m determined that it is not going to be as long as the last one that reached an all time record at 11,000 words!

Anyone new to my ramblings need to know that I often write 5 plus words when 1 will do and that I have an informal style. A few people have said they are exactly how I speak- I think that is sort of complimentary though I rarely finish sentences and go off in tangents so who knows!

However I hope there will be something useful and informative in the blog that you can take away as I start with local events and happenings in the area, plus add community information. There is a big section on Business, including any new businesses that have opened since I last wrote in May & other nuggets of Biz info. I finish with Snippets of News & try to write a brief conclusion but have often lost the will to continue at that stage!

I should also add here that this blog is largely confined to Crofton Park (where I live) and the surrounding areas of Honor Oak, Brockley, Ladywell and Catford. These are the main postcodes I walk, shop, use and eat and drink in. I may briefly touch on other parts but if I extended it further it really would go on forever. It is my own personal opinion and whilst I try to cover most events I can’t profess to know everything and so invariably miss things out – I apologise in advance.

Anyway here goes …..

EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS IN THE AREA (in date order)

Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet-Brockley Brewery -Friday 10th September 6-11pm

What a better way to end this week with a good old boogie to 70’s/80’s disco down in Hither Green with the fab Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet team at the great venue of Brockley Brewery taproom. I understand there are still some tickets left-check out here and book your place for a guaranteed fun night out.

The Amnesty Book Sale -The Church of the Ascension, Blackheath -Saturday 11th September 9-5pm

This is a legendary annual event with all proceeds going to Amnesty from the sale of new, used and vintage books. The Refugee Cafe will be there providing refreshments. Pop over to Dartmouth Row in SE10 this Saturday and SUPPORT.

Front Garden Sale – Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September 11-4pm

This is the 9th year of this hugely popular event organised & co-ordinated by the Brockley Society. Gardens and yards in Brockley, Ladywell and St. John’s are open over the weekend to display and sell their bric-a-brac. With an increasing demand for re-cycling this is a great way to share and get rid of ‘stuff’ to people who need it or just want a bargain. To get on the address list & be included in this free event email gardensale@brockleysociety.org.uk by 9am on Thursday 9th September & then check out the website lunchtime on the 10th for participating addresses.

Festival in the Forest at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve – Saturday 11th September 1pm to 11pm 

Just 10 mins walk from Honor Oak station is the beautiful Nature Reserve who are back holding their popular music festival this year. It promises to be a day full of live Country, folk, Americana, Jazz, Blues and Irish music in a magical setting. Food and a bar will be available for purchase. For tickets and more details on all the bands see here.

Corbett Community Library – Corbett Makers Market – Saturday 11th September 10-4pm 

The beautiful Catford library in the Corbett estate on Torridon Road is hosting a local artist/craftmaker’s market both inside and outside. Refreshments and food will be available plus face painting. Approximately 12 local artists and crafters will also be there selling their work so pop along and SUPPORT.

Havelock Walk Open Studios -Saturday 11th/12th September & 18th/19th September 11-5pm 

Great news the wonderful art studios at the pedestrianised Havelock Walk in Forest Hill are back with two long awaited Open weekends in September. There are lots of hugely talented artists/sculptors/photographers/print makers and designers that will be showcasing their work and I can guarantee it will be a lovely event to wander over to in SE23.

It is also part of the Sydenham Arts Trail which has more than 100 artists taking part over 24 venues so you can really make a day of visiting and checking out our amazing local creatives. See here for more details.

Crofton Park community Railway Garden market -Saturday 18th September 11-3pm 

These small markets in the railway garden space have proved to be a great success. We try and have an equal balance of food and craft stalls and whilst only a maximum of 8 stallholders can be there they have proved very popular and the support from the local community has been fantastic. The September market has some excellent traders with Little Nest Bakery attending plus delicious Indian vegan food from Budgen’s. Local favourites Marvellous Greens & Beans will also be making their debut serving yummy fruit desserts. There will also be children’s books, Moroccan homeware, jewellery, candles, fine leatherware and  hand made granola. Plus there will be some plants for sale with proceeds going to the garden.

Perry Hill Pub Oktoberfest – Saturday 18th September – from 12pm 

This is the first major event that the popular new pub on Perry Hill in SE6 has put on since it first opened back in April and it promises to be a good one! It starts at 12 with a family session until 230pm and then the main session commences at 3pm until late.

It is a ticketed event which includes a live 6 piece Oompah band, a stein pint of Warsteiner some food plus games, and more. Hurry as tickets I understand are flying out the door. See here for details. If not already been to this exciting new local venue this festival would be a good one to get you initiated.

Wild Cat Wilderness – Urban Harvest Festival – Sunday 19th September 11-4pm 

Lots happening at this outdoor family fun festival at Wildcat Wilderness. I have been volunteering at this magical space for 4 years now and can’t tell you what a wonderful sanctuary it is! Anyone who hasn’t already visited is like ‘why have I never been here before? I didn’t know this existed in the depths of Catford!’

Anyway now is your chance to discover it and join in with the many activities and workshops provided throughout the day. Refreshments will be on sale plus the legendary jams, preserves and chutneys, all using produce grown or picked from the garden. Please bring cash with you.

For more details, including the link to say you are coming so that numbers can be catered for check out here. See you there-you honestly won’t be disappointed.

