Tag Archives: shoreditch

From Shoreditch to Sussex

And so we’ve moved. Hence the radio silence. Well, that and a rotten cold. But I won’t bore you with that, the only thing more boring than other people’s illnesses being other people’s dreams.

So moving, yes. It was two weeks from making the decision to move to being in the new place, which I think is some sort of record. Is that a record? I dunno, it’s been so long since I last moved maybe these days that’s average, but it feels pretty bloody quick to me.

The new place is a five-bed, 18th-century lodge nestled in a South Downs village, which, hilariously, is about £400 a month cheaper than our 700sq ft, one-bed flat in Shoreditch. It’s a big change, obviously (no streetlights, nothing open on Sundays, and the silence is deafening), but I’m throwing myself into country life, to the point of making apple crumble with fruit picked from the garden (I know, I know). That said, I’ve a horrible feeling I’m simply playing out a role, like Madonna in her lady-of-the-manor phase. I told Misha that I was looking forward to my inappropriate-toyboy phase, but he didn’t find it very funny.

On Sunday I took Emilio to the Apple Festival (more apples – I think this is what they mean by embracing the seasons.) This was better than it sounds, with a fairground and petting zoo alongside the morris dancers and cider/hog-roast stands, and an impressive turnout thanks to the nice weather. It was all a bit Birkenstock, as these things are wont to be, but I particularly liked Mouse Town, an olde-worlde shopping street populated by mice:

The place was chock-full of Boden children, barefoot and facepainted. I know this was when I was supposed to feel all smug for taking my son from the polluted urban jungle and bringing him to this green, wholesome place, but instead I kept worrying that he won’t grow up to be an urban sophisticate, but some earnest, fleece-wearing type, who thinks Brighton’s a big city and juggling an acceptable career choice.



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

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.

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

Jobs to do in another life

On Saturday I was visiting my Mum in Lewes and popped into Cook to pick up that night’s dinner. If you haven’t come across Cook, it’s a small chain selling frozen ready meals using the same ingredients and techniques you would at home, so everything looks and tastes homemade. Prices are around £3.85 a portion, making it cheaper than buying the ingredients and creating the dish yourself. They’re a complete godsend if you’re ill, a new mother or, like me, too bone-idle to cook.

They also do a party range, where you can buy dishes such as large sides of salmon, honey-glazed gammon with cloves, or puy lentil and aduki bean salad. The salads cost £15.95 for what they say is 16-20 portions (so I will call 15). But even so, that’s a little over £1 a portion, which has got to be worth paying if it saves you standing over the hob cooking lentils for 20. Oh, and the dishes taste great. The chocolate mousses are so good my babysitter pigged both of them.

So, as you can tell, I’m sold on Cook. I was telling the man in the Lewes shop this and he in turn told me that he used to work in the City but, seeking a change of lifestyle, bought the franchise on the shop. It was the best thing he ever did, he said. Obviously the first question I wanted to ask was, how much money do you make? But there seem to be rules against asking that sort of thing, so I dressed it up, saying, “I don’t know anything about franchises, do they give you a good deal?”

He immediately guessed what I was getting at and said, “Oh yes. We far exceeded expectations in the first year, and we’re doing so well we’ve bought the franchise on a shop in Hove.” I then whinged about the fact that all their London shops are South West (they’re all in places like Clapham, West Dulwich and Barnes) and he was very encouraging, suggesting that I tell my friends to buy their own franchises and open branches across the rest of London.

I came away thinking that, since the product is so good and well-priced, it would surely be a guaranteed money-spinner. Admittedly Shoreditch isn’t the right location, and the rents in Islington or the City would probably cancel out any profit, but in somewhere like Queen’s Park or West Hampstead they would be all over this. I would be, anyway.


Filed under Yum... Food

Curious buildings

Yesterday I walked past this building in Rivington Street:

I love it when people play around with buildings. Like San Francisco’s House of Falling Furniture:

Or Oxford’s shark house:

Or, better still, Dali’s old house in Figueres, complete with giant faux-bread rolls and eggs.

I wonder why people aren’t generally more creative with buildings. Apart from, y’know, budget and planning restrictions. But it would make the world a livelier place, would it not? Better than all those bloody boring red-brick developments.

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Filed under The bits I can't think of a category for

APC comes East

APC has opened in Shoreditch’s fashionable Redchurch Street, which is great news if you love its pared-down schoolgirl aesthetic and don’t mind paying 80 quid for a stripey T-shirt. It’s a bit man repeller, but I like APC because it makes me feel chic and Gallic, and does a nice line in playsuits for the over-30s.

Check that forgiving longer length!

But the Redchurch Street shop is disappointing, stocking a small, slightly half-arsed collection. Unless this is a soft opening and they’re planning on shipping in a ton more stock, it’s not worth travelling out of your way for – the Mayfair branch is way better.

I don’t know what it is about well-known brands that move into Shoreditch, but they don’t seem to make much effort. Take the Nike store that opened to zero fanfare in Bateman’s Row, a tiny side street that attracts precisely no passing trade. Surprise, surprise, nobody came, and now it’s closed down. They clearly wanted to attract a crowd that would rather eat tramp sick than visit the Oxford Circus branch but still, you can be too underground.

I’m guessing these brands want to dip their toes in and have a presence in that trendy Shoreditch, without actually parting with any cash. Hence the new Boxpark concept, due to open as soon as they can flog the retail space this summer in a wasteland next to Shoreditch High Street overground. It’s billed as ‘the world’s first pop-up shopping mall’ and the Standard has already written an unnecessarily sneery piece slating the idea. I disagree – it’s replacing a depressing piece of wasteland, not Xanadu. My objection is only that I can foresee it being a bit crap, housing all those brands that think they’re trendy but aren’t – the G-Stars, Diesels and Superdrys of this world. The Carnaby Street brigade, in other words.

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Filed under Fashion

Shoreditch – the best coffee in London?

According to Time Out, this men’s boutique in Shoreditch High Street serves the best coffee in London.

It certainly has the nicest machine:

But my friend Nicole reckons that Taylor St Baristas, tucked away in a car park next to Vice magazine’s offices, serves a better brew.

The Observer disagrees with them both. It reckons you’ll find the best cup at Jeanette Winterson’s shop Verde:

It certainly wins the prize for Most Beautiful Shopfront, even if everything in there does cost a billion pounds. And yes, technically it’s in Spitalfields, not Shoreditch. But surely this all points to the fact that London’s best coffee can be found in the East End?


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Filed under General rants and moans

No longer a slum

This is the Boundary Estate, the world’s oldest social housing.

It has a touch of the prison wing about it, but lots of historic charm and an amazing location on the fringes of Brick Lane, near Shoreditch House and Conran’s Boundary restaurant. It’s also right by the lovely Leila’s shop and cafe.

If I was looking for property in the area, I’d buy here. There are a lot of net curtains in the windows, which my friend the property mogul tells me is the sure sign of a development opportunity.

You’re still looking at around 300 grand for an ex-council flat, mind.

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Filed under The bits I can't think of a category for