SPRING NEWS 2023
Woohoo-this is my first blog post of 2023 and I’ve got to say only a week ago I feared that not only that I wouldn’t be writing a blog again but that all the blogs on here were lost! Yes without warning this website totally disappeared at the beginning of March. Anyway long story short my blogs and Hopcroft Neighbourhood Forum are back-phew!
If you noted in my latest blog back in November 2022 I did strongly indicate that it may be my last one after a decade of writing them. However for the time being I’ve revised that decision as when you lose something you often re-evaluate and I realised that these blogs are part of my history and indeed a past record of the area. They are very important to me plus I think to quite a few other people. For that reason alone I am continuing, at least for the time being.
I’m going to try and keep them shorter which I was gradually achieving much more last year. This makes it far more manageable both for me, and you the reader. This blog post in early Spring has traditionally been where I indicate all the major dates and festivals I’m aware of in the local area and I will start with that after this introduction. I will also do a very short business news section indicating all the closures/changes and openings that have happened over the last 4 months plus my regular snippets of news and finishing with a conclusion.
I normally give quite a long introduction and include a round up of my own life but I’m not inclined to do this except to say so far 2023 has gone pretty well to be honest and I’m continuing to enjoy retired life. We have a routine which includes looking after Jaya, our granddaughter, on a Wednesday and at just over 16 months old she’s just wonderful and it is such a magical age and love being so involved in her life. As I’m posting this we are off on Friday to Centerparcs with our family which is very exciting as haven’t been for many years.
On Sunday 26th March me and Eamon will have been married for 40 years!! Now that’s certainly worth celebrating don’t you think? I got married at 23 which I now find extraordinary but 4 decades ago was much more the norm. Anyway I can think of no-one I would rather be spending the next few decades with and Eamon is my rock and best friend. Raise a glass or two to our Ruby Wedding Anniversary.
I will finish this personal introduction by saying we have lots of trips planned over the next six months with perhaps the major one being a European train trip in June to Italy, the main destination being Naples. Haven’t actually booked it yet but lots of research and it all looks a very exciting adventure.
If anyone hasn’t read my blogs before I need to set out a few parameters. Firstly I cover quite a small area-mainly Crofton Park, Honor Oak, Brockley, Ladywell, Depford and Catford. These are the main postcodes where I live, know about and use. If I extended beyond they would go on forever so apologies if you think I have missed things out-I also don’t know everything & I need to stress it is my personal blog.
Hope you enjoy reading it and gather some useful information.
DATES OF EVENTS/FESTIVALS OVER THE NEXT 6 MONTHS
Telegraph Hill Festival-18th March to 2nd April-this is the first major festival of the year in the area and always a great few weeks of celebrating arts & culture in SE12. It has already started with the fantastic community show having taken place last weekend & this Saturday 25th March 1-5pm its the craft fair at St. Catherine’s church & centre plus the Open Studios over both Saturday & Sunday. For further details on what’s happening see here.
Nunhead Arts & Crafts Spring Market-Sunday 26th March 12-6pm at the Honor Oak Pub. Lots of great local traders will be there including Kate Emblem, Emily Brand, Carol Mullings and People’s Republic of London. Pop down and support this fantastic local pub and our local talented crafters.
Catford Food Market-Sunday 26th March 10-4pm along Adenmore Rd, SE6 (between the two train stations) This highly popular monthly food market is now firmly established in its new location which is proving much better for both the local stallholders and customers alike. There are regular traders plus new ones joining each market and this Sunday it will be celebrating their fifth birthday so expect music & more. It is always on the last Sunday of the month-the next few dates are 30th April, 28th May, 25th June, 30th July and 27th August. Put these dates in the diary-pop down and SUPPORT.
So Last Century-Sunday 26th March 11-4pm at Goldsmiths, University of London. The grand hall in this New Cross venue will host the next popular vintage fair with lots of traders selling everything from home-ware & clothes to books & records. Always a great event.
There are quite a few markets/fairs on this Sunday and it’s possible to visit all three if you plan your route right! I’m sure I would pop down to see them all but as previously mentioned I’m away this weekend in Centerparcs.
