Children's Cafe for Brockley Cross

The Tea Factory is getting a new occupant. Tea Dance for Little People is a cafe designed for children, opening in the building's long-vacant corner unit this summer.


The ambitious business is the brain child of Brockley resident Sally-Anne Donaldson, who moved in this week and is working with Tea Leaf Arts and Green Tea Architects to create the space.

The site says:

Donaldson decided to combine her profession as a dancer with her love of coffee and create a space where you can jump on the sofas. This is a café with a difference. Enjoy good food and drink whilst specialist dancers, musicians and artists encourage physical and creative development with your little ones through play, exploration and interaction.

BC has been arguing for a couple of years that it was only a matter of time before a family-friendly cafe opened in Brockley to cater for the growing army of young families in the area although this is a considerably more elaborate proposition than we envisaged.

105 comments:

babybrain said...

Fantastic idea, hopefully the idea will spread down to NX too....

Ed CPZ said...

Even more reason for new pedestrian crossings at BX...

bah humbug said...

I hope all families with little ones will make thorough use of these new facilities for years to come becoming regular and consistent patrons....whilst I enjoy the old ones

Tamsin said...

And she was offering to give space to the animals made at Ark in the Park which is nice. Hope most of them got under shelter before the recent rai

Ed CPZ said...

"Hmmm... A school for the deaf... Does that mean there will be noise, or there won't be noise? And they are just deaf? They're not deaf offenders?"

Pepe Longtemps said...

Where's the coffee shop for the oldies eh? S'always the young 'uns what benefit these days.

Tamsin said...

The "Pop-in" down by the Broadway Theatre in Catford - coffee & tea at less than £1 and buttered toast for a late breakfast, the Age Concern Cafe also in the same area or the Hill Station in Telegraph Hill on "quiet Fridays" if you want a bit more up-market.

(I do like taking what are probably facetious questions seriously....)

Ed CPZ said...

Are children little people?

Anonymous said...

Will they be selling honest grub for kids?

Anonymous said...

Excellent - I'll be there with my little ones for sure. We currently drive to various classes in Dulwich - ceramics cafe and at the soup dragon - but it is a bit of a nuisance with two children and a pram etc.

Anonymous said...

Sounds kind of weird but maybe great if done well. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant idea! (and then I can enjoy the Orchard without fighting past a wall of buggies...)

Anonymous said...

This will bring much joy to the Brockley book and newspaper readers, laptop tappers and those who simply want to engage in quiet discussion.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea and will definitely be going there but that does not mean I will no longer want to go to the Orchard or Brockley Mess and see no reason why I should limit myself to the one café in Brockley specifically tailored to kids.

If you want to read a book, a newspaper or use the laptop in a quiet environment - then stay at home! Alternatively, if you want an adult only environment go to a pub or wine bar in the evening.

Cafe's are for socialising and that includes families with young children.

it's a shame said...

"If you want to read a book, a newspaper or use the laptop in a quiet environment - then stay at home! Alternatively, if you want an adult only environment go to a pub or wine bar in the evening."

Yes - and if you want a playground go to Hilly Fields. Cafe are for all socialising, but they are also very well established as a place to drink coffee and read a paper or a book. They are not for kids screaming, running around etc whilst their parents take a leave of absence from parenting.

I am tired of the attitude that everyone must put up with badly behaved kids. If parents minded their children then the sort of comments we have seen from other posters wouldn't be here.

I normally would not be so harsh - I have a little one myself - but I'm tired of other parents acting as if other people do not have a right to enjoy their coffee/meal/newspaper in a modicum of quiet. A cafe is not a playground and kids need to learn this. It is also not a babysitter - and parents need to learn this. Our kids, our choice, our responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Yes, parents should control badly behaved kids - I agree. However, in all the years I have been using cafes in Brockley (and elsewhere) I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen them use a cafe as a playground. Usually a toddler has wondered away from a table and invariably been called back or told to calm down.

But then again maybe I have been lucky to escape the nightmare you seem to experience.

I am far more familiar with the sight of adults rolling home drunk and vomiting all over the pavement late at night!

Anon @ 09:06

Anonymous said...

"A cafe is not a playground and kids need to learn this. It is also not a babysitter - and parents need to learn this. Our kids, our choice, our responsibility."

Someone please nail this to the entrance to Brockley

Anonymous said...

Yes, let all London know what smug, sanctimonious twats live here!

patrick1971 said...

"Enjoy good food and drink whilst specialist dancers, musicians and artists encourage physical and creative development with your little ones through play, exploration and interaction."

I'm not quite sure what to say to that. I do hope it works. I've no children myself but good luck to them if they can make this work and give parents this option. Although my inner accountant does wonder, if they are having to pay all these entertainers, won't their coffee be much more expensive than other places?

New mother said...

If you look at their website there is an entrance fee - which explains how the activities can afford to be offered but will necessarily limit the number of times parents can visit with their children. So the cafes of Brockley will not be child free quite yet.

Anonymous said...

@ 'it's a shame'- THANK YOU for talking such sense. Nobody is complaining about well-behaved children and parents, but I have often been in the Orchard and had small kids running around me/start chatting at me while their parent(s) carries on drinking/chatting thinking their little prince/princess is charming. It IS annoying- I've been sitting comforting a bereaved friend in there and had bloody toddlers prodding me.
To anon @ 9.06 on the 7th- What planet are you on? To suggest people should put up with ill-behaved kids or stay away from local cafe's is absurd.
EVERYONE should take other people's enjoyment of any cafe into account. The Orchard really isn't a playroom (see their notice at the door PLEADING with parents to keep kids with them at all times!).It's a brilliant idea to open somewhere in Brockley where kids can safely run around. Then we can ALL enjoy the Orchard in peace (including nice parents with kids).

