Hilly Ibiza

I am an island. I'm bloody Ibiza!
- Will, About A Boy

We wrote the following article about a week ago, just before the weather turned rubbish again and have been waiting for a sunny day to publish it:

Last weekend, we went back to the new playground in Hilly Fields. And we realised, our last review was wrong.

It isn’t a playground. It’s a beach holiday.

The huge sandy stretch has become the centrepiece beside which parents loll on sun loungers, benches and blankets. Kids run and splash water and sand. Whereas play used to be a solitary experience, now it’s shared. Debates range over whether to dig a channel or build a damn or to funnel water from the pump left or right.

Now attend to us, because this is how it used to work, o best beloved.

You’d walk your kids up to the playground, whereupon they’d spend five minutes on the pirate ship, wrestling over control of the wheel with the one other child there. Then they might have five minutes on a swing, five minutes jumping in to the sandpit and that would be about it. As a parent, you’d prop yourself against the metal railings, waiting bored for them to finish. And so it wasn’t somewhere that was ever very busy, best beloved. Do you see?

But a twenty minute play session has become hours. We were there for two and had to drag the kids away. There were others who looked like they’d booked themselves in for two weeks. It’s fantastic.

The transformation means the play area is full from dawn to dusk with kids and their families. South London Press’ Kate reported that she’d arrived at 9am to find it already packed.

Yes, it’s summer and it’s new, but it’s already clear that the playground is a hit. They will keep coming. The market is there for the park cafĂ© that’s been mooted. Hundreds of people who’ve played for hours will want more than a single ice cream van (although props to the ice cream van man, who is lovely). The logic is irresistible.

Hilly Ibiza needs its Cafe del Mar.

28 comments:

Andrea said...

Oooh yes! Somewhere like this wouldn't go amiss: http://www.km5-lounge.com/ :)

Brockley Nick said...

That's slightly more ambitious than I'd been thinking of, but now you mention it, why not?!

Steve said...

There's a great cafe at Peckham Rye park, would be a great business model to follow. Surely the brocsoc/friends of hillyfields should be pushing for a new cafe?

M said...

Have you been overtaken by the spirit of Stephen Fry Nick?

All very good points. There is simply no reason NOT to have a cafe in Hilly Fields.

(Cue the usual moaners telling me EXACTLY why not: "It'll get robbed/vandalised/only get used in the summer/be full of mums and babies/be too modern/not be modern enough blah blah I hate change blah")

Brockley Nick said...

@M - it was supposed to be the Just So Stories.

Monkeyboy said...

I don't even have kids and I'm glad it's there. What news of the cricket ground? That funding is safe I think?

M said...

Ah, yes. It went over my head, I'm afraid. Very good!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it really needs a big mobile cafe - (kind of like a posh buger van but doing proper food) that could drive up there, set up shop with tables and chairs and umbrellas, then leg it at the end of the day before the vandals and thieves arrive.

Anonymous said...

...that should have said burger van, before the dogging society suggest something else...

Monkeyboy said...

Nevermind all that, I read on Transpontines blog that Meatloaf was playing darts at the Rivoli last week. Why were we not informed? You need to whip your team into some kind of order.

Bea said...

Nick you've summed up the atmosphere at the new play park exactly!

I went there when the weather was good a couple of weekends back too. We packed a picnic, a book, towel, sunscreen and my itouch to listen to music.

I lounged in the sun / shade (kept having to move the blanket) from 1:00 - 4.00 pm whilst the young’un messed about in the sand river, carried water in small beakers and made friends with another child who was on the same mission.

And - yes - that turf looks seriously messed up - but hey who cares - that is one of the best play parks I’ve been to (and I’ve been to far too many!)

Moira said...

The playground has its official opening on Saturday during Brockley Max with the Mayor at 2pm.

Anonymous said...

Here is the perfect solution.

http://www.thebigcoffee.com/

Anonymous said...

Call them and they will come to the party

http://www.shotstop.co.uk/

Luigi said...

You would probably need permission from the Council to drive a van in the park,and a few people would want that gig.

Anonymous said...

http://containerconversions.com/gallery/cafe_02.jpg would do the trick

Now Then said...

Excellent. The one on front of Meze Mangal would make a good cocktail bar as well.

Brockley Kate said...

You take your kids to Ibiza?!

Tamsin said...

He doesn't need to now!

Kipling via Stephen Fry, I think. (The originals are deeply etched in my psyche - from my own childhood and it being virtually the only thing that my son wanted to have read to him once he was old enough to have a choice in the matter.) But ten out of ten for trying.

Stu said...

The new playpark is indeed fabulous, however a word of warning.

The slide CAN BURN! A South-facing sheet of steel with no shade was perhaps not the best idea anyone ever had.

My two sons went with their Mum to the park after school during the heatwave, youngest went to the new wide slide and put his hands on in an attempt to climb up - cue burns and blisters and much crying and screaming... Oh yeah and a trip to the Docs - all in all not a great way to finish the day.

We've had communications with the council who are investigating and have placed a sign - fine if the kids or adults read it, but most won't until it's too late...

So a cautionary tale, but that aside the new facilities are SO much better than the old and are really welcomed.

Blue sky said...

@monkeyboy, judging by the long strip of grass that has been removed from the flat bit of the park, I'm guessing that work on the cricket pitch is forging ahead!

Blue sky said...

@monkeyboy, judging by the long strip of grass that has been removed from the flat bit of the park, I'm guessing that work on the cricket pitch is forging ahead!

hilly said...

I was informed by Glendale that they had let a contract to someone to bring a cafe/van in the park this summer.

We weren't consulted and it seemed as though there was just one person wanting to set up.

I have also been told that there is interest again in a cafe for the park keeper's room. I was told they were looking at extending the building, which will probably be controversial.

I haven't seen anything of the plans.

The score seems to be. There is a building which is on offer for a cafe. The council doesn't have money to do it up. If someone has money to invest in turning it into a cafe and keeping a suitable room for the park keeper and the loos etc then get some plans together and go with business proposal to Glendale.

The Council will expect to offer the successful applicant a long lease.

The Friends in principal support the idea of a cafe.

I would also like to point out that when I finally received a copy of the tender set for the playground from Groundwork London I did point out that they had changed the slide position from our scheme and that it should not be south facing. I also pointed it out post tender and prior to the mound being built.

Generally, I'd say as a volunteer free advice gets ignored.

Anonymous said...

The playground is a triumph, hope the slide thing dosn't turn out to be big issue. A permanent cafe and deck chairs would be fantastic, can't the Broca get involved? They reign Tesco like over SE4 so another wouldn't hurt. Come on guys, you have to speculate to accumulate and all that.

Blue sky said...

I can't understand why there isn't a long queue of interested parties for the cafe. Just ask the ice cream
van man how much his takings have increased since the playground opened! All his Christmasses have come at once. He's probably the only person in the whole of Brockley who doesn't want a cafe there.

Brockley Nick said...

I spoke to one local park cafe operator about a year ago who was interested in running one, but was waiting for the council to decide whether it wanted to allow it. The idea at the time was that the council would build it and lease it back to a private operator.

Anonymous said...

When I were a lad, hot slides were met with "ooh, that slide's hot" before getting on it. Bit like a hot seatbelt. You just get on with it don't you?

Sue said...

I think 'Hilly' is being a little modest here. Rachel put many hours of her time into getting this project off the ground, using her expertise as a landscape architect to draw up plans, carrying out 'proper' consultation with children and parents using the playground and spending many hours filling in forms to get the funding together for the scheme. Thank you Rachel!

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