Brockley with kids

Sometimes it's a hard world for small things.
- H.I., Raising Arizona

We have been meaning to post something about child-friendly locations in Brockley for a while. The discovery of a toy box in Jam Circus this weekend was the perfect cue.

Brockley appears to be attracting an increasing number of young families - low house prices, good primary schools, green spaces and a community atmosphere make Brockley a natural choice. The evidence of this is everywhere: the catchment areas for schools are shrinking as more kids move in, nursery developers are targeting the area and, much to the displeasure of a few misanthropes, many Brockley businesses have geared up-for children.

Here's a quick tour - we'd welcome your advice:

The Broca

Has a generous toy box and the new extension is perfect for small groups of parents and kids, away from the bustle of the main counter.

Jam Circus

As well as some toys and books for kids, there's a back room which is usually quiet during the day, meaning the kids can play without you feeling guilty.

The Brockley Mess

Well stocked with baby chairs and more toys.

The Wickham Arms

The landlords have made the rear garden more child-friendly with the addition of a small playground.

Oscar's

The garden is popular with parents and the menu makes more concessions to kids than most places in the area.

Toads Mouth Too

The labyrinthine layout isn't pushchair friendly, but the staff are. High chairs available.

Geddes and Tom Boyz

For kids' hair cuts, Tom Boyz is cheap and cheerful with a special kids seat with a steering wheel to distract them, but you can't book ahead. Geddes is a little more expensive but allows you to book and - in our experience - the cut has been better.

121 comments:

Brockley misanthrope said...

Well at least you can get a polystyrene cup of lukewarm Nescafe at Portlands without being reminded of your kids.... BECAUSE YOUR B**CH OF A WIFE TOOK THEM FROM YOU BECAUSE YOU PUT THE CHRISTMAS FUND ON THE 3:30 AT NEWMARKET..... *sobs pathetically*

Anonymous said...

I agree Nick, I have a small baby and everywhere in Brockley has made us feel welcome (and no problems breastfeeding in cafes/bars etc unlike some places!). I would just add that the Broca is a bit difficut with a buggy as there isn't sufficient space between tables. The Brockley Mess is great for space except in the loos where it is almost impossible to get a buggy in (essential if you are out on your own!). It's a shame that the Wickham Arms doesn't do food - so far we'll go out for lunch/dinner but rarely just go out for a drink now we have a baby.

On the non food front Magi has increased its selection of toys/baby gifts etc and a lot of new baby classes/groups seem to be starting up in the area and often have waiting lists now.

Brockley Kate said...

Is there anywhere in Brockley that can be recommended as definitely child-free? ;-)

Feel our plight ...

Tressillian James said...

Love it Kate...

childless said...

The Brockley Mess is great for space except in the loos where it is almost impossible to get a buggy in (essential if you are out on your own!)

Is it not easier to pick the child up, carry it to the loo and leave the buggy outside? Why is having a buggy in the loo essential?

Anonymous said...

The Wickham Arms Is doing a Hog Roast this Sunday ( 27th ),Just hope the weather stays fine.

Headhunter said...

Perhaps we can petition the new owner of The Talbot to be child/baby UNfriendly so non parents have somewhere to go to have a quiet chat....

Tamsin said...

Someone might nick the buggy. (Not that mine was ever in a state that anyone would want to nick it.) A thought, though, what about a simple bicyle chain and lock. Having it attached round the leg and seat of a chair would stop the casual thief.

The Cat Man said...

Absolutely, We live in a predominantly Victorian area - Children should be seen and not heard.

Honestly, all this talk about child friendly b*llocks is really sickening. Lets not start protesting outside the Brockley Mess because you cannot fit a buggy in the loos - thats abit too extreme!

Anonymous said...

Agreed - I don't see why everywhere has to be child friendly. What is wrong in wanting a quiet adult atmosphere?Having children is a choice, as is not having them, and you shouldn't expect the world to bend over backwards because you bred.

(Looks over shoulder to see a hoarde of buggy pushing, milky vomit stained parents out for childless adult blood)

childless said...

Tamsin, yes, someone might pinch the buggy but I would have thought this would be unlikely if you are already sitting inside the café. I suppose the lock and chain would work in busy pavement areas, not that I can see a hoodie marching off with a pram but, if it stops people driving them into the toilets then it has to be a good thing.

Brockley Nick said...

@HH - which other demographics would you like to discriminate against? Old people? The disabled, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

It's not wrong to discriminate against the noisy.

Danja said...

Cue Ross...

Brockley Nick said...

Perhaps encouraging children is a way of discriminating against the churlish and joyless?