Horniman Spring Fair-Saturday 8th April 1030 to 430pm. This family Easter fair at our award winning museum promises live music, crafty workshops and much more. There is a small charge-to book tickets and further information see here.
New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival – Friday 21st April to 30th April. The NXDFFF is always a great annual festival in the north of the borough. Over the 10 days there will be 20 films at 15 locations including 2 outside bike-powered showings and will cover blockbusters/documentaries/short films and family favourites. The digital programme is now out & it’s looking good-see here for details.
Crofton Park Railway Garden Spring Market- Saturday 29th April 11-3pm. This will be the first of the small but popular community markets in the garden this year. The traders haven’t been finalised yet but expect quality food and crafters so put the date in your diary and watch this space for further details.
Arty Farty Market Saturday 13th May 10-4pm at the Albany, Deptford. This is a new venue for this market organiser who has recently ran some very successful events over in Catford Mews. The traders attending are still being finalised but expect lots of quality stalls.
Fourth Reserve Open Day-Sunday 14th or Sunday 21st May-the exact day is currently being finalised so watch this space. However one of those Sundays in May the doors to our beautiful nature reserve will be open to the general public and be part of the Urban Tree Festival taking place across the country. Always a great family day in the great outdoors.
Hither Green Festival Saturday 20th May 1130 to 6pm. This popular day festival in SE13 has been confirmed as going ahead and will take place again at the Hither Green Clock Tower Piazza. If you would like to perform, sponsor or volunteer at the event please email at firstname.lastname@example.org Put the date in the diary and see you there.
Friends of Nunhead Cemetery Open Day-Saturday 20th May 11 to 5pm-This is always an extremely popular family event over at our very special SE15 Victorian cemetery with lots of stalls, live music, tours throughout the day, food and drink plus the famous bug hunt and much more.
Brockley Max festival-Friday 2nd June to Saturday 10th June-If you are new to the area this arts & music festival is one of the highlights of the events calendar in the area. It is 9 days of celebration starting with the Opening live music night on Coulgate St in Brockley and finishing with the big family day on Hillyfield’s, by the stone circle. It is very special to me as I was actively involved for a number of years and whilst I’ve stepped back I always clear my diary to make sure I can go to as many events as possible. See you there
Pride Market Saturday 10th June at Nineth Life, Catford- Nunhead Arts & Craft group have been asked again to organise a market as part of Pride at this central SE6 pub-watch this space for further details plus I understand the pub itself will also be putting on exciting events on the day itself.
Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre – Saturday 24th June 12 to 5pm. This is another of my favourite events, of the year, organised by the Brockley Society. Unfortunately I’m very likely to be away on holiday when I also missed it last year as was in Glastonbury. Anyway if you are around I really can’t recommend enough you putting the date in the diary as you won’t regret it! The whole of the SE4 community & beyond turns out. From checking out the bargains on the bric a brac stalls to the craft tent to sitting watching the judging of the dog show to having tea and cake in the hospitality area. There is live music, a big kids funfair/activity space plus lots more. Keep an eye out for more details on the website-see here.
Blythe Hill Festival – Sunday 2nd July 12-5pm. This family festival on the SE23 hill finishes the main run of local events before the schools break up. It is another great community day and I especially love it as it is literally at the end of my road. For the first time last year I got actively involved in the organisation of the festival and really enjoyed being part of it rather than just turning up as a punter. We always need more volunteers so if would consider it see here for the kind of roles and expertise we are still looking for. We have been very blessed for the past 2 years with the weather so have had record attendances-keep everything crossed for 3rd time lucky.
As it is still very early in the year and a lot of the smaller local church and community organisations haven’t necessarily finalised their arrangements for summer events and fairs. Inevitably there will be lots more dates come along so keep an eye out on social media etc. Also most of our local schools have their own fundraising PTA summer events around June & July so watch out for these great family affordable occasions.
This is going to be very brief but I thought I would give you a round up of the business closures and openings that I know of in the area this year.
