Walthamstow-Guide-band

12 Hours In And Around Walthamstow

 

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND WALTHAMSTOW

WORDS BY DIVYA SEHGAL

Walthamstow lies conveniently at the end of the Victoria Line, giving easy access to Central London. It’s flanked by Epping Forest — the largest green space in London — to the East and the Walthamstow Wetlands to the West. Having gone through a transformation in recent years, “#awesomestow” (as it’s known by Twitterrati) certainly has a lot to offer.

9.00 a.m.

Once you alight at Walthamstow Central station, you can either go straight into Walthamstow Village, the oldest part of present-day Walthamstow, or walk down Hoe Street, which divides the area smack down the centre between the Village and the slightly edgier part of Walthamstow (which also includes the acclaimed market).

Hoe Street has had a host of shops, restaurants, and yoga studios open up in the past few years. If you want to grab a quick coffee and toastie for breakfast, head to Today Bread, the local sourdough bakery and café. A five-minute walk from the station, the café is located in a historic post-war building that previously hosted a bank and council offices. They lay huge emphasis on shopping and eating local, and to that effect, the cheese for their famous cheese toastie is sourced from Buchanan’s, an artisan cheesemonger in Mayfair. And if you like their sourdough breads, you can even try your hand at their bread-making course.

Avocado Sandwich with Poached Egg - sliced avocado and egg on toasted bread for healthy breakfast or snack.

If you fancy walking the length of Hoe Street for a hearty veggie or vegan breakfast, try Buhler and Co. They serve up classics like avocado on toast with poached egg or feta, a vegan fry up which includes fried corn and polenta cake, Portobello mushroom, smokey bean spread, and parathas. If you’re looking for a community vibe, try the vegan Hornbeam Café, which prioritises sustainable and low-cost living.

Today Bread, 6-10 Central Parade, 137 Hoe Street, London E17 4RT. Phone: 07957 158184

Buhler and Co, 8 Chingford Road, London E17 4PJ. Phone: 020 8527 3652

Hornbeam Community Cafe & Environment Centre, 458 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London E17 9AH. Phone: 020 8558 6880. Closed Mondays.

11:00 a.m.

Make your way to one of Walthamstow’s greatest treasures, William Morris Gallery. A short walk from Hoe Street, the gallery explores the legacy of textile designer, craftsman, poet, novelist, and socialist William Morris. Explore his life through the rooms of the house or have a look at some of the collections on display. The house, called “Water House” when William Morris lived there, leads to Lloyds Park that hosts the annual Walthamstow Garden Party by the Barbican.

william-morris-gallery-london

If you’re in the mood to shop instead, head to Walthamstow Market, the longest outdoor street market in Europe! From Monday to Saturday, you’ll fine fruit and veg and household goods on sale. But come Sunday, it transforms into a farmers’ market with the best local produce on sale like organic eggs, artisanal cheeses, cooked sausages, and more. Skip to the close by Wood Street Indoor Market, in the shape of a horseshoe, which is filled with antiques, second hand books, old magazines, and other knick knacks.

William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17 4PP. Phone: 020 8496 4390

Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17 4PP. Phone: 020 8497 3000

Walthamstow Market, E17 7AH

Wood Street Indoor Market, 98-100 Wood Street, Walthamstow, London E17 3HX. Phone: 020 8521 0410

12.30 p.m.

After a long, relaxing walk at Lloyds Park or an amble at the markets, you will probably want to sit down for a bite to eat. There are plenty of options in Walthamstow, especially if you’re craving some rustic sourdough pizzas. Hop to Sodo, which lies in a former warehouse, or the more popular Yard Sale Pizza, for a bite. If you’d like something more substantial, Walthamstow High Street has plenty of options. You can try Turtle Bay for Caribbean food or Yum Yum E17 if you’re in the mood for Thai, and finally finish off with pancakes from Creams for dessert.

Sodo, 21 Hatherley Mews, Walthamstow, London E17 4QP. Phone: 020 8520 1244

Yard Sale Pizza, 105 Lower Clapton Road, London E5 0NP. Phone: 020 3602 9090

Turtle Bay, The Scene Cleveland Place, 269 High Street, London E17 7FD. Phone: 020 8520 7839

Yum Yum E17, 202 Hoe Street, E17 4BS London

2.00 p.m.

What better way to digest that lunch than to wander around London’s largest green space? Epping Forest covers a large part of North East London and Essex, including Walthamstow, and you can take several walking trails to explore this beautiful, largely untouched area. Mill Plain, especially, offers fantastic views of the London skyline.

Walthamstow Reservoir_001

If you want to explore nature but not wander in to the deep thickets of a forest, you could make your way towards the Walthamstow Wetlands. Hailed as Europe’s biggest urban wetlands, this reserve is important for all sorts of wildlife and wintering and breeding birds. Whichever one you choose, you’ll be right in the lap of Mother Nature.

Epping Forest, North East London & Essex

Walthamstow Wetlands, 2 Forest Road, London N17 9NH. Phone: 020 8496 2115

4:00 p.m.

As you make your way back from Epping Forest or the Wetlands, you have the choice of going to Walthamstow Village (to know a little bit more about the history and heritage of Waltham Forest in Vestry House Museum), or you could wander into the neon wonderland that is God’s Own Junkyard, an unassuming warehouse filled with old vintage movie signs. Situated in Ravenswood Industrial Estate, it’s probably the best place to be for evening drinks. There’s also a café inside the Junkyard if you’d like a pick-me-up while chilling on their sofas.