Ross said...

what me? or do you mean the other ross aka fredvest?

i did make a joke to my mother yesterday about liberal parenting being the biggest killer in east london funnily enough. but i'm pretty pro children, apart from ones that are really scared of the dog.

Anonymous said...

The issue with buggys in the loo is nothing to do with them being stolen it is about looking after the baby. When you have a small baby who cannot stand you have to have somewhere to safely put your baby while you use the facilities and most loo floors are not the place to put a baby hence the need for space for the buggy!

Ok it's a minor point but these small things are quite important in the early months.

No not everywhere has to be child friendly and I agree that undisciplined noisy riotous children can be a real nusiance - but then so can undisciplined noisy riotous drunk adults...

Danja said...

I meant Catford Ross, whom I think believes the entire business model to be inherently discriminatory, because the beer is not paid for by taxation and then dispensed to each according to their 'need'. I'd not noticed there was another one.

To those who want to avoid young people, old people, etc, isn't the best way to stay at home?

drakefell debaser said...

With the way things are going, children will probably be banned from entering toilets in a few years anyway just in case they pick up a minor infection which subsequently spreads to a small part of the population and causes mass hysteria throughout the country fuelled by a bored media and a parent hell bent on finding someone to blame. Oh, and making a little bit of money from the whole escapade.

Anonymous said...

I always found a Baby Bjorn helped when I needed the loo. Baby snuggly strapped to me but still able (just) to use the facilities.

Of course, it's tougher when they get heavier - so only real solution is to bring a friend to look after child or cross your legs.

Monkeyboy said...

Nothing like a reasoned debate, and this is nothing like one. If patrons are upseting other patrons it's not unreasonable for management to aske them to keep it down a little. Goes for kids, people braying into their mobiles, taking up three spaces with their Mac and grown up paper - we could go on. Common courtesy on all sides is all that's needed. The idea of a coffe shop banning kids is ludicrous.

Perhaps designers could design in child detering features? sharp edges, unmarked bottles of bleech, that kind of thing.

Take a deep breath and get over it.

Anonymous said...

The library at Crofton Park is child friendly and has a room set aside for kids to talk, be read to and choose books from.

Brockley Nick said...

@DD I feel really sorry for Godstone Farm - I've been a couple of times and they take handwashing really seriously - always seemed like a really well run place.

Anonymous said...

"When you have a small baby who cannot stand you have to have somewhere to safely put your baby while you use the facilities and most loo floors are not the place to put a baby hence the need for space for the buggy! "

Or go with a friend - or stay home. What I don't get is the middle class expectation that everyone has to provide for their kids - be that perfect facilities or putting up with them runnning around in a cafe. You just had a baby - maybe you cant go to the cafe straight away without someone else helping. There are many other things you can do.

And whoever said this is descrimanation - what a joke. What a wonderful life you must have, if this is the only thing you have to put up with. It's not discrimination - and to say so is frankly laughing in the face of groups in society who have to put up with real issues. The right to have a coffee and let others defacto babysit your kids is not enshrined in a UN convention.

I've seen kids near trip up waiters where they are running and jumping all over the place, instead of being told by their parents to sit down and play with the toy from the toy box. If you want your kid to run and jump take them to a park or do it in your own home.

I'm not against kids in cafes - nor am I saying they need to sit like statues - I'm against lax parenting and the idea that the parents can enjoy their coffee and chat wityhout taking a blind bit of notice of the kid - who is disturbing others.

And please don't bring out the argument that 'the english don't like children' or 'it's not like this in France' - because that's another excuse to selfishly ignore those around you. Yes - children go to restaurants and cafe until alte in Spain, France and Italy. But they don't run around disturbing the other diners, whilst there paretns studiously ignore the mayhem around them.

Tressillian James said...

"Perhaps designers could design in child detering features? sharp edges, unmarked bottles of bleech, that kind of thing."

Thanks for my morning laugh, MB.

Excellent comment, as usual

Brockley Nick said...

Anon - no one said it was discrimination. Nor did the original poster suggest that everyone had to fit around their need to fit a buggy in the toilet. This thread was meant to be for parents to share advice about the best places to take their kids and they simply pointed out that the loos in the Brockley Mess are not ideal for parents of young children.

Please read what people have actually written.

Anonymous said...

Nick - whats this then...

"@HH - which other demographics would you like to discriminate against? Old people? The disabled, perhaps?"

Perhaps I misunderstood, but don't have a go at me 'cause I disagree...

Anonymous said...

On the theme of Brockley for kids - Brockley has three decentish play parks within walking distance: Hilly Fields (hopefully soon to be upgraded), Friendly Gardens (the old part and the new section from saw up logs - great for future rock cliff climbers) and Telegraph Hill.

