Looking Back to 2021, Looking Forward to 2022

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I’ve written a blog for the last few years in January/February where I’ve looked back at the last year & then looked forward to the year ahead. It’s a bit later than normal but had little inclination to write it earlier!

I will include my own personal experiences of last year/Comment on the New businesses that opened in 2021 plus outline the events/festivals that took place.

I will then refer to business news I’m aware of for this coming year. I will also include all the events & festivals, with dates, that I know of happening in 2022, include a section on Community News & then finish with my regular ‘Snippets of News’

Anyone new to my blogs need to be aware of a couple of things-firstly they are often long & rambling-I always aim to make them more concise but sadly never achieve this! I’m not a journalist & have never claimed to be-I have an informal chatty style. Hope you can stick with it or just skim read.

I also want to say that I concentrate on a few main areas of the Borough. These are Crofton Park, Honor Oak, Brockley, Ladywell & Catford and are the postcodes where I live,shop, eat, drink & use the most. Just these neighbourhoods alone provide enough information to complete a dissertation so I simply can’t extend into other parts as the blog will never end! I therefore apologise in advance for missing out any businesses/events/information that you think should of been included. I always stress that these blog posts are my personal views & opinions.

Personal Experience of the Past Year (2021)

Once again Covid19 sadly dominated 2021 with the year starting in complete lockdown which we only gradually came out of from March/April onwards. I spent those early months often doing jigsaws in the mornings whilst listening to James O’Brien putting the world to rights & then getting out for some fresh air either with a walk or on the bike.

I remember being very excited when we could finally play tennis again and also the delight when we were allowed to meet up with friends & family outdoors in our gardens! Luckily the weather began to improve again although big coats, hats, scarves & gloves have been our best friends throughout the past few years!

This opening up time also coincided with our son Joe moving out with good friends to a shared house over in Sydenham. Whilst I think we gave him as good a time as possible, living with parents over lockdown has been no fun for our young people with all the restrictions on their movements & so it’s great he now has his freedom back surrounded by friends. We have a very good relationship with him so meet up regularly.

In relation to family if you have been following my blogs my twin sister, Helen, who lives in Cambridge was diagnosed with serious breast cancer at the end of 2020 & so her treatment dominated the first half of last year. Whilst very challenging at the time I can happily report that the chemo & her double mastectomy were all very successful & she has now pretty nearly fully recovered to her former self.

The other HUGE personal family news of last year was that our first grandchild, Jaya Ada Martel , was born on the 10/11/2021. We were first told the exciting news from Alex & Priyesh on Mother’s Day that they were expecting a baby at the end of October. She had a great pregnancy & within the whole scheme of things a pretty good birth, although 13 days late which was all quite stressful!

Anyway Jaya is simply gorgeous & is already 3 plus months old. She is a very contented  baby & now giving us lots of smiles. We are very lucky that they only live in South Norwood so try to see them at least once a week & as she gets older we will happily cover for them & the current plan is that when Alex returns to work in October we will provide one day a week childcare cover.

Jaya is simply a fantastic addition to our lives and signifies a whole new chapter in the coming years ahead. I think very soon you will see me/Eamon pushing a pram around our parks/green spaces so please come & say hello & meet our lovely grandchild.

A big part of our retirement plans, now 3 years ago was to travel. However the pandemic has put up serious barriers to this ambition and over the last couple of years I haven’t travelled anywhere outside of the UK. However I’ve tried to turn this into a positive as whilst the lack of flying abroad is certainly better for the environment it’s also allowed us to explore our delightful country more & discover new areas & places.

My sister last year bought a deluxe mobile home located in Kelling Park, North Norfolk which is only 8 miles away from our mother who lives in Blakeney. It has been a wonderful retreat for her & her partner, Helen, during gaps in her treatment to recover & recuperate. She has generously let all of our family use it through the year & it has been a lovely escape to go to whilst also being able to see my mum. We have already booked in for this year for a number of trips, including Easter.

Areas we’ve explored with long breaks were Tenby in Wales in the deluxe campervan provided by local Biz Campervantastic. I hadn’t been since early childhood so had no memory of it & was amazed by the beauty of this part of Pembrokeshire & the town itself.

We also visited Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire to finally stay with a good friend who had moved there from London & loved it plus went for 4 nights to Henley with our university friends for a long overdue gathering to celebrate all our 60th birthdays. These were both parts of the country I hadn’t previously visited.

Finally we had overnight stays or longer visiting friends & family to regular haunts of Whitstable & Cambridge plus Carnoustie in Scotland, seeing my father. Altogether a great few trips away.

Another significant thing that happened towards the end of last year was that we became part sharers of an electric car. We ditched our car nearly 8 years ago, using zip car if we ever needed one.

However good friends in Telegraph Hill investigated leasing an electric car & we offered to share usage contributing the equivalent of 2 days a week. It has so far worked really well for all of us & 3 months in I can only recommend it highly & think sharing with other people is a great use of resources.

Our first big challenge will be at Easter when we plan to take it outside of the London area with going up to Norfolk. Charging it up will be interesting & I’m sure we will experience ‘range anxiety’ – a known issue with electric car owners!

As life has got back to ‘relative normality’ I’ve also appreciated going back to the theatre & cinema again whilst also continuing through last year volunteering at my regular organisations like Wildcat Wilderness & the Crofton Park Community Garden. During the initial vaccination rollout I also helped out at the Jenner centre.

I will finish this section of the blog with a brief mention on the current political situation & if people have followed my twitter & blogs over the years they will know where my allegiances lie & they are certainly NOT with the Tory Party!!

I am daily ashamed/embarrassed & outraged with everything Johnson & this government do or more importantly don’t do! The corruption & lies are never ending & party gate is a disgrace. There certainly is a culture at Downing Street that rules & regulations don’t apply to them & I sincerely hope heads will roll.

Brexit was/is even worse than us passionate remainers feared & whenever I think about it I’m so angry & upset that such a momentous decision was taken & enacted on lies/deception but will effect people & businesses lives forever.

Finally the attitude by this Govt that Covid-19 is all over is just reckless/irresponsible & could prevent us protecting many vulnerable people & result in many more deaths. Yes I’m delighted that life is returning to normal but not keeping certain mitigations & removing free testing/isolation rules is just mad & opening the doors for Variants to emerge.

I’m writing this blog as the war in Ukraine is unfolding and can’t quite believe what we are seeing and hearing! Putin is pure evil.

It is all so heart-breaking but the unity/strength and courage of the Ukrainian people is utterly amazing. As I post this the situation is still very fluid with supposed peace talks taking place but I don’t hold my breath. I only hope that this Government steps up to offer visas to all those fleeing from this war torn country. The world is certainly a very scary place right now.