Vestry House Museum, Vestry Road, Walthamstow, London E17 9NH.

God’s Own Junkyard, Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, London E17 9HQ. Phone: 020 8521 8066

7.30 p.m.

Now is when Walthamstow well and truly comes alive. There’s been a surge in bars and breweries in the past few years in the area, and if you’re already at God’s Own Junkyard you just have to step out and enter Pillars Brewery that is best known for its lagers. You can also go around the corner to Wild Card Brewery, a microbrewery that as among the first watering holes to set up shop in Ravenswood Industrial Unit.

Gin Tonic Cocktail with slice of lemon

If beer isn’t your thing, head to Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace for a whole variety of hand-crafted flavoured gins. It’s a definite favourite among the Stow locals! For something fancier, Mirth, Marvel, Maud is one to check out. Set in a Grade II listed building that was once a famous cinema frequented by Alfred Hitchcock, it’s the perfect place to kick back with some lip-smacking cocktails.

Mirth, Marvel, Maud, 186 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London E17 4QH. Phone: 020 8520 8636

Wild Card Brewery, Unit 7, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, E17 9HQ. Phone: 020 8935 5560

Pillars Brewery, Unit 2 Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow E17 9HQ. Phone: 020 8521 5552

Mother’s Ruin, Unit 18, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St, London E17 9HQ. Phone: 07905 484711

9:00 p.m.

End your fantastic day with a truly delicious meal. Walthamstow has plenty to offer when it comes to dining, and it caters to a good range of budgets. If you’ve had one too many to drink and want something greasy and hearty to soak up all that alcohol, head to The Castle in Walthamstow Village where you’ll be served classic pub fare with a side of charming community vibe. Dogs and babies welcome. If meat is more your thing, go forth to Gokyuzu, a Turkish restaurant serving mixed grills and an array of mezze (for a large group, definitely get the mixed grills platter). For something more European, you will find Spanish tapas at Orford Saloon. But if you’re looking for some really good modern British food, go to the original Eat 17 in the Village that was started by two brothers from Walthamstow.

The Castle, 15 Grosvenor Rise E, Walthamstow, London E17 9LB. Phone: 020 8509 8095

Gokyuzu, 42D Selbourne Walk, Walthamstow, London, E17 7JR. Phone: 020 8520 2998

Orford Saloon Tapas Bar, 32 Orford Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 9NJ. Phone: 020 8503 6542

Eat 17, 28-30 Orford Road, Walthamstow, London E17 9NJ. Phone: 020 8521 5279

 
Bar-Italia-band

Bar Italia Serves the Spirit of Italy

bar italia soho london
 

BAR ITALIA SERVES THE SPIRIT OF ITALY

Bar Italia is an Italian café in Soho that has been making excellent coffee since 1949. You can also get paninis, pizzas, wine, and liquor as you watch football on the television at the back.

Bar Italia, 22 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RF. Phone: 020 7437 4520

READ FERNANDO SDRIGOTTI'S STORY

And now it's morning
There's only one place we can go
It's around the corner in Soho
Where other broken people go

Pulp, Bar Italia

In the months leading to my daughter’s birth, conscious that I didn’t need the extra anxiety, I quit coffee. When I came back to the cup two years later, I did it in a caf in Dalston. This must have been mid-2013, and at the time I wasn’t familiar with the semiotics of dark grey walls and heavily tattooed — and heavily bearded — baristas. I didn’t make much of the ubiquity of Apple products in a given place. Nor did I pay much attention to a quirky WiFi password or the ’80s music blasting ironically from the speakers. When my coffee arrived, I was surprised by what food writer Jay Rayner would describe with grace and accuracy a year later: “The colour is right. It's coal black and across the surface is a fine, seashore foam of copper-coloured froth, the all important ‘crema’. The taste, however, is wrong. Very wrong.” I thought that my espresso was perhaps defective and sent it back. The second cup tasted very wrong too and I attributed the spiteful flavour to me falling out of love with coffee after a long hiatus. It took me several weeks to figure out this was a new kind of coffee: light roast was the name of the offending blend.

To this day, I would rather drink molten lead than one of these sour insults to the senses. Obviously, it is a matter of taste, yes. And in this matter of taste it is “heads of coffee development” in open plan offices that allow dogs, catering to well-off and caffeinated entrepreneurs of pop-ups and startups, and influencers of the world united in their terrible love for beans that taste like defecated tar who are in charge of deciding what good taste means. And so the sour coffee revolution keeps expanding beyond the confines of hip Dalston. Soon the whole of London — if not the world — will be Sour Coffee Hell.

To avoid the disappointment of this eye-squinting sour nonsense I have recently taken a radical decision: I only engage in caffeinated adventures in Bar Italia, Soho. No, it isn’t practical. And it obviously means I can’t drink coffee every time I fancy one. But at least I get to visit Soho more often.

bar italia soho london

Bar Italia stands in 22 Frith Street. It was opened in 1949 by the Polledri family, who borrowed the money to open it — £50 — from a fellow paesano. Seventy years later, the same family continues to own it. Perhaps as a testament to this continuity the bar looks pretty much as it would have in 1949, ancient till and espresso machine included.

