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Well here goes – If you read my last blog, posted less than 5 weeks ago, I announced that was the final one that I was doing in that long, rambling format and I certainly haven’t changed my mind.

However I currently plan to write more regular blogs but much much shorter! In fact besides a very brief introduction and conclusion the plan is that I just do my Snippets of News that is usually the last section of the dissertations I normally produce-these snippets are much easier to do but hopefully will still provide useful information on the local area/events/dates/businesses.

So…quick introduction. March was a good month for me personally as I was delighted to be a Mayor of Lewisham Award finalist for voluntary contributions, was featured in the fantastic photography exhibition of places/faces of Crofton Park at the community library and I won an amazing large indoor plant from Mmea in the raffle organised by MindBody Therapy! Very chuffed.

I also travelled abroad for the first time since the pandemic started 2 years ago-we had 5 nights in the beautiful city of Seville, Spain and absolutely loved it-wandering around people watching mainly whilst appreciating the surprisingly good value food and drink-can highly recommend.

Whilst we didn’t have very sunny weather in Spain we came back to much brighter skies in London and last week we had a fantastic 7 days of March weather though this has drastically changed in the last few days and as I’m writing this there is a definite wind chill with even snow flurries!

Anyway I’m going to stop now as if I want this blog to achieve my vision of much less stress (and words) I don’t need to tell you lots about my life! My snippets of news may in some instances be a bit longer than normal-here goes…

Blythe Hill Festival is definitely going ahead this year-date of Sunday 3rd July 12-5pm confirmed-great news/The next date for the popular Catford Food Market is Sunday 24th April 10-4pm along the Broadway/The Croft closed on Thursday 31st March-the best sausage rolls in town are no more-very sad/Meanwhile newly opened Cool Beans cafe on Ewhurst Rd are starting their own sausage rolls-not yet tried but sounds promising/Did you know the fantastic Street Trees for Living have planted 181 trees outside 23 Lewisham primary schools over the last 2 years that children are helping look after-brilliant!/Wild Cat Wilderness-outdoor project in Catford-are always needing volunteers to help out on Thursdays and Fridays-see website to sign up and join us/Next production at the Brockley Jack Studio theatre is ‘Just Call me Al’ from 5th to 16th April-check out here for details/The next Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet (HSDY) event is at Brockley Brewery, Hither Green, on Friday 8th April-see here for tickets/The Lewisham Foodbank is needed even more with the current economic crisis-check out the website here on ways you can help & support/The Rivoli Ballroom is hosting it’s first Northern Soul night on Friday 6th May-tickets just £10-buy here/Next wine tasting evening at Jerome’s Wine Bar is on Tuesday 26th April-6 wines with snacks for £30-need to book/Two Spoons in Honor Oak have their Little Big Easy menu served Wednesday to Saturday from 6.30pm-check out/Reminder of a few dates-Spring Craft Market at Nineth Life, Saturday 16th April 12-6pm-Horniman Spring Fair, Saturday 16th April 1030-4.30pm-Hither Green Jubilee Food Fair, Saturday 28th May 11-6pm-Ladywell World Folk Music Festival, Saturday 18th June 11-6pm-Hillyfields Midsummer Fayre Saturday 25th June 12-5pm-Lewisham People’s Day, Saturday 16th July/The first Crofton Park Railway Garden Market of 2022 is Saturday 9th April 11-3pm-great stalls with delicious Indian vegan food by the fab Jay’s Budgen’s/Support your local butcher’s-pop down to Proud Sow on Ewhurst Road/Have you been yet to Plenty in Ladywell? Check out your local refill shop/Herbs, potatoes and strawberries now in stock at our fab local garden centre, Shannon’s in SE23-get planting/Have you seen Holly from Parlez on Masterchef? thought I recognised her! follow her journey/The New Cross & Deptford Free film festival (NXDFF) going ahead from Saturday 23rd April to Sunday 1st May-9 days of free films across 16 venues-see here for details/Did you know the Fox & Firkin has a HUGE outside space! Check out/Have you picked up your copy of the Lewisham Ledger yet? Great read with lots of  hyper-local information-double page spread of Luke, our amazing Catford photographer who is going round the borough snapping our parks & landmarks under the guise of Lewisham Lens/Blythe Hill Tavern showcase traditional Irish music every Thursday evening/Disco Bingo with We Do Good Disco is happening as part of the ongoing Telegraph Hill Festival on Saturday 9th April-tickets here/So Last Century next vintage fair is at Beckenham Place Park on Easter Monday-18th April & then Monday 2nd May/With money tight have you checked out Cheap Mondays at our local 3 screen cinema at Catford Mews-check out the latest films being shown here/A big fundraising campaign has been started by Fourth Reserve to buy back the land along the Brockley Corridor and restore the ancient woodland to public ownership-see here for details and to donate-every £ helps/The House of Brockley has a new range of beautiful candles & diffusers-see here to order/The patio out at the back of Fred’s cafe is lovely with a proper canopy & gorgeous plants/Check out Ed Baker, for artisan bakes, sourdough, cakes plus more-open Tuesday to Saturday 12-8pm/The Talbot looks like it is getting ready to open around Easter after extensive refurbishment-watch this space/Check out Marvellous Greens & Beans on Brockley Rise for all your fresh seasonal fruit & veg (plus coffee and more)/If you have a beer at  WaterintoBeer expect free popcorn/The Chandos has a great £7 pizza deal on Mondays from Flatboys/Hoping that as the weather warms up you will want ice-cream! Check out Le Querce Daily in SE23, Sundae in SE4 and new cafe Dolce in SE6/Speaking of Dolce or Cafe Bonnane by Catford Station the sun will certainly catch the seating outside this new business-pop down and say hello/Good as Gold celebrated their first birthday last month-if haven’t already check out this fab West Side Brockley cafe/What a great weekend at our local community hub-the Crofton Park library last week-for upcoming events see here and support/Have you seen the outside of the old Barclay’s Bank in Crofton Park? It has been a bit of an eyesore for a long time but restoration and decoration has just been completed & looking good/The Brockley Max festival is all gearing up at the moment-dates 27th to 4th June-deadlines approaching for events plus sponsorships plus volunteering etc-see website for details and get involved/Brightening up the area with flowers that also act as blackboards on the railings at Dandy Park (at end of Courtrai Rd) It’s little things like this that make such a difference to an area/Magi Gifts in Brockley has Easter cards if that is your thing plus lots of gorgeous gifts as a pressy or treat to yourself/Beckenham Place Park now has a regular Sunday food market outside the Mansion House from 10-3pm-well worth a visit/Meanwhile as the weather warms up why not have a swim in the lake at Beckenham-fantastic outdoor swim area-see PTP coaching for details and to book/L’Oculto Cocina is open 5 days a week in Midtown Brockley and has a continual changing seasonal menu-treat yourself-see here to book/The fab cafe-bar-restaurant The Orchard in SE4 is looking for a Chef de Partie to join their kitchen team-see here for details/New Spring drinks and cocktails now being served at Brickfields-pop in and say hello/Lots of lovely outside space at Joyce’s Bar-great to watch the world go by along Brockley Road/Salthouse Bottles are hiring!-need someone to work in the shop for 20 hours per week from May-check out their socials for details/Bottle Bar in SE6 has created an Easter Martini cocktail-delicate chocolate flavour with a hint of orange bitterness-sounds delicious-pop along and try!/Jerk Off BBQ are now on Just Eats for delivery to your door-see here to order/Save the date-Crofton Books have teamed up with Brockley Society for their first annual literacy festival on the 28th May-details to follow-sounds very exciting/Always lots of fantastic chocolate treats at The Larder in Ladywell-perfect for an Easter gift/Do you play tennis? why not check out Catford Wanderers-the only tennis club in the Borough and come and join us for the season/Did you know a new library is opening in the midst of Catford? In the summer a 7 day facility will open in the old WH Smith’s building with new computers, improved Wifi & flexible space for events and activities-sounds great/The Perry Hill Pub is coming up for it’s first birthday-have you been yet? If not can certainly recommend & has a huge outside space with small play area for children/The Rise cafe does great burgers in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturdays with some very good deals-can either sit in or take-away-go on you know you want to!/Vegans are surprisingly well catered for at the Award Winning Brockley’s Rock-check out/On the 9th April a brand new exhibition ‘Taking Care of Business’ opens at the fab Migration Museum in Lewisham town centre and its FREE-highly recommend/Lots going on continually for the Borough of Culture-see here for updates plus have you seen the blue letterboxes around to nominate your Lewisham Legend? Closing date 8th April.