And then there is Wavelengths in Deptford which another great way to spend an afternoon. (Also within walking distance - about 20-30 mins with a small child).

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, you did misunderstand. My post was in specific reference to this post by Headhunter:

"Perhaps we can petition the new owner of The Talbot to be child/baby UNfriendly"

Deliberately making something unfriendly to children would be the definition of discrimination.

He wasn't being entirely serious and neither was I. However, the underlying point is that children are people too and the language sometimes used about them is fairly unpleasant.

No one is suggesting lax parenting is acceptable. I personally have never seen a parent relaxing with a drink while their kids run riot. I'm sure it happens sometimes, but mostly, parents are accutely embarassed when their children play up and try their best to deal with problems.

Anonymous said...

A lot of those misanthropes are the husbands of the mothers and fathers of the screaming urchins overwhelmed by overwork, stress and tiredness.

A peaceful place to relax for either partner to read the paper could maybe help preserve a few families by providing some respite.

There is if course the rest of the community, who have little interest in childrearing having either been there and done that or for whom it is an irrelevance.

These are public places, they are not playgrounds.

How any business makes money out of mothers who buy a couple of coffees and spend time gossiping oblivious and unconcerned that their their children exclude higher spending customers. Those who would like to read, chat, socialise, discuss business, study or work quietly on their computers.

I don't think anyone objects to well behave children and parents who clearly know how to handle them. They are an important part of the community and it is quite pleasant to see them in public.

But preserve us from selfish parents. They are the misanthropes and their conspicuous lack of parenting skills are quite evident to all.

Anonymous said...

Also - before it comes up - I have a 5 year old. I agree that the thread was originally about child friendly places in Brockley, but it has been derailed and I was following the argument. My main point, in my long rant, is that there is a tendency for some paretns to divulge themselves of responsibility for their kids when they enter a cafe or restaurant to the detriment of all others there, including staff, other families with children, and couples etc. I think many would agree.

drakefell debaser said...

Nick, It is terrible and I just hope the farm, and others, can continue to provide fun and educational days out for kids without the fear of litigation.

Anyway, all this talk about prams has given me an idea. Pram Tax..

Anonymous said...

@ Brockley Kate - re child free zones in Brockley: From 9am to 3pm Mon - Fri (i.e. school hours) ... most places (apart from babies / under 3s) and all pubs and bars after, say, 8pm.

Of course, on a Saturday & Sunday families like to go out and socialise. Having kids is not a prison sentence! (However much some here would like it to be)


TJ - weren't you out on Sunday with a 5 year old? Sure I saw you!! Go on admit it - even though the thought of unlabeled bleach bottles might amuse I’m sure you don’t hate kids.

M said...

Where are all these wild, unchecked kids then - running rampant and tripping up waiters?
I was in the Brockley Mess yesterday (with my baby - who was asleep) and there were 3 or 4 other parents with children there - all perfectly well behaved.
I also go to Oscars and Jam Circus regularly and have never been disturbed by unruly children in either of those places.

Tressillian James said...

...maybe you were too engrossed in your conversation (just a joke)

Tressillian James said...

Anon- well spotted. I was! And unfortunately the gorgeous chap (because there is no cuter kid in Brockley) almost sent the waitress flying in his run for the toybox. I blame the cafe for putting such enticements in there in the first place! It's like placing fluffy bunnys on the opposite side of a motorway. I must say that apart from that our child was impeccably behaved, well monitored,and didnt disturb others'conversations one bit...

Anonymous said...

...maybe you were too engrossed in your conversation (just a joke) - since I was the one whose kid it was you were with! ;D

Tressillian James said...

I realsied that....and we probably were.

Polster said...

'When you have a small baby who cannot stand you have to have somewhere to safely put your baby while you use the facilities and most loo floors are not the place to put a baby hence the need for space for the buggy!'

Am I a seriously lax parent? What's wrong with leaving your child in its buggy just outside the loo while you relieve yourself? Just give it a breadstick and it'll be fine for the 2 minutes it's out of sight, for goodness' sake! Ask the staff to keep an eye to make sure no undesirables happen to be passing at that moment and decide to walk into the cafe and steal your baby and hey presto! A peaceful pee.

Anonymous said...

And imagine the horror of watching your mum poo. Could scar the little one for life.

Polster said...

Re Geddes, it might be more expensive than Tom Boyz (never been there, name sounds like my daughter would come out with a dodgy bowl cut) but it's the same price as Supercuts or whatever it's called in Lewisham town centre, where there's also no booking. And at Geddes the kids get a wash, head massage and proper blow dry if they want it (not the case at Supercuts), which my 4-year-old absolutely loved as she felt really grown up!

