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London Notes: Part 2 – Summer East

Summer is coming to London and I for one am mighty excited. It also gives Jen and I the opportunity to indulge in our peverse love of Hackney Wick once again.

Some of you may ask where the hell is Hackney Wick? Thanks to the Olympics it is a bit easier to find (and to get to) as it can now be easily identified as the industrial wasteland around the Olympic site way out in East London.  

Jen enjoying the local amenities

The next logical question is why the hell would you go there?

The answer is complicated but we might as well begin with what is there (as there isn’t much). Hackney Wick’s food or drink options are The Counter Cafe, The Hackney Pearl and Feijoa or the Container Cafe (there is also the cute cafe next to the Pearl but I don’t know its name). That’s pretty much it. You can wander a bit further along and go to Hackney Village, Broadway market and London Fields but that misses the point.  I would also say that each of those three restaurants or cafes do outstanding work.  Worth travelling for work.

Regent's canal

Half the joy in Hackney Wick is the fact that there really is nothing there. Just old industrial buildings, the canal, some canal boats and some artists eeking a living. For those short weeks we get a proper summer and the world spills onto the streets you can wander around Hackney Wick and see barely a soul. As you trapse down the canal revelling in its decaying beauty you really feel as though you have left traditional tourist London behind. For those of you who know New York well, it is our version of Red Hook. 

Artist's chair during the Hackney Wick(Ed) festival
Despite this being a blog about food I also have a penchant for seeing art in strange places. I mean, why go to the Tate Modern when you can go to Deptford and galleries like Bearspace? Who needs the National when you can go to car parks in Peckham and see shows put on by the Hannah Barry gallery? And Hackney Wick is the best strange place to see art in London. It has the highest number of innovative galleries and is a dumping ground for up and coming artists.
Graffiti outside Space Studios
And… once a year, you can go to the Hackney Wick(ed) festival and see all the artists come out to play. This gives you a chance to go to each of the 100s of studios dotted around the old industrial buildings and have a glimpse of what they do, talk with the artists and buy their work. This is the Affordable Art Fair but actually affordable and interesting.

The worst thing about it is that I will just miss Hackney Wick(ed) this year but you should go and enjoy the art, the drinking, and the soundstages. 

Artist's brushes at one of the many studios

PS if you enjoy this you might enjoy the others in the London Notes series here 

9 Comments

  1. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    What a coincidence, I just landed here via some blog roll hopping and discovered this post. I went to Hackney Wick for the first time yesterday, I live in Walthamstow and have always been curious about this patch of land between the Olympic site and the A12. Getting there wasn't easy yesterday, it took nearly 90 mins on public transport (we could have walked quicker) involving a rail replacement service from Stratford. We had lunch at the Counter Cafe and I'm planning a return trip to do the Container too.

    I really like your blog, I will definitely be back, you've got posts about all sorts of interesting places.

  2. Tom

    Sarah – glad you are a fan of Hackney Wick as well. For some reason I love it.

    Not sure how to get to it from Walthamstow but you can get a train to Liverpool Street right? From there there are a couple of buses which go to The Wick directly and only take 20 mins or so. . And the East London Line may be going there?

    And you are making me blush. Your blog makes me wish I could bake!

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