Woohoo-I’ve completed my new format blog with just Snippets of News and so have reduced the size by up to 10,000 words and the time spent on doing it to just half a day rather than many days over a week and LOTS of stress! This could work and become possibly a monthly event-watch this space!

To conclude I want to do a MAJOR call out to SUPPORT our LOCAL BUSINESSES. I have never been more worried than now about their survival. As I have written over the last few years many of our businesses have done well with very few closing but I really fear for what lies ahead. With the cost of living crisis and changing circumstances the situation really has shifted.

Over the last month I have heard from many of our local businesses that things are pretty bleak at the moment with very low footfall- indeed far less than during lockdown when many more people were working locally and so around during the day/week to shop and use their local community rather than uptown in London.

Beside much lower footfall our businesses are also facing HUGE pressures from many different areas. VAT has increased to 20% from today in the hospitality sector and this is very significant. Costs have risen astronomically-from energy & fuel costs to raw materials to staffing costs & shortages-all of these extra pressures  mean that local businesses are going to have to pass the extra costs on to us the customers with higher prices. Obviously this is not something businesses want to do as they are very mindful of the huge extra costs we are all facing with less disposable incomes to spend. However if they don’t increase their prices they themselves may not survive!

I have never before been more pessimistic and the motto Eat/Drink/Use/Shop LOCAL has never been more applicable but I am very aware that for many people it just may not be possible to spend at our local shops and venues as everyone will be tightening their belts.

Meanwhile to end on a brighter note there are lots of events/festivals happening this Spring/Summer and most are free to attend so that costs nothing to pop along and appreciate our AMAZING COMMUNITY.

Have a good April and I look forward to being in touch again in May

Bye for now

Jane x

Please follow me on twitter @JaneCanDoSE4 for local information and updates