The Cat Man said...

I'm beginnig to get the impression there are more babies and toddlers in these establishment then there are adults.

They still need to sit somewhere, wheres the money in that?

Monkeyboy said...

What we need is a cafe for reactionary dim wits. We could call it Clarkson's.

By the way our budgets are being cut 'cos you lot don't use the tube enough. Stop working at home and squeeze onto the tube you buggers.

Pete said...

I love the way that the majority of people having a rant about children have to do it under the cloak of anonymity. How very brave you all are.

Catman excepted of course but then he's always been a daring iconoclast.

Steve said...

'Is there anywhere in Brockley that can be recommended as definitely child-free? ;-)

Feel our plight ...'

Never had anybody's sprogs annoy me in Mr Lawrence's...

Anonymous said...

There is no reason why all establishments need to be child friendly. nightclubs are too noisy for starters. ;-)

As someone said, it is our choice to have children and we have the responsibility of looking after them such that they cause no disruption to others. It's a question of basic manners and consideration for others really.

By the way breastfeeders, I for one have no interest in seeing this "natural" function or idneed any of your other natural functions. Keep it discreet.

Anonymous said...

NAPPY BRAIN this thread will like the article as well... 'This thread will appreciate the article on this evenings (22/9) BBC London News, BBC1 6.30pm, on Nappy Brain'

Brockley Nick said...

Yes it is a question of basic manners. But the same applies to those criticising parents and children. Mutual respect and consideration is called for.

Pete said...

So many adults seem to forget that they too were once children.

"By the way breastfeeders, I for one have no interest in seeing this "natural" function or idneed any of your other natural functions. Keep it discreet."

Oh poor you, very squeamish aren't you. Perhaps you had better not leave the house in case you see anything else which upsets your weak disposition. Diddums.

Mr Natural said...

I find getting a blowjob the most natural thing in the world, and yet many of these places discriminate against my girlfriend pleasuring me whilst eating a fry up.

Why cant people just be more considerate and not get so hung on having their personal space invaded?

M said...

What you've done there is equate the feeding of an infant with a sex act.
Are you on some kind of register we should be aware of?

Mr Natural said...

The only thing Ive equated is that they are both natural acts - indeed one in some case has been known to lead to the other.

Personally I have no problem with breastfeeding in public places but can understand that anon @15.33 might not want what other people consider natural to be forced upon them.

The prevailing attitude of parents these days is that they've done something unique (7 billion people in the world indicate that it is not) and that the rest of us should listen and look on in wonder at their creations - too special to ever discipline or stifle by telling em to shut up.

Tressilliana said...

How many times has this argument popped up here? Has it ever been resolved with everyone working hard to find common ground and agreeing to respect each other's point of view?

Thought not.

M said...

Natural they both may be but if you really think breastfeeding in public is on a par with oral sex in public in terms of possible offence caused then lets all be grateful for the fact that you don't have children.
Don't let that stop you from offering your opinion on bringing them up though.
Oh, you didn't.

Pete said...

"indeed one in some case has been known to lead to the other."

Oral sex can't actually get you pregnant you know. Neither can kissing with toungues...

graeme said...

Like everything else, you only notice the things that stand out. That is, when all is well with my world I don't really notice the babies/toddlers/children. I even enjoy observing them when they're playing up.

Give me a bit of stress mind, and it seems every littl'un is hell-bent on perturbing my fragile equilibrium.

Most of the kids are fine most of the time.

Anonymous said...

"what other people consider natural"

Er, it IS natural - whether you like it or not.

M said...

Good point well made, Tressilliana. It's like the car vs no car debate that regularly crops up here.
That one gives me a headache.

Anonymous said...

So, you don't want babies or children in your local cafes - or young people on their mobiles, or anyone else you consider to be too noisey - you probably don't want old people either, they sometimes have to shout because of poor hearing, you basically want a big homogenous group of people exactly your age group,(35 - 50?), chatting, not too loudly, not too quietly, about subjects determined by you....what a lovely place that would be, shame it would go bust in a few weeks.

Re:breast feeding - women continue to breast feed their babies in public because they are hungry and it stops them crying and MAKING A NOISE WHICH MIGHT DISTURB OTHER CUSTOMERS! Get the link?! Of course they could choose to formula feed from a bottle thereby increasing the child's risk of illnesses throughout their life, on the basis of some repressed Victorian notion of what's acceptable - that would be very resposible.

Also why is 'natural' in inverted commas? it IS natural, babies only eat/drink milk for a good few months, do you propose people should not feed their baby because someone has a problem seeing it?(maybe keep your eyes on your Daily Mail).
I'm assuming you look like Brad Pitt and there is nothing anyone might not like about your appearance?