Back at the time of Bar Italia’s birth, Soho was an area of London popular with the Italian community. Soho, with the famous Algerian Coffee Store just around the corner, was the go-to place for those after a good coffee. One and one make two, and the bar was a success from day one. Legend has it that, on the day of the opening, a party was organised on the street with the American comedians Abbott and Costello entertaining the attendees. Since then, it has continued in this trend, becoming a favourite spot for many famous Londoners and visitors: David Bowie, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul McCartney, among many others — including many jazz musicians from Ronnie Scott, just across the road — have patronised and continue to patronise this small café. Those more familiar than me with the world of theatre and television might be able to recognise a face or two in the place as well. Interestingly, this status as a ‘celebrity hotspot’ of sorts was perhaps sealed even before the bar was born: back in 1926, John Logie Bard — the television pioneer — demonstrated his prototype in his lab upstairs, as the blue plaque outside the bar reminds passersby.

bar italia soho london

Bar Italia’s deco and atmosphere really lives up to its name. From the Italian flags, football shirts, cycling memorabilia and pictures of celebrities to the chilli peppers and garlic hanging from the walls, everything is in place to hammer Italia home. The waiters are dressed in white shirts and black waistcoats, much like in your average Roman café. And it isn’t rare to bump into hordes of Italians watching the football on the telly at the back. And if the authentic feel isn’t enough for you, there is the opening to consider: the bar closes at 5 a.m. and reopens at 7 a.m., making it a favourite of late drinkers, early risers, and those who just stayed up all night, natural or chemically-induced insomniacs — a licensing miracle fixed for posterity in the homonymous Pulp song that opens this piece.

It is always reassuring to bump into a piece of London where history hasn’t been erased and replaced by the latest fad. Soho is an area under threat both by gentrification and the CrossRail development. Many of the places that gave it its aura have gone or will be gone soon. Bar Italia hangs on — heroically. May it hang for a long time. Or I will have to quit coffee again.

Photographs by Fernando Sdrigotti

 
Allpress-Coffee-band

Fuel Up With Filter Coffee At Allpress Espresso

 

allpress espresso coffee and roastery hackney

FUEL UP WITH FILTER COFFEE AT ALLPRESS ESPRESSO

Allpress Espresso is a roastery and café in Hackney that attributes its delicious coffee to the Hot Air Roasting Method it uses. In London, it started out being on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, where it still sits as an espresso bar.

You can also find Allpress Espresso in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

Allpress Espresso, 55 Dalston Lane, Dalston, London, E8 2NG. Phone: 020 7749 1780

READ JUHI PANDE'S STORY

There are more coffee shops in Hackney than there are corner shops. Maybe this is hyperbole; maybe this is fact – either way, you are never too far away from a decent café serving average-to-excellent coffee. I’ve gone from cortados (my first brush with coffee only four years ago) to doppios and dabbled with a few soy/oat/coconut lattes along the way.

For the past six months, though, I have been obsessed with filter coffee, and I fuel my habit by front rolling to Allpress Espresso near my apartment several times a day. Allpress does excellent single-origin filter brews (as well as other permutations and combinations of the drink), but their coffee is just one aspect that keeps this particular café busy all day. Allpress in Dalston Lane is housed in an erstwhile joiner’s factory – meaning it has ample space to sit both inside and al fresco. Through the glass partition that divides the café and the roastery, you can see their massive hot air roaster (which is powered by solar panels on their roof!), and the few items on the food menu never disappoint. There isn’t any WiFi, so you will occasionally end up sitting next to someone drinking coffee, reading a book, and not much else – which is both terrifying and refreshing in our digital age.

I’ve spent sunny, rainy, hail-y, dreary, and cheery mornings at Allpress, and I always walk out feeling better.

 

 
Camden-Guide-band

12 Hours In And Around Camden

camden
 

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND CAMDEN

WORDS BY MARTIN DEAN

The Borough of Camden is a rich seam of London, culturally, historically, and geographically. It stretches from just north of the River Thames, from Covent Garden’s famous Seven Dials and the Inns of Court, the city’s historic centre of training for Barristers, all the way north to the vast expanse of open parkland that is Hampstead Heath. On its western side, it touches the leafy Regent’s Park, while on the eastern side it meets the beautiful and bustling districts of Clerkenwell and Tufnell Park.

Within the borough’s large footprint, you’ll find the historic literary districts of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia, famous institutions like the British Library, and at its centre Camden Town, best known for its lengthy association with rock and punk and its array of markets, bars, and restaurants. (To avoid confusion, remember that when most people say “Camden” they mean Camden Town specifically.)

9:00 a.m.

The ideal place to start exploring this borough is at its southern border in the heart of historic London. Catch the tube to Holborn Station, and if you haven’t eaten, stop by Fleet River Bakery on Gate Street for a fresh, healthy breakfast.

If you carry on along Gate Street, you’ll come to the beautiful grassy square known as Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Holborn has been associated with legal training since the 13th Century, and the precincts and chapel of Lincoln’s Inn — one of the Inns of Court, where barristers are called to the Bar – is open to visitors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. On the northern side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, you’ll find one of London’s most unusual and intriguing museums, Sir John Soane’s Museum.

sir john soane's museum camden

Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was a highly inventive architect, and famously designed the Bank of England. He was also an avid collector of antiques and the museum — formerly the house he lived in — is an incredible labyrinth full of paintings, Egyptian relics, classical statuary, and a host of other curiosities.

Fleet Kitchen, 7-11 Upper Woburn Place, Kings Cross, London WC1H 0JW. Phone: 20 7387 5544

Sir John Soane's Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

11:00 a.m.