As many people are aware I continually reiterate the difficult time that our local independent businesses have been experiencing over the last three years and sadly many have never properly recovered since the lockdowns & restrictions of 2020 and 2021.
Costs have been escalating particularly over the past year with inflation and the energy crisis. Rent/mortgages have only gone one way and there has generally been a staffing shortage across many sectors. This together with customers feeling the pinch the footfall & general spend in local businesses has often been less. All these accumulating factors have unfortunately meant there have been a number of closures, some very sudden & unexpected and often devastating to the local community.
The main closures have been Sparrow in Lewisham, Mmea & My Jami Cafe in SE23. Mamma Dough in Honor Oak (but now out of the chain and so still continuing with a new name Miss Margherita) Over in Deptford Tapas Bar and Dirty Apron with units in the Market Yard closed their doors this year plus the second shop of Marvellous Greens & Beans over in East Dulwich. The cinema at the Fellowship Inn closed its doors to daily films (though some good news on this-more later) & Rise Cafe on Brockley Rise has closed at the weekends. Finally an excellent food trader Brett & Bailey that served many local markets, including Catford’ ceased trading in February.
Whilst the above is very bleak news there is surprisingly some good news with a few new openings this year and some planning to open in the next few weeks and months ahead.
Mezemama along the Honor Oak parade opened just before Xmas but I think most people became aware of it this year. It is a large spacious double unit where Hattush was. I’ve only popped in so far for coffee and pastries but am very impressed and can see they have good reviews for their modern East Mediterranean menu. I certainly plan to properly eat there very soon-pop in and SUPPORT
The Rock, Sole & Plaice (yes I believe it is linked to the legendary fish & chip shop of the same name in Covent Garden) opened last week over in SE4. This new chippy along Brookbank Rd has already got some excellent reviews so again I plan to pop over there in the next few weeks. It is just a take-away I believe.
The beautiful Grade II listed theatre in SE6, The Broadway Catford finally reopened it’s doors at the end of February after extensive refurbishment. I was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes tour of the venue & it really is stunning. Since 1932 it has been a showcase for the best live music, comedy and theatre and this will now continue. For further details on the history and what is coming up check out the website here.
After nearly 5 years since Barclays Bank closed in Crofton Park this large unit is finally opening again with Mindfit Studios at the beginning of April. Kiki and her team of PT trainers and teachers will be welcoming us to the studio/gym with a difference as it focuses on well-being and mental health. The launch is on Saturday 1st April and everyone is invited to pop in and check it out from 10 until 5pm. It certainly is a very exciting new business to the area. I contributed towards the crowdfunder so have some classes to try out-not being a gym person myself but this could be a game changer!
Amrutha Lounge is another exciting new business that is planning to open in SE23 in the next few months. It has taken over the old DONDE double cafe/restaurant on the Honor Oak parade which should then complete all units along this popular main street being occupied which is excellent news and will encourage footfall to the area. The Lounge is to be a vegan Indian restaurant and if it is anything like their branch over in Earlsfield we are in for a treat. They have just launched a kickstarter campaign to help them with costs-check it out here and SUPPORT if you are able to.
Meanwhile I understand the restaurant in Ladywell planned to happen in the old Corals large corner unit is still going ahead by Joel and Alina, who already own the popular Oscar’s cafe and Plenty shop in the village. Getting the necessary permissions is taking longer than anticipated but we just need to be patient-I’m very confident it will be worth the wait!
Finally in this section I want to add that Jerome’s Wine Bar in Crofton Park shut at the end of February for 10 days whilst they underwent a refurbishment. Given the current economic climate you could see this as an extravagant and brave decision but I’ve got to say everyone is delighted with the refreshed new look and I’m confident the investment will reap rewards-as my local I couldn’t be happier.
