What are Sundays for if not for leisurely strolls and new adventures. Being a born and bred Londoner, I like to think that I know the city like the back of my hand – it’s secret streets and hidden gems – and I always find that weekends provide the perfect reason for a spot of adventuring. This past weekend was no exception as I awoke to a beautifully crisp and clear Autumnal day – my favourite! Having seen an advertisement for a House of Hackney sample sale in East London, I was keen to go for a wander. I’ve always been a big fan of House of Hackney and often stop by their shop to peruse their latest homeware items – but the price tags can often be incredibly steep and sadly out of my price range, so sample sales provide a perfect opportunity to nab a bargain and get creative. I’ve often been known to buy a few yards of plush, textured material and have cushions handcrafted by a local seamstress. A welcome addition to any home and a snip of the original cost.
Before hitting the sample sale, I decided to have a stroll around the labyrinthine streets of Old Spitalfields – a treasure seekers dream if ever there was one. No wander of mine would ever be complete without a warm beverage and a light refreshment to whet the appetite, so first stop for me was the CrossTown donut van where I partook of two delicious donuts- yep, that’s right – not one, but two! One was a banana filled custard delight and the other was a cinnamon- topped taste sensation. If you’ve never tried CrossTown donuts before then you most definitely should, as the range is immense and the tastes are exquisite.
Having scoffed til my heart was content and my belly was bulging, I then headed off in search of new sights to explore. East London is almost maze-like in it’s spindly, winding streets and my interest was piqued by a narrow cobblestoned pathway – I just knew that there would be something of interest to discover and I was right and soon to be in luck. Parked right in the centre of the street was a beautifully rustic, old, pea-green vintage car – adorned with rust and years of neglect, but all the more perfect because of it. In that moment, standing there, looking at that car was like being transported backwards in time and it was simply a wonderful sight to behold.
This tiny, almost inconsequential street held yet another joy in the architecture and facades of some of it’s more decadent homes. I’ve always had a strange obsession with doors, front doors in particular – believing that they are the gateway to an alternative and mysterious world behind. Back when I was a student studying art , I completed a whole project on front doors alone – the whole idea that a front door can be the gateway to a whole new dimension inside of the house – a whole new dimension unseen to the outside eye. Imagine my delight when I suddenly came across this cracked and ‘decrepit’ yellow and black beauty. It’s clearly designed dilapidation and it’s cracked facade hinting at all the possibilities which lay behind it… an entrance way of charisma and charm, that’s for sure. It left me wondering who would live behind a door like this….
Continuing to stroll along nonchalantly, my Sunday adventuring took me off to one of the most delightful of places. A destination I return to again and again – Hackney city Farm. I can only describe this gem as a calming oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of busy Hackney. I, myself, find hackney a beguiling place – so much to see and do and yet so undefined and indescribable. But, right there, smack bang in the centre of it all is an urban farm – a surprising and yet idyllic haven – complete with pigs, sheep, ducks, geese and donkeys galore. For someone like me, who loves the great outdoors and nature, being here was like my own little slice of heaven. The familiar aroma of farmyard animals – that musty, pungent, almost foul but not quite, scent filling your nostrils and making you feel at one with the land. The donkeys fill my heart with joy – braying aloud for all and sundry to hear and the ducks and geese frolicking in muddy puddles surrounded by old wheelbarrows and even a black cab, of all things!
The animals have right of way throughout the whole farm (as they should!) and there is always a flurry of dancing geese or rampaging chickens on the loose! Excited visitors scamper round excitedly and there’s a real sense of happiness pervading the air. It really is true what they say about animals and clean air making you feel more alive and awake! My favourite snap of the day has to be the one of the ducks and geese frolicking in the water with the black cab as their backdrop – it truly provides the perfect juxtaposition between city meeting farm. If you’ve never been to Hackney city Farm, you must give it a go though I hardly want to advertise for fear that my haven of tranquility becomes overrun!!!!
Having savoured the delights of the farm, I then ventured onwards to the sample sale. Hoping to nab a bargain or two. It was set in the cool and trendy area of Hackney Walk – a designer outlet haven, if that’s your thing. Here you can pop into any number of outlet designer shops and get your hands on discounted items saving yourself a pretty penny or two. The shops range from Matches fashion to Burberry and Nike but my destination was the House of Hackney outlet. I have to say that I wasn’t hugely blown away this time round and have definitely seen more on offer in previous sales – this sale was relatively small and somewhat lacklustre. This time therefore there was unfortunately no buying from me, but that didn’t stop me having a browse and a good old nosey at some of the goods on offer.
Leaving empty handed, there was only one thing that could console me and that was finding a nice eatery for some Sunday grub. To be fair, East London spoils you for choice and there are a vast array of restaurants and eateries to choose from. I finally settled on Flat Iron Steak House in Curtain Street, a place I have been before and know to be of good value and good taste. I tucked into the Flat Iron speciality of a medium rare steak with cooked chips and a peppercorn sauce – it was succulent and juicy and ever so moreish. I could easily have polished off another with ease. My stomach satiated with meaty goodness and my heart brimming with happiness over another Sunday well spent, I headed for home ready for my guilty pleasure of Sunday night telly… who doesn’t love a bit of ‘CountryFile’ and ‘Escape to the Chauteux’….