St. Saviours Summer Fete-Sunday 26th September 11.30-3pm

This is a very popular local SE23 event, where St. Saviours church on Brockley Rise combines with the Forest Hill Scout group (based in the hall behind) As with a lot of our annual fairs, due to the pandemic, it has been pushed back further in the year. All have so far benefited from the later dates with numbers and the weather so fingers crossed for a sunny day! Expect lots of family fun, fabulous food, great stalls and raffle plus entertainment. Pop along and support.

Catford Food Market – Catford Broadway – Sunday 26th September/Sunday 31st October/Sunday 23rd November-all 10-4pm 

Delighted to see that the fabulous monthly Catford food Market is now back on the main Broadway with lots of food stalls so there is no excuse for not grabbing some exciting bits for lunch or just as a snack. The regulars are the popular Raatstwala/Route 66/The Refugee café/Beats & Grind/Brett & Bailey plus LOTS more. There is always live music and at the last one in August we were treated to the delights of Give a Song.

In addition to the stall holders there is the pop up shop to visit at No. 17 the Broadway which for the immediate future is open every weekend selling local merchandise from both the House of Catford & the House of Lewisham. They have been supporting local businesses over the last few years selling everything from tea/coffee, candles to snazzy dog leads. They also sell the very popular local branded clothing merchandise, from babywear to XL sizes. The Catford hoodies are a great hit. (I have two!)

Another must buy are the local cookbooks. There is the Catford & Lewisham cookbooks which have favourite recipes from local businesses/residents and lots of useful information on which shops to buy the ingredients. Many of the recipes are beautifully illustrated by local designer, Nancy Ellis of Heavens to Betsy.

A recent addition is the Liquorsmith’s cookbook which has 100 recipes using spirits from the Liquorsmiths range, including gin, vodka and rum. All three cookbooks are brilliant and I have them all so need to get down to some serious cooking over the autumn/winter period. They certainly make great presents or simply a treat for yourself.

Catford Arts Trail –Weekends of 9th & 10th October and 16th & 17th October  

I am delighted to see that the Catford Arts trail is happening again this year. It took place in the autumn of 2020 and was one of the few events that went ahead and was very well supported as we had all missed ‘live’ in-person things taking place.

Over two weekends in October 40 venues in SE6 will be showcasing over 100 artists & creatives. It is always such a lovely event and many people can be seen with their maps going round the local streets and venues in the area, checking off where they have been, often buying work from the designers-from either just a card to much bigger pieces.

If you haven’t been before I certainly recommend you check out it out as it is a local highlight in the October calendar. See website for details, when available, of the venues and artists on the trail.

So Last Century – Beckenham Place Park, Mansion house – Saturday 30th October 10-5pm

This popular vintage fair will be back at the Mansion House in this beautiful park in Beckenham at the end of October. Expect lots of interesting stalls including clothing, furniture, lighting, homeware, art and much more. There will also be street food and live music.

Sadly there was a weekend booked into the calendar for Catford in October but St. Dunstan’s College put this has had to be postponed until February next year, due to ongoing major building works at the school

BUSINESS NEWS  

This is now the 5th blog I have written since March 2020 when the pandemic first struck and I am continually amazed at how our fantastic local businesses have coped with everything thrown at them and how resilient they have proved to be, having to continually adapt and face the constantly changing restrictions.

I am pleased to say that from my observations/conversations most have survived what we hope is the worst of it, indeed with many having done quite well. Without exception they all point to the fantastic SUPPORT they have had from the community, without which they would really have struggled.

August has definitely been quiet for many local businesses which is back to normal as this is the main summer holiday month when families go away. I think this happened even more this year and whilst people weren’t necessarily travelling abroad lots of short trips were taken in the UK and so the area was very empty.

Everyone is back now from their holidays and so I expect September to be a good month for local businesses, particularly if the weather holds out. It should be mentioned here that Lewisham council has generally been very helpful & supportive to traders in the borough. They have been very flexible with allowing tables and chairs to be spilling out on the pavement and so encouraging outside drinking and dining which is obviously safer and most people’s preference.

They have also promoted each main shopping area with attractive personalised lamp-post banners with the slogan ‘Shop Safe, Shop Local’ Also tote bags of the same design have been made by the council to give out to customers. Some may see this as a waste of money but I personally think it is to be commended with the Council giving a very positive message to all who live/study/work and trade in the borough to all support each other.

This is also the time for people to nominate businesses across various categories towards the Major of Lewisham business awards. The closing date is the 19th September so check out the details here and put forward your favourite business if it meets one of the six different categories. These awards mean a lot to local businesses if they are lucky enough to win and can really help them get a higher profile and consequently become even more successful.

I will now write a paragraph on the each of the new businesses in the area that have actually opened their doors since I last wrote my blog in mid May. I’ve already written how surprised I am how there really appears to be no shortage of people coming forward and deciding to open a shop or small business during these difficult pandemic times.

However I think so many have used these past 18 months to reassess what they want to do with their lives, with a number consequently deciding that they would like to fulfil their dream of opening X,Y or Z. So far there appears to be few failures locally with the majority seeming to thrive. Let’s hope this continues.

Mmea 

This plant shop in Brockley Rise, SE23 finally opened to the public at the end of May but had been tantalising people for a good few weeks beforehand by putting lots of the plants outside whilst finishing off the interior of the shop.

