Street Art, Beer And Pizza In And Around Hackney

With the weekend ahead of us I feel today is a good time for a little Friday inspiration! There's so much to explore around the area of Hackney and I've only really just begun. I've long been a fan of the brilliant Hackney Empire Theatre having been both a viewer and an auditionee there many a time back in my performing days! But I'd never really had the time or chance to venture any further than that, and the area has changed so much in recent years that there's a whole lot of exciting stuff to take a look at. Today I have a few haphazard but nonetheless fun photos to share from a recent quick visit, a dog-walk, a hasty street art snapping session and a whole lot of unbelievably tasty locally brewed beer (and wine) and pizza. So why not come take a stroll with me ...

Hackney Wick Street Art

We began our walk at Hackney Central station after hopping onto the London overground on a drizzly January day with a soggy cocker spaniel and a willing to take a wander somewhere different to our usual North London stomping ground. The thing with having a dog is that you cover a lot of ground every day and the usual walking spots can get a little boring pretty quickly! Luckily our beloved hound loves a trip on the train so she's more than happy to head off on new adventures, even if it does mean some very awkward 'our dog's staring at that strangers' sandwich' moments for us! From the station, we made our way onto Mare Street, past the beautifully restored and aforementioned Hackney Empire and headed into nearby London Fields where the pup happily ran riot for a few minutes finding furry friends at each turn.

Hackney Wick Street Art

Strolling through and out of London Fields we eventually found ourselves on Broadway Market a beautiful shopping street full of independent shops and suppliers, coffee shops and restaurants and somewhere that we have to head back to on a day when we are less rained on, muddy and with said soggy dog in tow. I really loved this street and can't wait to head back and see more. Here I hastily snapped my first street art picture of the day. Not really having planned to turn this trip into a blog post some of my snaps are a little skewiff and taken at speed before the spaniel pulled me hastily away and further down the road! But any regular readers will know I have a thing for street art so I like to capture it when I can to read about it when I get home. The art photographed above can be found just off of Broadway Market and is by French Street Artist, Zabou. It's entitled 'Summertime (yay!)' and with the colourful raindrops, brolly and less than impressed faces, this seems to me to be an accurate portrayal of the infamous British summertime!

Hackney Wick Street Art

From Broadway Market, we took ourselves along the Regents Canal and then up into beautiful Victoria Park. My only previous experience of this park was a visit many years ago for the first ever Lovebox Festival that's held there every summer. But to walk around, even on a gloomy, rainy day, and see more of it was a treat. Canals, ponds, pavilions and pagodas make this huge open space in London well worth exploring, a welcome break from the city bustle - and a great place to walk your dog.

Walking along the canal side also offers more street art gazing opportunity, like this flamingo by Frankie Strand whose work I often also see on my many walks around Camden. At this point all of the walking was leading to some serious hunger pangs so we crossed out of the park and made our way towards Hackney Wick where a little place I'd heard of called Crate Brewery was beckoning with the lure of beer (well white wine for me) and freshly made pizza.

Hackney Wick Crate Brewery

Set within the ground floor of The White Building a centre for art, technology and sustainability in East London, this heavenly little place greeted all three of us inside with their welcome one and all policy which meant a nice warm spot indoors not out in the rain, a happy spaniel in tow and some time to sample some of their food and beverage offerings, and sample we did. 

Hackney Wick Crate Brewery

Cue delicious pizza made to order with unique and fresh flavours. We went for the middle eastern lamb and the courgette, feta and red onion and yep, they were so, so good!! A warm and inviting treat away from the grey day outside. Seriously tasty ingredients, a base that was soft and crispy in all the right places and flavours to totally die for! This was an unexpected treat of a find and somewhere I'd highly recommend that you visit if you're ever in that part of town.

Hackney Wick Crate Brewery Pizza
Crate Pizza

After suitably satisfying our taste buds and warming ourselves up at Crate we decided it was time to make our way home and headed off in the direction of Hackney Wick station, passing some more amazing works of art as we went. I'll leave you with a final few snaps, a small sample of all that there is to see. If you enjoy street art like me then they'll provide you with a little colourful gazing and wonderment I'm sure but I'd recommend checking them out for yourself if you can. Head to the area and take a look around someday!

Hackney Wick Street Art
Hackney Wick Street Art
Hackney Wick Street Art

I need to go back to Hackney and look around more, in fact, I'm heading that way for a terrarium building class next week, more on that to come! Despite the gloomy day, this was a walk well worth having with so much to see and enjoy. I always feel that if you're in need of a break, need new inspiration or just need to get yourself moving more, then heading out for a walk (dog or no dog) and exploring somewhere new is one of the cheapest and simplest things that you can do - and can ultimately end up being really, very rewarding. 

Have a great weekend everyone.



