Broadway Market, a picnic in Victoria Park + Rhubarb Custard Soda.
So, I’ve been busy. I’ve only a short while to enjoy being an East Londoner, so I’ve been cramming my days with cycling, cafes, working on the book, picnics, dancing, drinks, cakes and working at The Deli Downstairs. I absolutely adore working there, with the most wonderful group of people ever.
I’ve been gazing out the back into our little courtyard at the Deli, pausing to look at the sun filter through the leaves onto our little tomato seedlings.
I’ve been cycling the long way home around Victoria Park – amongst the picnics and families and hipsters on rollerblades.
I’ve been riding to Hackney City Farm just to walk through Woodland Way, lush and green and a little slice of British countryside in the urban sprawl.
I’ve been eating cod and chips with curry sauce in the park, swing dancing at the old English pub on the corner, dancing for hours at a Michael Franti gig in Islington, and walking through the little independent galleries in the artist warehouses in Hackney Wick.
Watching Japanese films at Hackney Picturehouse, talking to yogis in community cafes in Hackney Downs, and writing my book in the whitewashed-stone-and-wood interior of Violet Bakery, the famed East London American bakery owned by Chez Panisse Alumni Claire Ptak.
Or riding to Shoreditch and sitting in cafes in Brick Lane, eating Rose, Raspberry and Pistachio cake while writing. Every so often I look up, and see the other tables and sofas filled with the most quintessential Londoners – girls in Lennon glasses and denim skirt overalls. Blondes with Japanese-style bob-cropped hair and oversized suede vintage store jackets. Flop-haired ringleted young men in denim jackets with iron on patches, reading dog-eared paperbacks.
I had a saturday off work – so I decided to get some friends together, head down to the famous Broadway Market (started for and by the Hackney community in the 1890s) to pick up some bits and pieces and head over for a picnic in Victoria Park.
It was amazingly sunny, even though it had been raining all week. Everyone was out and about, and the streets and waterways and parks were packed with people soaking up the sun.
We saw people making fresh gozleme, carving a whole spit roasted pig, and serving up from vats of fragrant French Caribbean creole food. There were scotch eggs, pork pies, and every type of sweet pie and tart you could imagine.
There were meringues in dozens of flavours, cardamom macarons with moustaches, flowers and paella and beautiful Norwegian salmon, prepared in front of you.
We stopped for a drink at the whimsical Ginger Beer Engine, and each had a cup of the Rhubarb and Custard soda – it was beyond phenomenal.
Onto Noble Fine Liquor, we picked some craft brews (Jasmine Tea for me) and the staff poured our selections from the pipes coming out of the wall – bottling them for us right there on the spot.
We walked along the canal back to my village, and head up to the Deli to the wine barrels, filling up a glass bottle to take down to the park. We sat around in the sun, drinking wine and eating brownies and salted caramel macarons.
I decorated Husni’s shoes with new spring daisies – which he surprisingly was a huge fan of.
I’ve had people say to me on a weekly basis: ‘In summer, London is the most glorious place on earth.’ With the sun, the food, and the greenery, friends, dancing and beautiful sense of community in my village – I’d have to agree.
I keep making plans to head out of Hackney to experience the rest of London. But when it comes down to it – I can’t bring myself to leave. This borough has dug into my soul – it suits me in every way possible.
Hackney, I am so glad we met.