Mmea means plants in Swahili and the owner Aisie had wanted to own a shop like this for a while. It sells largely house plants with a few for the garden. There are all shapes and sizes ranging from small succulents and cactuses to huge ones that need a large room or office.

The shop itself is absolutely gorgeous-very sensory both with the lovely smells and low lighting against the dark green walls-just so much to see at all levels around you. Besides plants they also sell pots, candles and infusers. Selected homeware has also just been added.

It truly is a delightful shop to enter into and everyone is very friendly with no pressure to buy, if just want to browse. There are also future plans to hold workshops and events in the shop so watch this space over the next few weeks. In just over 3 months since opening it really has become an established business in the area.

That end of Brockley Rise, towards the South Circular, has been transformed over the past year with the addition of Sans Store and Art Dog Gallery. It truly is a destination rather than somewhere you would quickly want to pass through previously with only empty, derelict units.

The Croft  

This new shop I feel has had the biggest impact on me personally as having been open for 2 months, since the beginning of July, I have visited frequently as luckily the Croft is only 2 minutes walk from my house on the parade of shops in Ewhurst Road, SE4.

It has been created by Oli and his team from the Proud Sow butchers, based across the road. I’ve got to say it is a stroke of genius as the small unit has been fitted out to be totally pandemic proof with never being able to walk in and buy, only purchase from a hatch. They serve a few things but really well researched as to what those few quality things should be.

Basically you can get take-away coffees using local coffee supplier Mont 58, doughnuts from St. John’s and some pastries/fresh bread if you get there early enough. However their big selling point is PIES and more pies including the most delicious sausage rolls ever. They use the meat from Proud Sow and bake the classics with specials each day, including vegetarian and vegan. It’s proposed to make larger family pies very soon.

Fresh soup should be made each day as the winter approaches and also stocks. The chef behind all the recipes is local woman Kristy and she is ably assisted by barista’s Nathan and Emmet at the hatch.

Such a brilliant addition to the area and one that is already proving very successful.

Pat and Robs Emporium  

This isn’t strictly a new business and was in fact also included in my last blog under this category! However things have already changed (anyone who knows the owner Jason will not be surprised by this!) since I last wrote in May so I will briefly outline what has altered.

Basically DONDE is no more as a tapas restaurant but only available to order online with delivery apps. The area next to the new grocery shop has been turned into a ‘Flower café’ selling flowers provided by his sister who is a florist over in West London. You can also have coffee and cake from 830am and brunch/lunch and other things like salads/burgers from 10am. It is open until early evening with last orders at 8pm. Alcohol, including beer, wine and cocktails are also served.

It certainly is a very attractive space to meet and eat with 2 indoor artificial trees dominating the café. Being open plan with the grocers next door, selling lots of interesting things like refillables/deli items, you are drawn in to both areas. I have got to conclude that both the grocers and the flower café are a great addition to the Honor Oak parade and I really wish Jason every success with the latest and hopefully final reincarnation!

Yehmon-Juice Bar 

This small unit set back on the corner of Beecroft Rd in Crofton Park (next to the estate agents KFH) finally opened at the beginning of August which in hindsight wasn’t great timing as schools had shut for the summer holidays. However they report a steady start as more people discover them. The owner is Roy and I had a long chat with Susan who works there .

The emphasis of this Jamaican café is on fresh, natural and healthy with it’s USP fresh fruit & vegetable juices, made on the premises daily. They also offer hot drinks plus daily food specials which on the day I popped in was curry goat, rice and peas. You can eat/drink inside or take-away.

I suggested that they certainly leaflet the parents & teachers of Beecroft Garden school as they return back as they couldn’t be nearer to hopefully capture this ‘on their doorstep’ market. I wish them lots of luck-pop in and check them out.

There are 3 new businesses, all very different to each other, that have popped up in Brockley Cross over the last few months and so it is hoped that end of SE4 will thrive again after experiencing quite a few empty units over the last year.

Krazy Crab 

The opening of this seafood restaurant, next to Masala Wala café, was long anticipated. However since it finally opened in July it has had a rocky start with its inconsistent opening hours and other issues that I can see have arisen.

I personally am not a big fish fan but many are and this restaurant should really work well in the area if they get it right as this is a very different cuisine to anything in the immediate vicinity. The menu looks varied and interesting with lots of different crab dishes, plus lobster, prawns, mussels, salmon, seabass and more.

Accepting that things haven’t gone totally smoothly it relaunched last week with Skoviieess Ki’chin being bought in to take over. I haven’t been down there myself yet but it would appear from social media that it went well.

However I really wish them lots of luck and success and only hope Krazy Crab will become a great new addition to Brockley.

Strong, Arm, Steady – Barbershop  

This is the second business to open in Brockley Cross and has replaced the popular Brockley Deli on the main corner of the roundabout. Sadly the café/deli never re-opened its doors since having to close in March 2020 in the first lockdown.

When I first heard the rumours that yet another barbers/hairdressers was going to be the new owners I was probably like a lot of people thinking “Really? We have so many in the area! are they going to be a success? What a missed opportunity!”

It first opened at the end of July and after popping in there a few weeks ago I have got to say I’m very pleasantly surprised and feel this is a business that knows what its doing and will be a success.

Firstly it is not totally new to the area as they have an established busy barbershop on Deptford High Street that opened two years ago and they have modelled the Brockley salon on that and indeed have bought across many of their established customers who live nearer.