If you enjoy museums, then this is one of the best parts of London for you. On the other side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields is the Hunterian Museum (full of medical curiosities), and just a 15-minute walk away is the world-class British Museum with a vast collection of items from all times and places. You also have the Petrie Museum, the Cartoon Museum, and the Charles Dickens Museum all within walking distance!

hampstead-heath-parliament-hill-kenwood-house-open-spaces-parks-camden-london

If you’re not a fan of museums, then this is an ideal time to catch a train to the northern part of the Borough and explore Hampstead Heath. It’s an enormous space, some 320 hectares in size, and it’s easy to feel as though you’ve left the city completely! Kenwood House, a beautiful stately home with masterpieces on its walls and activities for the kids, overlooks the Heath. As you explore its magical gardens, keep your eyes peeled for the flock of bright green parrots that live here. There are numerous theories as to how they got here – including that they were released by Jimi Hendrix – but the commonly held view is that they’re an accumulation of escaped pets that have made the Heath their home.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

Hampstead Heath, Hampstead, London NW3 2QD

Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, Highgate, London NW3 7JR

12:15 p.m.

If you decided to take the museum route in Holborn, then the Great Court Restaurant in the British Museum is an ideal place to have lunch, or even a traditional afternoon tea complete with cream, jams, and scones. If you’re up in Hampstead, you can grab a delicious bite to eat at the Brew House Café in Kenwood House or head into Hampstead itself and have a traditional British lunch at the Buttery Café in Burgh House (if it’s a Sunday, try the Sunday Roast) or amazing pizza at L’Antica.

camden

After lunch, explore the delightful Hampstead Village, which is well-loved for its boutique shops and is the ideal place to pick up gifts. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop by Venchi for fantastic ice cream and handmade chocolates. Oh, and if you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan, you might want to make the pilgrimage to Kings Cross Station after lunch and visit Platform 9¾ and the Harry Potter shop.

L'Antica Pizzeria, 66 Heath Street, London NW3 1DN. Phone: 020 7431 8516

Buttery Café, Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead, London NW3 1LT

The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾, London King's Cross, Pancras Road, Kings Cross, London N1 9AP. Phone: 20 3196 7375

Venchi Chocolate and Gelato, 65 Hampstead High St, London NW3 1QP. Phone: 020 7794 7894

2:00 p.m.

For a unique London experience and a taste of the city’s past, be sure to visit the grand Victorian cemetary at Highgate, the final resting place of a number of a number of well known figures from Karl Marx to poet Christina Rosetti and scientist Michael Faraday. It’s a peaceful and historic place, with highly-crafted funerary architecture, making it a memorable experience. It’s divided into two halves, Eastern and Western, and while both are captivating, the Western side has the more grandiose architecture and can only be seen on a guided tour. If you’re visiting on a weekend, there’s no need to book; they happen every half an hour, so just turn up. On weekdays however, booking is essential. You can explore the Eastern cemetery at your leisure.

highgate cemetery camden

If you prefer something a bit less sombre, then head over to Primrose Hill and take in the fantastic view over London before heading into Camden Town. Camden Town has a long and fascinating music history, which takes in all genres and a host of iconic figures, from Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie to the Sex Pistols and, more recently, Amy Winehouse. A great way to get to know Camden Town is to take one of the many available walking tours, several of which focus on the area’s musical history.

Highgate Cemetery, Swain's Lane, Highgate, London N6 6PJ

Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park, Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR

4:00 p.m.

If you like shopping for interesting bits and pieces, the best place to start is the Camden Stables Market, so called because it was formerly a stables and horse hospital looking after the horses that pulled barges along the canal throughout the first half of the 20th Century. You’ll find an enormous selection of boutiques and stalls selling everything from taxidermy to chain-mail underwear as well as everyday things. Alternatively, take a walk alongside Regents Canal, which runs right through the heart of Camden, or stop in one of the many pubs and bars for a pint and a bite to eat. The Lock Tavern, The Black Heart, and The Hawley Arms are all steeped in atmosphere and musical history and are iconic Camden institutions in their own right.

Camden Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, London NW1 8AH. Phone: 020 7285 5511

The Hawley Arms, 2 Castlehaven Road, Camden Town, London NW1 8QU. Phone: 020 7428 5979

The Black Heart, 3 Greenland Place, Camden Town, London NW1 0AP. Phone: 020 7428 9730

The Lock Tavern, 35 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AJ. Phone: 020 7846 8219

7:30 p.m.

Several of the aforementioned pubs host live music nights, so if you’ve stopped in for a drink, you might want to make plans to return later and catch a band or stay put and make a boozy afternoon of it. They all serve food, so you’ll be well looked after. If you want more options to choose from, though, Camden has plenty. Mildreds serves incredible vegan food; Karavas offers a delicious Greek menu; if you’re looking for traditional fish and chips, Poppies does just that.

Fish and chips

If you like to mix food and music, The Blues Kitchen will keep you fed and entertained with spicy Cajun food and live blues. If you’re looking to eat out somewhere a little fancier, your best option is to head towards Regents Park to Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany gastropub or further out to Primrose Hill for Bryn William’s Odette’s. Both are iconic eateries run by world famous chefs.

Mildreds, 9 Jamestown Road, Camden Town, London NW1 7BW. Phone: 020 7482 4200

Karavas Restaurant, 87-88 Plender Street, London NW1 0JN. Phone: 020 7388 4121

Poppie’s Fish and Chips, 30 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London NW1 8NP. Phone: 020 7267 0440

The Blues Kitchen, 111-113 Camden High St, London NW1 7JN. Phone: 020 7387 5277

Odette's, 130 Regent's Park Road, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8XL. Phone: 020 7586 8569

York & Albany Restaurant, 127-129 Parkway, Primrose Hill, London NW1 7PS. Phone: 20 7387 5700

9:00 p.m.