BUSINESS NEWS 

New businesses that have opened in the past year

As I’ve made notes for this blog & listed all the new businesses that have opened last year & up to the date of this blog post I’m amazed how many there have been. They number over twenty & include some fantastic Biz that have become established local favourites already despite being less than one year on the block.

Hats off to anyone that has been entrepreneurial & decided to change their career/open a new business under a pandemic-you deserve all the luck & SUPPORT that our amazing local community can offer.

I will try to include them in a rough chronological order.

It was very quiet in the first few months of 2021 but then early Spring saw quite a flurry of new openings, the first being perhaps one of my FAVE local business & has finally proved that a cafe/restaurant can survive & flourish on the west side of the tracks in Brockley. Good as Gold opened under lockdown in Mid March and so was initially take-away only.

It quickly established a reputation for good coffee with friendly/efficient service. The owners, Tom & Anthony came from a thriving business in Fitzrovia but as the pandemic took effect they gave up their lease & looked for premises in SE London as both live locally. This has totally been SE4’s gain & they now provide excellent food throughout the day & it is permanently busy. They have acquired an alcohol licence & It’s hoped they will gradually open up a couple of evenings a week, serving small plates. Watch this space! Check it out if not already been. It’s at 209 Mantle Rd, next to WaterintoBeer. 

Brince Restaurant, serving Lebanese cuisine, was the next local Biz to open up in March, again under lockdown conditions so initially just as a take-away. This is in Crofton Park, along the main road, in the unit that was previously Venus Nails that moved 100 metres northwards above Kar Klinik.

Works had been undertaken for quite a few months & the back wall was knocked down to make it a very large open space with a small kitchen at the back. Alex the owner is very friendly & has gradually expanded the business & there is a decent sized raised restaurant area, to sit in when we were allowed to do so. We try & have a regular takeaway from there & are always very happy with the mixed Shawarma wrap which has become a firm favourite in the Martin household. Pop in and say hello.

Pat & Rob’s Emporium is included here as both a new opening but also I have to say as I’m writing this blog I’ve heard the sad news that it is closing, at least temporarily until negotiations with the landlord are completed. I have known Jason the owner now for 16 years and the double unit on the Honor Oak Parade has had numerous incarnations. It first opened in 2004 as Tapastry but people will know it more recently as DONDE.

In March Jason split the large area into 2 with one side as tapas and also becoming the Flower Cafe and the other side as a grocery store, selling a variety of goods from fruit & veg to Hackney Gelato to refillables to bread & pastries. We wait to see what now happens but if Jason finally does leave the SE23 parade I sincerely wish him lots of luck in his next venture and thank him for all the good times/tapa’s he’s certainly given me over the years.

The next business to open in the area became an instant success overnight & that was Crofton Books, in Midtown Brockley. Jason the owner had operated his popular second hand & vintage bookshop from inside the Crofton Park Community library but moved out at the beginning of 2021 to have their own discreet premises.

It opened fully to the public when it was allowed to do so on the 12th April after a good few months fitting out the large shop unit that was previously an estate agents along the main Brockley road. It has a big basement area that contains the children’s area and is very cosy.

Jason & his staff/group of volunteers are all really friendly & very happy to provide advice & recommendations. I can report my sister was very pleased with the hardback books I bought her based on personal recommendations from the staff.

Not everyone knows that the bookshop has lots of new books but also provides an ordering service so anything you want they can get it within 24 hours! They have also hosted lots of readings/events with local authors/poets during the year that have created a great buzz.

Altogether this business has been an incredible addition to that parade of shops with people loving popping in & browsing, often coming away with book gems that they never dreamed of originally going in for! Jason says ‘you never know 2022 could be the year for the bookshop to be finally named so a sign going up’ Watch this space.

Another local business to open on the 12th April last year was the Perry Hill pub, which was a much anticipated addition to the Catford/Forest Hill borders after many months of gutting & refurbishing this large pubic house with an extensive outside area.

They could only open the garden initially with the inside coming on stream a month later when Govt regulations allowed. I was there on the second night of opening in April & was impressed. A huge canopy was stretched over the back area with trestle tables & festoon lighting, giving a relaxed, festival vibe, which Lionel Stanhope’s bright coloured mural only adds to this feel.

Raised wooden Decking provided additional outside seating which in total seats 250 so I believe can boast being one of the largest beer gardens in SE London. There is also now an area for kids to mess about on the boat & so the pub is becoming understandably very popular with families.

There is a large varied menu & with an outside smokehouse dishes are proving very popular and the Sunday roasts have regularly been selling out. There have also been lots of seasonal events & activities which again have been attracting big numbers.

In conclusion Phil & Oonagh, the owners, have provided an exciting local community pub to an area of SE6 that so badly needed something like this & the Perry Hill has been a great BIZ addition to 2021.

Meanwhile only less than a mile away but over in SE23, at 23 Brockley Rise, a very interesting new Biz finally opened in April after extensive works to refurbish the empty unit & much signposting. ArtDog Gallery was launched in April and has been another great addition to the area.

I have known the owner, Pippa Graber, ever since she started ArtDog London in 2001 representing a select & diverse range of artists both from the UK & globally. This is her first own gallery space & since it’s been opened for the past 10 plus months has hosted many exciting exhibitions by contemporary creatives.

The gallery is open 5 days a week from Wednesday to Sunday & Pippa also provides a framing service.

If haven’t already been pop in to this local gallery pop in-browse, appreciate the artwork & say hello-Pippa is very friendly & there is absolutely no expectation that you are there to buy.

This is such a great different Biz addition to that part of Brockley Rise & together with my next new business Mmea has really helped to lift that parade of shops, along with Pizzarte, Sans Store & Talents. It had previously been a neglected, empty stretch but within the last few years has become an exciting destination to visit. It just shows how quickly areas can turn around with a bit of love & investment!

So.. in May last year the delightful plant & homeware shop Mmea opened at the end of the month. It instantly became a big hit & everyone wanted to visit this gorgeous new Biz. As you enter the shop it attacks the senses in a very positive way, both visually & with delightful smells.

The plants are very varied, diverse & imposing with some very large tropical ones to small cacti & succulents. They also sell lots of lovely plant accessories from pots/holders/baskets to books etc. Candles, diffusers plus skincare products are also sold whilst their beautiful homeware range has increased in size as it’s grown in popularity-I personally have bought 2 boxes of lovely, elegant glass flutes.

They are open 7 days a week & plan on having seeds & more outside plants for the garden over the next few weeks plus some exciting workshops coming up so watch this space.

The passion from the owner Aisie and the rest of the staff immediately comes across & they are very knowledgeable on all their stock and can certainly recommend a suitable plant/gift for your particular needs. On popping in last week they said the support they have received from the local community has been overwhelming & we are all lovely! That’s really nice to know but I’m not surprised.

