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Business Focus in Lockdown

SE Magazines caught up with one of their lovely customers, John from Alexandra Nurseries in the May issue of SE22. 

At Alexandra Nurseries in Penge we are proud of our place in the community and delighted to find people feel the same. Our existing customers, neighbours, friends and newcomers have been keen to support us with kind words and custom!

Of course this would be one of the peak times in our industry and it has hit us all hard, including our loyal growers, nurseries and suppliers. We have found the relationships built from 8 years of trade; of trust, loyalty and flexibility – both ways around – have kept us in good stead.  Small independents have been able to suddenly downsize, re think how to operate and market and between us we are just about keeping each other going.

Moving into ‘Amazon’ territory has been very challenging especially for a small shop with no existing online sales operation! We have all become perhaps too familiar with a click and collect climate and expect our stuff tomorrow! We have one person and one phone-line, one person on admin and email and a very talented instagrammer! With over 100 queries a day on those three platforms it’s been fun! So to all your readers— so sorry if we didn’t return your call, you couldn’t get through, or we lost you somehow – please forgive that and return for excellent cake and coffee and browse the lovely vintage garden things and quality plants soon .

We thank too our lovely loyal furloughed team, who have been patient and trusted us as we work through the uncertainty. Being partly family run has been important giving an incentive to adapt and proceed beyond a straight business ethic, and the directors of the company have been working flat out to keep on top of everything. Our 8th birthday this week would have been our opportunity to greet you all with tea and cake.  Watch out for the celebrations next year!

Being a small business has allowed us to remain true to our values and, while we are not perfect, we rejoice in that. We are a creative company made up of different personalities and skill sets, and in the current context this has meant we have the ability to adapt.

We are fortunate to be a garden centre as the demand for our products remains strong, It has been satisfying to help people enjoy Spring, get into their gardens, connect with loved ones from a distance – they’ve been sending plants seeds soap and vouchers!  Enabling people to create, grow and be in touch with nature has always been our aim – we are still here and hopefully back to full speed soon !

Estate House, 56B Parish Lane, London SE20 7LJ
07939 110 970  t: 020 8778 4145


The Last Word – Sara-Jane MaCabe

Over at SE22 magazine, we interview local photographer Sara-Jane MaCabe and gave her The Last Word!

Hi I’m Sara-Jane; I have been a baby, child and family photographer for 8 years making beautiful memories for local families. I have also recently launched my headshot and brand photography business helping local business owners to capture the story of their brand, attract their perfect clients and grow their business. 


How long have you lived in the area? What brought you here?

Almost 9 years. I had spent many years living in Crawley but after returning from a secondment in Oslo, Norway (in my previous career as an accountant!) I decided that I wanted to move into London. My friend lived here and I loved the area so decided to make it my home!

What’s your favourite place for a night out?

I do love the House of Tippler for their amazing cocktails. Food-wise I would choose Dulwich Tandoori or Yama Momo. Lordship Lane is missing somewhere to go dancing though!

Coffee or tea? Where?

I am a very strange English person who doesn’t actually like tea or coffee! Can I say wine?!

Where’s your favourite place to walk?

Dulwich Park definitely. The lake, the flowers, the café! It’s also my favourite place to do outdoor family photo sessions. The bridge makes such an amazing feature in photos.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?

I’m not actually sure I could choose one! I guess if I did it would have to be my camera. My top five would also include chocolate, wine, travel and my friends.

The most famous person you’ve seen or met?

Oooooh I met Jason Manford when I photographed his baby girl for a secret photo session for his girlfriend for Mother’s Day. It was so funny waiting outside his house until he called me to say she had left and it was safe to come in!

Describe your perfect weekend

If it was sunny, I would take a walk around Peckham Rye and then head to the Rye to meet friends for lunch as it’s my favourite pub garden in the area. If it was raining then I would head to Lordship Lane and grab a pub lunch at the EDT or the Bishop and go to the Picturehouse to watch a cheesy chick flick!