One of the best things to do in Camden is to go to a concert! You’re surrounded by world-famous venues that cater to all tastes. Roundhouse, a hotbed for underground music through the 1960s (hosting everyone from Pink Floyd and The Doors to Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stonesm and David Bowie), is one of London’s largest and best-known venues for live music. You’ll find live jazz at The Jazz Café, punk and metal at The Underworld, and everything in between at venues like Electric Ballroom and Camden Assembly.

electric ballroom camden

If you don’t fancy a night of gigs and prefer the theatre, you’ll need to head back down to Holborn where you have a great selection of theatres showing large scale musicals: the Cambridge, the Gillian Lynne, and the Shaftesbury.

Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, London NW1 8EH

The Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG. Phone: 020 7485 6834

The Underworld, 174 Camden High Street, Camden Town, London NW1 0NE. Phone: 020 7267 3939

The Camden Assembly, 49 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AN. Phone: 020 7424 0800

Electric Ballroom, 84 Camden High Street, Camden Town, London NW1 8QP. Phone: 020 7485 9006

Gillian Lynne Theatre, 166 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5PW

Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Aveue, London WC2H 8DP

Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, London WC2H 9HU

 
Tooting-band

12 Hours In And Around Tooting

tooting
 

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND TOOTING

WORDS BY JAMES BLOODWORTH

South London gets a bit of a bad rep when compared to the northern half of the capital. Some of this distain is justified (South London’s transportation system leaves a lot to be desired), but it is largely down to ignorance: it is impossible for a person to visit a place like Tooting and come away complaining about the paucity of things on offer in South London. In Tooting, at least, there are a ton of things to do.

9:00 a.m.

Presumably it’s coffee you’re after at this hour, in which case you could do worse than head on down to Brickwood Coffee & Bread, situated inside Tooting Market near Tooting Broadway tube station. It isn’t just coffee that’s on offer at Brickwood; a tasty brunch and salad menu caters to those feeling peckish. Brickwood offers a pleasant setting to imbibe some much-needed fuel before taking on the day ahead. On Friday and Saturday nights, Brickwood transforms into a venue that sells cocktails, beer, and other alcoholic drinks, so if you like it that much you can always head back again later when night falls.

 

For those who just want straight up coffee or tea (though you can usually get a toastie at these places too) try Walker Wyatt Coffee, Mud, or JOE’s.

Brickwood Coffee & Bread, Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High St, London SW17 0SN. Phone: 020 8672 2668

Walker Wyatt Coffee, 3 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7TS. Phone: 020 8767 8687.

JOE’s, 217A Tooting High Street, London SW17 0SZ. Phone: 020 3581 9642.

11:00 a.m.

Now you’ve refuelled, so to speak, it’s time to explore Tooting a little. Despite playing host to Europe’s largest Chicken Cottage, there’s more to this part of South London than just food. For one thing, there’s shopping. Whether it’s searching for bargains in the charity shops along the high street or exploring the eclectic offerings on display in Tooting Market, there is something to suit a variety of tastes. And hey, if you get bored you can always stop and eat again, because why the hell not? The market stays open until 10:30 p.m., so by all means take your time.

Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High St, London SW17 0SN. Phone: 020 8672 4760.

12:15 p.m.

With a bag stuffed full of bargains and a stomach full of carbohydrates, head over to Tooting Bec Common. For the more active, the common is an ideal place to burn off some of what you’ve consumed. If that’s not your thing, it’s still an extremely pleasant setting and the closest you’re going to get to countryside in this part of the world. There’s even a lake with ducks, swans, and other sentient creatures. Another underappreciated way to pass the time on Tooting Bec Common is to simply walk around, gazing up at the many magnificent oak trees scattered around the place. It’s much more interesting than I make it sound.

Tooting Bec Common, Doctor Johnson Avenue, Tooting, London SW17 8JU.

tooting

2:00 p.m.

After you’re done exploring the green you may want to cool off. What better way to do that than to take a swim? If you’re up for that, pay a visit to Tooting Bec Lido, an open-air fresh water swimming pool situated just off Tooting Bec road next to the common. An adult swim costs £7.50.

Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec Rd, London SW16 1RU. Phone: 020 8871 7198.

tooting bec lido

4:00 p.m.

Four o’clock is pub time. It doesn’t have to be, but it’s a good time to relax a little and reflect on the day that’s just gone as well as prepare yourself for the forthcoming evening. You don’t have to drink alcohol by any means, but this is the time to administer an aperitif for those that like such things. Directly opposite Tooting Bec Station stands The Wheatsheaf, an independent boozer that also serves food. The Wheatsheaf feels modern without shedding all the charm of an old-fashioned boozer. It tends to get busy in the evening, but 4 o’clock is the ideal time to drop in for a quiet pint.

the castle pub tooting

The Castle offers something slightly different. A Young’s pub that dates back to 1832, the Castle has a contemporary “gastro pub” feel to it. This may not be to everybody’s taste, but if you like that sort of thing then pop in for a drink in this huge and airy pub.

The Wheatsheaf, 2 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7PG. Phone: 020 8672 2805.

The Castle, 38 Tooting High Street, London, SW17 0RG. Phone: 020 8672 7018.

7:30 p.m.