Anyway we equally think Mmea are lovely & that we are so lucky that they found an empty unit and established themselves in SE23. Pop in & visit if not already done so.

Nationally lots of people complain that our High Streets are full of chicken shops, betting shops and charity shops. However I wouldn’t say this is the case in the areas I cover in my blog. Okay there are quite a lot of chicken shops but most of the betting shops have now shut down & as has been expressed before many of us would LOVE a charity shop along the main Brockley Road/Brockley Rise!

Meanwhile I would say the two main businesses that keep opening in our area are estate agents and barbers/hairdressers. Certainly last year there were a number of new barbers that opened with Donnelly’s being the first as we came out of lockdown in April. Chris the owner came from Chaplins in Crofton Park & I can see from reviews they have been a very welcome, popular addition to Ladywell Village.

Stay Gold, the barbers, kept us guessing in Midtown Brockley as to what it would actually be whilst Strong, Arm Steady barbershop opened in July, also in SE4, where the Brockley Deli used to be on the corner unit by Brockley Cross. It offers a very relaxed atmosphere with plants, live music if wanted & drinks whilst you wait for a cut/shave.

The last main barbers I’m aware of in the hood that recently opened is the one by Catford station, next to new cafe DolceCraft Barbers is certainly in a great location between the two train stations & Eamon had a good experience with Danny the owner & his cut was very reasonably priced. I really hope they do well.

There was very little business happening‘s  during June in the area I cover except that the popular local business Marvellous Greens & Beans opened another new shop over in East Dulwich-I popped over to see it & was very impressed as is much larger than the Brockley Rise Biz.

With excellent fruit & veg, coffee, bread & pastries plus selling additional items like cheeses & refillables I’m sure the Marvellous Boys will be a great success in SE22.

There was then a flurry of new business activity during July & August with a couple of my FAVE additions.

Firstly The Croft launched at the beginning of July in Ewhurst Road & I was very excited when I first heard about this new business venture AND that it was only 2 mins walk from my house! I was not then disappointed when it finally opened.

Oli from the Proud Sow had taken over the end unit which had previously been Catfood Cakes and spent time & money gutting it to become a take away only Biz with fridges/freezers/cookers & ovens able to prepare & make pies, sausage rolls & soups. They also have a coffee machine, along with bread, pastries & doughnuts.

The Croft provides a short but very astute/popular menu & I’ve never been down there without a short queue waiting at the hatch. The sausage rolls are to die for & seriously the best in town! We treat ourselves to at least one lunch a week so couldn’t be more delighted with this new addition to the area.

Yehman Juice Bar opened at the beginning of August in Crofton Park at the corner of Beecroft Rd in the small unit that had been empty for a long time, set back from the main road. They specialise in fresh fruit & veg juices with daily food specials. I’ve got to admit I haven’t been back yet since my initial visit but I hope it’s doing well & the staff & parents of the school are using it as it’s in a perfect location.

Krazy Crab is another new business that opened in SE4 but further north in Brockley Cross, next to what was Masala Wala Cafe.

It is a seafood restaurant but I’ve got to say I haven’t personally been in there and eaten, not being a great fan of fish/seafood. It would appear from local reviews that the business hasn’t had the best of starts and there have been some relaunches over the past few months.

I personally think seafood cuisine is not represented in the area so if they get it right there is no reason it shouldn’t succeed. Let’s hope that happens as it would be good to see that part of Brockley thriving again.

Meanwhile only 3 doors down from Krazy Crab another new business, My Dream Jewellery, opened in mid August. This was the first owned shop for May & she very enthusiastically sells costume jewellery, bags and other accessories. I’ve not been in since Xmas but I hope she had a good festive season and does well. Pop in and say hello if you are in the locality.

A good few miles further south along Brockley Rise in SE23 Frances opened a small shop, Laboos Flowers, at the beginning of August. It is located opposite the Adult Education Centre & is near to Dalmain school for parents/carers to treat themselves after dropping the kids off.

The shop is open from Wednesday to Sunday & has lots of delightful, quite different flowers to create a special bunch for yourself or as a gift for friends/family. Frances has certainly been a great addition to that parade of shops.

To finish this section of new businesses perhaps one of the best finally opened at the end of August. Whilst it isn’t officially in the main areas I cover with this blog I couldn’t not include it as I go there often & absolutely LOVE it!

I’m talking about the new branch of Le Delice up on the corner of Hither Green Lane & George Lane. Whilst I will always go to their Ladywell cafe more frequently as it’s nearer to me I often take my friend Sarah, in the car and we have a stroll round Mountsfield Park before treating ourselves to coffee & pastries and reminiscing on the good old days when we regularly came to this same building with our toddler sons 22 plus years ago when it was Kids Corner.

Karine & Nabil have created a beautiful spacious sanctuary for the residents of SE13 & beyond to come & have breakfast, brunch, lunch or just a coffee. I also defy you trying to resist the delicious homemade cakes that are beautifully displayed & all made in-house. Everyone is really friendly & I can see already that within 6 months it has been a brilliant addition to the area.

The months of September & October were very quiet for business openings in the area & it was only November before we saw new additions again.

On the 9th November the fantastic new & eagerly anticipated business Plenty, SE13 opened in Ladywell village. Many local people had already contributed towards the crowdfunder set up a few months earlier to help fund the refurbishment costs of the empty unit and so were very aware & supportive of it coming.

Plenty is the brainchild of Alina & Joel who also already own the popular cafe Oscars opposite. They always wanted to have a shop in the village selling store cupboard essentials/whole foods by the weight with everything from pulses & grains to dried fruits & herbs to oils & wine plus LOTS more.

It is a beautifully calm space to walk into & you are instantly greeted warmly & can ask for help or advice with any of the products/quantities needed to buy for recipes etc. It certainly is a great addition to this part of SE13 and compliments the equally wonderful Biz, The Larder, only a few doors down.

Back over in SE23 at 78 Brockley Rise the new Indian delivery & takeaway business Jhakaas also opened in November. I’ve not yet ordered from there but intend to as can see that it is getting great reviews and is the same people behind the excellent Heritage Dulwich with Chef Dayashankar Sharma creating the menu.

Another brilliant Biz opening in the area at the end of November and on my home turf was Yard Sale Pizza. We had witnessed the rather small, fish & chip/kebab shop at 393 Brockley Road close down at the end of the summer & after extensive refurbishment works gutting/knocking down walls it finally became evident who were to become the new owners.

Yard Sale Pizza started in 2014 by two friends sharing their love of simple, good quality pizza & the Crofton Park branch is now the 9th shop to open in London. Eamon & I were invited to their soft launch & became instantly addicted to their marmite, cheese & garlic pizza bread & have since had many deliveries of their delicious pizzas.

It has certainly created a buzz in the area and their PR & marketing team needs to be applauded for the clever & interesting ideas to get us involved & ultimately order lots of pizzas!