The look of the place is VERY cool with lots of big houseplants and pots/wooden floor/interesting, quirky furniture and a small drinks fridge stocked with beers. However perhaps the piece de resistance is the drum kit and piano that is to one side of the spacious room and I believe anyone is welcome to give them a go-including clients and also the staff. Expect musical impromptu evenings!

The big surprise is how spacious this corner unit is once the big counter with tables and chairs were stripped out from the previous Brockley Deli. The staff were all very friendly when I visited.

It certainly is very hipster and I just have that gut feeling that it is going to do very well in the area. I’m not sure on the prices but pop in and say hello-I’m sure you will be made very welcome.

My Dream Jewellery 

This new shop opened on the 18th August and is the final business to open in Brockley Cross in the last few months. It certainly is a different offering to the area and has made a big statement with its bright purple shopfront.

I popped over a couple of weeks ago to chat to the owner May. She was really friendly and understandably very enthusiastic about her new venture. She established herself in the jewellery business nearly 3 years ago, getting things made to her specifications, and selling online. She has since had an outlet space in a Brick Lane shop but My Dream Jewellery is her first own physical shop.

The shop is small but attractively laid out selling lots of earrings, plus rings, necklaces and brooches. She also sells bags & handmade crystal clutches and has a cute selection of children’s accessories which make good pressies. I wish May lots of luck in fulfilling her dream and hope that people pop in and check out what she has to offer

Laboo Flowers 

This small flower shop opened at the beginning of August at the south end of Brockley Rise, just 2 doors down from the Italian, Nonna Maria. It had been empty for a while but been recently refurbished to let by the owner.

I popped in to say hello to Frances, the new owner a couple of weeks ago. Whilst she has been in the floristry business for nearly 3 years, until opening up in SE23, she had been operating out of a studio space in Peckham & selling online.

This is her first shop and she is so far very pleased with the support she’s had from the local community and only hopes this will grow as the schools are now back & Dalmain & William of York is very close by so footfall should increase.

It is open from Thursday to Sunday & she will do local delivery plus also click & collect. She specialises in dried flower bunches & likes using fresh English flowers. A small collection of cards are also sold and she is very keen to have local artists/creatives showcase their work in the space

It is certainly not your typical florist shop-pop by & say hello to Frances.

Marvellous Greens & Beans

Many of you reading this blog will know of & shop at the delightful greengrocers along Brockley Rise, that was the first business to newly open under lockdown in SE23.

It has thrived due to the quality of the produce and the friendliness of the Marvellous Boys & the rest of the staff. Service is just excellent.

However I always knew they ideally wanted to expand & build on their first shop. East Dulwich was the lucky next recipient of the MGB brand. This much larger shop unit on Grove Vale in SE22 opened in June & I cycled over to take a look.

It is a lovely shop, following similar branding to Honor Oak-selling all the usual fruit/veg/salad stuff & herbs plus coffee/pastries & bread. However being larger it is also able to sell extra shelf produce, the main one being refillables-rice/beans/pasta/nuts etc. This is a great addition & should do really well.

If you find yourself over in Dulwich pop in & say hello to the boys-they will be delighted to see you. Also along that same parade is the second branch of local SE4 favourites, Jones of Brockley so another good reason to go over there.

Stop press-just on the day I’m looking to post this I come across this lovely article about Marvellous Greens & Beans, written for the Forest Hill Society, by local SE23 resident Nicola Johnson.  See here to read it.

Le Delice 

This is the most recent new business to open in the area & I’ve got to say it’s one of my absolute favourites & I can’t enthuse about it enough!

Whilst officially it’s out of the main patch I cover it certainly had to be included & Hither Green is very lucky to have such a great new business come to the area.

It is the brainchild of Nabil & Karine who have been running the very successful & popular Ladywell Le Delice since 2013.

The large building on the corner of George Lane & Hither Green Lane has had many different uses over the years, the main one I remember it being was Kid’s Corner, a very popular indoor soft play area. I spent much of my time as a full time mum visiting here with my toddler son, Joe, & lots of other mum friends, approximately 21 plus years ago.

The transformation of this building now into a large & spacious cafe/patisserie is just wonderful. What I love about this new business is that it has kept all the same branding & design features of their Ladywell cafe.

Teal paint & bare brick walls/Grey tiling/dark laminated flooring with the attractive mosaic floor tiling plus very attractive lighting with a large counter & open plan kitchen behind. I believe 80 plus covers can be accommodated.

The food/drink/menu is similar to SE13 & why not as it has proved so successful. What is VERY special about Le Delice is the cakes/patisseries. Until a few years ago I had no idea that they were all made in-house as just assumed they were bought in!

Anyway Karine quite rightly put me in my place & let me know that everything was made on the premises. They have been very lucky with their amazing pastry chef Rabah who has loyally been with them for many years & constantly comes up with new creations. All absolutely delicious

Anyway I need to finish & move on. All I’ve left to say is if you haven’t already pop into this new Le Delice & say Bonjour. Such a great addition to Hither Green-& by the queues on the occasions I’ve been it’s proving a great hit already.

NEW BUSINESSES DUE TO OPEN IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS 

I’m aware of a few businesses that are hoping to open their doors in the next few weeks/months and as always I’m sure there will be other ones that I don’t know about yet but happen without much warning which is often a very pleasant surprise.

