Brockley Expats

Last week, Brockley Central was on holiday in a remote corner of Portugal, with only a small patch of wifi emanating from the ping pong room to connect us to the motherland.

We were being our usual antisocial selves, making only cursory nods towards getting to know the other hotel guests - what need have we for new friends, when Anonymous BCers provide all the warmth, kindness and intelligent comment we could ever want? However, our kids made friends with someone else's kids, so there was nothing for it but to make conversation.

Five years of doing this means we struggle to talk about anything other than SE4, but it turned out that despite living in Amsterdam, they were from Brockley (and therefore lovely) and kept up to date with the home country via this site.

Having been away for a couple of years, the thing they were really interested in was Brockley Market and they were looking forward to coming back to check it out. For them it seemed to symbolise a wider change and the promise that there would be a bit more fun to be had locally to help them transition back from Amsterdam.

We know we have a few other expats who still use the site from time to time - BCers now based in Australia, San Francisco, Singapore and Brazil - all ruing their decisions to leave every day, we're sure. So our question to them - and other Brockley expats is: What is the biggest change you've seen happen to Brockley since you left, most likely to tempt you back for nose around?


Cocojambo said...

You need to get out more. There's a lot on offer outside Brockley.

Brockley Nick said...

Is that right?

Anonymous said...

Herne Hill is quite nice, even has some decent bars and restaurants!

Mind you Brockley does have Smiles and Dukes. In your face Herne Hill with your nightlife and cool shops!

NAT said...

What's Herne Hill got to do with it?

I know it's even farther away than East Dulwich.


Expats live in places way away, far far behond the M25.

Anonymous said...

I'm off soon- can't wait to leave!!!

Westsider said...

You will be sorely missed.

Berliner said...

Don't know if I count as an "expat" but I am on a short term contract in Berlin and the idea of a restaurant to try when I get back is pretty damn exciting! Sad, I know.

NAT said...

Not in the least.

Brockley is the next Kreusberg, I've heard it whispered.

Hoxton. Eat my shorts.

Memories said...

As I sit looking out of the few decent bars that form Kensington & Chelsea, my mind often drifts back to that gem of the south.

South to a time before all six numbers came up. A win that changed my life, for ever.

What do I miss about Brockley now, in my ivory tower full of all those useless trinlets from all over the world - well, where do I start?

The question often trips off my tongue as I look back and ask myself where my life went so wrong drastically pear shaped.

Before the flash cars, celebrity girlfriends, and penthouse living. It was the camaraderie and nit-your own yogurt types that were my wonderful neighbours. Oh, and the Lefties.

But it was the train across the river wot did it. That an a search for happiness.

They say the grass is always greener in Brockley. And they are right.

As I sup my cappa or down another bottle of Bolly, it's the (endless) sound of police sirens that I miss. Usually accompanied by that helicopter, its pilot on another training exercise in that Nam of the south.

I miss wearin me stab vest, which made me feel all cosy like.

I miss Dukes, and my endless attempts to buy herbs there at night. Very inconvenient that store.

I miss Gulans, and my many attempts at gaining entry.

I miss the CCTV in the loos at the Barge, and that colonic smell at the Wickham, like napalm in the morning, and those speeding Open Reach vans, their drivers such family men that they drove at 70, down a residential street, whilst reading a newspaper, and making a phone call, and smoking. All in the desperate attempt to get home to their families and just as schools were letting out.

I miss the Brockley Builder, with his 8am start, a cuppa (two sugars and a fag), then his elevenses at (another fag, one of many), and 10, and endlessly so on. The bi-second fag break - with a finish for liquid lunch the Wickham. And the fartin and the belchin and the cussin as he returns to pick up his tool, usually blunt. Cash in hand, he was usually gone unable to complete his work due to an unforseen event.

I miss the caring council that used to stick every person with a drink or drug problem or ex con next to my little gaff. It was great that they socially included me like that.

I miss the knocks at my door 'on the borrow'. Money which I never saw again.

And I miss those people who used to clean all the car windows -for free - by smashing them.

These are the things I miss about Brockley, as I down another Bolly.

Finally, I desperately miss Brockley Central, and its endless campaign to raise Brockley's profile into the must-be quarter of London, which it is. Talking up the property prices though now means that after my big lotto win I can no longer afford to move back. Thanks Nick, you've priced me.

Now I'm stuck here with people who never utter a profanity, who vote Tory, and think that Marx is the shop across the road.

Oh, and the walks 'up' Hilly Fields at night with that nine-year-old known as the Brockley Dogger ringing in my brain. (Money can't buy you a penis, Brockley Dogger.)

These are but a few of the endless memories of Brockley that I shall cherish.

I'm just waiting for a price crash.

Shame said...

I hope that didn't take you too long...

Anonymous said...

Re emergency vehicle sirens, on my return from West London it's the first thing I notice.

Maybe someone in PR or wotever could carry out a survey on the image perceived of an area where there's an almost endless stream of emergency sirens?

Is there a law limiting how loud those sirens are allowed to be?

Cynic said...

Overly cynical perhaps, but can't help but suspect that the whole thing is part of some kind of use-social-media-to-effect-change-in-area competition...impact judged by house price rises, mentions in other media, etc...

Anonymous said...

Or is it just a blog about Brockley set up by people who like brockley and want brockley to be better?

Yep, you're being cynical.

Anonymous said...

Brockley is not that nice, unless you are looking for a retro-70s suburbian life. It used to have lower prices, so people put up with its boredom and the unruliness.

Prices are not low anymore, at least for those few non council properties available, but the boredom and unruliness remains.

Herne Hill is much better, for those who can afford it.

NAT said...

' Memories' is blessed with the gift of bilocation, being able to inhabit more than one Kensington and Chelsea bar at a time.

