Posted on December 10 2015
Morning, it’s been crazy here of late at HQ. Spring samples arriving by the pallet load, constant replenishments to our stores at Heal’s and Upper Street as Christmas is now in full swing and lots of plans for next year. Crazy times. So crazy in fact that I’ve pulled rank and demanded that G and I take this Friday off to have a three day weekend, which is unheard of. I want to wander around town, pop into my secret London spots, sip coffee at Borough market, walk along the South Bank with the M’s – basically do what normal people do which we never do because we are always working.
With that in mind I thought it would be fun to reveal some of my secret London spots – only thing is they are secret so don’t go telling too many people!
Best shopping spot: One of my favourite shopping spots in London is Criterion Auction House on Essex Road. This isn’t a hip place in any way – it’s dusty, a little dingy and often hit and miss but I’ve found the most incredible pieces there. I picked up the MASSIVE oil painting in my bedroom (see above), it looks like Francis Bacon but cost me a dime. I’ve also found beyond beautiful tribal-looking rugs for under £100 and tons and tons of Chesterfields which they regularly have. I love this place!
I also have an almost weekly shopping trip to Columbia Road. This is where I get my fresh flowers (yes, I do buy fresh) plus anything for the garden. If you go, make sure you pop into the many little stores that line the street. One of my best Colombia Road purchases was some sweet little Vietnamese hand thrown cups which I adore.
Secret escape: Pinch is Hackney’s smallest wine bar and my secret escape spot. Just down my street it sells the most incredible natural wines and the owner, Venus, is completely lovely. It’s somewhere I always potter out to when I need to recalibrate! They’re also responsible for my natural wine obsession.
Foodie fun: This is an out-of-season one I’m afraid, but Street Feast is my all-time favourite foodie haunt. It’s a food market in Dalston Yard (my ‘hood) that runs all summer. The food and drink is incredible, from amazing Korean burritos and crispy fried chicken to a gin store, and tequila treehouse. Even though it’s super urban in the heart of Dalston, but on a summer night as the light fades and the fire get lit it turns truly magical!
Otherwise anywhere I can take the two M’s, with a casual vibe – I like being able to plonk down on benches and load up on whatever takes your fancy. A favourite weekend routine for us to a stroll with the dogs along Regents Canal, and breakfast at Tow Path café, although that is now shut for the season. The Ottolenghi cafe is a great pit-stop opposite our shop on Upper Street, or I can never get enough of the amazing street food at Borough Market. Not so secret that one admittedly, but it had to make the list! Plus Maltby of course, Borough’s younger sister, cooler, hipper and not quite so famous (no not you Gem)!! There’s something about eating outside that I really love. Oftentimes at weekends I’ll make a lazy late lunch that I’ll cook outside on the Big Green Egg cooker in our garden kitchen.
Exercise spots: I’m a real early riser and not a lying-in type of person any day of the week! So even for lazy Sundays it’s up at 6.30 for an outdoor swim at my local lido in London Fields. It’s heated throughout the winter, and it’s just a magical place to swim on a dark frosty morn. One of the coolest things about London is all the open-air swim spots, from the art deco Brockwell Lido down in South London, to the Serpentine at Hyde Park. Speaking of, Hyde Park is my favourite of all the Royal Parks, and the very best spot for a long weekend walk.
Weekend haunts: I love all those cool streets off of Soho like Brewer, Beak, Great Windmill – really cool, super sweet shops and great for pottering around. Ham Yard Hotel is worth a gander (fab for a coffee stop and a bit of people watching) and if you are in the area and feel hungry then my go to places are: Polpo Beak Street, Nopi, Hix Soho, Cecconi’s, & La Fromagerie.
Oh I nearly forgot let’s flit back east to Brick Lane and all the markets like Boiler House Food Hall, the Tea Rooms, the Backyard Market, the Sunday Upmarket, and the Vintage Market for clothing, accessories, food etc etc. Leila’s where I buy my weekly milk and coffee has the sweetest cafe and grocery store – and right round the corner is Santa Maria Novella for the amazing pot pouri and scented candles. Doesn’t get much better than that. Roll on my long weekend I say!