Dalston in East London had been on my 'to visit' list for a very long time but was somewhere I just hadn't found the time to get to and take a look around. Since moving back into London earlier this year and being based this time in the north instead of the south, a whole new selection of now far easier to reach destinations has opened up. Exploring this unchartered (for me at least) territory has been one of the best things about being back in dear old London town. I love exploring new places whether that be through travelling or just finding out what's nearby my own doorstep. So here's a few photos from a Saturday afternoon in Dalston and some points worth checking out if you ever find yourself in this part of town and looking for something to do.
If you're visiting Dalston then one of the first things you're likely to come across is the beautiful Hackney Peace Carnival Mural (pictured above) that sits proudly on the side of an empty building opposite Dalston Junction station. This quite breathtaking mural is staggering in its size and you can't fail to take a moment to admire it. It was designed by muralist Ray Walker in 1982 as part of the Greater London Council's year of peace initiative. Ray Walker sadly died of a heart attack aged 39 and before painting of the mural had really begun. His wife and colleague stepped in to complete it and it was unveiled in 1985. The mural depicts the Hackney Peace Carnival procession as locals gather together at the height of the cold war, united for peace and against nuclear war. It really is a vibrant and colourful picture to stand and gaze at in awe even despite the somewhat hefty subject matter.
Hunting out the mural will mean that you conveniently find yourself at the entrance to the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and this is definitely a spot to grab a glass of something chilled, pull up a slightly battered but very comfortable garden sofa and relax with friends for a good while. A peaceful and incredibly relaxed spot that you can happily spend hours in just sitting back and chatting away as the evening draws in.
The garden is maintained by volunteers, is full of beautiful wildlife friendly trees and shrubs and provides a place for local residents to grow their own food. You can buy food and drink at the bar or take in your own as long as that doesn't include alcohol which must be purchased on site. Old chairs and sofas grace this long and winding leafy space, with a play area at the end for the little ones. Decked out with fairy lights, bunting and cosy wood burners, the laid back vibe pretty much ensures that you'll never want to leave. This is well worth a stop if you find yourself in the area, and give yourself time to sit back and enjoy a little bit of peace and serenity amongst the urban sprawl just outside. Heavenly!
Next up on the to do list and still along the garden theme but in a slightly different sense is nearby Dalston Roof Park. Located on Ashwin Street not far from the famed Arcola Theatre and providing a unique space to eat, drink and dance overlooking the landscape below. I loved this space. It's relaxed, uninhibited, unpretentious and so much fun. Another place that I could have happily spent the entire evening just sipping my mojito and watching the sun go down, then dancing my socks off on the spongy astroturf without much of a care in the world! Normal entry is £3 but make sure you check the calendar for special events that you may need to purchase additional tickets for, or for private events that may inhibit your entry on that occasion.
If you can't get into the roof garden then also well worth a stop is Cafe OTO situated below where you can catch new and original live music everyday of the week as well as chow down on one of their delicious home baked cakes alongside your glass of wine - well why not!!
Finally I'm going to mention Dalston Yard and Street Feast London even though the evening that we went was actually the very last evening at this particular location. Despite that I still wanted to include a few photos of what was a great hour or two of rum cocktails and mouthwatering street food. Plus even though Dalston Yard is sadly no longer with us, Street Feast London do still have three other locations that you can visit so these pics might just tickle your tastebuds and give you a little inkling of what to expect. AMAZING food, great cocktails and a chatty, friendly vibe that isn't to be missed. I certainly still need to eat my way around the rest of the saliva inducing food stalls on offer so will be making my way to another of their locations quick smart to get my fill. Let the next few photos fill you in on the sort of thing to expect and also provide a fond farewell to the fabulous Dalston Yard.
So therein lies a short and swift but ultimately very satisfying trip to discover a few of the delights of Dalston. There is no doubt far much more to uncover and see and I don't think it'll be long before I'm back doing just that. If you're planning a visit to the area yourself I hope this post offers a starting point. If you're from or are a huge fan of the area and have some further tips and top spots to visit then please leave those in the comments below. All ideas, as always, are very, very welcome.
Have a great weekend everyone and hope to see you here again very soon.