They have also formed partnerships with popular local businesses Joyce and Brickfields Bar in Midtown Brockley. Customers can order online with Yard Sale and it will be delivered with no extra charge to you at the bar so you can continue drinking but also enjoy good quality pizzas! Great collaborations and a win win all round.

Altogether Yard Sale Pizza is a very welcome Biz addition to the Crofton Park High Street.

The final Biz addition in November I want to mention is not strictly in the areas I cover but over in Sundridge Park. However the beautiful Beldi Maison is definitely worthy of a mention as the owner is Sodia who both lives on my street and many will know her over the years for her delicious cupcakes, Sucre le Creme plus incredible drive and enthusiasm at organising many Croftests and Croftmas’s.

Over the last few years she has set up, mainly online, an interior/lifestyle and home decor business initially importing from Morocco. Sodia has had a few popular pop ups plus trading at some markets and it became obvious that to really expand and make it succeed she needed her own shop.

The opportunity came up over in the borough of Bromley when a large business unit became available and after a few months fitting it out opened last year. I got to finally visit the shop a month ago and can honestly say it is gorgeous! Besides her lovely homeware she sells cards, skincare products and jewellery plus the large back room is children’s toys, gifts and books. This area also doubles up as a workshop space. Details of upcoming classes are here.

Sundridge Park may sound like a long way away but believe me it isn’t as on a good run in the car only takes 20 minutes and I would certainly it is worth the journey to pop in and say hello to local SE4 resident, Sodia and support her new business venture.

The final business that opened in 2021 was Dolce cafe in Catford. This unit right by the railway station had been empty for a number of years since the flat development above it had been finished but it became obvious in the summer that finally owners had been found though it took quite a while for the refurbishment works to be completed and the business open.

At the beginning of December the cafe finally welcomed customers inside. It first only sold coffee, cakes, ice-cream, cold drinks with some hot breakfast food. However gradually over time they have expanded their choices and now there are great sandwiches/ciabattas to have cold or toasted plus their waffle machine is now fully operational with lots of delicious toppings.

There are a number of outside tables and chairs which will be very sought after I’m sure as the weather improves to sit and watch the world go by between the two stations.

It certainly is in a great location for commuters, local residents and families plus walkers/cyclists setting out along the Waterlink Way. The manager, Ilir, is very friendly, hard working and keen to make the business successful. He has applied for an alcohol licence so that will be a great addition to be able to have a beer or chilled glass of wine sitting outside on an early summer’s evening. If you haven’t been there yet pop in, say hello and support.

There are now a couple of businesses I want to include though officially they opened at the beginning of this year, rather than 2021. They are both GOOD ones!

Firstly a new micro-bakery opened in SE13 on Campshill Road. Ed Baker is slighty off the beaten track but only 2 minutes walk behind the fire station and just off the beginning of Hither Green Lane.

Ed is a wonderful entrepreneur who only first discovered baking under lockdown but within 2 years has perfected his skills to make delicious real bread. He started selling his bread, cakes and quiches at Blackheath farmers market & also joined Catford food market in the autumn of 2021. A large empty unit – in fact two together came up on this Lewisham parade and Ed thought it was now time to properly set up his business with a shop outlet.

I only visited myself just over a week ago as along with 8 other locals I was luckily invited to take part in a baking workshop. Over an extended morning we all learnt how to make sour dough bread, made a loaf ourselves and collected it 2 days later once baked. It was great fun but also allowed us to sample his cooking and discover more about his plans for the business.

At the moment Ed is largely operating by himself but ideally he would like to provide coffee, have seating outside and open up the empty unit next door as a grocers/deli supporting local food makers/suppliers-all great ideas. Ed Baker is open from Tuesday to Sunday 12-8pm and he would love to see new faces pop by and check out his bread & other goodies- I guarantee you will receive a very warm welcome.

My final entry under this section of new business openings is perhaps one of the most exciting for me personally as I can literally see it from my front pathway!

There has been a cafe along Ewhurst Road for a long time with various owners over the years but for me it has never been the same since Jay at Hungry Horace died suddenly six years ago. I was therefore delighted to see the place being gutted in the Autumn last year with extensive building works taking place. I had popped my head round the door a few times to find out what was going on with them ideally opening end of November. As we all know deadlines on refurbishments inevitably slip and they finally opened Cool Beans at the beginning of January this year.

I instantly fell in love with this cafe as everyone was so friendly with Jodie, heading up the staff team. They have done a wonderful job with the interior, creating a lovely warm atmosphere and the absolute BEST bit ever is that they have created a large counter with high seating running along the main window where I can sit and watch the world go by in my little area of Crofton Park-just perfect. I get very upset if there isn’t a space left in MY spot!

They have a good varied menu with coffee, cakes, breakfasts, brunch and lunch and open six days a week with daily specials. The plan is to also open occasionally in the evenings with the odd pop up so that will be great for the local area as I could soon rustle up a group of us from my street What’s App alone! Indeed it has already in just a couple of months of opening become a real community cafe and certainly a great addition to the neighbourhood.

Existing Empty Units

Whilst detailed above were the main businesses I’m aware of that opened in 2021 & at the beginning of this year there are still a few major empty units in the area that we were all hoping would finally be let & be operating by now.

The main ones I’m talking about are the 2 Coral betting shops that closed down early in the pandemic & never reopened.

I understand there has been a lot of interest in the large corner unit in Ladywell village, next to the Larder. Everyone is very keen to see a restaurant in this space to add to the night time economy in that part of SE13.

However the owners Coomes who also own the empty, abandoned flats above the retail space sadly seem in no hurry to find a new tenant. For more details on this story see this recent article written by Ladywell Live. Let’s hope there is finally some progress this year.

Meanwhile the other empty Corals shop is over in SE4 on the corner of Adelaide Ave & the main Brockley Road. Over the last year there was a very interested person-the owner of a building company, who wanted to turn it into a hardware & builders merchants which was warmly received by the local area. Negotiations were well under way with hoping everything could happen & be open for business at end of last summer.

Sadly there have been complications with ownership/the legal agreements being finalised & the very interested builder has set up shop elsewhere. I’m not hopeful that things will get resolved anytime soon with a new tenant. Such a shame that a prominent site like that in a central location is still lying empty. Watch this space for hopefully some good news in 2022.

The other major large unit that I would of possibly hoped for some good news on in 2021 was the old Barclays Bank building in Crofton Park. However works to the whole building are progressing as we speak & last week I managed to speak to Darren, the owner.

The ground floor space is currently being gutted & cleared out. He assures me that it will be let out commercially & that there are a few interested parties with it most likely becoming a restaurant/bar. Nothing has been signed with anyone yet & I think all will become clearer in the early summer. He is hoping works will be completed by the end of the year and so if we are lucky we could see a new business finally open in 2022!

To also add Darren is aware the exterior of the building is looking shabby & this will be a priority in the next few months to improve & decorate the outside. All sounds potentially good news so I will keep you updated on developments.

There are also some very long standing empty units along by Brickfields in Midtown Brockley so I’m hopeful that something will happen there.

Business Closures in 2021

Surprisingly there have been few major business closures in the area last year.

Perhaps the 3 ones I’m personally aware of are Masala Wala cafe, the Honor Oak Florists on the parade & confirmation that the Gantry is sadly not going to reopen.

The shutting of the popular Pakistani inspired cafe, Masala Wala, at the end of October was very sad news. Following on from the death of Saima, one of the co-founders of the business, in June 2021 the family had worked hard to keep it going but with the challenges of operating a hospitality Biz in a pandemic and rent increases beckoning they made the difficult decision to close it. They will certainly be missed.

That part of SE4 will not be the same but let’s hope someone good will take it over & help rejuvenate Brockley Cross again.

The popular florists on the Honor Oak Parade finally closed its doors in the summer last year and have moved over to Bellenden Rd in Peckham. They had been many years in SE23 & so it was our loss & SE15’s gain. I will talk more about this unit under New Biz in 2022.

Looking forward-New Business Openings This Year-2022 

I will detail below the few businesses I’m aware of that are definitely opening but as ever I caveat this with saying I really hope there will be many more surprises that I haven’t heard about yet! These are often the best & can come out of nowhere.

Sadly I predict there could be some unexpected closures during the year as businesses have to grapple with increasing costs & unless they can pass these on to us the customers their Biz may simply not become viable anymore.

If you think that our energy costs are all rising in April spare a thought for some large commercial businesses as they will see massive increases to cover their large premises with high gas/electric usage for necessary equipment. Also the cost of raw materials, importing & exporting rises due to Brexit, increases in staffing costs but also problems in recruitment are just some of the factors that will determine how successful Biz will be in the coming year.

Whilst some local businesses have certainly benefited with more people working from home & therefore shopping/eating/drinking & using more neighbourhood outlets, others have struggled with the cumulative effects of the past two years with lockdowns etc.

The first business to open this year will be the Talbot over in SE4. Whilst this isn’t strictly new it has been closed since the end of last year & will be re-opening after extensive refurbishment works & under new management. It has always been a very popular pub/food outlet with a large outside area so many locals can’t wait to get it back. I have been told by Manu and Rich “Expect a food led pub with locally sourced produce and a world class beverage program”

Sometime in March is the estimated launch date but as we all know these things can slip but hopefully we will see an opening in the Spring. Very exciting!

Back over in SE23 there should also be an Easter/Spring opening with Honor Oak Vintners along the parade, where the florists used to be. It is currently being fitted out & is the brainchild of Tony from Honor Oak Provender, who owns the deli opposite.

It will initially just be a wine shop but in the future possibly also serving alcohol with a sit in area. This sounds like a great addition to the area.

A Spring Biz possibility is another interesting one as local SE23 resident Tom has set up BARANG which is cuisine inspired by Cambodian & SE Asian street food. He is hoping to do pop ups in local cafes/outlets but hasn’t got anything confirmed yet but watch this space!

Other businesses that should open this coming year are the Co-Op in the new build development in Ladywell. Hopefully a new cafe in the Catford/Perry Hill area by the owners Nadine & Guy of the popular vintage camper-van Marchetti on Blythe Hill fields plus it looks like there could be a new Biz coming to Brockley Cross as when I drove past a few days ago the windows of the corner unit on the roundabout were covered, indicating something was possibly happening.

LOCAL BUSINESS VENUES

I will once again finish the BIZ section of my blog with 3 of the our amazing local businesses that are more than just a shop/pub or cafe/restaurant as they really are important local 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 Rivoli Ballroom and the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre. The other venue I’m mentioning here is the wonderful Catford Mews that opened in SE6 in September 2019.

Under each of the 3 business venues I will briefly look back to what happened last year and then more importantly look forward to what we have in store during 2022.

Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

This popular local theatre in SE4 re-opened to the public in mid-June last year and the shows they have put on since have been well received and audiences were delighted to see live theatre again. Luckily they obtained some Cultural Recovery funding that helped enormously for them to survive under the many lockdowns/restrictions where the theatre industry was an area that really suffered.

Their festive production ‘Wolves are Coming for You’ proved very popular but sadly had to close early just before Xmas as Covid19 & the Omicron variant both affected many of the people booked to see it but also the cast. I sadly never got to see the show as, like many families, the virus struck within the household and so missed out.

They have just finished a very successful long run with Arrows and Traps Theatre company which included two shows Holst ‘The Music in the Spheres’ and Payne ‘The Stars are Fire’. I went to the Holst show and was very impressed with the performances/lighting and sound production. I was certainly going to follow this up with their other show but sadly time ran out!

Just last week the theatre heard the great news that they were winners under two categories of the Offies Peoples vote 2022 Awards. They won best programming policy and most welcoming theatre which is a well deserved endorsement for everything Kate, Karl and the team do there.

Their current show is Richard II by William Shakespeare by We Are Animate and is a modern day interpretation of this classic Bard play. It is on until Saturday 5th March with showings every night from Tuesday at 730pm.

Howerd’s End is then on from the 8th to the 12th March with Just Call me Al following in April and then 2 shows Jarman and Flightpath during May. A very varied programming so there should be something for everyone. For details of all these shows and to book see here.

The Jack is also putting on a number of free films during March in the theatre, all with a connection to Lewisham, either the filmings themselves or the artists in them. This is their contribution towards the Borough of Culture. It promises to be a fun and interesting programme and the details should be on the website in the next couple of days.

I will finish this section by saying that whilst many local residents love this local theatre and support it regularly I’m always surprised by the number of people that say I’ve never yet been to a performance there! If you are one of those that still haven’t visited it why not check out their future shows and pop along to SUPPORT. Honestly you will be amazed at the quality of acting & production at this local fringe theatre.

The Rivoli Ballroom 

This stunning local venue is just 5 minutes walk from my house and has a very special place in my heart having been there countless times over the years from disco’s to private parties & political events/meetings to film and comedy nights. I count myself very lucky that I was able to celebrate my 60th at the Rivoli, just 6 months before the pandemic struck.

Since June last year the ballroom was regularly hosting events again and these have grown in popularity as people gradually ventured out from lockdown. The monthly Rouges at the Rivoli 70’s, 80’s disco and funk nights proved popular along with the film evenings and I personally can highly recommend both activities in these sumptuous surroundings.

They saw out last year in style with their sell out family New Years eve party.

Looking ahead to 2022 they have the Rouge Disco’s planned every month plus the popular Jive Party nights are back with dates in March and April. I really want to go to one of these this year as have heard they are great fun with a live band & a beginner’s jive lesson to kick the evening off. If don’t fancy dancing yourself this is a fab night to just people watch!

Cinema nights are also booked into the calendar for March and April with films ranging from The Lost Boys to The Big Lebowski. These pop up evenings are a great opportunity to see inside this hidden gem of SE London without spending lots of money. For details of all events in the coming months see here.

I’m constantly surprised when local people say they still haven’t been to the Rivoli. Honestly I defy you to not go WOW when you first enter the ballroom-especially from the unassuming outside of the building. Make a positive decision to go along this year to an event and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.Catford MewsI will finish this section of the blog with another local business/venue that I consider is very special and feel very lucky that the Really Local Group decided to open their first cinema complex in Catford. It has only been open since September 2019 and so hasn’t yet had a full year of operating under ‘normal’ conditions.

It was finally able to open again at the end of May last year, after lockdown and has gradually been attracting audiences back, especially with early blockbusters like James Bond and Dune.

I think the programming is really good as they understandably show all the mainstream films but also make sure any good Indie films are also shown. Having 3 screens available helps to allow that to happen. One thing to absolutely add here is that the quality of sound and vision at each of the cinemas is superb along with the exceptionally comfy & spacious seating.

Just before Xmas we renewed our membership and I’ve got to say it is an absolute bargain/no-brainer. Okay we qualify for the sixty plus deal at £25 but even an adult one is only £40 and for that you get 4 free cinema tickets, discounted tickets for every show and 10% discount at all of the food and drink outlets. These include Compound Coffee, Fuse, Twerk n Jerk, My Kibris Kitchen and the latest addition Catford Chews.

There are some really good films coming out in the next few weeks-indeed the long awaited Batman is opening this coming Friday 4th March. For all details of screenings and times check out and book here.

To conclude this section I really am hoping that 2022 will finally be the year that Catford Mews gets to be operational & open fully throughout the 12 months. If you haven’t yet been to this exciting venue in SE6 this is the time to pop down and SUPPORT! Also if you are still wary about going inside a cinema then choose a screening on weekday afternoons or early evenings as these are generally quiet times and you can make sure you are sat away from other people in the audience.

LOOKING BACK, EVENTS & HAPPENINGS IN 2021 

Last year was certainly better for events as whilst we spent nearly 4 months at the start of the year in lockdown there was more of a confidence that we would come out of it eventually & that things could happen in the summer rather than the year before when many events planned had to be cancelled in March/April when we were dealing much more with the unknown.

Sadly for two years in a row the Telegraph Hill festival didn’t take place as the early timing in the Spring just didn’t allow it. Also the New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival (NXDFFF) was similarly hit. However for both these festivals I have good news under the section below ‘Looking Forward to this year’

The first major festival in the area in 2021 was Brockley Max at the end of May and whilst decisions had to be made early on to not hold the big opening night & Art in the Park at Hillyfields live a number of events went online but surprisingly also lots took place, often in ingenious & interesting venues, with many being outside.

In total 60 events happened over the 9 days with perhaps the highlight being the amazing young talented band The Mocktales who performed twice over the opening weekend on the flat roof of Geddes hair Salon in Ladywell. They brought SE13 to a standstill & created such a community buzz.

Other highlights were outside theatre in the large garden of Wickham Road by the super talented Sirrah Sisters, all women performers, doing the hilarious Midsummer’s Night Dream. The Community Railway garden in Crofton Park was used as a venue for book & poetry reading, led by Jason Shelley & was well supported. Certainly a great festival & everyone was so pleased to finally get out, meet each other again & support local creatives.

The next major event that happened in the summer was the wonderful Hillyfields Fayre. organised by the Brockley Society. It had been cancelled last year and to be on the safe side the date was pushed back in 2021 to the 17th July when it normally takes place in Midsummer.

We all wanted this amazing one day Fayre to be a success & we weren’t disappointed. It seemed like the whole of SE London had turned out to support this great community event.

We were certainly lucky with the weather as it was on one of the hottest days of the year and it was such a celebration of all things positive about our area. I helped out in the Craft tent & was there most of the afternoon helping with entries for the different children’s competitions and had great fun.

The second biggest one day festival that took place last year was up in Blythe Hill & again the date was pushed back to make more time for planning & ensure Covid restrictions were at a minimum.

Sunday the 5th September on the SE23 hill was a great event & it seemed that everyone was turning out to support local businesses/be entertained & just be outside meeting friends & having a good time. Once again we had glorious weather.

The other things that took place throughout the summer/last year were local markets and the popular monthly Catford Food Market started again on the last Sunday of the month along the main Broadway.

Perhaps one of the most special markets to me personally is at the Crofton Park Railway Garden which started up again in Mid May and in total we had 5 Saturday markets, culminating in the Xmas special at the end of November with live music.

These community markets are small with only 8-10 stalls but with a mix of food & craft traders they are a lovely event, well supported & have a real community feel.

The other beautiful green space in Crofton Park, the Fourth Reserve, also held 2 open days during the year, which attracted lots of local residents, many of whom had previously not been inside this local Nature Reserve.

It certainly has the wow factor once people step inside and see how much work has been done over the last few years by volunteers to transform this outside area.

Meanwhile over in SE6 the Catford Arts Trail took place again last year & was back to being a large event over 2 weekends in October (they had also done a smaller version in 2020)

It is always a great event celebrating local creatives/crafters in people’s houses/studios/& interesting venues around Catford. It was certainly well supported as once again people were keen to get out & about.

Finally in 2021 the end of November & into December saw lots of festive events happen again with Xmas markets & fayres back from Hither Green to Catford to the BIG Brockley Christmas market along Coulgate Street which is always one of my favourite events of the year and totally proves to me what a great community we live in as there is always such a special atmosphere.

LOOKING FORWARD, FUTURE EVENTS 2022

It looks like most events/festivals locally are finally happening again this year as all Covid restrictions have now been lifted.

We are due to go to Glastonbury at the end of June after it’s been cancelled twice. It’s certainly planning on going ahead & If it finally happens it really will prove life has got back to normal!

I will list the main events I’m aware of in the area in chronological order. Obviously extra things will come along & I normally do another blog at the end of May when I detail the summer festivals. However I’m not so sure at the moment that I will be doing that as presently considering this could be my last big blog post, at least in this form.

Telegraph Hill Festival – 25th March to 10th April 

Great news that this popular festival is finally happening again after unfortunately having to be cancelled for 2 years in a row.

The full programme is now out & you can see the details here. It is jam packed with everything from comedy to music nights to open studios to workshops.

There is so much creative & musical talent on the Hill & I can certainly recommend you check out the different events happening in SE14 & it’s borders.

New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival (NXDFF) Spring 2022

The dates & details of this exciting free film festival haven’t yet been announced but it’s normally at the end of April/beginning of May. For updates keep checking the website here.

Spring Craft Market at Nineth Life – Saturday 16th April (plus also Saturday 25th June) 

Our local makers and creatives, under the umbrella of NHD Arts & Crafts, will be showcasing their talents at this popular craft market in Catford.

Brockley Max Festival – Friday 27th May to Saturday 4th June 

This 9 day community festival is due to be bigger & better this year & they are currently inviting people to submit details for events.

There will be the the live music stage for the opening night in Foxberry Rd, Brockley again plus the amazing family Art in the Park day up by the Stone Circle in Hillyfields.

After the success of outdoor music last year they are planning to create a music trail around the area over the first weekend plus the arts trail will also take place.

Also expect comedy, film, theatre & literature, plus lots more. Keeping checking the website here for updates.

Hither Green Jubilee Food Fair –Saturday 28th May 11-6pm

The wonderful food & craft fair is returning this year at the Hither Green Clocktower with also a live music stage plus much more. If you would like a stall at this popular event open the link here.

Ladywell World Folk Music Festival – Saturday 18th June 11-6pm

This one day festival is to be held in the grounds of the Ladywell Day Centre with music & dance performances, a children’s parade plus free workshops for children. Sounds an interesting event!

Hillyfields Midsummer Fayre – Saturday 25th June 12-5pm

This popular Fayre is returning to its normal Midsummer’s date this year which sadly means I will be missing it as all being well will be at Glastonbury.

The Brockley Society are the drivers behind the Fayre & they always need people to help organise this big local event so if you are willing to volunteer please email chair@brockleysociety.org.uk

Lewisham People’s Day -Saturday 16th July

After a gap of four years South East London’s longest running free festival is back in Mountsfield Park, SE6 as part of We are Lewisham.

Many other events hopefully will be happening this year such as the Blythe Hill Festival, Havelock Walk Open Studios and the Catford Arts Trail but the dates & details haven’t yet been finalised.

There will also be lots of small church & community centre summer fairs plus of course the popular school fairs. I’m sure that this year many streets/roads will be having their own parties to celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee.

Borough of Culture – all year

If people aren’t aware already Lewisham won the London Mayor’s Borough of Culture award in 2017. Sadly it all had to be postponed due to Covid but really is finally happening this year.

The launch was on Friday 28th January with lots of different events & activities happening throughout the Borough and is continuing every month with an extensive, varied programme, all celebrating the rich & diverse culture & talent in Lewisham.

It promises to be an exciting year ahead and I personally can’t wait. For details & updates see here for the website We are Lewisham.

COMMUNITY NEWS 

Crofton Park Community Library

It is great to see this community hub back open 4 days a week with lots happening at the library on a regular basis. Story time is every Thursday with Chinese storytelling on the second Friday of the month. Mike & Carol Harris run the Crofton Park History sessions on the 1st Saturday of the month and yoga classes are every Wednesday and Sunday at 7pm plus a creative writing course is starting on the 7th March.

Meanwhile there are a number of special events coming up in the next few months and for details see here. Highlights include the exhibition SHEROES of Lewisham which is travelling round the borough and will be in Crofton Park Library from March 22nd to Sunday 27th March. This is a Borough of Culture project celebrating thirty inspiring women in Lewisham with photographic portraits and poetry dedicated to them. A family poetry workshop will be held on the Saturday (26th) in response to SHEROES.

Also on Sunday 27th March 1030 to 6pm there will be a day of celebration of women’s creativity and local and Lewisham based artists are showing their art in the library space for the day. There will also be a preview of a photographic project in collaboration with photographer Chiara Gambuto entitled Crofton Park -Places/Faces with portraits and interviews with some of the well-loved businesses, community minded venues and people in Crofton Park. I personally can’t wait to see this as I was actively involved and it should be fascinating reflections on a moment in time of our local area. For details of all events see here.

Altogether it is certainly worth popping in to our lovely community hub to browse the bookshelves, meeting the friendly volunteers and saying hello to the delightful Silvana, the library manager.

Crofton Park Community Railway Garden 

If you regularly read my blogs you will know that this is one of my favourite spaces as I virtually pass this beautiful outdoor garden every day, running alongside the platform of the station. I love looking in and seeing people and families enjoying themselves in this safe, tranquil space. It has been brilliant under lockdown for friends to meet and connect, often with a take-away coffee!

There should be quite a bit happening in the garden this year as we have been given some funding for projects that have been in the pipeline for a while, mainly around enhancements that will benefit children so it will become even more attractive to the little ones. I can’t wait to bring my grand-daughter Jaya here once she is walking/running.

Meanwhile there is always money needed for ongoing maintenance projects at the garden and we are urgently needing to build two covered compost bins, improve the watering system and provide on-going planting. We also suffered some storm damage a few weeks ago. A funding page has been set up and if you are able contribute a few £ that would be fantastic. The link is here.

To finish this section there are two dates to note. The first is a volunteer day on Sunday March 13th 10-1pm and it would be great to see some new faces. The final date is the first Community Market of 2022 which is on Saturday 9th April. It is also hoped to put on more events during the year so keep checking the website for updates.

Fourth Reserve 

We are so lucky to have in Crofton Park two beautiful outdoor community spaces. Fourth Reserve is by the pedestrian railway bridge at the end of Eddystone Road and last year two big open days were held to allow the local residents to come inside, wander around and see the nature reserve in all its glory. Meanwhile a lot happened behind the scenes with a series of female only refugee events held at the reserve, using it as a sanctuary space where women shared stories and drank tea. This was in collaboration with Refugee cafe and the Refugee Council.

They also hosted inset days for Lewisham Teachers Hub where teachers learnt about how to bring nature in to the curriculum more.

The fight continues to save the woodland at Courtrai Road and this year will be a celebration of 100 years of scouting history at the site and it’s proposed to hold a scouts parade and street party.

The Reserve are also restoring a plum tree orchard and are currently taking part in a Hogwatch project to monitor hedgehogs, now a species in danger of extinction.

The Reserve is maintained and run by volunteers organised by the amazing Anna-Maria and Nick. Resources are in short supply and so if you can spare a few pounds towards planting, equipment and tools that would be fantastic. Every donation, however small, is a great help. See here for their funding page.

Speeding and Road Safety Issues in Crofton Park 

In the last 2 previous blogs I have written about the issues of speeding and road safety issues in SE4 and sadly I have to say they have only got much worse since Xmas with 3 major incidents already happening this year. Two of these involved extensive damage to local businesses with only last week a van losing control and ploughing into the rear of the small building which is Acorn estate agents at the corner of Brockley Grove and the main road causing major structural damage.

Everyone is understandably very concerned for their safety as they walk around the area and the stretch by Beecroft school is particularly worrying for parents with pick up and drop off for the children. We are all getting increasingly frustrated that little is being done to address the situation and this has been illustrated by an online article summing up the concerns of local residents, written just a couple of days ago in My London here

Whilst we appreciate that our local councillor’s are trying their best and that lack of money is a huge factor we are at the point that something HAS to be done and URGENTLY. I only hope that the next time I report back it isn’t that there is yet another crash but rather that something positive has happened to address the ridiculous and dangerous speeding in the area. Meanwhile if you haven’t already please sign the latest petition as every additional signature will help put pressure on the Council.

Bandstand 

I just want to say a brief few words about starting a campaign to look at the feasibility of possibly having a bandstand up on Hillyfields again. There was a very popular traditional bandstand on the main ridge of the park during the Victorian era and it was there up until 1924. The photos online are very appealing and it is depicted on the end wall of the Hillyfields Cafe by artists Beck n Coll.

I personally love bandstands and on my regular walks see the ones in Greenwich, Mountsfield Park and Horniman’s and often photograph them and put them on social media. Just over a month ago I suddenly had a thought that wouldn’t it be lovely to try and get a bandstand back in Hillyfields and what an amazing lasting legacy a permanent outdoor performance space would be following on from Lewisham being the Borough of Culture this year.

I found out that just over 6 years ago a group had been formed locally to look at this and amazing innovative designs had been created by the architect Will Alsop for a modern bandstand in Hillyfields. For lots of reasons this project wasn’t taken forward but I have met with a couple of the original organisers to talk it through. I personally realise it is a HUGE undertaking and could take many years and much time and money to ever come to fruition but at the moment I’m prepared to slowly work it through until I meet too many obstacles. I have mentioned it as if anyone is able to help and support the project please let me know.

SNIPPETS OF NEWS

The House of Brockley is launching tomorrow with branded clothing & goods for all things SE4-very exciting/Watch out for the monthly jazz nights at Two Spoons-great music, food, drink & atmosphere/Did you know all burgers are 25% off on Thursday nights at the fab Rise Cafe/Sunday lunches are proving popular at L’Oculto in SE4 where between 1230 to 330pm a full menu is served/Check out the great early evening happy hour deals at Parlez/Live events are happening over at Waterintobeer-check out their March listings/The fab Migration Museum in Lewisham is now closed but will re-open in April with a new exhibition/The next edition of Lewisham Ledger is out in 3 weeks time plus did you know the Camberwell Clarion was launched 10 days ago-hyperlocal quality print journalism is alive and kicking!/The next Wine tasting evening is on the 8th March at Jerome’s Wine Bar-need to book/The fundraising campaign by Sister Midnight to create Lewisham’s first community owned music venue is closing on March 3rd-see here to support/Have you tried the delicious homemade samosa’s at Jay’s Budgen’s? on sale every weekend/The Blue Room have a new March menu-check out & I guarantee a delightful dining experience/The Bank of Things is now open in Lewisham shopping centre on Mondays & Wednesdays providing everyday necessities for the borough’s young people-a great new initiative/Hillyfields tennis courts are getting resurfaced soon/There is a Corbett Library Spring Maker’s market on Saturday 19th March 10-5pm/Seasonal new dishes at The Orchard-did you know this relaxed SE4 bar/restaurant first opened in 2009-nearly 13 years on the block/Lots of Mother’s day gifts and cards at Magi Gifts/The popular Catford Honey is back in stock at the Larder/New delicious Spanish wines are now in stock at Jones of Brockley-perfect for the Spring/Bryan & Keegan, our local estate agents are back open for business since being closed for 9 months following structural damage by an out of control car-if selling,buying or renting check them out & SUPPORT/Talk & walk, Love, Life & Death at the Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery on Saturday 12th March-for details see here/Thursday night is pizza & cocktail for £10 at the lovely Bottle Bar and Shop/The fantastic local Biz Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet (HSDY)are celebrating 12 years! Why not book tickets to boogie on Friday 8th April at Brockley Brewery in SE12/The next So Last Century, vintage event is on Sunday 13th March at AMP studios, Peckham/Did you know our Award winning Biz Brockley’s Rock most popular vegan options are fish steak and vegan sausages (battered or plain)/Have you checked out the Babur Restaurant’s Sunday buffet-delicious food at a very reasonable price/Our local family run garden centre Shannon’s is fully stocked for all your Spring planting needs/Local fab food trader Jerk Off BBQ is back open in Deptford Thursday to Saturday-pop down & support/Nana at Simply Listening is back at the Crofton Park library on Thursday 31st March 12-3pm-pop down and talk/Steak night at the Crofton Park Tavern returns this Thursday-3rd March/May we Know Them is a project celebrating International Women’s Day with a poster exhibition by 30 local women of portraits of women who inspired them-It’s on at the Lewisham Arthouse from March 5th to 13th & talented Beecroft school pupil Eloise is featured with her fab portrait of Greta Thunberg-pop down/Check out the new menu at Hattush, Mediterranean restaurant in Honor Oak/Comedy is back at the Honor Oak pub on Thursday nights with Laugh Train Home/Delicious home-made Italian dishes to take-away from Le Querce Daily in SE23/Plans for the development at the Ladywell Playtower to have a cinema are back on! for details see here

Okay I really am done and as I often say you deserve a medal if you are still reading this! Once again this blog is ridiculously long (nearly 12K words!) and has taken me over a week to do-I generally block out chunks of time each day whilst making sure I also do other things to keep me sane! I am pretty sure this will be the last major blog I do in this format as I consider it is unsustainable for me and my stress levels. It is a hard decision to reach as writing these local blogs is something that has defined me over the last 8 plus years & being retired has given me a sense of purpose.

I’m not saying I won’t ever write another blog again but I’m pretty sure this will be the last one like this and think it fitting I go out on a high with a blog looking back but more importantly looking forward to the year ahead. I may just do a ‘SNIPPETS OF NEWS’ every month or do a write up of a local business or a particular topic. Anyway we wait to see and if anyone has any suggestions then let me know.

I hope you have enjoyed reading them and they have given you lots of information on the local area and maybe prompted you to visit a local business that you hadn’t been to before or popped down to an event/market or festival that didn’t know about.

As I said before I think it is going to be a tough year ahead for everyone with soaring costs but if you are able to please EAT/DRINK/SHOP OR USE LOCAL as this will so help keep our businesses survive. As the saying goes and can’t reiterate enough USE OR LOSE!

On reading this blog I hope you come away thinking WOW I really do live in an amazing area/COMMUNITY. This August will be 34 years of living in the same house in Crofton Park and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be-we are very lucky and anyone who says London is an unfriendly place needs to come to this part of SE London.

Keep safe and healthy and hope 2022 is a good year for everyone with no further restrictions/lockdowns.

Bye for now

Jane x

For local information and updates follow @JaneCanDoSE4 on twitter