Spending A Saturday Exploring Dalston

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.

Hackney Peace Carnival Street Mural

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.

Dalston East Curve Garden

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!

Dalston East Curve Garden
Dalston East Curve Garden
Dalston East Curve Garden
Dalston East Curve Garden

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!!

Dalston Roof Park
Dalston Roof Park
Dalston Roof Park
Dalston Roof Park

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.

Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast

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.

Louise

 


Taking A Walk On The Wild Side

FORAGING FOR WILD FOOD WITH HUNTER GATHER COOK

A few weeks ago we went along to Wilderness Festival in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. One of the really unique things about this four day festival is the number of new and unusual activities you can try your hand at alongside taking in all of the music and entertainment during your long weekend in the countryside. From archery, wild swimming, wood carving, hot yoga - you name it, they quite probably have it on offer and ready and waiting for you to take part. 

Burdock

One such activity that we decided to get involved in was an afternoon of foraging for wild food followed by wild canapes and cocktails in the woods. An afternoon organised by the team from East Sussex based company Hunter Gather Cook. Such a unique experience and a great way to spend time out in the fresh air, shaking off the stress of daily life. So I thought I'd share a few photos and a little bit about our experience here on the blog today.

Before I get started a little warning here I guess. One thing we learnt very quickly during this mini adventure was that there are a great deal of dangerous plants and other nasties out there that can do you a lot of harm, and I don't mean just make you a bit sick, I mean really nasty harm. So just a quick note - before you take yourself off outside and start picking wild flowers and mushrooms to add to your evening meal, make sure you take time to learn from an expert about exactly what you might be taking home with you. You really don't want to make a mistake when it comes to eating things found out in the wild - trust me! 

Hazlenuts

The afternoon was spent with our foraging guide Elliot as he took us on a tour of beautiful Cornbury Park and pointed out an array of plants, trees and other wild goodies that I'd never before noticed even though I've spent many years walking my dog around many different country spots. I certainly didn't know that so much could actually be eaten. From hazelnuts, burdock, nettles, spearmint - all sorts of wonders just at our feet or happily hanging above our heads.

Water Mint

Whilst a two hour beginners tour and introduction to foraging does not an expert make, I did learn some fascinating facts that I'd never previously have known. Things like all plants within the mint family have square stems. Now the amount of times I've picked this from the garden and added it to my new potatoes without noticing that fact I can't tell you. Next time you pick up a sprig of mint have a feel - it's totally square, such an odd little quirk of nature! For some reason I was also fascinated to learn that the peanut comes from the pea family. Pretty much nothing to do with nuts even though it's in the name. It actually grows underground and is considered a legume. Who knew!

Nature is endlessly fascinating and this short but really informative introduction demonstrated just how much there is out there to learn. I can certainly see why people find foraging so interesting and how it can become a lifelong past-time and learning experience. It's also such a great way to get out and about, keep active and take in some much needed fresh air and peace and quiet. A brilliant break from the usual hectic routine.

River View

As our two hour expedition came to an end we headed back to the woodland alcove where the team had set up an off grid kitchen and had been busily preparing us an array of wild canapes to tickle our tastebuds. Plus a bramble cocktail to which we added our foraged spearmint to give it a final flourish! With a little music, some fresh nibbles and a cocktail in hand, the afternoon concluded with an atmospheric cocktail party in the woods as we digested everything we'd learnt on our sunny exploration of the English countryside.

Wild Cocktail Reception Menu
Wild Canape
Venison Canape

If you're looking for a new activity to get you out in the fresh air and exploring then foraging could well be worth a try. I'd highly recommend giving it a go. Just (as mentioned above) make sure you go with someone who truly knows what they're doing as you get started! Hunter Gather Cook run regular seasonal courses at their East Sussex site and would certainly be a great place to start if you're tempted to give it a go.

Louise

 

 

Trying Out Forrest Yoga At Inspire Hot Yoga

A STRONG PRACTICE FOR THE MODERN DAY STRESSES AND STRAINS OF WORKING LIFE

On Monday I was lucky to have the chance to give the practice of Forrest Yoga a go at Inspire Hot Yoga Studios in Maidenhead, Berkshire. You may remember my recent interview with the lovely Lizzy in which she spoke about teaching this style of yoga. Well being intrigued as I am about these things I asked her a little more about it and before I knew it I found myself in a very warm studio in Maidenhead giving it a go!

Inspire Hot Yoga Maidenhead

I do love a bit of yoga and although I'm very new to the practice it's something that I enjoy immensely when I do it. I find it very grounding as well as strengthening for the body. What interested me so much about Forrest Yoga is the fact that this newer form of the practice is very much designed to focus on healing the damage put upon us by our modern daily lives. Things like sitting at a desk all day and hunching over our computers, the strain of typing away on a keyboard for long hours, or spending too much time on our phones.

It's a very strong and far more intensely physical practice - trust me, speaking from experience here! Developed by Ana Forrest as she was working on finding tools to transform her own healing and wellbeing, there is a focus on four core values: breath, strength, integrity and spirit. The process of opening up the body, the hips, the chest - releasing tension, strain and deeply focusing on the grounding power of the breath was all very powerful. So beneficial to both the physical and mental stresses of the day. A chance to focus and open up some of those tight, tense and aching muscles. Also a fantastic way to really build up that all important core, in order to help maintain that power throughout the working day and avoid further pain and trauma to the body as your working life continues.

Inspire Hot Yoga Maidenhead
Lizzy Nichol Forrest Yoga

The class took place in the very beautiful and relaxing Inspire Hot Yoga Studios where, as the name suggests, practice is undertaken under the warmth of infrared heaters to enable you to go far deeper and more safely into the yoga postures. Practicing in heat like this is also said to encourage detoxification so there are many given benefits for hot classes of this kind.

