#GirlsDayOut: what happened when a bunch of ex-Croydonians came home and hit town?


By - Friday 15th December, 2017

Nowadays, when old Croydonians come home, there’s a lot of change to be catching up with


Photo author’s own.

One thing about being a kid coming from the glory of the Cronx is that you, and many of your school friends, will have left town after school and lived far and wide for years. Some, like me, later returned for good, while others head back every few years for a fleeting glimpse of their home town, to meet up and reminisce.

Now I’m resident again, I’m seen as the go-to person by ex-Croydonian friends. This can leave me in a quandary: what should I do with visitors who often talk of their memories of Croydon being damp and dire with little or nothing to do? I must admit that’s not my recollection: I don’t remember having quiet teenage years in Croydon. I remember getting into trouble at hot, mad parties at the Art School, club nights and sticky floors at the Cartoon, rock in the Railway, Queen playing Tiffany’s and riding horses across Happy Valley. But I used to avoid the negative comments when organising a day out for the girls by avoiding Croydon altogether, suggesting instead trips to the bright lights of London or Brighton…but no more.

With the opening of so many new venues and so much new cultural activity in some of old stalwarts, I now have the luxury of being able to have a Croydon-based girls’ day out combining food, drink, art, culture and pampering.

Love Boxpark or hate it – it’s certainly changed people’s first impressions of Croydon

Photo author’s own.

This summer saw the return for one day of two former Croydonians, one now based in Auckland, New Zealand, and the other in the party town that is Dublin. With those as their new home towns, you can imagine I was a little worried as to their thoughts of the new face of Croydon. Meeting them for lunch at East Croydon station, both were shocked at the sheer scale of Boxpark and the volume of people inside; love it or hate it, it’s changed people’s first impression of the town. Being ladies of a certain age, however, the prospect of sitting under the canopy amongst the heaving rhythm of grime didn’t fill any of us with joy. But a brisk walk around the venue led us to the relative peace and luxury of Yumn on the top floor balcony.

With hesitation, we peeped through the windows of the Yumn shipping container. Unlike most of the other eateries in this container city, we saw opulence – luxury even; deep velvet buttoned banquettes, crisp white linen table cloths and very, very shiny, new decor. It was all a little too glam for our own tastes but the fantastic combination of two-for-one lunchtime cocktails, a great looking menu and a quiet atmosphere with the charming smile of the waitress dispelled our apprehension and we three entered gladly.

We ate, chatted and laughed away a couple of hours in Container City

Our bottoms sank into semi-circular 70s-style velvet banquettes. We were immediately welcomed by the waitress with the menu, and the cheeky barman’s suggestion of his selection of special cocktails came jokingly from the bar. The friendly atmosphere and fast service soon resulted in a trio of cocktails being created, my own being a Bramble, which I can thoroughly recommend. As we were watching our weights, we choose a selection of starters rather than main courses, and we were presented with a wonderful selection of vegetarian, fish and meat dishes which the waitress served for us to share – and which we topped off with a calorie-busting bowl of crisp sweet potato fries. We ate, laughed and chatted away a couple of hours in the glam container, whilst our charming waitress was gently attentive to our wants and needs and the barman mixed unique alcohol-free versions of our original naughty cocktails.

After getting our not-too-high bill, we joked about the changes in Croydon with the Yumn staff and others at the bar, and I then guided my two friends down George Street and Park Street. My course through the centre of town allowed me to talk them through Croydon’s emerging street art scene thanks to Rise Gallery. I explained to them that had we have met earlier in the week we’d have been able to join a ‘Graffiti Granny’ course run by local artists. “No, no! Not grannies, not yet!”, I heard both scream (probably thanks to the cocktails!).

Where next? And what did the returners make of all the changes to the scenes of their youth? A second article, #GirlsDayOut2, will shortly conclude our adventures.

Josi Kiss

Josi Kiss

Josi grew up in Croydon and is of mixed European heritage; indeed, she was once called a ‘European mongrel’ and is very proud of the fact she comes from a refugee background. A former designer and retail expert Josi worked for twenty years in buying for two of the world's most famous department stores. After living and working around the world, she returned to live in Croydon in 2001 with the aim of creating a life/work/joy balance. Her world travels have increased her passion for her much maligned and misrepresented home town of Croydon, especially its forgotten green spaces and parks. Josi is currently co-chair of the Friends of Park Hill Park, Croydon's central park, and also a director of Made in Croydon CIC, a not for profit community interest company working to promote, connect and commission artists & designers who live, work or are inspired by Croydon.

