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30 July 2011

Eastern Promises

I count the number of times I've ventured east of EC1 on one hand, and some of those don't really count because I was driving through. It's nothing personal; I'm just more of a west London girl, born and bred.

I'm always up for a craft market, though, and so when I saw an ad in this week's Time Out for the Designers/Makers Market in Hackney, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to acquaint myself with a new quartier. So, I took the 30 bus, which usually deposits me at King's Cross when I go to work, all the way through Islington, Highbury and Dalston to Hackney Central and wandered down towards the market. It felt like a bit of an Apprentice pilgrimage as I walked past the Hackney Empire (which featured in this episode) and the Hackney Town Hall (which featured in this episode).

Violet's mini-cupcakes
It was perhaps rather unusual that large numbers of trendy, affluent, 20- and 30-something females were wandering around the area where the market was supposed to be, looking slightly confused. When I went inside the studio that hosts the market to ask what was going on, the receptionist said it was cancelled for the next few weeks. They were looking for a new venue as not many people were showing up. Great timing there--calling off the market the week it gets featured in Time Out. That's one way of guaranteeing people won't bother trying to find it in future.

Climpson & Sons
Luckily, I'd already prepared a walking tour for myself and so I didn't feel too annoyed about the long bus journey. First, I went to Broadway Market, which I'd been meaning to visit for a while. I had a macchiato from Climpson & Sons' stall, which was good but too hot--maybe they have a better machine in their shop, at the other end of the market. Also on offer were: lots of cakes (I opted for a mini salted caramel cupcake from Violet), flowers, breads, clothes and accessories and, of course, jellied eels. There was also a great independent book shop, The Broadway Bookshop, a branch of a Fitzrovia boutique I like called Black Truffle and a cool-looking bar called Off Broadway.

Regent's Canal at Broadway Market
I carried on down to the Regent's Canal (a new stretch, for me, of a very familiar canal), and walked just past the Kingsland Road bridge, where there was a really nice cafĂ© called Towpath, which serves coffee, drinks, ice cream and light, simple, but tasty-looking food and you can sit at little tables right on the towpath. A very nice place to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. I then continued down the Kingsland Road, along Shoreditch High Street and on to the Old Truman Brewery, to take a peek at a couple of sample sales, although I didn't purchase anything. I also discovered the original branches of Rosa's and of Nude Espresso.

Canal-side sunflowers
I normally like walking through the City at the weekend because it's almost eerily quiet but today, probably because of the sunshine and school holidays, it was pretty busy. Eventually, I reached the Fleet River Bakery for more caffeine and a brownie, which I enjoyed while sitting in the gardens of Lincoln's Inn Fields. And then it was only a few more miles back to NoMaRo (via Anthro, where I did cave and buy a t-shirt, although I also resisted buying a skirt and lots of yummy-smelling candles). The whole route was 9.5 miles, which explains why my legs are now a little achey.

But I enjoyed my visit to Oriental London and some of the canal-side apartments were even funky enough for me to add parts of the area to my list of "areas in which I would consider buying a flat, if I can ever buy a flat" --any area where there is a good independent bookshop, good coffee, cool bars, hipster shops and a nice water feature (well, the canal) definitely wins my approval.

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