Anonymous said...

Brockley food establishments should have a "well behaved kids and good, honest fare"-only policy.

If you're grumpy and you know it... said...

That might be too long for some around here to take in.

I'd go with a 'Twats Only' policy.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon1756 - I've been waiting for years for the child haters to give concrete examples of what they consider bad behaviour from local children, since I've never seen anything other than normal-to-well behaved children while out and about. Now I see the problem, walking around a bit and occasionally talking to people. If that's the issue then i'm afraid it's your problem - if you go out to a public place, expect to be spoken to by a stranger once in a while and for there to be a bit of movement around you.

I presume you don't have children, but parents of toddlers have a choice when they are out. They can either force their children to sit still at all times - this may well result in a tantrum, which is much worse for all concerned. Better to let them have a little bit of latitude, potter about a bit, occasionally talk to someone. A bit like a sociable adult, only not so drunk.

The alternative option is for parents never to go out with their children for about 7 years, but that's not a reasonable or healthy expectation.

In other words, cheer up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being the voice of reason Nick, I never knew there were so many child-hating misanthropes in brockley!

Mondee said...

I can't bear these anti-children rants. Yes, badly behaved children are annoying but I have never - yes, NEVER - seen a child in any restaurant or cafe around here doing anything that would warrant the kind of abuse they get on this site. If a tantrum is brewing, parents will absolutely remove their child asap as they don't want the embarrassment. I'm very conscious of other people when I'm out with my children. However, they can be a little unpredictable and you can't expect young children to be silent at all times. They chat, sometimes quite loudly. So do groups of grown ups. Everyone can be annoying, sometimes, if they're not doing what you're doing. That's public spaces for you. The majority of parents are considerate people.

Anonymous said...

@ Brockley Nick- It's anon here- I resent your comments. I'm far from a child-hater, and have been in the Orchard many times- often with small children. They have been kept occupied and at the table. If you read my post I'm not complaining about the children being there, or even them being noisy.
I'm talking about parents whose children are running around the place- not near them- on the other side of the room, and having no consideration for others. Yes, I do expect to sometimes be spoken to in a public place (what a stupid comment), and believe it or not, I do even TALK to people in the Orchard. I do not go there to 'interact' with (aka entertain/babysit for free) a toddler when their parents are having a little 'time-out' on the opposite side of the room.
Very telling that anyone mentioning this is labelled a 'child-hater'. What crap. Inconsiderate parent disliker, maybe.
The staff at the Orchard obviously get anxious about children running into the open kitchen or tripping them up and causing an accident, especially as staff are often carrying hot food and drinks. They have put up a notice saying children should be supervised and kept at the table. Maybe you'd like to label them child-haters too?
However much YOU like to have toddlers bounding around, many people don't, and the staff at the Orchard quite rightly consider it unsafe, and if it makes it stressful for them to do their job, then it's not cool. Period.

Anonymous said...

ps Mondee- just to be clear, this IS NOT a rant about children being a bit noisy, crying, having a tantrum etc. People know that children do this, and it's totally fine- no parent should feel embarrassed about this, and I hope you're not reading my comments as being anti-children.
My problem is with parents letting their kids wander off from the table while they can enjoy their drinks in peace. This is what annoys other people (including the staff!) and it unfortunately does happen regularly.

Anonymous said...

Parents who think a cafe is in fact a
free creche, put there for their convenience?

That attitude is not uncommon in Brockley.

I wish this new venture well.

anti-anon said...

Or to turn it around...

People who think a children should be seen and not heard and that parents should not assume that they are welcome in a cafe, childless people think that cafes are their soley for their convenience?

That attitude is not uncommon in Brockley.

I wish this new venture well.

Anonymous said...

I sympathise with the anon above. No one wants a ban on kids. But when parents take leave of their senses and responsibilities, everyone suffers - including the kids.

anti-anon said...

Well yes, so all users should show a little respect and latitude to other users - including children. You could get annoyed by any number of things in a busy cafe, people who spread their papers out so using two spaces, loud phone calls, the clickity-click of an Apple Mac.... it's London and we're in an area where there are lots of parents and kids. Get over it. I don't have kids, don't want kids but I've no issue with sharing space with them. A sticky hand straying over to my side of the table is a small price to pay for living in a vibrant area.

pippi longstocking said...

@anon 2.26am (would be good if you could make up a name - any name) - well said. An unusually OTT and inflammatory post from Nick, to label everyone a child hater who dislikes noisy children running around without close supervision. It's not something that happens that regularly, and I suspect that a lot of parents who respond defensively don't actually fall into the category that people are complaining about.

By far the noisiest customers (of the Brockley Mess at any rate) in my experience are teenagers/students, some of whom are blissfully unaware of how loud they are being (girls in particular have a habit of shrieking with laughter). I'm sure I was the same at that age. But at least they don't run around getting under the staff's feet.

mb said...

Ah...students. A group we can all unite around in mutual hatred. Laughing you say?

This is getting odd now.

DJ said...

So... what it boils down to is: "Sometimes, not often, some people, or their children, do things that are a bit annoying to me in a place that I choose to be and am free to leave at any time."

