Tag Archives: the Albion

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

Pubs for parents

Easter weekend was mostly spent in pub beer gardens, which was a treat, and painting chairs, which wasn’t. On Saturday we went to the Florence in Herne Hill, a fairly unremarkable pub except for the genius addition of a dedicated kids’ playroom, which allows parents to eat, drink and chat, while keeping an eye on their shouty offspring through the glass wall that separates playroom and pub garden. It’s brilliant, and I wish more pubs would adopt the idea, because Herne Hill is frankly a shag to get to.

The three pubs we went to – the others being the Stag in Hampstead and the Albion in Islington – all had one thing in common: shit food. When did pubs revert to serving deep-fried brie and overcooked roasts? I thought we’d gone beyond that one. I blame the annoying trend for British nostalgia food, but that’s another story. Anyway, we spent a lot of time eating food we could have made better ourselves, which is always a pisser when they’re charging £15-plus a main. The worst was the Albion, not just for the food, but for the service, which was downright poisonous. Never before have I seen I barman respond, “I don’t care” when a customer (rightfully) complains that he’s been waiting 15 minutes to be served. The waitress made us start a tab and, when my friend was overcharged to the tune of £25 on hers, stropped as if she was asking for the refund purely to inconvenience her. It was beyond cheeky, and not the first time I’ve had a bad experience there. It’s so annoying when pubs think that a nice garden and splash of Farrow and Ball gives them the right to behave like total arseholes. Grrr.

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Filed under General rants and moans