A Late Midweek Breakfast At Sketch

Before Christmas I headed to the big smoke very early doors for a blogger event and a meeting about an upcoming project. After business had been seen to for the morning I met up with my other half for a late breakfast at one of his favourite places, and somewhere he'd been telling me to visit for a while, Sketch in Mayfair.

Breakfast At Sketch In Mayfair

Looking back over a few quick snaps that I took in haste during our time there, I decided perhaps they were worth a share after all for anyone looking for a unique venue to dine at in the city. If you're already aware of Sketch you'll know just what a different, eclectic and fun place to meet and eat it is. Dinner, drinks, art, music and magical interiors that spark the imagination. If you're not, then that's all the more reason for me to share the love with you here on the blog today! 

Sketch Breakfast The Parlour

Now we went for breakfast, for me a delicate plate of poached eggs with smoked salmon and a dainty cup of tea. Fresh and tasty, it did exactly the job that was required. Granted dining at Sketch, even for breakfast, isn't all that cheap, but it's somewhere I think everyone should head if they're a fan of beautiful places to experience in the city. The choice for breakfast in The Parlour ranges from eggs each and every way that you can think of, fruits, cereals, cakes, pastries and a selection of pancakes. The Parlour is open throughout the day serving comfort food, afternoon tea and many other delights in a relaxed and informal setting.

Sketch Breakfast Poached Eggs And Smoked Salmon

Sketch is also a great location for dining and discussing business during the working week, relaxing with friends over a spot of their famous afternoon tea or partying into the evening with a glass of bubbles in one of the five, one-of-a-kind bars and restaurants. Personally afternoon tea is high on the to do list for me, so I'm planning a trip back there someday very soon to sample some tasty, cake-y delights that I'm hoping will banish the January blues quick sharp away.

Sketch Bars The Glade
Sketch Mayfair
Sketch Bars The Gallery
Sketch Bars The Gallery

So if you're looking for somewhere a little different to entertain yourself, your clients or friends and family during your next trip to London then why not give Sketch a go. Booking is advisable ahead of your visit although in my experience they are very friendly and always do their best to accommodate. If you like your surroundings to be as interesting and inviting as your food then this is certainly a place to add to your must visit list.

Where are your favourite, unique places to dine at in the big city? Any recommendations for future London visits, places that are well worth a try?



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Post Work Drinks At The Ice Bar London

It's Friday and time for another guest post to get you in the mood for a fun weekend ahead! Today's post comes from the lovely Carolin from the fashion and lifestyle blog Style Lingua

With an M.A in Linguistics and a Literature Researcher by day, Carolin is an incredibly smart and stylish blogger who always captures my imagination with her enthusiasm and drive. Sharing regular style posts, writing about her own adventures and divulging her passion for film and literature, you're always guaranteed an open-hearted and honest read over at Style Lingua.

Today she is going to share the details of her recent escapade to the Ice Bar in London. So if this is somewhere you've been intrigued to visit and haven't yet had the chance to go, check out today's post for an insight and more info on exactly what to expect on a chilly visit to this popular London hot spot. Over to Carolin ...

Ice Bar London

Whenever I’m in London I’m fascinated all over again by the constant hustling and bustling of the city. There’s always so much to see and to do especially in the summer when you’ll often come across the occasional pop-up store or exciting experience. One of these special experiences for me involved my recent visit to the Ice Bar in Heddon Street. Just off of busy Regents Street far from the shoppers and tourists, Heddon Street takes you into its own little world, a quiet zone of restaurants, cafes - and the Ice Bar!

Ice Bar London
Ice Bar London

You may have heard of the famous Ice Hotel in Sweden and it's the same company that runs the Ice Bar in London. The concept of a bar completely made of ice changes a few times throughout the year for refurbishment so each design is only available to see for a limited period of time. The next design will be revealed later this September.

With this in mind I booked my tickets online for a visit earlier in August. The prices vary depending on the time you’d like to visit the bar and there’s a small discount on online purchases. I got two and paid £13.50 per ticket which included a 40 minute stay at the venue and a free drink. However, you can’t shake off the weird feeling of having to pay for entrance to a bar, but I've never been to a place like this before, so my curiosity and expectations were high.

Ice Bar London

On arrival, my friend and I were greeted by a receptionist who handed out capes to keep us warm during our stay. Together with 15 other people, we started our time slot and made our way into the venue. The place itself is rather small and apart from the floor, everything is made out of ice: the walls, the cupcake and pineapple sculpture, tables, a seating area and the counter. Touching the impressive constructs felt surreal as the ice wouldn’t melt under my fingertips. It felt dry and more like thick glass. Though the place is kept at cold temperatures, at no point did I feel uncomfortable or freezing. 