The main shop I know is definitely happening is Plenty in Ladywell village. The shutters have been painted a bright yellow with grey stylish writing provided by Lionel Stanhope.

Alina & Joel from Oscar’s across the road are turning the shop that was previously Revive my Device into a whole food pantry, selling all the store cupboard essentials with the emphasis on buy by the weight/refillables. As well as the usual dry goods they will be stocking a range of grains, pulses, beans, nuts and dried fruits alongside herbs, spices, oils & vinegars plus a range of wines on tap.

To help realise their ambitious plans for this exciting project in the heart of Ladywell they have recently launched a crowd-funder campaign. For further details of the proposed business with some frequently asked Q & A’s and a link to how you can get involved and contribute see here-any  SUPPORT welcome, however small. All being well Plenty will come to fruition in the next few months and I’m sure be a fantastic addition to SE13.

A new business that is definitely going to happen in Crofton Park and came out the blue to me a good few weeks ago is a replacement for the fish & chip shop, next to Jerome’s. I’m not a regular there but feel every parade should have a chippy but sadly it’s being totally dismantled and the café totally gutted.

I caught the builder in there last week and asked what was happening but he was being very evasive and says he can’t say & we will have to wait and see. Rumour has it that it is some Pizza chain & if that is the case then it is likely to be just delivery and collection without any sit down space. However I have the feeling the mystery will soon be revealed as he didn’t seem the kind of builder/developer that hangs around! Watch this space.

There are some really big units that have been empty now for a long time. Plans for them are still quite vague and I haven’t got the detailed information yet that I would like as things are still uncertain. However I will impart as much as I know with the hope that things will become clearer in the next few months.

Barclay’s Bank in Crofton Park has been empty now for 3 years after it closed to the public in 2018. A few months ago there was finally evidence of some activity. I popped my head round the door in mid July as it was open and the space was being stripped out with everything being thrown into a skip.

Darren introduced himself as the new owner to the whole building, including the flats above. I had a brief chat and asked what was going to happen. He was quite vague but indicated it would most likely be used for hospitality. This was his background and whilst I don’t think he will be managing it himself he thought it lended itself to a bar/restaurant. During our conversation he mused that the kitchen could be given over to different food outlets on a rotating basis. Sadly I have not seen him since to get any updates and there has been little activity in the building.

Hopefully there will be more news soon as it would be great to see this large venue turned into a thriving hospitality business in Crofton Park this side of Xmas.

The future of the two large Coral empty units in Ladywell & Midtown Brockley is still unclear. Whilst I know there is lots of interest for the building in Ladywell, next to the Larder, no-one seems to know yet if anything has been decided. Everyone is hoping it will be a restaurant to help boost the night time economy in the village but we will have to wait and see.

Meanwhile the corner unit on the main Brockley Road with Adelaide Avenue is supposed to become a hardware/tool shop/builder’s merchants. I was told this back in June from the potential owner himself but I understand there are complications with completing the sale.

I have got to say when I put this news on social media it was greeted very positively and everyone thought it was a really good new business to have in the area. Let’s hope things can soon get sorted on negotiations and that it all then proceeds smoothly & quickly-again watch this space!

Another long standing empty unit that everyone is waiting in eager anticipation to be revealed is the ground floor space under the flats by Catford station, just next to the Sainsbury’s Local.   

There have been glimpses inside and it is being fitted out as we speak. I understand it is to be an Italian café/gelateria/bistro and is not part of a big chain which is great news. I’m assuming/hoping there will be lots of outside seating as there is certainly the space for it in front of the units. I’m unsure of the timescale for opening but it looked near completion from photos taken a month ago so all very exciting for SE6 commuters/residents and beyond.

LOCAL BUSINESS VENUES 

I will once again finish the Biz section of the blog with 3 of our amazing local businesses that are more than just a shop/pub or café-they really are important destinations! I’m always delighted to say that two of these very special places are just 5 minutes walk from my house in Crofton Park, namely the Brockley Jack Theatre and the Rivoli Ballroom. The other venue I’m mentioning here is the wonderful Catford Mews that opened just over 2 years ago in SE6.

Brockley Jack Studio theatre  

This wonderful local fringe theatre finally opened its doors again to the public in mid-June after being nearly 15 months in the dark since the first lockdown in March 2020.

I have got to admit I personally haven’t yet ventured back to see anything when I am normally a frequent visitor. The main reason for this is that my visits to both the theatre and cinema are much less in the summer months plus we have been away at key times when things I’ve been interested in have been shown.

However I can see that the quality and standard of shows has been excellent as always, with the recent one man show ‘Quentin Crisp:Naked Hope’ performing to rave reviews.

The next shows are ‘Three Men in a Boat’ from the 16th to 18th September. The strapline for the show is ’18 characters, 3 actors and one boat….. what could possibly go wrong?

Next on in September is ‘The Co-op’ by Make it Beautiful Theatre for a 5 night run. Using popular music and film genres, this play is a love letter to theatre and film, brought to life by a bunch of rejects (their words not mine!) It has 5 star reviews and looks to be one not to miss.

October shows include ‘The Idea’, ‘Our War’ and Regeneration. For details of all upcoming theatre and also measures the staff have taken to ensure your return to live performances is as safe as possible check out their website here. I certainly look forward to getting along to my favourite local theatre this autumn.

