Category Archives: Bromley

Another big step for my big little girl (or little big girl?)


I’m talking about Laura here, not Beatrice.

So my big girl is soon going to attend a “proper” school. The letter arrived last week and she has a place in our (not hers, she doesn’t care that much yet) preferred choice, which is less than 5 minutes walk from us (and was rated Outstanding by Ofsted).

I don’t know why, but I’m making a big deal out of it. It’s just a school, we all go through this. But part of me is so scared that she might not be happy there, she might not like it, she might not want to be a student…

Although I wasn’t a bad student, I wasn’t a keen student either. I didn’t like school that much, I was always dreaming about the day I would stop studying. I don’t think it has anything to do with studying and learning per se, but with the institution, with how things are taught and the subjects we are forced to learn. I was never a big fan of strict routines, like having to go to school five days a week – I’m still the same and it is a torture to have to work five days a week.

Going back to my fears, I’m also a bit worried I will fail as a mother. You know, not doing things right, like sitting down with her, talking to her about the stuff she is learning, checking her homework, reading any signs of trouble at school… Hopefully, this is just me being overly paranoid and overthinking life, as I usually do.

Laura is a smart girl, very curious and inquisitive, and quite sociable, so it might not be as hard as I am expecting.


She is going to attend reception, which is like an extension of the nursery/pre-school, as kids are normally four years old at this point, far too young to attend proper school. I didn’t think about that until a few months ago, but if she was born in September, she would have to wait another year to go to school. Not that it is good or bad to the child, but I can’t imagine paying another year of nursery, now that I have two kids going to childcare.






Chislehurst caves: a piece of British history


It’s been a while now that we’ve been wanting to visit the Chislehurst Caves but we always find excuses. I think it was because it is so close to us and we can always go there “another day”.

We finally decided to go, as a last minute thing, and it was a good surprise, I must say. The caves are in fact man made tunnels, 22 mile long and 30 meters below the woodlands. It is divided into three sections: saxon, druids and roman. It is not confirmed that the tunnels were really made by the saxons, the druids and the romans, but it adds a bit more mystery and fun to the whole experience if you truly believe they were.  😉

The coolest bits of the caves history are the earliest days though. It became a popular tourist attraction in early 1900s. During the II World War, they were used as shelter to families who lost their homes when London and other cities were bombarded. It was London’s largest public air aid shelter, with 15,000 people living there. It was a proper community, with a hospital, chapel, cantine…

The caves don’t have electricity in several parts of it and the tours are lit by a torch and several hand lamps given to the visitors. At some point, the guide removes the light and demonstrate the echo in the cave. Most of the children in our group, at this point, covered their ears so they weren’t too scared.

A fun fact: up until 1985, people took challenges to see who could sleep in the cave (12 hours at night). The challenge was set by the owners of the caves, after hearing the story of a woman’s bones found near the pools in the cave. Some say that she haunts the caves, near the area she was found, so as you image, sleeping there (alone, by the way) was quite scary. Apparently only one person won the challenge, a policeman, who carved a horse on the wall a bit farther from the pools. It is said that he could feel someone behind him, as if breathing on his neck, so he spent the whole 12 hours facing the wall. He later said that he would never do this again, for whatever amount of money in the world.

In the 50’s and 60’s, several famous artists performed in the caves. And we are talking here about BIG names, like Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie… not Beatles though.

Another curiosity: the entrance to the caves during WWII when they were used as shelter was charged, daily or weekly. 6p/night and children paid half price. All the money was invested back in the caves, so no profit was made during that time.

More information:

This is an interesting but very short attraction (you’re done in an hour). It’s a great thing as part of other activities in the area or when you just need to kill some time. It is also perfect for all type of weather.

Address: Chislehurst Caves, Caveside Close, Old Hill, Chislehurst, Kent. BR7 5NL

Train station: Chislehurst (from London Bridge and London Charing Cross)

Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am to 4pm

Tickets: £6/adult, £4/children 3-15, under 3 is free, but they don’t recommend the tour for kids under 3 (as they can be afraid of the dark)

The caves can only be visited with a guided tour, which happens every hour. The temperature in the caves are around 10 degrees Celsius. Not recommended to take a pushchair. Don’t bring your own torches, they provide oil lamps.

There is a cafe were they serve breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and coffee.


The map of the caves


Reconstruction of the chapel


Stage where some of the most famous artists in the world performed in the 50’s and 60’s


Illustration representing how a Druid sacrifice could have looked like


Sculpture from 1995 in the Druids section. If you have a closer look, at the very bottom there’s a building like the ones in Canary Wharf


Our guide just before removing all the lights and making some serious noise in the Druids sacrifice altar


This sign in the wall is everywhere in the caves. It worked as an “address” to the people who used to lived there during the WWII times. It was a type of post code as well, as the mail was delivered in the caves.


Reconstruction of the sleeping rooms during WWII


Sign at the entrance of the caves

Visiting Crystal Palace, the park


After seeing some photos of Crystal Palace park on my friend Graziela’s Facebook, I proposed hubby to take my mum and Laura there (Bea went with us, of course, but she doesn’t care where we go, as long as there’s milk and a place to sleep). It was mid July, hot as Brazil!

We used to go to Crystal Palace, the town, quite a bit when we lived in a neighbour town. The area is nice, not big, but it not only has the park, but also has a Portuguese (A Torre) and a Brazilian (Braziliana Cafe) restaurants. Good enough reason for us.

