Once we’re settled we have only one thing on our minds – coffee!
So it’s off to Ozone on Leonard St for an excellent brew plus some bacon and eggs…natch!
Fully revived we set out to explore the area. Shoreditch is the centre of all things cool and avant-garde in London. 12 years ago The Telegraph described Hackney as more dangerous than Soweto, but then the hipsters arrived bringing with them organic vegan restaurants, microbreweries and fixie bikes and completely changed the face of this once run down urban area. This is as much literally as figuratively – the huge success of street artists like Banksy mean this every possible surface of this corner of London is an artist’s canvas.
So our first port of call is the Banksy Trail www.banksy.info - if you have any interest in graffiti art, check out these guided tours – I promise you wont be disappointed and it’s a great way to get to grips with the layout of the area – you will spot a million and one cafés and restaurants you’ll want to return too.
With tired feet and hungry tummies we head to Pitfield London www.pitfieldlondon.com for a pit stop (get it?!) and share a nice flatbread sandwich and what seems like a pint of coffee. We while away some time perusing the eclectic & vintage wares – sadly, if like me you only brought a carry-on, there will be no splurging, boo.
The weather turns against us and we have 2 options – drink or bowl, we decide to combine the two and head to All Star Lanes www.allstarlanes.co.uk in Brick Lane. This 1950’s inspired bowling hall serves lanes, burgers and beers (and more!) and you can’t get enough fun they also have karaoke booths and the prerequisite cocktails needed for singing! It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon when its wet outside and you don’t fancy hitting a bar.
And because we’re in Brick Lane – it’s a proper English curry for dinner – there are no end of choices when it comes to Indian restaurants but I’d advise you do your homework or get a recommendation as the quality varies dramatically – we settle on Sheba (after much research & deliberation) and we weren’t disappointed – one of the older spots on the lane (1974) they know what they’re doing; enjoy and thank me later!
We finish our evening in the lovely Owl and the Pussycat on Redchurch St, www.owlandpussycatshoreditch.com and tried some (read all)! of the various ales on offer.
It’s a bright and early start as we want to make the most of the day – and we break out our secret stash of rashers and sausages and cook up a hearty breakfast that should in theory keep us going for a while - having a full kitchen at our disposal saves us a few bob to spend later in the day! Then it’s a quick stop at The Shoreditch Grind for a super coffee before jumping on the Tube. As a self confessed history nerd no trip to London is complete without an amble around the British Museum www.britishmuseum.org – the extensive collection is free to the public and should not be missed. I opted to visit on the paid exhibitions Ancient Lives, new discoveries – a truly fascinating look at the very different lives of 8 mummies.
The afternoon is spent window shopping – London is one fashion forward city and Shoreditch has some excellent shopping options – head the Spitalfield Markets on Commercial St for fashion, art, jewellery and much more. For something more cutting edge START on Rivington St, Boundary on Boundary St and House of Hackney on Shoreditch High Street and check out Boxpark on Bethnal Green Rd – the worlds first pop up mall, its constructed from shipping containers and houses some very cool fashion brands.
Our last stop is a favourite of ours Hawksmoor on www.thehawksmoor.com who do an unrivalled Sunday Roast that has to be tasted to be believed – its not cheap, a good glass of red can cost up to £13 but it is just fantastic and while you might regret the bill, you wont regret the food – keep this spot in your arsenal for a special occasion or big apology!!
Bellies and suitcase bulging we head to Liverpool St Station and onto London City Airport – I’m already planning my next trip!