Seems fair enough to me. And they say we Brits just like to moan!

pippi longstocking said...

@mb I don't know if you're just being deliberately contrary? Who said anything about hating students? I was just pointing out that they tend to make more noise than small children, and because they're less self-conscious than adults they often don't realise how raucous they're being. Having someone screaming with laughter a few feet away is not condusive to a relaxing chat over a cup of coffee, but I didn't say anything about hating them.

This forum would be more pleasant if people didn't always feel the need to put the worst possible construction on others' posts.

The man with no said...

Old Joke Time

I like children.............







But I couldn't eat a whole one!

LOL - now in the Oxford dictionary

mb said...

Sorry, it came out more sarcastic than was intended.

London would be a better place if people realise that London is a crowded city with 7.5m people of all ages, income, beliefs and aspirations. A slightly chilled out, tolerant worldview helps I find.

Coney said...

The best way to deal with the strawman tactic is to expose it as you have done. It shows up the person you are talking to as either intellectually dishonest and/or obtuse.

Speaking out of concern.... said...

I was once in the Orchard when a young child, after rocketing around the place for sometime without supervision from its parent, proceeded to rocket straight out the front door into the road. It felt like time passed very slowly before the parent realised. I and a number of other customers had been nervously watching the child for sometime as it was a hot day with all the doors and windows open so the risk seemed obvious. All fine in the end, but not a pleasant experience for child, parent or the other customers who were put in a position where we felt we had to share the responsibility of what might happen (and almost did).

Anonymous said...

And you point is? Some children will run off and possibly injure themselves given half the chance?
Of course a parent should keep an eye on their child and this applies everywhere not just in cafes.
Hardly the same as a toddler wandering about and talking to people, or even making a bit of noise, which is what some are complaining about.

Keep an eye on them! said...

That's NOT what people are worrying about- it's small children not being supervised by their parents. Saying hello to people on the same/next table also doesn't seem to be the thing. I also have seen little people running about where it was impossible for their parent to see them. I wouldn't let my child out of my sight like this for safety, if not for politeness.

Green Solutions said...

I wonder if we could somehow collect up all this pointless hot air and feed it into the National Grid?

oryx said...

I welcome the idea of a child-friendly cafe and genuinely wish it well.

I'm not bonkers about kids in cafes in the daytime, having been put off going in both the Brockley Mess and a cafe in Honor Oak Park by screaming (literally) children.

If you are a parent and want to carry on your drinking/eating/sociable lifestyle once you have kids, which is totally understandable, you can hire these people who will look after your kids for you, or even use family members. This strange and alien concept is known as 'babysitting'.

That way, you get to have a good night out and your kids are tucked up in bed by eight or whatever, not rampaging, tired and naughty, in the way of a waiter carrying a tray of hot food, or a person carrying two glasses of beer. Or trying to join in a conversation with strangers which is probably beyond the comprehension of a seven year old.

This is a public service announcement.

;-) ;-)

Anonymous said...

I bet the cafe owners of the area can tell a few stories about the standards of parenting shown by some of their customers.

Anyone who has not seen examples of this must be blind or daft.

I have often walked out of local cafes when the standard child behaviour disturbs the peace.

The idea of a cafe dedicated to children is very attractive. I hope it attracts the families with noisy, hyperactive children where they can express themselves amongst kindred souls.

I shall give it wide berth and hope it is a great success.

No to toddler apartheid said...

Yes, they could tell a few stories about all sorts of disruptive behaviour. And?

I don't have kids but don't want to live in a world where parents and kids are banned from cafes. If they are noisy and disruptive I would expect the owner to ask them to modify their behaviour.

In short, deal with it.

Screamer said...

"If you are a parent and want to carry on your drinking/eating/sociable lifestyle once you have kids, which is totally understandable, you can hire these people who will look after your kids for you, or even use family members. This strange and alien concept is known as 'babysitting'."

I am a relatively new parent and, like many others in this area, live in a very small flat which I can't currently afford to buy my way out of. Again, like many others I know, I don't have family in the area. I meet with other parents in cafes because we can't fit in one another's houses. It's isolating enough being a new parent, especially when your baby is difficult, without being made to feel even worse when they cry in a public place and you have to leave and go back to your squashed and claustrophobic base to be miserable alone. We're really not trying to annoy you, we're just trying to survive.

Anonymous said...

...and there are some parents who are a menace.

Who seem not to be able to parent their children effectively nor bring them up to behave in civil manner, yet they demand everyone both prioritise and indulge them simply because they have decided to bring children in the world.

Its not so much crying babies, but toddlers and older ones that are not brought up to respect peoples property and private space. Should anyone challenge their disruptive behaviour the parents often respond with indignation and aggression.

I am sure they don't confine the nuisance they cause to cafes.

Brockley has a few of these problem families and it is not a pleasant experience being anywhere near them. I would guess other responsible parents don't much care for their company either.

Monkeyboy said...

I thought problem families were shipped off to sink estates, never thought they were corralled into coffee shops and forced to drink skinny lattes and eat ciabata. Is this social mobility? If so HOORAH! Together we can make a difference.

Coney said...

Right I am going to some investigative work on this highly important issue. I will go to an unnamed cafe in the locale tomorrow and report back!

Anonymous said...

Some problem families are middle class professionals who nonetheless have poor parenting skills. They are worse, because they come out with all kinds of justifications for their selfish behaviour.

There are some great believers in free expression out there who really don't give a damn.