When people make a decision to have kids (which many people do hence the continued population of the planet), they don't sign a pledge that they will withdraw from society and stay at home night and day. Similarly, it is not encouraged in many parenting books when taking your child out for a sandwich to then make him/ her paranoid about making any noise or having any fun for fear of upsetting some random person sitting nearby. That sort of thing, like weaning or potty training too early, makes people grow up into twitchy, antisocial, grumpy, noise-obsessed whingers - oh hang on.....

Danja said...

many of these places discriminate against my girlfriend pleasuring me whilst eating a fry up.

This is a bit ambiguous. Can I ask which one of you is eating the fry up in this scenario?

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Imagine trying to do it with a mouthful of runny egg - you'd end up getting thrush!

Random sitting nearby said...

Natural it is, I agree, you are right, just as middle class parents always are.

Its just that its getting a bit hard to find a place to enjoy a coffee round here if A.D.D aint your thing. The knowledge that you're creating a better society softens the blow though.

don't limit women's options by bf a baby said...

Bf is indeed what cavepeople did if that's what natural means. We have moved a long way from there. We use medicine and anaesthesia nowadays. wow, so unnatural.

Treat it philosophically - where is the logic behind being allowed to bf in public and not being allowed eg to do a poo.? Both equally natural surely?

Using formula allows the mother to get back to work earlier - not what cavepeople did, I know, but kind of useful nowadays and great for the country if educated people actually continue using their skills.

As I say treat it logically not emotionally and you might find your viewpoint changes.....

Zoe said...

One of the waiters in the Brockley Mess is none too pleased about the abundance of mothers and babies. I was in there today with my friend and our two 3 month olds - quietly sleeping, I hasten to add for the site's grumps. He rolled his eyes and said "we want to be baby friendly and everything but we want to attract more than just mums and babies." His demeanour was practically saying "I'd rather you not be here." Despite the clear gentrification of Brockley over the recent years, who does he expect to be in there in the middle of the day? The scenesters and hipsters still don't outnumber those frequenting the betting shops & the Barge during the day. I daresay without the middle class parents much villified in this thread, many local establishments wouldn't be doing so well.

Tamsin said...

Defecation leaves a residue that someone else has to clean up - as did the unfortunate caretaker of my offices recently when someone did a poo in the adjoining alley way - urination stinks. Breast-feeding by contrast prevents the leakage of bodily fluids. And with baggy tops it can be done incredibly discretely.

I'm also one with it definitely being an instance of natural is best - resist diversion onto the Nestle boycott issue - it is also so much easier, none of the faffing around with bottles and sterilisation etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

I don't think middle class parents are being villified - I think middle class parenting is.

Anonymous said...

Lazy parenting of all classes is being discussed, yes.

It is nothing to do with any particular class. You find well brought children from slums to palaces and appallingly brought up children with zero manners throughout society.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of Magi, I often go in and think "gosh this is so pretty with so many attractive things to buy". however i seldom do actually buy anything. has anyone else had this experience? what is wrong with their stock, if I am not the only one wanting but failing to buy?!

The Cat Man said...

I just find it abit too girly :)

Monkeyboy said...

Nick, do you ever feel like jacking this all in? Hang in there, we're due a Dot Com boom revival. Google are waiting to snap you up.

Anonymous said...

At one point I counted ten babies and toddles in the Brockley Mess. I don't think they really expected to be colonised by the buggy brigade. Or they would not have created the artistic space at the back. The art works have been under attack from toddlers clearly accustomed to augmenting any wallspace with their own handprint art. I am sure that the mothers consider this to be quite endearing. Maybe they will the first in the queue to buy tbe artworks? If, indeed, they notice.

There are a lit of people who live in Brockley who work from home and a local cafe is good place to take a break, have a change of scene and have lunch. This is quite impossible to do in a cafe if it is like a noisy creche.

I doubt whether any cafe would survive on proceeds from customers who just have a coffee and use the place as free playground for their kids and thereby scare off all the other customers who would like to eat their lunch without the accompaniment of raucous children.

Something has got to give.

local resident said...

It's like a turf war.

live and let live said...

Re Geddes, it might be more expensive than Tom Boyz (never been there, name sounds like my daughter would come out with a dodgy bowl cut)

Ever heard about judging books by the cover?

On the subject of Magi, I often go in and think "gosh this is so pretty with so many attractive things to buy". however i seldom do actually buy anything. has anyone else had this experience?

If it was a common problem the shop would have closed a long time ago. The issue must lie with you.