The Rivoli Ballroom  

This stunning local venue has a very special place in my heart and I can’t believe how lucky I was to have been able to hold my 60th birthday party here exactly 2 years ago, only 7 months before the pandemic struck.

They were able to finally open their doors again this year at the end of May and have screened many sell out films since. The next ones scheduled are on Thursday 16th September ‘Blade Runner, the Final cut & the next night ‘Back to the Future’ both top cult films.

Towards the end of October there is a Fright Night season with some classics like ‘The Shining’ plus the ever popular Rocky Horror Show. For details of dates, titles and booking link see here.

Rouges at the Rivoli is back and has 4 big nights planned over the next few months leading up to Xmas. These are very special evenings with a different cabaret show plus 5 hours of non-stop 70s/80s disco & funk music. They are fast getting sold out so hurry if you want a ticket-the Halloween and Christmas nights are guaranteed to be popular so check out the link here and book.

The first Jive party is also back after the pandemic and Saturday 18th September promises to be a big evening with a live band and lots of jive, swing and original R&B music to dance the night away.

It is so delightful to see the Rivoli back up and running again and if you haven’t yet been to this hidden gem when it literally is on your doorstep check out the various events and get down there-I can absolutely guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Catford Mews

If you have followed my blogs over the last few years you will know that I’m a big fan of Catford Mews and love the cool industrial interior with food outlets and bar. The cinema seats are really comfy and the 3 screens offer great titles at very affordable prices. I’m always amazed when some people I talk to locally still don’t seem to know that there is a cinema in the heart of Catford.

It was able to open up to the public again towards the end of May and the impression I’ve got is that they have had a successful summer. Events have started up again and they always put on some really exciting things, both film related, like special screenings with Q & A’s or providing entertainment using their large space such as comedy nights which started again last week.

Membership is very reasonable at Catford Mews and is certainly recommended if you plan to visit regularly as with your membership you get 3 free cinema tickets, discounted cinema tickets for every visit, no booking fees and 10% discount on food and drink anywhere in the venue. You can buy adult, student, 60+ and family membership. Also if you have a Lewisham Local card you are eligible for a discounted membership. Certainly worth checking out-see here for details and cost.

I’m hoping to spend a lot of time at this cinema over the coming months as the autumn/winter is when I largely go and and watch films. There are great deals on a Monday and so this is when to mainly go as it is a great way to start the week and also guaranteed to be pretty quiet.

With the recent news of the Bond release at the end of September this should be the boost that cinemas need to get people back to watching films and I only hope that this SE6 venue will benefit from this and continue to thrive.

COMMUNITY NEWS 

Crofton Park Community Library 

Since I last wrote in May I’m delighted to report that the community library is now open 2 days a week on a Tuesday and a Thursday and everyone is loving being able to return to this important local hub and browse/take out books again. They are also appreciating the new improved and brighter space after the refurbishments.

Also the children’s reading hour have started again on a Tuesday at 12 noon and every Thursday at 4pm and they are proving very popular.

I popped in there last week and had a lovely chat with Silvana who updated me on what is hopefully happening at the library over the next few months. Firstly they are planning from October to extend their hours of opening to every day except Wednesday and Sunday. This is fantastic news but is very dependent on volunteers and they need MORE!

Check out this link here to see whether it is something you could be interested in doing. It can be as little as one morning or a couple of days a week and the benefits to your own well-being are tremendous whilst also knowing you are helping this important community venue continue to thrive and develop.

New computers and a new study area is being created in the next month with also lots of exciting events being planned ahead. To keep yourself updated keep checking the website which has a whole new fresh look. In conclusion the library really is back to being the community meeting place and hub in Crofton Park that it deserves to be.

Cinderella Line 

For anyone unaware the Cinderella Line is the name given to the fantastic campaigning group of commuters/local residents from Crofton Park and the surrounding areas to come together and call for the changes/improvements from the local train operator, Thameslink.

It was formed approximately 5 years ago and has had amazing success, most notably with finally achieving 4 trains an hour when the major timetables were revised, across the country, in 2018.

However it has recently suffered a major setback as only from Monday Thameslink have reduced our 4 trains an hour in the morning and evening rush hour down to just 2 again plus nearly all the trains are only going as far as Blackfriars. All this is just as considerably more people are returning to work and so using the trains regularly again. Indeed only in the last few mornings there have been horrendous photos shown on social media of the desperate overcrowding on this line.

The Cinderella Line is not giving up without a fight and so it’s not too late to complete their short survey to back up the message to Thameslink that this reduction in service is just not acceptable. Please click on this link here and do the survey-it really does only take one minute and every response is a vote to get the hard won services back again.

Crofton Park Community Railway Garden 

I’m not going to say too much here about our beautiful outdoor community space running alongside the northbound platform at Crofton Park station as I wrote quite a lot about it in my last blog. Suffice to say it has been invaluable to many, particularly during the lockdowns as Terry’s All Locks have kindly kept it open for us all to enjoy 6 days a week.

I have also mentioned it earlier in events that the 3rd market of the year is taking place on Saturday 18th September 11-3pm after we held successful markets in June and July. Please pop along and support.

However the main thing I would like to emphasis here is about volunteers. This garden would soon become overrun and get out of control if there were not a regular band of willing people to help out with weeding, watering, cutting back, litter picking, general tidying and planting new seeds/bulbs.