My perfect holiday….

I love wildlife and photographing wildlife so definitely a safari in Africa. Ideally combined with a week afterwards on a beach where I could indulge my love of diving and relax with some cocktails.

If money was no object…

I would do a 3-week trip around Antarctica, Georgia and the Falkland Islands where you can see a lot of species of penguins, especially the King and Emperor penguins. Penguins are my favourite animal in the world!


Cooking Online In Lockdown

Nena Foster wrote a lovely article for the May issue of SE23 which we are happy to share.

As a freelance nutritional chef, my work revolves around working with people; whether it is a cookery class or workshop, working with clients on a 1-2-1 basis or cooking on a set for a cookbook or magazine. My job also revolves around consistent access to food, so it was no surprise, but still came as a shock, that when we ended up in lockdown all my work completely dried up or needed to be delivered without making contact with others. After an initial panic, I decided to take my experience as a cookery teacher, former university lecturer delivering remote teaching sessions and use my limited (but growing) tech skills to move the parts of my business that I could online.

The first week of lockdown was spent trying to make sure my family had what we needed and was spent getting up to speed with transitioning to online class delivery. At times it felt completely impossible; juggling home, kids and attempting to work, but I realised that getting in the kitchen, improving their cooking skills and eating healthily was even more important now.  And, I have always had a knack for making meals from cupboard dregs, but my diverse food background has given me the skills and know how to repurpose, reuse and substitute ingredients and still create something delicious and nutritious.

I now run cookery classes online and live from my kitchen, to yours.  The classes connect people at time when we’re desperately in need of seeing new faces, helps to sharpen your kitchen skills and the benefits of cooking in your own kitchen is important for learning how to use and adapt based on what you have in.  My Kids Classes (1 hour) are a complete homeschool package. We focus on a core nutrition topic, I throw in some maths, we cook a nutritious recipe and at the end there’s one less snack that parents have to worry about prepping! Classes for adults include a Fermented Veg Masterclass (think sauerkraut & kimchi) and I also run bespoke 121 lessons where we jointly create a menu based on the ingredients you have or enjoy. I have also just launched a group cook and dine session for those who want to cook and eat with a group of friends—I even provide a themed playlist and drink pairings. For more detail on my classes head to and I look forward to cooking with you!

Nena trained as a nutritional chef at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and has worked with a range of inspiring chefs, including Anna Jones, as well she regularly develops recipes for clients such as Rude Health and other health-focused brands. She runs workshops and cookery classes across London, including The Garden Museum in Lambeth. She is a mum of two and lives in South East London.  You can find her on Facebook and Instagram where she is also running a recipe video series called ‘What’s in Your Fridge?’ to help followers create meals from odds and ends in your cupboard and fridge.

This article first appeared in the May issue of SE23 magazine.



How do we return the nation to work as safely as possible?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a tidal wave of change in our lives and having had a period of lockdown, we are now facing the tentative returns to work. Like everyone, I have been keen to know how to help. I have known that testing and tracking Covid-19 will be key to how we can keep this in check. It will allow us to review the impacts that relaxing of lockdown will have. Testing has been a contentious issue and availability has rightly been limited to our keyworkers and anyone ill or at risk. However, it is also important that testing is now more widely available to us all. Given my background in research and as a surgeon, I have waited until the right tests with high levels of accuracy were available for me to be confident enough to offer it.

At The Clinic by Dr Mayoni, we are now able to supply two separate tests: a PCR swab test kit to help determine if you are currently infected by Covid-19, or an Antibody fingerprick kit to detect IgG antibodies in your blood that would indicate you have already been exposed to the virus.

We post the kits out to you to perform at home – there are written instructions and I have created U-Tube videos to explain too. The PCR test involves a nose and throat swab. These results will be available two to three days after the laboratory receives the swab. The antibody test involves supplying a blood sample via a finger prick and results will be available one to two days after the laboratory receives the sample. In both cases, I will communicate the results to you.