The comments about children reveal a horrid cross section of a Brockley society that would probably choose to classify itself as middle class. All you have shown is that many of you lack tolerance and basic manners. This includes the parents.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Those of you who talk of parenting your children properly, teaching manners etc - clearly your mothers didn't do a very good job of this on you!

PS Women can have babies AND appreciate art you know, they're not mutually exclusive...

PPS Is there anywhere that can be recommended as definitely anti-children misogynist-free?

Nux said...

@ Zoe - you are quite right about one of the waiters in the Brockley Mess really not liking having children in there, even sleeping babies - I have been told off for parking my pram near the art (I was trying to keep it out of the way of other customers) and my friend was given funny looks by the staff for breastfeeding even though she was so discreet you did not at any point see any part of her breast. I understand that the art needs to be protected but we were really made to feel unwelcome. Other new mum friends have also told me how unwelcome they have been made to feel in there - to the extent that one of them left because she was being told off by the staff for trying to sit on the sofa near the art with a baby. Whoever the guy is who is in charge of the gallery needs to lighten up a little and realise that most people go in for a coffee, not to view the exhibits.

For those who seem to think that the "buggy brigade" are a bunch of people who have one coffee and use the place as a creche for three hours - that is a load of b*ll*cks. Firstly, I don't know anyone who lets their kids run around unsupervised trashing stuff and annoying people (this isn't East Dulwich you know). Secondly, Mums and babies make up around 80% of the trade base in Brockley in the daytime and will and do spend money (a hell of a lot of cake gets consumed you know, they offer big cream teas, who did they think was going to eat them?) - and I would estimate we eat and drink at least as much if not more than the lonely laptop users who spend three hours using the wifi and drinking one latte. Also, bear in mind that these are the same people who come back at the weekend with their other halves and spend more, plus may even buy the art!

Jam Circus is a great example of a place that morphs seamlessly from a really baby friendly place in the daytime to a great pub for adults in the evening. It has been a stalwart for my friends and I as new Mums - and I think should be taken as an example of how well and easily this can work. I think that the Brockley Mess ignore the Mum market at their peril, because basically we are the main demographic for the business, we are the people who will turn up and spend money at your establishment in the daytime. I genuinely doubt they would make enough to survive if no Mums came in there. However if they carry on the way they are then we will avoid it - a shame for everyone.

Nux said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

How many requests have there been in the past to have have a cafe/art gallery? I reckon the Brockley Mess brigade did their research, and tried to give the locals what they asked for. I don't think you can really blame them for being over-protective of their art. Especially when one of the 'waiters' painted it.

I used to be a pretty regular user of Moonbows in the first couple of years after it opened, but then started to lose interest in the place when, in the back of my mind, it effectively became a mother and baby group. I had, and have a choice, and took my custom elsewhere. Unfortunately (or fortunatley depending on your outlook), I wasn't the only one.

Again, be careful what you wish for people!

Anonymous said...

Maybe all the mothers should boycott The Brockley Mess,See how well It does then,And to think a while back people couldn't wait for It to open

D.Bannatyne said...

You're all missing the bigger picture here people.
Brockley is clearly crying out for a truly parent and baby friendly cafe! Toy boxes and books galore, a chalkboard wall that kids are encouraged to draw on, large, buggy friendly toilets and changing rooms. A nice garden with sandpit and climbing frame.
All alongside a comfy cafe with drinks and a good menu for both adults and children.
I'm in!

Anonymous said...

To my mind, the gap in the market for any would be entrepreneurs is a decent light lunches/dinners restaurant, along the lines of Aquarium but with better food, fewer gimmicks and a less weird menu. A sort of Tootsies or Pizza Express would be ideal and you know what? they make a lot of money and any parent/child combo I've seen in either has managed to behave.

Pete said...

Even Nando's would do well I should imagine.

M said...

Agreed, and if Brockley Mess opened later in the evening it could even be that place.
Best of both worlds.

Although if Nick's teaser and the resulting conjecture is to be believed there could soon be a new restaurant where Aquarium used to be.
Anything new to tell us Nick?

Ross said...

Is there really a market in brockley to support a restaurant? considering that you can go to blackheath, greenwhich, east dulwich, chislehurst as well as central london in a matter of minutes. bare in mind there's also jam circus, long time cafe, thai on foxberry road (forget the name?) brockley mess, TM2, meze mangal, jamaican (on coulgate, forgot name) barbur, le querce, any number of shit chinease and chicken shops as well as another good 4/5 west indian places. i would probably argue that brockley almost has too many places to eat.
i think brockley needs more basic, everyday shops. I went to whitstable on monday and that it's an absolutely incredible example of a sustainable, community driven highstreet. i think i saw about one unused shop on the whole half mile stretch of highstreet. And, if you don't include banks i probably saw only about 6/7 chain shops.