The next volunteer session is this Sunday (12th) from 11-2pm and we can ALWAYS do with extra help so if around and interested please pop in. Alternatively please check on the website here for updates for when our next session is plus also sign up to receive the newsletters.

Finally we have big plans to improve the garden with exciting projects, particularly for the little ones who seem to love the space. However we haven’t got enough money in the bank to carry out everything we want to do so later this year we may be running a crowd funder campaign so keep an eye out for this and it would be great if you were able to support.

The Fourth Reserve

We are very lucky to have two beautiful outdoor community spaces in Crofton Park and in July we were treated to a wonderful Open Day at this amazing nature reserve, next to the footbridge at the end of Eddystone Rd. The date was deliberately chosen to coincide with engineering works to the railway track and so the regular noise of the trains was absent.

Local people were able to see and appreciate the space, many for the first time whilst also being able to listen to music and hear poets and writers read their work in the stunning setting of the wooden platform/stage area created deep in the woods. Artists and local crafters also exhibited/sold their work in this natural environment. In the evening there was a theatrical/musical performance-a truly magical day.

The big news for the Reserve and the Buckthorne woodland area is that it has been designated Ancient Woodland by Natural England, after providing compelling evidence that the land has been consistently wooded since at least 1600. This success means that any development on the land would be prohibited because of the threat to the delicate eco-systems and soil that has developed over centuries.

The designation also extends to Dandy Park and helps put pressure on the existing landowner to give up their holding of the Courtrai Rd scout hut & land as now they realise development will never be possible. Despite efforts from Lewisham council to engage with the developers they are still holding out but there is finally some hope/optimism! Watch this space.

To conclude Anna Maria, Nick together with an amazing group of volunteers have done so much work over the past few years to help protect our green corridors locally but all their funding is entirely from donations. If you are able to contribute to the upkeep of the reserve and on-going costs of tools, bird feed etc they would be very grateful-see here for their local giving page.

Speeding and Traffic Issues in Crofton Park

Speeding is a constant ongoing problem in our area but has been particularly bad this year, resulting in a number of terrible accidents over the past 6 months along the main Brockley Road and other surrounding streets.

The most obvious/visible one being where a car was going so fast it went out of control, flipped onto the pavement, destroying bike racks and a street tree and ended up on its side causing massive structural damage to the estate agents, Bryan & Keegan. Luckily this was in the early hours of the morning and so there were no people or other cars around to cause further damage or injury. With other near misses by cars speeding in the area it is an absolute miracle that there has not been anyone seriously injured, or even worse, to passing innocent pedestrians.

Since the above worsening and dangerous situation a few of us sent emails to our local councillors to highlight the problems and see what could collectively be done. An open meeting was consequently held at the beginning of August at the Ackroyd Centre, which Chris Barnham, one of our local Crofton Park councillors chaired.

I understand approximately 20 concerned residents attended which given it was in the middle of the summer holidays was not a bad turnout as many, including myself, were away and unable to come along. The details of  who attended from the council/other authorities and the important notes arising from the meeting which have just been recently published are here in this link.

Obviously many people and authorities are involved in trying to help improve road safety in the area but as ever the major constraint is money. However there are things that can be done and let’s hope that as a community we can come together under a common goal to help reduce speeding and dangerous driving.

Alex Yee – Olympic Triathlete and Local Hero

This is the last item under Crofton Park but I thought I would include this very positive, uplifting story in this section as we can rightly lay claim to this amazing local Olympian as his parents were living in Crofton Park Road, SE4 when Alex was born in Lewisham Hospital, 23 years ago.

He first went to Chelwood Nursery, then the local primary school, Stillness and finally Kingsdale for his secondary education. From an early age Alex showed a great interest in sport and joined the local Crystal Palace triathlon club as a junior and in later years trained at the Ladywell track with Kent Athletics club.

I had always regularly heard that he was doing very well as a triathlete with potential to be world class. However I remember speaking to Emma, his mother, a few months after, who told me that he had suffered a terrible bike accident in Italy in 2017 whilst competing in a triathlon. This left him with broken ribs & vertebrae as well as a collapsed lung. He spent a month in hospital and had to undergo extensive rehab during the winter. One would assume with that major setback his career as a top triathlete would be under threat.

However 4 years later with one silver Olympic medal from Tokyo in the men’s triathlon and a gold in the mixed team event he has certainly proved to everyone that he had the determination, resilience and natural skill to continue and go on to achieve absolute excellence.

I think there were many of us in the early hours of the morning watching the Olympics this summer and I was certainly awake for both Alex’s events. When he achieved silver in the individual event and later the following week a gold medal it seemed like the whole of South East London went mad and were just overjoyed at his success.

Certainly the local social media & local press were very active in celebrating his story and all joined in with the obvious delight & pride that his parents, Ron & Emma, were experiencing. In his first interview after his silver medal win he said “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I still just feel like a normal boy from south east London”

Local artist, Lionel Stanhope, had the great idea of celebrating his success with adding the gold medal and his name to the O in the BROCKLEY mural sign he had previously done under the railway bridge. Everyone immediately loved it including Alex himself and there is a great photo of him standing in front of the sign when he returned home from Japan later in August with a quote saying ” Beyond proud. This is my home”

He certainly made the local community feel very proud and in the middle of a pandemic this was just the kind of good news story we all needed to lift our spirits. I can’t wait to see what he goes on to achieve and with Paris 2024 only 3 years away the future ahead is very exciting for Alex Yee.