Early evening marks the highlight of a day spent in Tooting – for me at any rate. It’s at this hour that you perhaps want to think about getting something to eat, and in Tooting you are genuinely spoilt for choice, especially if you like spicy food. Even if you don’t, there is so much on offer that you are bound to find something to suite your own palate.

Some of the best South Asian cuisine can be found at Dawat. The restaurant operates a no alcohol policy, but it does offer takeaway if you’d rather drink with your meal. The food is highly rated, so it’s worth eschewing the booze and simply appreciating what’s on offer. On a Friday or Saturday evening, it’s wise to book a table as it can get very busy. That in itself reveals a lot about the place.

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Lahore Karahi Express is another top-quality South Asian restaurant in Tooting, as is Mirch Masala. For those who want to cast their net more widely, it’s worth heading back to Tooting Market, where a wide variety of food outlets dish up cuisine from around the world. There is literally something here for everybody.

Dawat, 256-258 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 0DN. Phone: 020 8682 9777.

Lahore Karahi Express, 1 Tooting High St, London SW17 0SN. Phone: 020 8767 2477.

Mirch Masala, 213 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7TG. Phone: 020 8767 8638.

9:00 p.m.

Tooting Tram and Social hosts a wide selection of bands and DJs, meaning you can dance the night away or prop up the bar looking cool. Either way, who can seriously say that South London has little to offer after all of this? Tuesday is open mic night at the social, and on Fridays and Saturdays it stays open until 2:00 a.m. And what you going to do at the end of the night? Head to the massive Chicken Cottage, obviously; though you better leave the Tram and Social before closing time as Chicken Cottage also stops serving at 2:00 a.m.

Tooting Tram and Social, 46-48 Mitcham Road, London, SW17 9NA. Phone: 020 8767 0278.

Chicken Cottage, 38-42, Upper Tooting Road, London SW17 7PD. Phone: 020 8767 9229.

 
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12 Hours In Kingston Upon Thames

kingston upon thames
 

12 HOURS IN AND AROUND KINGSTON UPON THAMES

WORDS BY MAHRUKH MCDONALD

More than 1,000 years ago, Kingston was where England began. Seven Anglo-Saxon kings, including the first King of England, were crowned here from the years 900 to 978. Today, Kingston upon Thames is the main town in the Royal Borough of Kingston in south west London. It’s just 10 miles from the centre of London (a 25-minute train ride from Waterloo) and next door to one of the best palaces in England – Hampton Court.

10:00 a.m.

When you exit Kingston station, cross the road and turn left. Within a few minutes you’ll reach Old London Road, where you cannot miss the modern art installation called “Out Of Order” by David Mach. It consists of 12 tumbling full size red telephone boxes, the first one upright with the rest tilted to various degrees until the final one is almost flat on the ground – like dominoes. This is where your tour of Kingston will begin.

kingston upon thames

A few yards beyond the telephone boxes is Kingston Antiques on Old London Road. It is a treasure trove packed full of antique clothing, jewellery, furniture, and just about anything anyone can imagine. If you haven’t had breakfast, stop off at the little Polish Café on the upper level that serves a selection of food from sandwiches, salads, full English breakfast to Polish dishes like Pieroggi (Polish ravioli with meat or sauerkraut and mushrooms or potato and cheese).

Just around the corner from the Out Of Order art is an interesting bit of history about a dog called Nipper. A Kingston artist painted the famous HMV logo on which his dog, Nipper, appears.  He was named Nipper because he would "nip" the backs of people’s legs! The celebrity dog is buried in a narrow street that has been renamed Nipper Alley in commemoration. You can easily miss it, because the only sign is up on the wall at the start of the alley. Look out for the Kings Tun, a Wetherspoons pub, and you’ll find Nipper Alley adjacent to it.

kingston upon thames

11.00 a.m.

Clarence Street is the main shopping precinct and is a pedestrian-only street. Often, especially on weekends, you can enjoy fabulous street performances ranging from music, magic, and acrobats. The Bentalls Centre is a landmark shopping centre that was founded in 1867. Between 1935 and 1976, it was UK’s largest department store outside of London. It is now home to many high street shops like Gap, Monsoon, Boots etc. tastefully set out on a number of floors. Bentalls still exists at the far end, and the façade has been retained and is heritage listed.

After exiting the Bentalls Centre, walk down Church Street to All Saints Church which has beautiful stained-glass windows and a café inside the church. If you’re lucky, you could be enjoying tea and cake during a cello and piano recital. This was the site of the coronation of the very first king of England. When the church was built the Coronation Stone was moved to behind the Guildhall building.

kingston upon thames

12.30 p.m.

The heart of Kingston is its bustling market square, which dates back to 1242. From 1603, livestock was sold in the market square on Saturdays, but it was moved to another location in 1625 after the local chemist complained about unwanted visitors – sheep! – entering his shop.

The Market Square, with the brilliant gold statue of Queen Anne atop the Market House building and beautiful Tudor architecture, is home to a variety of shops and several market stalls, including the artisan Oliver’s Bakery (don’t miss the “Naughty Chocolate Brownie”) and many food stalls offering authentic, inexpensive foods from around the world.

kingston upon thames

There are often a long queue at the famous Phoreal Vietnamese food stall. The menu is limited, but everything on it is delicious. The Pho is particularly good, as is the roast pork. Namu is another favourite offering shoppers authentic Japanese gyozo, katsu, tempura, and curries, or perhaps the enticing spicy aromas may attract you to the Exotic Tangine that serves authentic Moroccan dishes. The food at the stalls represent excellent value for the quality and is very popular with hungry shoppers and day trippers.