Transpontine said...

Bottom line is that most of these cafes would be out of business tomorrow if it wasn't for people taking their kids there and spending lots of money. Doubt whether they could survive on the income from people making an espresso last an hour while they 'work at home' on their laptop.

So it's a bit rich that some of the staff at at least one local establishment think it's acceptable to shout at small children, rather than have a quiet word with the parents if they have a concern.

Of course there are parents who are out to lunch in all senses and children who are badly behaved, but most of the behaviour I see is just the normal spectrum of what happens when homo sapiens gather in one place.

Brockley Nick said...

Still waiting for the moaners to give a specific example, other than a young child having the temerity to say hello to them.

What does "not brought up to respect peoples property and private space" mean? Did these toddlers steal from you? Grope you? Or did they just come near you.

If anyone talked about any other group of people the way some of you do about parents and children, you'd be rightly labelled hateful bigots - and misanthropes to boot.

As Transpontine says, many of the local cafes you enjoy wouldn't exist without family custom and until I hear from an actual cafe owner complaining, rather than you projecting yourselves in to the minds of local staff, I think it's fair to assume that they'd rather not lose this custom, which may explain why many local places go out of their way to accommodate children.

oryx said...

Did I not give a couple of specific examples?

I could give loads more but feel it's a bit unfair on the businesses concerned, who are trying to make a living and some of whom I suspect are probably none too keen on parents nattering to their mates while little Oscar nearly careers into two cups of boiling tea born by a waiter.;-)

Anon @ 11.26 - you have made a very good point.

Some people are missing the point. People who complain about badly-behaved children are not bigots, misanthropists or child-haters. Many of us will have, or be close to children ourselves. There's nothing wrong with pointing out that sometimes pubs, cafes and restaurants are rendered noisy and have an otherwise pleasant atmosphere ruined by inappropriately-parented children.

But..... back to the point of the thread - a cafe like this one is a great addition to the area and something like it in Honor Oak Park would be nice in the future. I would only use it if with a friend with a young child, but I bet lots of people will love it.

Brockley Nick said...

@Oryx - I wasn't referring to your comments, which were pretty reasonable, even if the stuff about babysitters was rather patronising (and how many young kids do you see out in Brockley establishments after 8)?

Saying you've been put off going in to one or two places because of crying children is fine. Saying that those parents and children have no place in local establishments and that they're all thieving, marauding brats, whose selfish, stupid, self-indulgent, middle-class (natch) parents don't know how to discipline their children, who should know better than to say hello to another adult, is not fine. It's horrid. Give me a crying child over a misanthrope any day of the week. Perhaps if the anonymous misanthropes had been brought up in a more social environment, they wouldn't be so unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

All of which shows that Nick will just respond obtusely to any suggestion of changing his own behaviour.

Kids are great.

Parents staring into the middle-distance whilst not participating in their upbringing isn't.

Once a snot nosed toddler said...

Yes, bad parenting is bad. What has that to do with kids, sometimes lots of kids, being allowed to accompany their parents to cafes? People being rude to waiters is bad, as is burnt toast and cold tea. I don't believe nick is saying any of the above is acceptable either.

You really ought to consider living somewhere other than a city if occasionally rubbing up against your fellow man is that bigger problem.

If the owners want to ban kids they can, until they do I suggest you stay at home or use another cafe. The owners set the admissions policy.

Anonymous said...

"What has parenting got to do with kids? "

That says an awful lot about this thread.

Ex toddler said...

And who said that? Do wish you'd read peoples comments.

bumbags said...

@brockley nick. Many people have mentioned safety specifically in the Orchard.
If parents allow their little ones to wander off where they are out of their sight, it really is dangerous. I see a lot more concern about this in the above posts than 'child-hating'.
The Orchard have put up a very polite notice welcoming parents, but asking that children be kept supervised at the tables because of the safety issues with waiting staff and an open access to the kitchen. You haven't mentioned this policy in your replies- you seem to choose to ignore it?
I think you are really over-reacting to the earlier posts- why is everyone a misanthrope if they would prefer parents to comply with this notice? Are the staff at the Orchard child-hating misanthropes? Er- no, they're nice people trying to do their jobs safely.
Their patch, their rules, as far as I'm concerned.

Brockley Nick said...

No Bumbags, of course not. The nice people at the Orchard are child-friendly (they even recently ran a day-time event aimed specifically at young children).

A polite sign designed to help them cope with the sheer numbers is absolutely reasonable. So the reason I haven't mentioned it is because I don't have any issue with it.

Again, you won't find me or any of the other parents responding on these threads taking issue with the assertion that parents need to take care that their children don't get under the feet of waiters.

What I take issue with is the abuse directed at children and parents and being told that they / we have no place in local cafes.

And as for the idea that parents just put their feet up let their children scream and run around without concern, that's just fantasy. A parent will hear the cries of their child twice as loudly as the people around them, they'll burn with embarrassment as they try to stop them crying. A parent won't be able to work on a laptop or do anything more than scan the newspaper headlines, because they'll constantly have to look up to see what their child is doing and get up and prevent any problems. If you seriously think they are happy to put their kids at risk of having hot coffee dropped on them, you do not know what you are talking about.