So, we went to the Brazilian restaurant and then walked to the park. I had forgotten how big it was; my mum wanted to kill me (not really, but she wanted to go back even before getting to the bottom of the park). All I wanted was to visit the Dinosaur court.


* The Crystal Palace was a glass building originally built in Hyde Park in 1851 to host the Great Exhibition.

* An even bigger building was then erected in Sydenham Hill in 1854 and stood there until 1936, when it was destroyed by a fire.

* The rebuilt of the Crystal Palace was opened by Queen Victoria in June 1854.

* The whole area where the “palace” was became known as Crystal Palace, as was the park is where the actual palace was built on.

* There are rumours that a new building is to be erected in the park.

* After being claimed by other boroughs, The Crystal Palace park is now part of the London Borough of Bromley. Hence this post being part of the “Bromley series” of this blog. 😛

The map of the park in 1854

The map of the park in 1857

The Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace

Now, the new photos of Crystal Palace Park. Compare the map below with the map above. On the top of the park, where the Crystal Palace used to be, there is a museum (I haven’t been there yet), and what for me seems a bunch ancient ruins. If you didn’t know the story of the place (because now you know), you would think that the park was completely abandoned (which isn’t entirely wrong) and falling apart.

The map of the shield-shaped park

The map of the shield-shaped park

Photo below: the area where the Crystal Palace was. Some remains of the original building are still there.

This is just a small part of it

This is just a small part of it

Egypt? No, Southeast London.

Egypt? No, Southeast London.

Some areas of the park are falling apart

Some areas of the park are falling apart

The old bits of the Crystal Palace could do with some real restoration

The photo below is the BBC Transmitter (or the Crystal Palace transmitting station). It was built in the 50’s and it is the fourth tallest structure in London (behind The Shard, One Canada Square and Heron Tower). P.S.: We can see the tower from out top floor bedroom window; as an “internal” joke with friends, we say that we live so far away that we can see Paris from here.

You can also see the Italian Terrace in this picture, part of the original Crystal Palace.

The iconic tower

The iconic BBC transmitter

The nice bits of the park, in my humble opinion, are further down, with the beautiful roads surrounded by trees, lakes, the maze, playgorund for kids and the dinosaurs area.

And you walk and you walk and walk some more

And you walk and you walk and walk some more

The maze

The maze

A green walk

A green walk

A lake

A lake

Bouncy castle = summer fun

Bouncy castle = summer fun


Chill out area with the children’s playground at the back

Now here is something that was totally new to me. As I said, we used to live in the area (for three years and a bit) and went for walks in the park. I had never paid much attention to the history of the park, as for me, it was just “a park”. I had never seen the Dinos area either. I thought it was a recent thing, but little I knew…

The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs were commissioned in 1852 and unveiled in 1854. Yes, you read correctly, they are there since 1854! There were restored, of course, but still… These are the first dinosaurs sculptures in the world! Apparently they are pretty outdated, but who cares? They are from the 1800’s! By the way, these are dinosaurs and other extinct mammals.

There is an audio trail (Darwin and the Dinosaurs audio trail) that can be downloaded online and you can listen to it on your mobile while visiting the place.

Dinos in Crystal Palace

Dinos in Crystal Palace

Dinosaurs in Crystal Palace

Dinosaurs in Crystal Palace

Another curiosity: the Crystal Palace Football Club field is not located in Crystal Palace, but in Selhurst Park, Croydon (they share the grounds with Wimbledon F.C.). Crystal Palace F.C. was recently “promoted” to the Premier League, for the joy of all of us, Southeasterns. 😉


The National Sports Centre

This post is part of a series of posts of interesting places I visited in the London Borough of Bromley. The posts will be at random, as and when I visit a place we like, it’s worth talking about and I have at least one picture taken by us.

Check also:
Downe House, Charles Darwin House
Bromley and Keston Common

London Borough of Bromley: the largest and the greenest borough in London


London is a huge city and even though I live here for nearly 8 years, I don’t know half of it. I come from Rio, a city that seems tiny if compared to London, but just because I lived in a bubble, just moving across 5-6 neighbourhoods. I think the “boroughs” in Rio are more “complete” – where I lived I was 10 minutes by bus from Copacabana beach, had tons of cinemas at walking distance, night clubs, shopping centres, etc. Where I am in London I have to get a car to do anything, it’s a very residential area (close to a ‘big’ town with cinema, malls, supermarkets).

All this to say that although I love living in the London Borough of Bromley, I can’t say much about the other boroughs, so this post – and all series of posts about things to do in the ‘Bromley’ area – has no intension to be a “mine is better than yours”. It is, in fact, an attempt to force me to get to know more of the borough I live in.

Great things about the area: I was told that it is the greenest borough in London, with a great number of parks and commons. This week we visited a new place for us: Keston Common. We’ve been to Hayes Common and West Wickham Common, which together with Keston Common form the three commons walk. This is a great thing about London: there are loads of walks in nature, like the Green Chain, in the southeast.

Keston Common is very kids-friendly, with some ponds where you can fish (you have to carry a licence though), tracks in the woods, lots of space to run and, of course, the ice cream man! Interested in the area? Check more on the Three Commons Walk here.

The three commons

The three commons walk and other tracks


Trying to make friends


Shoe-less after too much running around


Ponds with fish and lily pads, tracks, sun and dogs, perfect Sunday afternoon


Throwing stones in the pond, it can’t get better than this


The water is fascinating, isn’t it?


Keston Common – a view

Next post on Bromley: Crystal Palace Park (which I didn’t know was part of Bromley Borough!)