When I tell people I live in Brockley, I’m often asked “Where’s that?”. Brockley is a little piece of South East London nestled between Lewisham and Peckham, with Victorian streets, green spaces, parks, a few good restaurants, cafes and pubs. This is our 7th year in Brockley, and I’ve seen it change a great deal over that time. Since becoming a parent in 2015, and spending a year of my life enjoying the Brockley cafe and park scene, I’ve grown accustomed to it, and loved it. So, I’ve decided to write a post about this little part of South East London for parents.
There are so many parents in Brockley. They are everywhere during the day. In the cafes, in the parks or just enjoying walking around trying to get their child to sleep. I know this, as I did just that. During my maternity leave I lost count of the laps I did around Hilly Fields, and how much money I spent in the cafe at the top of park. For anyone on maternity leave or has a small child, then Brockley has a lot to offer.
There are many of these. There’s Baby Sensory held at St Andrews Church on Wickham Road. This is a weekly event, and it’s brilliant for your baby up to about 13 months old. We started going when our daughter was 5 weeks old, and I watched her every week gaining more and more from the sessions. There is a lot of waving of objects in front of your child to support their vision, and singing and playing. It’s also a really good opportunity to meet other Mum’s in the area too.
Another fantastic weekly event is Baby Bounce or Rhyme Time that takes place in Crofton Park Library every Friday at 11am. It’s 30 minutes of singing with your child. It’s all voluntary and therefore free to attend, and the organisers are always looking for people to run the sessions, so this is a brilliant way to get involved with the local community.
We went to Tippee Toes a couple of times at St Hilda’s Church on Brockley Road. The lady who runs these sessions is really enthusiastic and loves getting the children involved in singing and dancing. These are held on a Monday afternoon at 3pm, and are £5 per session, which is well worth the money.
There are many of these scattered across the area, some are daily and some are held a couple of times a week. We often go to the playgroup in the Telegraph Hill playhut in then lower park. It’s on for a couple of hours every morning, and the children are free to play, and then the session ends with a good sing song, and tidy-up. The play group also has a fantastic outdoor space with cosy coupes, bikes and rocking horses which my daughter loves.
Other excellent playgroups that I’ve heard about from my NCT friends are Little Fishes at St Peter’s Church, the St Andrews playgroup, and the Ackroyd Centre. Now that I have more time with my daughter, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be visiting these.
There are many parks in South East London, and Brockley is home to Hilly Fields. This is a lovely, well kept park that has great views towards Canary Wharf and The Shard. Like I said earlier when I was on maternity leave, I think I visited Hilly Fields on a twice daily basis with the buggy. As my daughter is now a toddler and in nursery during the week we often visit at the weekends. She loves the play park at the top of the park, which is perfect for children who are toddler age upwards. There are swings, slides, climbing frames and a huge sandpit (that is quite beach like). In the school holidays it gets really busy, and I find it better to visit during term-time. An ice-cream van is pretty much parked there permanently, and it’s great to enjoy a 99 with a flake on a sunny day.
As well as Hilly Fields, there is also Ladywell Fields and Blythe Hill Park, all which offer loads of space for your child to run around, and a playground too.
Cafes, restaurants and pubs
There are many, and there has been a constant stream of new cafes coming to Brockley. For parents here are some of my faves:
Pistachios in the Park (not to be confused with Pistachios on Brockley Road) is where I spent most of my maternity leave, I dread to think how much money I spent on lattes and their chocolate Guiness Cake. This is a great little cafe to take your children to, or to meet up with your NCT group. The food and drinks are all good value too.
Jam Circus pub on Brockley Road in Crofton Park has a “stay and play” session conveniently held after Baby Bounce on a Friday. It becomes a bit of a buggy park, but we loved it for soft play (pub style), all day breakfasts and wine. If it’s one thing about maternity leave I miss, it’s my Fridays. The soft play area is perfect for toddlers and younger children.
The Brookmill Pub on Cranbrook Road is great for children because of its beer garden. It’s safe and entirely closed off. We’ve enjoyed many afternoons here, and even had our NCT Christmas lunch here as well. The pub is also opposite a little play park, so if your child is getting restless you can easily pop out with them.
Another lovely place is The Orchard. It’s brilliant in the daytime to visit with your children, all the staff are really welcoming, and there are plenty of highchairs. It’s also great to visit in the evening, serves delicious food and has a good beer selection.
There are so many events that take place, but one of my favourites is Brockley Market. On a sunny day it’s great to go to for lunch to enjoy a Mother Flipper burger or a Spit and Roast Buttermilk Chicken Burger. There are usually a lot of children and babies here too, and our daughter is a fan of the croissants from the Aston Bakehouse.
The Brockley Max team also put on a huge event during the first week of June which is held all over Brockley, and to end the event there is a mini festival that takes place at the stone circle on Hilly Fields. We went last year when our daughter was not quite one, and we enjoyed freshly cooked pizza, beers from the Brockley Brewery, and live music. For toddlers and children there’s face painting, and arts and crafts.
So, that’s my list of things to do, or places to go as a parent of a baby or toddler in Brockley. There are many other places to visit, but I can’t capture them all in one post.