For the Forrest Yoga class the studio was heated to 31 degrees which I was told is the coolest of the classes on the timetable there. Still felt pretty warm to me though! But I definitely did enjoy the heat once I had gotten used to it. I can certainly understand the benefits when it comes to loosening up the muscles and achieving a deeper stretch. Just make sure you take a very large towel and a lot of water to help get you through. Sweat in the eyes is a bit of a tricky distraction when you're trying to balance on your elbows with your feet half way up the mirror at a 90 degree angle!

Inspire Hot Yoga Maidenhead

The studio is beautiful and fully equipped with everything you need for a happy and relaxing class. Upon entering you're asked to remove your shoes immediately and are then greeted by the softest, toe pleasing carpet ever known in the reception - I could've walked around on that all evening!

The studio is large with mats all laid out and ready to go, blocks for support should you need them, a beautiful Himalayan Salt Lamp which really adds to the feeling of wellbeing and mirrors in which to watch your progress, check you are aligned well and are hitting the correct postures. There are also smart, modern changing rooms with some very useful and much needed showers available so that you can finish your practice and get yourself ready to head off for the rest of your day or evening. The timetable at the studio is focused on providing access to classes throughout the day in order to meet the needs of all of our varying and different lifestyles.

Inspire Hot Yoga Maidenhead

Whilst this class was challenging for me, I really enjoyed it and it's something I really want to try again. To experience a hot class was unique in itself and I really felt I had hit deeper depths of my muscles by doing so, especially the following morning when I woke up! Oh and on the subject of sleep, they said at the studio that I would sleep well after such a class and boy did I have a truly relaxing and deep nights sleep! So there's definitely something to be said for the benefits of a heated practice. 

The philosophy behind Forrest Yoga is a great and much needed one in this day and age. I only hope that with continued practice I'll be able to find myself in some of the postures demonstrated by Lizzy below - and be able to hold them for more than a second! I love that this form of exercise focuses so greatly on reversing the negative effects of modern day life. It's something many of us need and I'm sure can relate well too.

Lizzy Nichol Forrest Yoga
Lizzy Nichol Forrest Yoga

Have you tried Forrest Yoga and do you feel that it's been beneficial to you? Or is this a practice that you think you'd like to try? Share your experiences below and have a wonderful Friday everyone. Do something that makes you feel fantastic and be happy!

Louise

 

*I was very kindly able to try this class out on a complimentary basis to see what it was all about. However if I hadn't of enjoyed the experience I wouldn't be sharing it here with you on the blog today.


3 Super Easy Fitness Tricks To Try This Weekend

I'm always intrigued by ways to try and stay a little stronger and healthier. Since getting back from our recent trip to India, where I spent hardly anytime on any form of laptop, computer and not even my phone (well by my usual standards!) coming back to reality has really taken a toll on my neck, back and shoulders. Highlighting just how hazardous our daytime desk jobs are. I know I say this a lot but finding ways to help our bodies out a little more in this digital driven age is something I'm always interested in discovering and sharing here on this blog.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

So today I'm presenting three really simple health hacks that we can all start practising right away for a better mind and body. Bear with me, some might seem a little odd, but I'm reliably informed they will really do us all good in the long run!

 

3 EASY HEALTH HACKS TO START RIGHT NOW

1. Sit On The Floor Not The Sofa: Active sitting on the floor either in a cross-legged position or in a squatting position has been done by people all over the world for centuries. If you practice yoga you'll know the benefits that this can bring as apposed to sitting in a chair or on your sofa. Ok so it might seem a little odd, but switch it up and sit on the floor now and again, you don't need to pay for a yoga class to achieve this and the benefits that it brings. You will engage far more muscles especially in your core, improve balance as you get up and down, improve blood circulation and generally be surprised by the more centred calmness it can bring. Use cushions or support for your back as needed and forget the couch now and again, it only promotes unhealthy postures and bad circulation. To get you started and to make sure you're sitting in a healthy way try the Sukhasana posture. Not sure what I'm on about? A great resource from which to learn more can be found here: Sukhasana (The Easy Pose) - Yoga With Adrienne.

2. Walk Barefoot, Work Those Feet: Ok granted this one depends on where you are in the world right now. Anyone in the UK will probably laugh out loud at the idea of this given the weather. Although I'm not just talking about outside but inside the house too. In the western world we spend so much time hiding our poor tootsies in shoes and socks yet 25% of our bodies bones and muscles lie in our feet. By housing them in restrictive shoes we aren't using these important and by now totally sedentary muscles to their fullest. In a recent yoga session I was asked to sit back on my toes to wake up said muscles and oh my god did it really flippin' hurt!! I realised then that my poor feet were being crazily neglected and that I needed to practise moving them more often. Still not convinced? Get into the science bit by reading this article here: The Surprising Health Benefits Of Going Barefoot - Mind Body Green.

3. Stand, Walk And Talk: Got a lot of catching up to do with family and friends this weekend? Plans to organise, gossip to share?! Great but don't spend that time on the phone sat in your bed or on the couch, get up and walk it out! Making phone calls on the move, either on an actual walk which I like to do whilst walking the dog, or just by simply pacing around the house, is another super simple but effective way to keep the body moving and pumping! There's no great trick to this, simply get up and move whenever that phone rings.

 

So there we have three super simple ways to add a little strength and health back into your daily routine straight away. What do you think, can you see yourself giving any of these ideas a go this weekend? Share your thoughts, and any other tips you might have in the comments below. Thanks for reading everyone, have a happy weekend.

Louise

 

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