SNIPPETS OF NEWS
Fellowship Inn are now doing FREE screenings of classics & singalongs on a Friday night plus weekend kids films-this seems like a great idea to get people in who will hopefully then go upstairs to the bar to spend on food & drink/Brockley’s Rock have once again stepped up to sponsor the Art in the Park family day at Brockley Max-great community supporters besides serving delicious fish and chips/The spring edition of the excellent hyper-local Lewisham Ledger is due out in mid April-watch out for copies in lots of businesses across the borough/Sadly Silvana left the Crofton Park library in February-she is greatly missed-I believe they are looking to recruit for a new manager/The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre has got lots of fantastic shows lined up over the next few months-the excellent Still Here by 20 South Street has its last 3 nights as finishing on Saturday-catch it if you can . Astoria is then playing until mid April followed by The Sun, the Mountain and me with an adaption of Richard III in June-for further details and to book tickets see here/Meanwhile just a couple of hundred metres along the main Brockley Rd we have the stunning Rivoli Ballroom which has LOTS of exciting events planned over the next few months including films, disco’s, salsa & jive nights. Just over a year ago Northen Soul nights started and they have become very popular often selling out-for all details on what’s coming up see here/Did you know there is live Irish music at the Blythe Hill Tavern every Thursday evening? Pop down-check out & support/Crofton Books is now regularly hosting an ever growing & lively book club-the next one is on Tuesday 18th April at 7pm-pop into the shop for further details/Two Spoons have been hosting a number of relaxed jazz evenings recently-keep an eye on their socials for the next one/Cool Beans on Ewhurst Rd now daily do a mean sausage roll that are proving very popular/Fred’s along the main Crofton Park High St are now an SE4 stalwart & as the warmer & lighter days approach check out their attractive back covered patio area/Forever evolving Dolce, the cafe between the 2 stations in Catford, is now serving homemade pasta dishes plus have four cocktails on tap!/Rye Lane the movie was released last week and proving very popular, filmed in Peckham, Brixton and Bankside-I loved it and recognised lots of South London sites-now showing at Catford Mews with a couple of shows a day/The House of Catford is open every Saturday & Sunday 10-5pm selling lots of local goodies & merchandise including the popular T-shirts and hoodies-check out/Proud Sow will be increasingly creating delicious BBQ meat selections as the weather warms up-pop down and support this local quality butcher in Crofton Park/Also on Ewhurst Rd the new business that opened in November Paradise Kitchen is proving popular and attracting good reviews-got to say their Sag Paneer is excellent!/The Orchard is doing their monthly quiz this Sunday (26th March)Always popular -why not gather a team and pop down-meanwhile there are new cocktails on the menu plus also at their gorgeous sister bar, Brickfields/The Rise cafe has been doing hearty homemade soups-catch them before they come off the menu as the weather warms up/Have you seen the new works to the Crofton Park Community Railway Garden? this reclaimed area incorporating a wooden train, stepping stones, a blackboard, toadstools & table, bug wall and viewing platform is proving very popular with families/Hatty Uwanogho is showing her first photographic exhibition entitled ‘Wild London’ at the Hill Station cafe from the 9th April to Sunday 4th June-pop in and support plus whilst you are there check out the wonderful Hill Trader shop selling local makers merchandise/The Fairytop Garden Zoo bar is looking to open again this Spring-exact date to be announced but meanwhile pop into the Catford Constitutional Bar on the ground floor that is fast becoming a popular local destination/Talking of warmer weather Sundae in Midtown Brockley is gearing up for the summer with its wide selection of ice-cream & sorbets/Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet (HSDY) is looking to host 2 more of their sell out 70s & 80s discos at the Fellowship Inn-one on May 19th & then later on September 8th-further details and tickets here./The Perry Hill pub has lots going on over the Easter holidays with Egg decorating from the 3rd to 6th April and then an Easter egg hunt on Saturday 8th-need to book via website/Finally! Jays Budgens were delighted to report that the road outside their shop from Sevenoaks Rd up to the mini roundabout is being resurfaced overnight on the 29th & 30th March-great news as badly needed. Also pop into Budgen’s for a wide selection of Easter eggs and goodies/Our award winning museum Horniman’s is planning to re-open the crazy golf from the 7th April-have you checked out the Lego