Tag Archives: Columbia Road

Things to do in the country

A common complaint about the countryside is that there’s nothing to do, so it’s been a nice surprise to find just how much is laid on. Admittedly it helps if you’re a fan of talks called things like, ‘Why Watercolour? A Personal View’ or ‘Sussex and the European Union: Should We Stay or Should We Go?’ But, to be fair, if you’ve a small child, you won’t struggle to find something to keep them occupied.

The problem is that everything seems to take place on the second Tuesday or third Thursday of every month (except half-term), which means you need Moneypenny-style organisational skills to keep track of it all (or at least a working knowledge of when the hell school holidays are).

What’s missing, of course, are the museums and galleries – the rainy-day staples of London life that let you feel like you’re on the vanguard of contemporary culture as you sit eating cake in the café and looking at the nice pencils in the shop.

The trick, I’ve decided, is not to try and recreate what I did in London, as this way depression lies. Whereas Sundays are when East London comes into its own, with Columbia Road, Spitalfields and Brick Lane markets in full swing, and cafes packed with people enjoying late brunches and boozy lunches, here we’re back in Morrissey territory, where it’s all a bit silent and grey.

So I’ve embraced the old-school Sunday – roast dinners and country walks, roaring fires and Downton on telly. It’s actually pretty nice. One week I even went to church (admittedly more out of curiosity about the neighbours than Jesus). And this too was pleasant, if exactly like The Vicar of Dibley. Not sure I’ll do it again though. Emilio, quite sweetly, danced and clapped along to the hymns, but I spent the whole time trying to keep him off the organ/pulpit, and even the vicar’s patience was tried.

Since I never once went to church in Shoreditch (that being far more Rev), I guess this all adds up to prove that a countryside move inevitably involves a massive change of life. I just can’t work out whether or not that’s a bad thing.

NB: Even the clothes have changed. This is me in my countryside get-up. I wanted to go for the whole Liberty Barbour/Hunters, look-at-me-fresh-from-the-city thing, but even I blushed at the cliché of it.

**update** I’ve had two lots of compliments on the hat. It’s Rag & Bone, for anyone who’s interested.

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Filed under General rants and moans, The bits I can't think of a category for

Leaving Shoreditch…

So it looks like we are finally – finally! – moving out of our one-bed into something a bit more family-friendly. Not sure where that’ll be yet, but we are trying to be open-minded, and yesterday I went to look at a place in the Sussex countryside, outside Lewes. It was beautiful, unnervingly big (where would we find the furniture to fill it?) and cheaper than anything we’d find in last week’s area of choice, Battersea.

But, like anyone who’s lived in London for a long time, I’m slightly terrified of living anywhere else, and assume the world outside to be a backward, parochial place where everything shuts at five o’clock and the food runs the gamut from pub grub to the Panda Chinese takeaway.

I know, I know, this is misguided prejudice and these days you country folk have Daylesford Organics and literary festivals and everything. And it would be nice to see the sky and the seasons. Plus there are other things to think about these days, boring things like schools, parks and sufficient bedrooms.

I’m still not sure where we’ll end up. But although there’s lots about Shoreditch I won’t miss – the dirty main roads, the pollution, the endless fucking scaffolding – having lived here for so long, there is loads I will. Such as:

The cinemas
We have three within easy walking distance: the Barbican, the Rich Mix and the Aubin. They are all great, the problem being that, once you factor in babysitting, the cinema becomes gob-smackingly expensive. Not so long ago, we went to see Attack the Block in Leicester Square, which ended up costing about 70 quid. I wouldn’t mind but it was crap.

Frame
Babies are a test to one’s sanity and exercise is how I preserved mine. Namely at this place, which considerately runs a crèche on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. They do fun classes, like ballet to rock music, and tribute Jane Fonda aerobics, and Joan and Pip, the girls who run it, are lovely.
www.moveyourframe.co.uk

The markets
Columbia Road, Brick Lane and Spitalfields. On Sundays there’s no better place in London to be.

The transport
My friends in other parts of London often comment that they rarely leave their West/East/South/North comfort zone, which always strikes me as a shame because no one part of London is so uniformly great there’s no reason to go elsewhere: to West London for its schmancy boutiques and rich-person people-watching; North London for Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill and gastropubs; East London for creative edge and comedy hipsters; South London for…

Anyway, what’s great about living where I do is that, with three walkable Tube stations, it’s easy to get anywhere else (except Fulham). And in 2017 there’ll be Crossrail, which means it’ll take six minutes to get to Bond Street and 30 to get to Heathrow. Only six more years to go…

Having proper bars/pubs/cafes/restaurants
Lots of people think that the cafes/pubs/restaurants where they live are nice. They are wrong. They’ve just lowered their standards. Shoreditch has no shortage of rank venues popular with the skirt-n-shirt brigade, but there are still some goodies if you know where to look (and don’t come on a Friday night). The Albion, for instance, or Bottega Prelibato, or the Princess for Sunday lunch.

So – sniff – Shoreditch I will miss you. Thanks for the memories. But I’ve a boy who needs a bedroom, and room to run.

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Filed under General rants and moans, Kids, parenting... Non-mums may want to move along