Brockley Nick said...

Chislehurst?! not sure that's a direct competitor for Brockley diners.

I agree that one of the issues for Brockley is that we are very close to a whole range of good options, even if we don't have much on the doorstep.

However, I have always been of the view that there is untapped demand in Brockley and I think the early success of the Brockley Mess is good evidence of that. The challenge is to build critical mass, so that there are enough options to pop from one place to another and to think locally, rather than planning a day out somewhere else. I think that is slowly happening. The Talbot is next...

Also, let's not underestimate what we already have - Meze Mangal, TM2, Jam Circus, Oscars, Smiles, et al are all very good and far better than what's on offer locally in many parts of the capital.

Anonymous said...

Is the art work In the Brockley Mess so low as children can reach It then ?

Anonymous said...

Now if a cafe were to be designed specifically for mothers and young children, that would be wonderful.

No steps, a buggie park, toys, a sand pit, organic food,play leaders.....

Surely it cannot be beyond the wit of the mothers hereabouts to organise some sort of venture along these lines? Is there not money to be had from the Council for this sort of 'community' thing?

Leave the arty cafes of Brockley with their surly waiting staff and misanthropic customers to wallow in their sad lonely lives while mothers break new ground supporting a child centred enterprise?

Surely there is some wise matron who could run with this idea?

Polster said...

Maybe the solution for the Brockley Mess would be to embrace the mother-and-baby brigade with open arms - at certain times. If they had a toddler-friendly morning or afternoon once or twice a week, maybe we would come during those times so that a) we feel welcome and b) we don't disturb those diners without children (because, contrary to popular belief on this thread, parents generally don't like to feel that their children are annoying people).
I was there this morning, it was busy and nearly everyone was a mother with child/ren. They will be doing themselves out of a lot of business if they alienate us. It was fine, everyone behaved themselves but there's no denying it was noisy. Even my daughter complained about the noise!
They have also been having a few teething problems, but I'm sure they'll iron them out. For example, they had run out of food at 1pm on Saturday (apparently, according to a friend of mine), and today I was served food, asked for a few extras (such as, erm, cutlery) and had to ask again 5 mins later.
Also, important to note that at the moment they don't take debit cards. I presume this is a short-term situation though.

Anonymous said...

I second D.Bannatyne - give us an unambiguously child-friendly cafe, we'll avoid all the other places and leave them to the child-hating espresso-drinkers. Everyone happy!

Maybe there could be a sign on the door “Warning - this establishment may contain children”

max said...

My idea for the Playtower was indeed for a place where mums are welcome, and services for them and small children are on offer, there is dire need for these kind of things.

It's a bit of a misuse but museums are used like that, if I'm out with my daughter I normally go to the Horniman or the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
A local purposely provided place is needed.

fabhat said...

I'm slightly amused by the people complaining they can't get any work done in a cafe because of the noisy kids - if you work from home, surely that's where you're doing your work? I work from home, so when I'm in a cafe it's a break from the office or a meeting, so I don't expect to be in hushed silence. If I'm between meetings in the centre of town, if I drop into a cafe (full of adults), I always find the atmosphere too noisy/busy to do any actual work.

Anonymous said...

Other people work differently. At home you can go stir crazy, a social space like a cafe can be just the thing. A pleasant buzz of conversation, a little background music maybe. You can get a lot done.

In the old Moonbows a lot of the customers did work there. Students did their essays, the area has a lot of writers and actors and creative people.

Brockley is rather more than just a spawning ground for the middle classes to pop their sprogs before they make their move to Bromley or some other leafy suburban idyll.

At the moment Brockley Mess is not a place to relax and study or quitely work. It is a creche.

However, it is an ill wind that blows no good. The Toad is now laptop heaven.

People will vote with their feet and it up to cafe owners to decide which customer base they wish to cultivate.

It will take a little time yet for the Brockley Mess to find the right formula and organise themselves appropriately. I expect it is a stressful time for them. They have created an attractive space but I don't think they will be able to appeal to customers with quite different lifestyles without a few clever changes.

I wish them the best of luck.

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dude said...
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Tressilliana said...

When my children were tiny, during the last economic downturn, there were very few places in SE4 to go and have a coffee. This is obviously one reason why it didn't seem to be something many people did (duh!) but another reason was definitely lack of money. I am amazed that so many families whose income has suddenly plummeted from two full-time salaries to one + maternity pay at best/two - childcare costs are able to spend so much money on coffee etc! We used to meet up in each other's houses and at the numerous groups organised for parents and babies/toddlers. More relaxing, much cheaper and safer. I didn't find taking toddlers to places not designed for them was relaxing in the slightest. Too many sharp corners, scalding opportunities, unprotected sockets, you name it.

