East End Girls and West End Boys

posted on: Monday, 14 April 2014

Flowers at the Columbia Road Flower Market



Fin & Flounder on the best street in town, Broadway Market

Fin & Flounder's delicious snacks

The wildflowers in London Fields

Yoga at Stretch

Greenery at Hackney City Farm


A farmer farming...

Sweet treats from Violet on Wilton Way

Bill Granger's new TV show about West London, particularly Notting Hill, reminded me that a while back I wrote a post titled London's Iron Curtain about the hilarious differences between the East and West sides of London. I spoke about my favourite restaurants on each side of the divide, including Bill's amazing restaurant Granger & Co, and generally sat on the fence concluding that I liked both sides. But I lied. I choose East. And here are 6 reasons why...

1. Broadway Market - this street, which incidentally is where TDM lives, boasts some of the most fabulous options in a one mile radius such as boutique fishmonger Fin & Flounder, the French-Moroccan providore La Bouche, and my coffee obsession the Climpson & Sons roastery. But what makes it even cooler is the sense of community it offers in a sometimes cold and callous London. People stop by to say hi to Ismael the Barber who keeps his eye on the street and Sharky the resident wino who is embraced by all the residents.

2. Hackney City Farm - smack bang in gritty, urban East London is this vista of old-school green. This working city farm feels like something from a bygone era because it has old men wearing overalls shovelling next to hay bales, cobbled pathways, roosters and pigs and sheep and goats and manure, and an air of the country, despite its location. The stunning flower and herb gardens provide much of the produce for the rustic cafe on the grounds.

3. London Fields - this park is the lifeblood of Hackney with hundreds of residents flocking there early on the weekend to reserve their patch of ground, particularly in summer. Under the huge shady trees among hundreds of wildflowers you'll see all manner of barbecuing, working out, sunbathing, drinking, and dancing. It's a great place to bliss out for hours with a coffee and the Sunday papers.  There's also another huge attraction in the London Fields Lido, one of the only outdoor swimming pools in London. On sunny days you need to wait in line for up to an hour to get inside, though the actual pool is never overflowing. Most people are sunbaking and posing around the outside.

4. Wilton Way - is on the north side of London Fields (Broadway Market is on the south) and is a lovely street that houses a couple of stand out gems. Claire Ptak's Violet is the organic cake shop with high quality produce and mouthwatering cupcakes laced with violet icing, peach and frangipane tarts, and spiced pumpkin pie. A few doors up, another Claire, Claire Roberson, runs Mayfields, a sophisticated but casual diner you could only wish was on your own street. They menu updates regularly to reflect new market produce and I've had some memorable dishes including sole with citrus butter and a chocolate and olive oil mousse.

5. Columbia Road Flower Market - from peonies and lilies to hydrangeas and herbs, every Sunday morning hundreds of people flock to the Columbia Rd Flower Markets to select bunches of market fresh blooms. There are a number of gorgeous independent cafes, galleries and vintage stores that only open on the weekend to capture the market's crowds.

6. Stretch, Kick Studio and Tempo Pilates - if you want exercise on your holidays there are hip options aplenty in East London. Stretch yoga studio is my favourite, particularly the classes run by the 'Aussie Monkey' the super-accomplished and super-chilled yoga teacher Brendan. Tempo Pilates ups the ante by teaming reformer pilates with high energy music and Kick Studio is where you go for full-on boxing instruction. The owner Sophie has a health column in the Huffington Post and my favourite instructor Paul, a former pro-footballer at West Ham, can motivate you to do anything!


Check out: London's Iron Curtain 

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