Someone who complains because they have been spoken to by another human being or complains that they "felt we had to share the responsibility of what might happen" when a child was in (allegedly serious) danger are the dictionary definition of misanthropes. I wouldn't want to be lying bleeding on the pavement when that person walked past - they might feel they had to take some responsibility for my wellbeing. What a dreadful imposition.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a myth that cafes see parents with children as valuable customers. More like they are obliged to tolerate them. Parents often do not spend a great deal other than a few coffees while they gas for hours about their all consuming child centred lifestyle.

Cafes make money out of people who use them regularly and have a meal and drinks.

That simple activity is often disturbed by selfish parents who don't know how to handle their own children.

If you doubt this, ask the proprietors. They know their customer base. They know all about problem parents.

The notion that there rest of the customers of cafes are one coffee an hour, laptop tapping misanthropes just underlines the self absorbed attitude of some of the parents in the area who imagine that the world revolves around their personal lifestyle choices. It does not.

It is not pleasant sharing a public space with people who seem to have little idea about child rearing, yet imagine that their vanity project makes them the centre of the community and affords them any sort of priority. Brockley has a diverse population and its public spaces are for everyone.

A childrens cafe sounds great. The fact that it needs to charge on the door says it all. Other cafes in the area that tried to run days specially for families with kids found the experience unprofitable and fraught. So best of luck with that, hope they get it right.

Now if there could be a cafe that does nice lunches and could be relied upon not to turn into free creche for misbehaving children, that would be even better.

I am sure considerate parenting and well behaved children are welcome anywhere.

Brockley Nick said...

"I think it is a myth that cafes see parents with children as valuable customers."

A myth perpetuated by evidence and logic, perhaps? The evidence is the number of paying customers who are parents and the number of cafes that have gone out of their way to accommodate them. The logic is that during the day, in places like Brockley that as many people have pointed out, are "dormitories", with few people around during the day, young families are the main show in town. Of course they are valuable.

"A childrens cafe sounds great. The fact that it needs to charge on the door says it all. Other cafes in the area that tried to run days specially for families with kids found the experience unprofitable and fraught."

I think you misunderstand. The door price will cover the cost of children's entertainer. Despite its billing as a children's cafe, it's really a drop-in nursery / play centre. We'll have to take your word for it about how unprofitable and fraught other businesses have found it, but Jam Circus doesn't seem to share your view.

"I am sure considerate parenting and well behaved children are welcome anywhere."

Yes, I'm sure. The trouble seems to be our definitions of "considerate" and "well-behaved" - saying hello to someone in a cafe is what I would call good manners. Incessantly, moaning about the kids and bitching about the parents for being slack is what I would call "inconsiderate" and "badly behaved".

I say misanthropes have no place around children and should stay at home until they learn to control their anti-social impulses.

Monkeyboy said...

Anon@ 08:09 "Brockley has a diverse population and its public spaces are for everyone"

Well it's not a public space actually, it's a private space that allows paying customers to use it. Letting that inaccuracy slide for a moment you state it's for everyone. Yes, exactly. Laptop tappers, parents, kids, fasionistas, geeks, nerds, wageslaves, people who laugh, flirting, whinging....you know LIFE! You can always stay at home.

Coney said...

There's seems to something going on here beyond kids and cafes on both sides of the debate.

Anyway I can't do 'cafe -watch' today, I have something else I have to do. But someone else do please report this hot topic.

Anonymous said...

People who have to suffer the antics of out of control children and thoughtless parents usually vote with their feet or keep silent. That is being nice, it is not misanthropic.

You know there are some people who bring children into the world and they are actually a bit rubbish at it. The rest of us have to suffer for their vanity.

Misanthropes are not just lone individuals, they often come in broods. There are plenty dysfunctional families in Brockley that fit that description.

Speak to many of the staff in the cafes and they often express a great deal of frustration at antics of some of their customers. Family friendly policies have the side effect of turning the place into a noisy creche that scares off the other customers and runs the staff ragged.

It is not the people who sit reading newspapers and tapping at laptops that give them grief.

There should be a childrens cafe and maybe it could also give parenting lessons for the woefully inadequate. A facility that is much needed in the area, especially for professional types who think they know everything.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks Anon, I think you've proven my point. And yes, I dare say that as you sit there angrily nursing your coffee and grumbling to the staff, they agree with you because they are scared of you and don't want to talk to you any more.

Welcome to 2011 said...

Coney you're right. This is another fault line in the anti "newcomers" debate that you get from time to time in an area like Brockley, which used to be dominated by roll-your-own crusties, who either never had children or whose children are grown up and never talk to them any more.

It's another way to bash the professional classes of Brockley by proxy.

If they said this will be good because the cafes around here are getting full with kids there'd be no issue. That's exactly why Nick's been writing for years and why he's been predicting something like this.

It's the class warfare, intolerance and "everyone else is stupid and selfish except me" attitude that sticks in the throat. It is right to call them out as misanthropes.

And no, I do not have kids.

Welcome to 2011 said...

Ha, I wrote the thing about bashing the professional classes before I'd even read Anon's dig at "profssional types who think they know everything". Hilarious and pathetic.

Top Chef said...

I have noticed a correlation between those establishments selling dishonest fare and bad behaviour.

Whereas those serving good, honest grub have well behaved patrons across the spectrum.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

It was a response to the earlier suggestion that problem families are confined to sink estates.

They are not, they exist in all areas of society. Not least amongst the middle class professionals who can make particularly bad parents and are wont to strut around petulantly asserting their right give their feral children free range.

Class is not the issue. It is bad parenting and if this Childrens Cafe takes the load off the other cafes in the area, that is a good thing.