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  • darran leo king

    Grow up read the most worthless #eatdrinkplay #croydonboxpark #boxparkcroydon made from a 30 million company called #boxpark remember no Mud cafe close down all the outside traders close by 6pm no 1extra or Link up tv or even their Grime music events during the week its half dead do see any one from #southlondon say Boxpark is kicking . No one cares one bit no RT from Penge or Sutton even Waddon says No as for thick as a brick Maddy East Croydon Cool keep with Boxpark how much is Croydon labour paying you . Now that’s the really problem not only a 3 million load and interest free our useless #CROYDONLABOUR Read #warholcroydon waste of space no art work sold for charity please forget about #LOndonBoroughOfCulture why #Savematthewsyard & worthless #eastcroydoncool #thecronx #croydonart #croydonstreetart #croydonvstheworld each one a joke & worthless but best of all with all the #croydonlabour support #risegallery its a sad hashtag going to the dogs dinner 4 years read it as this your #croydon reputation #risegallery #warholcroydon #eatdrinkplay #boxparkcroydon #croydonvstheworld #checkoutcroydon made by supported by Croydon labour and most mental part you the public been mug off for 4 years still go vote of them, your local businesses your reputation are suffering less investment take a good look at our town centre empty shops with half empty restaurants every town centre full of fast food outlets how many more chicken in the box do we need as for a night life forget that , wake up our town centre had over 2 BILLION Private investments and take a good look at our town centre high crime two murders within few weeks of each other why no cares or shows any respect in our town centre nothing for our young generation or our young adults when time to vote remember 2 billion private investments no socail housing on money for any community projects empty shops no night life welcome to #croydonboxpark #eatdrinkplay #risegallery #croydonvstheworld #croydonart #checkoutcroydon welcome to #ambition4croydon 4 years all worthless and us the tax payers paid for it yes no free car parking vote Conservative give us Croydon a fresh start & have the support from South London after Wimbledon down road as for Brighton they gone missing why croydon labour can’t blame them 4 years with #ambition4croydon give them the Big No please no way no bid #LondonBoroughOfCulture read #croydon2019 is over no more our culure Community is dead Penge is growing fast as for Croydon read all about in #risegallery #thecronx #warholcroydon remember no labour in #cronx just us the conservatives do it the right way for us yes #cronx is with #westend to #northlondon lovit wid #harrods #thsavoy down with #mayfair #knightsbridge #sw1 add #lovedubai drop into #bronx #nyc that’s #newyork add bit of #paris still growing but without having the conservatives how will Croydon benefit Massive hugs to Emilythornberry came to addiscombe soon be new labour Party leader as we care for the best for our Croydon ADDO #newaddington have the best of worlds vote give croydon a fresh start making Croydon go international on the Map vote Conservatives if am wrong please tell me or send in a reply Happy Christmas

  • darran leo king

    Grow up read most boring waste of space #boxparkcroydon #croydonboxpark made by your croydonlabour remember to read #risegallery worthless try #croydonlabour own #thecronx or #lifecronx or #cronxlife vote labour get 3 million interest free load #boxpark #eatdrinkplay explain why is mud cafe close where is 1xtra and link up tv as for Tues students deals at boxpark gone miss as fo thick as a brick Maddy I worked in PR eastcroydon cool even Mayfair say Jog On as for Sw1 they laugh all the way to airport went to dubai said for a best joke trying it in world of media community support take look at east Croydon Cool in bed with croydon labour & boxpark as for Maddy using a free newspaper Croydon Cit and as for your PR experience you got nothing keep sending in the wonderful photos for our east Croydon yes we seen them before

  • darran leo king

    Wake up no more for #LondonBoroughOfCulture why #Savematthewsyard two #risegallery three #warholcroydon four #eastcroydoncool five #croydonart six #croydonvstheworld seven #checkoutcroydon eight #croydonboxpark nine #ambition4croydon ten called your worthless #croydonlabour

  • darran leo king

    Boxpark no more Tues for students deals no grime music events no more open Mic in fact no Mud cafe close down staying open until 1pm hello Liz having boxpark a stop Gap , please explain why all out side traders close by 7pm some even early when do we see full pack out boxpark as there’s always empty tables nuff love to Cook daily and few others as for the cronx bar they need to move with toilets how can any one put up with boxpark have a piss or a number two and meet your chef before he or she cooks your meal that’s croydon labour meet your chef when having a piss at boxpark nice

  • darran leo king

    Last Christmas our Liz went too Yumn down hill all the way why no tolitets when Yumn is smashing it up with one of the best alive food menu in London the chefs and staff all ways doing their very best as for the main resturant its empty why boxpark and croydon labour hopefully the owner of Yumn going to taking boxpark to court why their fantastic reputation once again all of the 30 traders are unhappy as Roger and his brilliant staff working over hours without pay doing their best for Croydon boxpark the problem is Croydon labour clueless as for east Croydon Cool drop it out , the best news going wembley as boxpark they looking at fashion outlets no way as the reputation is very bad as for Roger and his staff we should apologise as he never sign up to this all food traders been rip off why the whole design wasn’t the first plan we ended up with Mayor of London and croydon labour who turn on the first Christmas lights cllr Tony as for next year croydon vote Conservative put boxpark on the Map so far read #croydonboxpark #boxparkcroydon #