On a hot afternoon, stop off for a welcome drink at the Druid’s Head pub in the square. Located in a beautiful 16th century building, it offers traditional pub food and a wide range of beers and other drinks.

2.30 p.m.

Just a five-minute stroll from the market square, busy cafés line the Thames along the Riverside Walk. Outside dining is popular in good weather with restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines, including English (Bill’s), Thai (Busaba Eathai), Argentinian (CAU Steak Restaurant), Italian (Al Forno Restaurant) or the Riverside Vegetaria for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes.

kingston upon thames

Even if you have already filled your stomach with street food in Market Square, the Riverside Walk is a wonderful place to while away your time in a stunning location, watching ducks and swans float by and rowers competing against each other while enjoying a desert, drink, or ice cream at one of the Riverside restaurants.

4.00 p.m.

Walk under the arch of the bridge to the huge department store building of John Lewis and by the mosaic outside you will come across one of Kingston’s hidden gems. Look through the large glass window panes to see a 650-year-old chalk and flint-barrel vaulted cellar of the old Rose and Crown Inn that stood at this spot. Right next to it are the remains of two stone pillars that supported a flimsy wooden bridge built in 1219, only one of two bridges across the River Thames until 1729 when Putney Bridge was built.  The bridge fell victim to destruction during the War of the Roses in the 1400s.

kingston upon thames

Another 5-minute walk along the river, you come to Turks Pier where you can take a leisurely paddle boat river cruise between Richmond, Kingston, and Hampton Court, taking in the beautiful scenery along the way. You can also stop off and see Hampton Court. However, Hampton Court is massive and really requires a separate visit to see it properly.

6.30 p.m.

After docking back at Turks Pier, walk towards Kingston Bridge (also called Horse Fair) down Riverside Walk till you get to Charter Quay. Just a short walk along this inlet till you come to the historic Clattern Bridge, the oldest surviving bridge in London built around 1175.

kingston upon thames

Opposite Clattern Bridge is a semi-circular building, the Guildhall. To the right of this building you will see the Coronation Stone, an ancient stone block believed to have been the site of the coronation of the first kings of England. It rests on a plinth with the names of seven kings inscribed around it. When the All Saints Church was built in 1120, the stone was moved to its current location but there are plans to move the stone back to its original place in or next to the All Saints Church.

7.00 p.m.

Right next to Clattern Bridge is the famous Rose Theatre where you can catch a show. Shows usually start at 7.30 p.m. giving you time to enjoy a light refreshment at the theatre before the show.

rose theatre kingston university south london

9.30 p.m.

There are many eateries right next to the Rose Theatre or you can choose to enjoy a meal at one of the Riverside restaurants. Kingston has many other excellent restaurants and pubs, some of which have live music. If you are not ready to return home yet, you can go clubbing at the Pryzm on Clarence Street, the Hippodrome on St. James Road, or the Bacchus Late Bar.

All photographs by Mahrukh McDonald except feature photograph copyright gb27photo - stock.adobe.com

 
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Milkshakes and Multiculturalism At Mess Cafe

 

mess cafe hackney

MILKSHAKES AND MULTICULTURALISM AT MESS CAFE

Mess Cafe in Hackney is a local institution. Open six days a week (closed on Mondays), it serves an excellent breakfast and is always filled with locals from Hackney’s diverse communities.

Mess Cafe, 38 Amhurst Road, London E8 1JN. Phone: 020 8985 3194

READ KIT CALESS'S STORY

I’m not usually one for giving away London’s best-kept secrets, but for Mess Cafe, I’m prepared to make an exception. Slap bang in the middle of the stretch of Amhurst Road that runs from the Pembury to Mare Street, Mess is a local institution. It serves one of the greatest breakfasts in the borough, no arguments. You can even build your own breakfast from scratch. It serves incredible malt milkshakes. The coffee and tea are excellent. It’s cheap. They do great hash browns. There are booths to sit in with six mates or tables to share with just one. There’s some bad artwork. Out of date gig posters. Quietly played acoustic covers of hit records on the stereo. There’s a baby chair.

This cafe has everything.

But the best thing about Mess is the people. Walk into Mess any day of the week, and it’s like the street has walked in with you. Mess is such a locals’ favourite that it is always filled with all the locals from all the communities Hackney houses. Mess reflects Hackney’s multiculturalism to a tee; all ages, all races, all cultures come into Mess for food and drinks. My favourite type of customer is the Dad taking his daughter/son out for breakfast and a catch-up. There is always at least one Dad-offspring couple in Mess at any one time. It’s a unique phenomenon for a unique cafe.

You want to see how we can all just get along? Go to Mess. Mess should give presentations at the UN on building a cosmopolitan space. Mess should by consulted by sociologists and urban planners on how to make everyone feel at home. But instead, Mess just does a banging breakfast or lovely lunch and lets you get on with your life.

 
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Beavertown Brewery Caters To Every Palate

 

beavertown brewery

BEAVERTOWN BREWERY CATERS TO EVERY PALATE

Beavertown Brewery is a craft beer company that produces a wide variety of beer with unusual names like Smog Rocket and Black Betty. The taproom in Tottenham Hale is open on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can also find Beavertown’s beers at several pubs and shops in London – just look out for the illustrated, brightly coloured cans that stand out from the rest.