Pity there is no cafe on Hilly Fields where they can run around, shout and scream. While the children sit around in embarrassed silence?

Welcome to 2011 said...

Firstly, who said problem children were confined to sink estates and secondly, so now children wandering away from a cafe table are feral are they? Nowhere else in the world do they condescend to parents and children like this.

Anonymous said...

Young children nowadays do not have the manners that we had as children ie to shake hands and bow or curtsey, call people Mr or Miss etc, never contemplate a missed "thank you" or interrupting an conversation etc.

However, no-one frankly has the manners of yesterday...that is part of the problem...

Paretns are so much older as well in the main that we/they view our/their little darlings as something precious and this is a big departure from previous generations when children were tolerable as long as they behaved.

Probably a middle ground is the answer...

Snot nosed kid said...

What utter balls. Adults have been complaining about the perceived lack of respect of kids since ugg left his cave on the African plains and didn't tell mummy ugg where he was going.

Read some history, the Greeks and romans were constantly commenting on their offsprings lack of respect. Kids are sometimes noisey, deal with it. Sounds like there could be a problem but it's the angry anons who have it.

bumbags said...

'What I take issue with is the abuse directed at children and parents and being told that they / we have no place in local cafes'
I don't see much of this, and many posters mention that it isn't the noise or usual behaviour of children. I'm absolutely happy to share the space with mums or dads with crying children, or say hello to them/say how much I like their teddy etc etc.
It seems to be parents allowing children to wander off that is the main issue, and I have seen this MANY TIMES. Some parents DO feel it's safe/fine to let their child wander out of sight. Pls note SOME, obviously not all. I was in the Orchard last week and saw a Mum having a bottle of champagne with a friend (nothing wrong there btw, I'm not having a 'mums should not do anything nice' rant and I wholeheartedly approve of lunchtime drinking!) while her little girl (aged 2ish) wandered about. She was on the opposite side of the room, her Mum defo couldn't see her, and wasn't looking. After maybe 10 minutes the barman did ask the mother to fetch her from round the corner near the loo as he was worried. At this point the child was taken back to the table, and her Mum got some toys/books from her pram to amuse her and everyone was happy.
As a non-misanthropic member of a community I do feel nervous when I see this happen (an earlier poster mentioned the same thing when I child ran outside into the road). To me, this is being aware of the safety of others in my community, but I suspect I'll be told the Mother knows best/I'm stunting her poor little girl's right to express herself...

Brockley Nick said...

@Bumbags "I don't see much of this," you're not trying very hard then.

In the instance you refer to, it sounds as though the matter was resolved quite amicably. The child was wandering around and once the parent was asked to prevent the child from doing that, did so. Problem solved. Doesn't sound like a "feral" child or a reckless parent.

As for your nervousness, don't be nervous on their behalf. We spend half our time lecturing parents not to be so over-protective and the other half lecturing them for giving them a little freedom. Enjoy your coffee and let the mum and the waiter worry about it.

Anonymous said...

if it had drunk bleach in the loo we'd be on a different track...

Mb said...

Inventing possible toilet cleaning product mishaps is not a strong argument. Besides, being a trendy hangout means it would use "Eco" products which, while not actually being any good at cleaning, taste great when used to dress a salad.

Anonymous said...

Ugh - imagine the germs living in places that sell dishonest fare!

Lou Baker said...

There are way too many cantankerous old gits around. I hope I never become one. :)

Kids are great. They are fun, lively, excited little people who haven't learned to be all those horrific things that make many adults so awful.

The world would be a much better place if there were more kids in it and fewer adults.

bumbags said...

It's not quite that easy to say 'enjoy your coffee and don't worry about it'. I had concern for the child's safety for 10 minutes while it vanished round the corner. I was amazed at the Mum not even looking for her.
People DO worry- I'm not going to apologize for that- it seems a fairly basic and human response. The staff were also worried, and also embarrassed at having to ask the woman to retrieve the child. That shouldn't be necessary.
Just to quote you-
"Again, you won't find me or any of the other parents responding on these threads taking issue with the assertion that parents need to take care that their children don't get under the feet of waiters"
You can't have it both ways. Either you can keep them near you and ensure they are not getting under waiters' feet, or you can't see them.

Brockley Nick said...

@bumbags - yes, and the matter was dealt with when it was raised as an issue. I don't have an issue with anything you've said, because you're not an unreasonable misanthrope.

But I do say again, don't worry about it. The parent probably has a better understanding of the child's limits - and if it's in harms way is far more likely to be concerned - unless you think the mother was less concerned for her own child than you were?

Tough said...

Yes it's best not to worry about anyone else, just put your earbuds in and ipod up loud. If the parent doesn't care about their own child why should you. There's no such thing as society.

Brockley Nick said...

...
Not at all what I was saying. Keep an eye out by all means (it's the misanthropes that have already expressed their resentment at having to do that) but don't worry so that it spoils your time.

Tamsin said...

This has turned into a very interesting thread so let me join in to ride a pet hobby-horse (mobile phones and children). I'm all for letting children spread their wings and not being over-protective (one of the saddest things I saw was at a toddler gym where the children had to be be barefoot for the session and one little mite afterwards had the nasty dust wiped off his feet with a baby wipe before having his socks and shoes put back on - mine at the same age were encouraged to play barefoot in the mud in our garden, it was OK they had had their tetanus shots). However let these loosely supervised foreys into the unknown be carried out in appropriate environments - pre-school, a play area in a park or a friends garden - a busy cafe with open kitchen and open doors is not such a place unless there is a dedicated play-space.