As a footnote I’m hoping that the area will give him a gold letter box in his honour and will continue to keep mentioning it!

SNIPPETS OF NEWS

Honor Oak florists shut last week & moved to Bellenden Rd, SE15-not sure yet what new Biz going to be/Live music back at Parlez Friday nights/Have you tried Good as Gold KFC Friday with cauliflower-amazing!/Both Salthouse Bottles & WaterintoBeer just celebrated 5 years on the block-quality shops-east side & west side Brockley/L’Oculto taking well earned fortnight break 14th to 28th September/Did you know can swim free on Weds & Saturday at Beckenham Lake with a Lewisham Local Card/Jazz starting at 2 Spoons 16th September & then 1st Thursday every month/Issue No. 17 Lewisham Ledger out now/Saka Maka now Chaska Maska! Same food & staff!/Max & Chloe at Sans Stores celebrated one year on Brockley Rise in August/Crofton Books still without a name-I’m favouring Midtown Books-Jason not sure-watch this space/3 local BIZ celebrating 10 years-Brockley’s Rock been decade serving award winning fish & chips plus Arlo & Moe 10 years in Crofton Park serving sexy toast at end of this month & finally the popular Brockley market established a decade ago! Saturday 25th September celebrating in Style 10-2pm/Comedy back at Honor Oak pub 1st Thursday of month with Laugh Train Home/Delicious Pinsa’s being served Friday & Saturday eves at Jerome’s Wine Bar/Estate agents Bryan & Keegan still OPEN-online & branch in Hither Green whilst shop having works carried out following accident in Crofton Park-hope to be back open again very soon/Masala Wala cafe doing delicious take-away, collection & delivery Weds to Saturday 530 to 9pm/Burgers are back at Rise cafe from Wednesday to Saturday-eat in or collect for take-away/Magi Gifts in Brockley for all your cards & treats & gifts-Halloween will feature heavily soon/Chill out with meze’s & more on the pavement tables in SE23 at Hattush Mediterranean restaurant/Did you know there was a lovely courtyard at the back of Nonna Maria? Check out/The Fellowship Inn over in Bellingham sadly still closed-looking for new management team/Autumn bulbs now in stock at Shannon’s, our family run garden centre/Lots of events & day festivals at Fox & Firkin in next month-biggest beer garden in town/Comedy is back in Sydenham with the Poodle Club re-opening very soon-watch this space/Did you know there is a very interesting games cafe on Deptford High St called Tanuki Gaming-pop along/Whilst you are in Deptford check out Jerk Off BBQ in Creekside-open Thursday to Saturday with outside tables or takeaway/Bottle Bar in SE6 looking to experiment & create small batch Catford Gin-sounds very exciting!/Brand new website for Babur Restaurant where can purchase their own delicious chutneys, spices & cocktails online/Did you know Art Dog Gallery do framing?-pop in & check out the latest exhibition/Taco Taca’s are popping up & serving yummy Mexican food at Brickfields Bar Thursday to Saturday 6-930pm during September & October/The popular Sunday quiz is starting again at The Chandos 12th September/Whilst Le Querce Daily are presently on holiday they plan on doing lunches on their return towards the end of September/Campervan Peggy is a popular addition up at Blythe Hill fields by the playground serving food & refreshments everyday except Monday & Tuesday/Check out the fab Go Jauntly app-I very proudly created my  first featured walk last month/Postive Ageing, Lewisham are holding their Silver Sunday extravaganza event online on Sunday 3rd October-for free tickets see here/The Refugee cafe are hoping to have a physical building very soon to operate from, open to the public-watch this space/Lots of events planned at the Brockley Jack pub in the next few months including a return of the popular Thursday quiz-pop in & check out/Did you know the London Beer Dispensary have a sun trap beer garden at the back-also air conditioning inside/Pop into our fab Jones of Brockley for all your cheese requirements!/Have you tried the Delicious quiches at the Larder, Ladywell/Finally I just want to say I’ve so appreciated Coulgate St in Brockley being shut to traffic this year! it’s a pleasure to safely walk/cycle through and also see the 3 wonderful local Businesses of Parlez, the Broca and Browns of Brockley spilling out onto the street and creating a fantastic cafe experience in the heart of SE4.

Okay that is it I really have had enough and whilst I’m never short of things to say or can find more information to continually add I’ve got to say this was perhaps the most stressful of my blogs yet! I lost lots of work at the weekend and so have had to totally write it out again plus I’m now posting this in Scotland when I had hoped to finish it on the long train journey up yesterday but the Wifi was sadly useless/non-existent.

It has also reached dissertation length of 10,000 words plus when I really had intended it to be much shorter! If you are by any chance still reading this mammoth rambling blog welcome-you deserve a medal!

There certainly is lots happening over the next few months and I would honestly say go out and enjoy the events/festivals whilst you can as I’m not that optimistic about the current Covid19 situation. Put it this way I’m certainly not booking or planning anything towards Xmas- I really HOPE I’m proved wrong as I would love for us all to return to normal.

As always I will end this by saying if you can, get out and SUPPORT our amazing LOCAL BUSINESSES. Many have had such a difficult 18 months and they need all the custom they can get. Shop/Use/Drink and Eat Local. As the saying goes-use or lose! 

Bye for now and stay safe

Jane xx

Follow me on twitter @JaneCanDo for local updates and information.