Anonymous said...

Moonbows was not really a food place, just a few simple dishes, so it cannot really be compared.

Not everyone is an impoverished student nursing a cup of coffee for hours. Not all the mothers are well off. The idea that cafes depend on free spending yummy Mummies and their ravenous offspring is risible.

There are plenty of locals who would like to enjoy breakfast or lunch there without feeling as though they are gatecrashing a toddlers playgroup and baby buggy Expo.

The food is nice there and there are plenty who would make it their routine to eat there.

But they are being scared off by the noise and the clique of middle class mothers who have descended on the place with their churlish and sanctimonious attitude to other customers.

Some people in this community are not as well off as others. Spending their meagre disposable income on a cup of tea or coffee in the pleasant cafe a couple of times a week may be all they can afford.

It should be as welcoming to them as any other customer. Having to suffer the shrieks and cries of over indulged children and incur the indignant scowls of parents at the merest furrow of the brow. That is not on, people walk away. Sure the loss in custom may not be significant, but if a cafe looks well attended and seems from the outside an inviting place, it attracts other customers who may well become valued regulars. It becomes a social focus.

At the moment, the place seems to be attracting ever more babies.

If that is the way it is going, then maybe they should start selling baby food and raise all art works up the walls another couple of feet and give the staff ear plugs and Valium.

I feel for them.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

What's with all the middle class bashing on this thread?
I was in Sainsbury's in Lewisham recently when I heard a working class parent called his small son a c*nt.
Shocking.

Are we to conclude from this that all working class people are scum?
No. People are people - some good, some bad. Class has nothing to do with it. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

People who don't like children might walk away but on the other hand it will attract customers who have children and feel they can eat there with them.

What's to say one lot is more loyal than the other?

M said...

Quite. The Brockley Mess will find it's natural clientele over time. Or they will find it.
What this does prove though is that there's plenty of demand in Brockley for cafes/bars/restaurants. Hopefully in time new businesses will open to cater for all types.

monkeyboy said...

i'm bored of this. Can we drone on about something else now?

Tressilliana said...

Good idea, MB!

What about cars in London?

[ducks]

fabhat said...

Yes good idea MB/Tressiliana...What about discussing gentrifying pubs? (disconnects internet and heads for nearest cafe...)

M said...

Cafe? CAFE?
*head explodes*

Anonymous said...

Mung beans vs. chicken wings or satelite dishs & signage anyone?

Brockley Nick said...
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dude said...

Ok, I will have to take your word for it anon.

However, your assertion that mothers and children spend more cash than students or working adults is tenuous at best. As you say, if the baby is not on solids then as far as Mr Café owner is concerned the parent is the only customer. Toddlers are different but still, adults consume more than toddlers. If the café is full of toddlers and the adults are forced to go elsewhere then it is plausible that the café could in fact loose money.

I am not saying mothers and children should stay away, far from it. Every customer is important and should be viewed and treated as such.

Anonymous said...

Brockley Mess should be heaving,the amount of people who have commented about It

Monkeyboy said...

What about my roof? three days in and looks like it may be a rare positive builder experience. Still time for them screw it up though.

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anynonomouse said...
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Anonymous said...

Why the deleting frenzy? I dont remember anything offensive in those comments?

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SJW said...

I like it because I can leave the kids in there and nip into the top class bookies next door for a bet. Also they serve beer, magic I can get slowly tanked up while my children annoy the people of brockley, its not just birds who will take their kids to the Mess; Dads can too and enjoy all the benifits of beer without the guilt of taking them to a pub

Anonymous said...

Modern "middle class parenting" you didn't need the Daily Mail to tell you this but read it anyway...http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1215937/Why-thought-knew-good-parent-WRONG.html

I would hope that the criticism of B'Mess becoming a de facto creche is not so much a gripe at kids but at indulgent parenting.

If children allowed to feel that its acceptable to be running and shouting about in an enclosed public space imagine what commuting with someone who has been brought up like that going to be like in 20 odd years time?

Anonymous said...

Nick I find it distasteful how you have chosen to retain comments on a here regarding and act of a personal nature (however natural it may be between consenting adults) in the same post about activities for children in Brockley.

Surely these comments should have been removed whereas you seem to have gone into a deleting frenzy over something far less innocuous!?

Anonymous said...

... sorry .. that should read "a lot more innocuous"

Brockley Nick said...

Jokes are welcome on Brockley Central. Defamation is not.

The post is designed to be read by parents. I presume they are aware of how consensual sex works.

aislinn said...

i like your post, it gives more insight to life pertaining to kids.


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