Dino’s exhibition yet?Great fun for all the family/Wild Cat Wilderness is a fantastic outdoor space on the Catford-Perry Hill borders and is looking to do a few community events in the Easter holidays with Tuesday 4th April 10-3pm very likely-check out the website for updates/Really looking forward to the spring/summer again as Coulgate St comes alive with the three fab businesses there spilling onto the closed off road creating a real continental vibe-namely Broca, Browns of Brockley & Parlez-which also continues into the evening/Elsewhere cafe is now firmly established on the Crofton Park scene after opening last July-it serves its full menu from Thursday to Sunday whilst the earlier days of the week there is a more limited selection of food/Have you popped along to the award winning Ed Baker yet? His bakery is behind the Lewisham Fire Station, on Campshill Rd & well worth a visit. If not able to get there he now has an online shop and offers a delivery service-check out here/There has been a mounting campaign by GetaCross to lobby for a safe crossing installed across the dangerous Manwood Rd junction with Ewhurst Rd, especially as this was promised in 2012 when the Prendergast Ladywell Primary school was approved at the Lewisham planning committee-get involved-for updates check out here/The fabulous Dandy Park-the reclaimed community space at the end of Courtrai Rd has proved a very popular safe area for families and last year a number of very successful events were held there-I understand the Peppermint 500 remote car race is hopefully returning in June-watch this space/The Bottle Bar & shop in Catford are still doing their amazing value deal of a pizza and cocktail for £10 before 7am-plus have a few places for their wine tasting evening on Tuesday 11th April-check out here and support/Did you know the Beer Dispensary in Crofton Park have a lovely beer garden at the back which covers all weathers as have an awning for the rain plus heaters in the winter-pop in/Jerk Off BBQ is back open in Creekside, Deptford from Thursday to Sunday selling their delicious Caribbean food-support this Indie Biz down in SE8/Also happening in Deptford the fabulous Teatro Vivo theatre company are putting on a new exciting immersive show which from past experience I can highly recommend-we are off tonight to see Dangerous Games but there are still a few tickets left for Friday & Saturday-see here for details/The popular L’Oculto Cocina along Midtown Brockley is preparing for warmer weather with a lighter seasonal menu and both tables out at the front plus an attractive back patio area/For all your cheese needs there is nowhere better than Jones of Brockley/Co-ordinated & organised by the fab Nunhead Arts & Craft each month a local artist is showcased at the Nineth Life pub and up until 7th April it is Yvonne Devine-bright & bold, exploring feminine identities-check out/As the summer approaches have you been to the Fox & Firkin’s HUGE garden with its festival vibe (plus a real railway carriage runs along the back wall) well worth a visit/The newly refurbished Talbot at the end of Tyrwhitt Rd (I always have to double check how you spell this road!) will be experiencing a full summer this year-pop in and say hello if not already done so/Joyce Bar in SE4 is a great place to chill, sit out,relax and watch the world go by along Brockley Rd-plus can order a delicious Yard Sale Pizza that is then delivered free to customers/Have you been yet to the wonderful and informative Migration Museum in Lewisham Shopping Centre-it really is a great asset to the area and well worth a visit-open from Wednesday to Sunday-check out their website here as hold regular events & family workshops.
Okay I’m done! Once again its longer than I anticipated but this reflects how much is happening in our brilliant area. I feel so lucky that I’ve ended up in SE London and can’t think of anywhere better that I’d rather live. We really are an amazing COMMUNITY.
My penultimate paragraph is to stress the importance of SUPPORTING our local venues and businesses. Use or Lose is one of my frequent moto’s and it has never been more applicable right now as many BIZ are struggling. That doesn’t mean having to spend lots of money-just one cup of coffee, one card, one slice of cake, one loaf of bread, or one glass of wine can make the world of difference-trust me.
Hope everyone has a fantastic spring and summer ahead and gets along to a few of the events and festivals that are taking place. I certainly will be at many and if you think you recognise me please say hello- I had a lovely elderly couple from Sutton Coldfield ask me in Arlo & Moe a few weeks ago if I was Jane that writes the blogs as they regularly visit their family who live on Bexhill Rd and follow me on twitter so know everything that’s going on in the area. It made my day!
Love Jane x
Follow me on twitter @JaneCanDoSE4 for information & updates