If the champagne drinking mother referred to by bumbags had toys and stuff in the pram to amuse her child why did she not produce it earlier? I am not so tolerant - you are either out celebrating with friends or you are out with your child on a learning/playing exploration - despite the virtues of multi-tasking you should not try to do both.

Chatting to a friend three feet above the child's head while they then wander off for minutes at a time is to my mind on the same spectrum as the aweful thing one sees so often along Lewisham High Street - a slightly fractious toddler tagging along with someone talking nineteen to the dozen on her mobile phone. Children should be taught the basics of behaviour and not to interrupt - the sooner they learn the world does not revolve around them the better and the happier they will be when they grow up to reality - but what sort of message does this give? You are only with me on suffrance, I can't be bothererd to talk to you even though you are the only person with me, someone you can't even see is more important...

Lou Baker said...

If anything is likely to want to make you slit your wrists it's the kind of tripe Tamsin has just inflicted on us.

I don't care what the curmudgeons think. My kids are well behaved. If we're in a cafe or restaurant and they go for a wander - that's fine. The little ones know their limits.

In fact I might take delight at making the kids disturb the curmudgeons. That'll teach them for being such a misery guts. Nothing - absolutely nothing - is better in this world than hearing kids laugh and watching them smile. The grumpy old men and women who'd silence our children are the enemies of humanity. They must be stopped.

Creepy said...

"The world would be a much better place if there were more kids in it and fewer adults" Didn't Michael Jackson say something along similiar lines.

It could be Lou said...

To be honest I'd be more irritated by being stuck in a corner listening to one of lou's dour monologues about the state of the nation.

Mobile phone user said...

Wow Tamsin - didn’t realise you’d get into such a snit over mobile phones and kids!

There is only so much conversation one can have with a toddler (other than the endless look at the aeroplane in the sky, look at the doggie / pussy cat, look at the blossom etc ad nauseam). The fact someone might be calling you for an adult conversation is a relief (even if that happens to be walking along a busy road).

So long as the toddler is in a buggy (usually the case) or on an arm strap - I do not see the problem.

give me strength said...

@Tamsin "you are either out celebrating with friends or you are out with your child on a learning/playing exploration - despite the virtues of multi-tasking you should not try to do both."

SO SAYS THE LAWS ACCORDING TO TAMSIN. UTTER BOLLOCKS.

and this from a woman that has somehow got on to the board of a nursery. Credentials anyone?

Tamsin said...

But it's balance. The first time I was aware of the tendency was about 15 years ago. A father had was picking up his little boy from a swimming lesson in Crystal Palace. The child was obviously eager to talk to Dad about what he had been doing but was being cut out from above by his father talking on a mobile. OK - maybe it was a crucial make or break deal and I should not judge, but it did make a big impression on me. It is also something that you now see again and again and I am sure that all those conversations people have walking down the street can't be so deadly important that they cannot wait until you are settled on the bus or in the park or even back at home.

Agreed also there is a limit to "look at the aeroplane" type talk but there are songs to sing, trees to count, paving slabs or shadows to jump on, or even (to sound really sick-making, but there is something in it) just indulge in eye-contact and smiles.

Tamsin said...

I would have thought pretty good credentials - that I actually think engaging with children when in their company is important.

dead weight - step down said...

Oh okay. You're well qualified then...

Mobile phone user said...

Tamsin - agreed - those are all activities you can do with a toddler - but that presupposes the parent hasn't been doing that at home for the last 4 hours!

As you say, "Children should be taught the basics of behaviour and not to interrupt - the sooner they learn the world does not revolve around them the better and the happier they will be".
happier they will be".

Tamsin said...

But it's quite a big ask to get a very young child to learn not to interrupt when they cannot see what they are interrupting. So fine, what I remember from my childhood "grown-up talk" or the journalist (Katherine Whitehorn?) who wrote a piece once saying that in her household the typewriter was called "mummy's busy" (and one day she found her son and his friend burying "mummy's busy" in the garden!) - those are visible and clear signals. But it is so prevalent now - parents (or the au pairs) talking on a mobile - while an excluded child trails unhappily and uncomprehendingly beside them.

I do also understand about the need for civilised conversation. I think I might have mentioned on these threads before a wonderful Posy Simmonds cartoon that sums it all up. A very busy mother conversing "blah! blah! blah!" with her child as she goes to the park, does the cooking, does the ironing, gives him a bath. The final frame is her besuited partner coming home from work, all bright and perky, brief-case in hand, she opens the door to him, leans against the door jamb, panda-eyed and all she can say is "blah! blah! blah!".

But the fact remains, there are so many distractions in modern life that there have had to be specific early years initiatives introduced through Children's Centres to get parents talking to their children in order to build the early language learning that only has a very short timeframe to kick in, basically to do what once came naturally.

Mobile phone user said...

Tamsin - I hear what you are say and agree to a certain extent - but surely, it's easier to blame too much TV watching than an adult talking on the mobile.

Your post above suggests to me that any carer / parent who talks on the mobile phone whilst out with a toddler also never talks to their child when they are off the phone.

I suspect it is both possible to talk on the mobile whilst walking down Lewisham Way and have a good dialogue with your child during that part of the day you are not.

Tamsin said...

Lewisham Way perhaps - not so sure that this applies universally at the tackier end of Lewisham High Street where I see it so much.