Ice Bar London

However, the initial excitement flattened down very quickly once we had taken pictures, sat in the ice car and joked around touching everything. We made our way over to the counter and ordered our drinks. My friend opted for a fruity beery cocktail and I picked a non-alcoholic orange, apple and pineapple juice. The drinks were served in ice glasses and sparked the excitement once again - especially given the fact that the glasses melted in an instant once touched. My drink tried to slip off a few times so I kept my gloves on in the end to avoid a mess! Though the presentation was everything, there wasn’t much liquid in the glass and another drink would have cost £6 which I found slightly overpriced.

Ice Bar London
Ice Bar London

The 40 minutes flew by and we were the last ones to leave as we wanted to enjoy every second of our visit. Overall we enjoyed our time and I would describe the visit as a unique experience rather than an ordinary cocktail bar. The Ice Bar is a unique place and definitely special. I mean where else can you enjoy drinks in an icy environment? It’s a venue for entertainment and fun. Perfect to hang out with colleagues after work or if you’re after a special party venue. The allocated time was just enough to appreciate the artistic work that went into the sculptures and to catch up with a friend over refreshments. 


Carolin blogs about all things fashion, film and lifestyle over on her blog Style Lingua. Keep up to date with Carolin over on Twitter @Style_Lingua and Instagram @StyleLingua.





City Views And Dining At Searcys In The Gherkin

About a month ago a little inconspicuous email dropped into my inbox from The sort I normally ignore because to be honest I get quite a few having booked a table once and now getting an email a day. But this one looked like quite an exciting deal. Three courses and a glass of bubbly at Searcys in the Gherkin, or 30 St Mary Axe as it should really be known, a chance to dine in a building I've always been curious about but have never gotten up close and personal with. Plus the ideal treat for my husbands upcoming birthday!

The Gherkin

So hastily I made us a lunch reservation and a few Thursdays later we found ourselves hotfooting it up to floor 39 of this funny looking, but really quite architecturally stunning, building in the heart of the City of London.

We were lucky to have a reasonably, if not a little unseasonably grey, day so were in for a treat with some fantastic views of the surrounding landscape and a clear and unhindered view of some of the cities most famous landmarks, old and new.

Gherkin Interior Ceiling

First to lunch! On arrival the aforementioned glass of champagne arrived within the blink of an eye. Perfect to sip as we took in the view from our table situated right up against the glass and with a clear view of The Shard and the Walkie Talkie Building. We could even make out visitors to the Sky Garden having a wander around and taking in the sights right opposite us.

Lunch was delicate and delightful. Perfect sized portions of very fresh produce and unusual and tasty combinations. My carrot and citrus starter with granola and fennel was a definite stand out starter for me. Something I wouldn't normally choose but I'm really glad that I did. I also got to sample some of Dan's duck dish that was tender and equally delicious. 

Carrot and Citrus Starter
Duck Starter
Gherkin Interior

For main courses we both chose to go with a fish dish (unusual for us meat lovers!) and were very pleased that we did. I tried the sea bream with shrimp and cous cous and Dan the monkfish. Again such subtle and decadent flavours. Quite a special couple of dishes for lunch that's for sure! Beating the usual weekday ham sarnie by a mile.

Seabream Maincourse
Monkfish Maincourse
Shard and Walkie Talkie Building

To finish, dessert, and again I went with a very different choice to my usual chocolate or creamy preference. Coconut parfait with a mango salsa that topped off the experience sweetly but lightly and perfectly. For an additional £5 supplement Dan chose to go with the cheese platter and got to sample some great world cheeses from a very pleasing selection on the trolley. I had a little taste too and can confirm that any cheese lover would be suitably satiated by the variety and choice on offer!

Coconut Dessert
Cheese Trolley
Cheese Platter

Once our lunch was finished we went for a little exploration around the 38th and 40th floors either side of the restaurant in which we dined.

On the 38th floor you can walk around a viewing gallery, take in the views and get some great pictures of the city around you. Private dining rooms adorn either side of the gallery but a quiet wander around is well worth it for the photographic fun and billions of photos that you can fill up your camera with.

Viewing Gallery
Shard and Walkie Talkie River View
St Pauls View
Tower Bridge View
Canary Wharf View
Walkie Talkie

The 40th, and top, floor of the building is currently decked out in the style of a Moroccan Riad. Colourful fabrics, classic moroccan style furniture bedecks and contrasts with the modern interior of the building. Another great spot to take in some views, have a cocktail (or mint tea as we did) eat some mezze and enjoy the uniqueness that is the Gherkin.

In the restaurant on the 39th floor you can currently book a Moroccan influenced 5-course tasting menu if the a la carte menu isn't quite what you're looking for. We saw some people going for this option and it looked very tasty and intriguing!

The Gherkin Floor 40
Old vs New Buildings

So our visit to the Gherkin was a very lovely one. We really enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and the brilliant views of the city. I'm glad I snapped up the offer - maybe I won't press delete on my many Bookatable emails so quickly in the future!

Thanks for reading, I hope this has given you some foodie and city ideas and inspiration. Have a lovely weekend and see you on Monday.