You 8.55 simply pine for the hill.

Herne Hill.

Neither, I would hazard, a claer example of ex patiotism.

Brockley Nick said...


Some of the changes campaigned for:

More free cash machines (there was one in the area, there are now five)

Removal of railings from Brockley Road to improve the high street and road safety (removed)

Funding for Christmas tree at Brockley Common (BC readers raised the money)

More people to get involved with more stuff in their local area, from pub quizzes to volunteer groups to local shops (a list as long as your arm of groups that have had people get involved after reading about them here).

Good eh!

I could go on. But I have no idea why this particular article prompted your comment. I just asked people who don't live here any more what they were interested in reading about.

It can't all be about drugs busts, you know.

BasementPerson said...

Who is this other Amsterdamer-with-kids-from-Brockey because it sounds like me except I haven’t ever been to Portugal.

It’s not such a green city here (more of a watery one) so I miss things like Telegraph Hill Park, Hilly Fields, the cherry trees in blossom. I also miss the lovely staff at Lewisham library. I like the sound of the market, new restaurants and of course the ELL. I still have to check out this controversial skate park.

I must have ambitions of moving back someday since I love reading this blog, but unless/until there is a massive house price crash, I can’t afford it.

Pol Pot said...


It is certainly true the standard of living has not kept up with the astronomical house prices. Still no restaurant or decent sized bar!

Anonymous said...

Both Top Chef and The Brockley Barge are restaurants FFS!!!

Richard Elliot said...

I've missed Brockley so much that I'm coming back in June.

(It is probably another three years before the next BC drinks and I want to make sure I don't miss them!)

Like the people you spoke to from Amsterdam I'm most excited about visiting Brockley Market. I think it is the most (?) tangible sign of the change that has gone on in Brockley while I've been gone.

I'm also keen to see how the little things have changed the area e.g. Brockley common, the trees that have been planted. Will the area feel different?

There are shops and restaurants that I've never visited that I'd like to check out (The Orchard, Browns, Mo Pho).

Finally, I want to get more out of the area. I've never been to Brockley Max, a quiz night at the Wickham or done any of the other activities in the area.

Brockley Nick said...

@BasementPerson - unless we spent an afternoon chatting on the beach, then it wasn't you :) But perhaps you can hook up via the blog!

@PolPot - there's one opening next month

@Anon - they are both wonderful things, but neither of them is a restaurant. One is a pub, one is a cafe. As you know.

Monkeyboy said...

Richard, your photo makes you look like a Liberal Democrat intern. Please see to it ;-)

Yes, Brockley Market is the best thing since forever if you like food. Apparently it was going to fail miserably by February, at least the that was the collective wisdom of the Anon miserablist tendency.

Richard Elliot said...

@MonkeyBoy - it was taken at the wedding in Delhi, nothing LibDem about it!

Monkeyboy said...

OK, that's good then. Looking LibDem is not great at the moment in blighty.

terrencetrentderby said...

i read somewhere top chef sells honest and locally sourced fayre

Anonymous said...

Wetherspoons and Top Chef are most definitely restaurants. They have numbered tables where you sit, your order is taken, a waiter brings your food and you pay a bill. That is a restaurant.

Shame said...

So why does Top Chef call itself a cafe then; and Wetherspoons call itself a pub? Anon, you are tiresome.

TJ said...

Have you ever been in Top Chef? No numbered tables, and you don't sit and have your order taken.

Anon - you are laughable.

nonny mouse said...

May I suggest ignoring the anons' ill-informed comments rather than responding to them?

Anonymous said...

I had my order taken when I went in there yesterday for Sunday roast.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the owner of Top Chef has issued a fatwa against Brockley Nick.

McBain said...

Top Chef only uses locally sourced meat from Mung Farm where the pigs are read the Guardian every night and die from old age.

Chuffy said...

I’m a Brockleyite living in Namibia, have been away for 18 months and yep, I also keep in touch via the wondrous site plus the links on facebook and twitter. When my tenants were worried about water supply in the flat I was able to tell them that it was a Brockley thing, not their particular taps playing up!
I agree Brockley Market is a big change that I’m looking forward to enjoying when I move back chez Brocklaise next month, but I’m also really glad that I’ll be returning at the same as the opening of the new Toad’s Mouth Too.... does anyone know the new name yet?!

brockley gal said...

I was in The Wickham over the weekend, atmosphere lively and band - things definately picking up there.

nburdy said...

Have definitely missed running into people we know from 'the neighbourhood' on our hung over Saturday strolls. Really felt part of a community.

And browns. Definitely missing browns.

But we miss you most of all Nick.

Brockley Nick said...

Too kind! I'm sure you've found something to fill the void. Come back for the next BC drinks!

pip said...

I love our Namibian correspondent's anecdote about being able to reassure his tenants about their water supply. Despite the trolls, the internet is truly a wonderful thing.

Anonymous said...

Brockley Nick could have met Basement Jaxx's partner in Portugal with someone else?

Oooh what a can of worms.

Anonymous said...

It took a lot of convincing for me to move to Brockley. The Brockley Central blog played some part as it sounded like there was some sense of community that is lacking in many other parts of the capital. Have lived in various parts of London and to this day have not stumbled across such excellent housing and wide, tree lined streets. Yeah it's expensive but a house similiar in style to the even the smaller ones in the conservation area would set you back £2 million in other parts of London - and not the poshest bits - while two bed conversion flats with such large dimensions would go for more than £400k. We don't have the amenities yet but they will come. Let's hope that Brockley does not go straight from slightly scruffy to generic high street chains without the bliss of independent and original shops. Have lived all over the world and can honestly say this is the first time I feel like I have found home. Love my neighbours and am happy to be starting a family here.

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