But, like all innovations - TV, the internet as an information source, packaged meals, etc. - mobile phones can be a great aid to the quality of life, convenience etc., but one does need to be aware of where the downsides are in order to take deliberate steps to minimise their effect.

Still, I think we are basically in agreement - which is a nice place to be.

dear oh dear... said...

dear oh dear....tut, tut..

harrumph said...

I'm surprised anyone could use a mobile phone with one hand 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I see the Childrens Cafe have a pricelist.

£6.00 - first child
£2.00 - additional children
£4.00 - twilight access after 4pm

Maybe the other cafes are missing a trick.

They just need to dress some joker as a clown and let them jabber away in baby talk until the kids fall asleep through boredom. One or two of the posters around here seem well qualified.

Is there a fortune waiting to be made out of the buggies of Brockley?

Ian said...

Its a great idea to have a child specific cafe space, I wish them well. I'm a cafe operator so you may be interested in my view.

Things have changed in the cafe world. Not so long ago many of us wouldn't take our little ones into a smokey cafe but after the smoking ban these spaces are being populated by parents with small kids. Cafes (particularly those in or near parks) have become really popular as places for women with new born children to congregate and share their experiences of being new mothers. Its understandable, you have a baby, there's a load of fuss from friends, family etc and then you realise that in the early months you could spend a lot of time with a little person that can't talk to you, on your own. It makes sense to find other people that are in the same situation and then find somewhere that you can all hang out in together. When we set up this business we knew that we would attract people with small children as we are right next to a park. We weren't prepared for the numbers of people with babies or who are were expecting babies that live in the area. I hadn't anticipated running a business that was dominated in this way, I thought the cafe would be a tranquil place, music burbling away softly in the background while happy customers chow down to lovely food while doing the crossword or chatting with their mates. Well its like that sometimes but the bulk of our business comes from people with children. Actually the babies themselves aren't too troublesome as they sleep most of the time.

.

Ian said...

cont

Its very difficult to set up a cafe business that appeals to everyone and as a operator you are left with a limited choice. You can be very specific about who you are trying to attract and pitch everything towards a particular market or adopt an open approach and wait to see what develops. At the cafe that I run we have adopted the latter approach as the business has been funded from donations from the community as well has help from community members with actually building the space. This has left us with a major challenge, how do we attempt to provide a comfortable, attractive environment for the whole of our community. We have immediately been faced with the the conundrum of how to welcome children into the space without discouraging older people from using it as well. Like many large spaces there is an echo (the Brockley Mess also has this problem) and a wailing toddler can quickly transform a serene space into somewhere that you want to leave, swiftly. After being open for a few months we noticed that many of our older customers had stopped coming in. When asked, their response was loud and clear, too noisy, too many poorly supervised kids. I would take issue with this, it is noisy but we experience very little 'poor parenting', a toddler having a tantrum is perfectly normal and it can take some time to calm a stroppy 2 year old down. But if you are trying to have quiet conversation while a puce faced toddler is screaming and kicking under your feet you aren't going to hang around very long. We have tried to address this by having 'quiet fridays' one day a week when we ask people to use the space in a gentler way. I spent along time trying to find a way to make this happen without alienating anyone and despite my best efforts some parents have sniffily started to refer to Quiet Friday as 'no baby day'. One of the reasons that I have chosen to make a post today is because I have just had to respond to a complaint. A group of women with small babies came into the cafe bringing their buggies with them, 7 in total. We asked them in a friendly way to park the buggies outside if they were not in use as it makes it difficult to get around the space if its jammed up with empty buggies.
There was a complaint made that they were made to feel unwelcome because they were women with babies. Our request had nothing to with the babies it was about the buggies. We hope that people can appreciate our reasonable requests for cooperation, but they often don't. I recently asked someone to leave her empty buggy outside because the cafe was very full and very busy, she refused saying 'are you kidding? This thing cost £700'.
We need parents to understand that with their children they make up part of our custom, not all of it and that babies and toddlers are no more (or less) important to us than teenagers or the elderly.

So, to return to the origin of this thread. The opening of a cafe that specifically targets babies and toddlers is most welcome. My only concern for the operators is that the space will prove too small.

Here's a heads up for anyone in the food business and who really likes small children. Open a big cafe in the Brockley/Telegraph Hill area and you'll make a fortune. Just make sure that there's somewhere to park all the buggies

patrick1971 said...

Thanks for that really interesting post Ian.

Doesn't it just sum up, though, how self-centred we are becoming as a society?

Those of us who are childless can get very sniffy if children aren't sitting quiet and motionless, a pretty impossible task. We need to loosen up a bit and remember that kids are kids.

But the sense of moral superiority that new parents seem to exude is really demonstrated here - referring to one morning as "No baby day" and moaning about having to fold and store buggies so other people can actually use the space. They need to realise that they have made a choice, and sometimes they need to think about other people as well - the baby's not the most important thing in anyone else's life!

qbf said...

Hear, hear, Patrick.

Very interesting post, Ian. I think the Brockley Mess must be in the same position - attracting a different demographic from what they expected for their cafe cum art gallery. I go in there (child-free) despite the proliferation of small children, which hopefully qualifies me as a tolerant person.

One would hope most mothers aren't as selfish as the ones who complained to you. It's entirely reasonable to require them to minimise the inconvenience caused by their buggies.

Anonymous said...

Kids aren't born special, you make them special by bringing them up to be mindful and considerate/

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