Both the PCR and Antibody tests report high sensitivity and high specificity.
Sensitivity tells you how often a test correctly gives a positive result for people who have the condition being tested for. This is also known as the “true positive” rate.
Specificity tells you how often test correctly generates a negative result for people who do not have the condition being tested for. This is also known as the “true negative” rate.
The PCR test has a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 100%
The Antibody test has a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 97.5%.

Details of how to purchase these are available on our website We are offering a discount to any NHS staff – please email

These tests are being analysed by a private lab and therefore does not impact on the workload applied to the NHS laboratories. We are providing this as an extra service until there is no need for it and capacity exists within the NHS. They are working hard to make this happen and we will support them in this.

What is the difference between the PCR test and the Antibody test?

The PCR test answers the question “Do I have Covid-19?” and the Antibody test answers the question “Has my body shown a IgG antibody response to Covid-19?’. The PCR test is ideal for those who think they may currently have the virus. The Antibody test is to identify if you have shown an immune response after you have recovered from the symptoms – and should only be used at least 14 days after the first onset of those symptoms. No doubt in the coming weeks and months, there will probably be a need to regularly show immunity (some countries have an immunity passport). Performing BOTH tests together will be considered evidence “fitness to return to work”. I believe this will be invaluable to many business owners especially where it will be difficult to maintain social distancing by staff e.g hairdressers, retail shops and cafes. Myself and my team will be having both tests prior to opening in coming weeks.

When should I use these tests?

Use the PCR test if you suspect you currently have Covid-19 or suspect you have recently been exposed to it. The PCR test can detect Covid-19 even if you don’t yet have symptoms.

Use the Antibody test if you believe you have had Covid-19 and are at least 14 days, but ideally 21 days, from the beginning of your symptoms. This is because it takes time for the body’s immune system to respond to the virus and develop IgG antibodies. If you take the test too soon, the antibody may not be detected.

Does a positive test result mean I am immune from future infection?

No. At present, we do not know if recovering from Covid-19 or developing antibodies protects you from reinfection.

According to the World Health Organisation: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

How will the tests be delivered to me?

All tests are sent out using Royal Mail First Class “Signed For” service. Orders to countries outside of the UK will incur extra postage costs so please let us know if this is the case.

How do I return the sample to you?

The test packages include a UK pre-stamped envelope to be posted back to our laboratory partners. We recommend that UK customers return the test to the laboratory using Royal Mail Special Delivery Next Day Tracked service. If you are returning the test from another country, please contact us for more details and advice before completing the tests.

Are the tests safe?

Each test is CE marked, which means that the manufacturer has checked that the tests meet EU safety, health or environmental requirements, and comply with EU legislation. These tests are also authorised for distribution by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

Do you offer discounts for the NHS?

We offer discounted tests for NHS frontline staff. Please email Reception to find out more.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any further information or 020 8699 9496

Help the Rosendale feed the local community

The Three Cheers Pub Co have joined forces with Open Kitchens, the amazing non-profit organisation who help feed those elderly and vulnerable as well as our brave NHS staff.


They will be re-opening the kitchen at The Rosendale in West Dulwich with the aim of providing a minimum of 1,200 nutritious meals to those in most need in our local community. The kitchen will be staffed by members of their own team who have volunteered their time free-of-charge to support this project.

Their initial fundraising target was £2,220 which they reached with half an hour!  They are now over £4,000.  This means they will be able to provide over 2,180 free nutritious meals to the vulnerable and elderly now, which is really exciting.

Just £1.85 will provide a healthy fresh meal for those most affected by this crisis, so even the smallest of donations will make a difference to someone who is struggling right now. Whatever you can give will make a direct impact. The more money they are able to raise, the more meals will be provided.

To donate,  visit their Just Giving page.