The Beavertown Brewery, Units 17 & 18, Lockwood Industrial Park, Mill Mead Road, Tottenham Hale, London N17 9QP. Phone: 020 8525 9884

READ JAMES BLOODWORTH'S STORY

Anyone who has ever frequented a pub or bar in Britain will be familiar with the usual selection of beers on offer, even if they don’t choose to drink them. In contrast, Beavertown Brewery brings a much more eclectic mix to the table, with beers named things like “Gamma Ray” and “Neck Oil”.

Beavertown Brewery is one of many craft beer companies that have sprung up in London – and indeed Britain – in recent years. It is partly responsible for some of the brightly-decorated 330ml cans that drinkers can increasingly be seen carrying around with them at London’s pubs, restaurants, and street markets. Indeed, Beavertown holds its very own open-air and family friendly taproom event every Saturday in Tottenham Hale, where drinkers can sample alcoholic drinks from as many as 10 taps and enjoy delicious food such as pulled pork, burgers, and falafel. The sheer range of drinks on offer ensures that there is something to cater to every palate. 

Once the novelty of the brightly coloured branding and creativity on display has worn off, the beer itself easily holds its own alongside more established brands. Beavertown does not merely offer an eccentric window into the experimentalism and eccentricity that emanates from the world of craft beer making, it also supplies a range of drinks that are very good in their own right. This is an especially welcome intervention amidst a drinking landscape where the dark liquid that sloshes around in your glass – usually the product of a gigantic chain brewery – is so often eminently forgettable.

Feature photograph courtesy Beavertown Brewery

 
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Tour A Local Distillery At East London Liquor Company

 

east london liquor company

TOUR A LOCAL DISTILLERY AT EAST LONDON LIQUOR COMPANY

Located in Tower Hamlets, East London Liquor Company is a distillery that produces vodka, gin, and whisky. There is also a bar and restaurant where you can taste their spirits – neat or in a cocktail – and a shop from where you can purchase your own bottle. If you’re interested in the craft of making spirits, you can book a distillery tour by emailing tours@eastlondonliquorcompany.com

East London Liquor Company, 221 Grove Road, London E3 5SN. Phone: 020 3011 0980

READ JAMES BLOODWORTH'S STORY

London was, at one time awash, with gin distilleries; in the 18th Century there were rumoured to be as many as 1,500. Nowadays, most of them are gone, but East London Liquor Company is bringing vodka, gin, and whisky distilling back to one of its historic homes, with a bar, shop, and distillery situated in an old glue factory in Mile End.

Situated in Bow Wharf carpark, the bar – an enchanting juxtaposition of high ceilings, marble, and straw-coloured brickwork – contains an exciting array of in-house gins, rums, vodkas, and whiskeys as well as imported liquors. These can be imbibed as they are, or they can serve as the foundation for the large array of unusually-named cocktails on offer (“Basiq Beach”, “Something Hoppy This Way Comes”). For those feeling peckish, a selection of cheeses and cured meats are available from the bar as well as more substantial offerings with an Italian theme from the restaurant.

Those wanting to see up close how the distillery’s own London dry or British wheat vodka are made – or to gain a better understanding of the world of distilling and do some tasting – can book a full distillery tour. Visitors can also pick up a bottle of in-house liquor from the gift shop to continue enjoying the craft distilling experience at home. But a word of warning: look ELLC up on a map before setting out, for it is one of those places that deserve the appellation “hidden gem”.

Note: East London Liquor Company launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £750,000 to drive growth in the UK and abroad. It exceeded its original target in under 24 hours and surpassed the £1 million mark in four days.

Feature photograph courtesy East London Liquor Company

 
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One Mile End At The White Hart Brews A Diverse Array Of Craft Beers

 

one mile end brewery white hart brew pub craft beer london

ONE MILE END AT THE WHITE HART BREWS A DIVERSE ARRAY OF CRAFT BEERS

One Mile End is a micro-brewery located beneath The White Hart Brew Pub in Whitechapel. It brews ales in a range of flavours from sour to fruity.

For those who prefer drinks other than beer, The White Hart also serves spirits and wines.

The White Hart Brew Pub, 1 Mile End Rd, London E1 4TP, UK. Phone: 020 7790 2894

READ JAMES BLOODWORTH'S STORY

The White Hart Brew Pub in Whitechapel is a vibrant pub at the heart of the East End. At first glance, it looks very much like any other drinking establishment; yet, nestled amidst the facias of more familiar beer taps are more experimental offerings. These originate from the One Mile End micro-brewery downstairs – another hidden feature of this conventional-looking boozer.

The brewery itself was launched in October 2014. It has grown rapidly since then, so it also brews at larger facilities in Tottenham. As such, The White Hart has a fantastic range of pale ales you are unlikely to find elsewhere, at least not all under one roof. This includes firm local favourites as well as one-off specials.

It is perhaps prudent to ask a few questions before diving straight in to order a drink, however, for One Mile End produces a range of quite some scope. One glass of beer can produce a significantly different effect on one’s palate to another. This is particularly true should the drinker decide to order a glass of a sour beer (sour in a good way) such as Gose Fleur De Sel. Similarly, the Snakes Alive Dipa is infused with a strong flavour of lemon and blueberries, which may not cater to all tastes. That said, more conventional-tasting beers are available from One Mile End, including their ‘Docker’s Delight’ bitter, which easily stands the test of taste alongside more established brands.

In terms of trying some of what’s on offer from One Mile End you needn’t necessarily visit the White Hart. The beers produced by One Mile End appear regularly at a variety of events around the city, and those interested in sampling some of the beers can stay up to date on where to find them via the One Mile End blog.

Feature photograph by Ewan Munro [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr