Stories on Redchurch Street

On one of our recent rambles round the East End we came across possibly the most beautiful pizza place and deli we've ever seen...   

Boulevard Bonanza

London's latest postcode N1C

The labyrinthine King's Cross has finally opened up, creating a brand new way through, handy for getting away from the Euston Road and exiting via the canal.  They have decided to call it 'King's Boulevard', rather grandly described we feel..  The definition of a Boulevard according to Wikipedia is 'a type of road usually a wide, multi-lane arterial thoroughfare, divided with a median down the centre, and roadways along each side designed as a slow travel and parking lanes and for bicycle and pedestrian usage, often with an above-average quality of landscaping and scenery'.  It's got quite a long way to go before it gets there, but this is still an exciting touchstone of what is to come in this part of the world.

And it is one of a very few Boulevards in London.  The only other one we can find is somewhere off the Balham High Road.

The new road links serenely from St Pancras International up to the bridge over the Regent's Canal, heading towards the about to be finished shopping centre (Covent Garden style) and the stunning new home of Central St Martin's College of Art and Design. Close by are the offices of The Guardian and King's Place, the place to go for concerts of a classical and folk kind.  Tucked away behind it all are two acres of wild green space, the Camley Street Natural Park, perfect for budding naturalists.  

Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays there are tasty looking pop-up food stalls at the canal end of King's Boulevard selling paella, kebabs and homemade chocolate goodies.

Works outing - the Adventure Walks for Families Christmas lunch

For our Christmas lunch this year, we kept it local and nipped round the corner to the pop up restaurant at Islington Barn on Upper Street (PipsDish)behind Toast.  All hay bales, gingham tablecloths, crooning music and farm shop. We feasted on a fabulous chicken and pearl barley broth, topped with a creamy dollop of caper and lemon rind mayonaise.  Completely delicious.  

For pudding we had a squidgy, sticky slab of carrot cake and black coffee.  Simple but effective.  The barn is the inspiration of cookery writer Philip Dundas, whose charmingly illustrated book Cooking without Recipes has caused a stir in the kitchen this Christmas. 

Hand drawn maps of London

Very excited to be pick of the week on the Friday Hand Drawn Maps of London blog for the Londonist.  

Our London Adventure Walks for Families 101 Dalmatians map, drawn by the lovely and talented Frances Bennett, is displayed in its full glory.

Festive Fun this Christmas

Get into the Christmas spirit..

1.  Brave the cold and take a bracing walk to gather holly and ivy to make a wreath.  Wrap it round a circle of florists' wire, decorate with baubles and hang on the front door.  

2.  Light a lantern and go carol singing down your street to raise money for a local charity.

3.  Fill the house with seasonal scents and make a pomander. Take an orange, stick it with cloves and tie it up with pretty ribbon.

4. Wrap up warm and set off on a winter scavenger hunt for animal tracks, pine cones, berries, seed heads and different coloured leaves.

5.  Make some star shaped biscuits to hang on the tree.  Make a hole in them for the ribbon before they are baked.

Bumper Book of London...coming soon

Hurrah. We've got a launch date for our new book The Bumper Book of London. 7th April 2012 since you are asking. 

Busy scratching our heads trying to put together a party plan and all the things we need to do to get the book on the shelves.

Just designing a freebee book mark with it's funky new hi-tech QR....we are feeling very modern!

On your marks get set go… sneak a peek at the London Olympic Park

Sneak a preview of London's amazing Olympic Park and shop ‘til you drop at Europe’s biggest and best shopping centre: Westfield.

Start:  Hackney Wick Overground
End:   Stratford Overground and mainline

Come out of Hackney Wick station and turn left. Take the first turning on the left, White Post Lane, opposite Mr Bagel’s warehouse and follow the street as it bends to the right and then left.  You are walking through what remains of down-at-heel Hackney, pre-Olympic rebuild.
When you reach the canal, cross over the bridge and turn right onto the towpath. You are now along the River Lee Navigation, past tugs, narrow boats and old warehouses. The Hertford Union Canal peels off to the right. On your left you can soon see the first glimpses of the construction work at the Olympic Park.

On the opposite bank is the famous east end smokehouse and restaurant, Formans Smokehouse. It was one of the last buildings on the Olympic site and had to be winkled out  at great expense and relocated here on the canal.
Keep going past Old Ford Lock and turn left over the bridge, crossing the River Lee. Turn right along the towpath, towards Bow.

After a low bridge over the water, take the path up on the left. This is the Greenway Path. It covers a gigantic sewage pipe called the Northern

The Lights of Broadway

Here's one of our new adventure walks....  

.....along the Regent’s Canal to the coolest Saturday food market in London, have a swim in a stunning heated outdoor at London Fields, then run through the glorious Victoria Park and discover a London secret.

Feeling Hungry?

Walking down the Bethnal Green Road the other day we stumbled into what turned out to be one of the best Italian cafes we’ve ever been to in London.  We couldn’t believe we’d never heard of it before.  Squeezing between the crowded tables, we were taken to a

Secret London: London Bridge is Falling Down

Curiously abandoned in London's Victoria Park are two of the original stone alcove seats from the famous old London Bridge. They were rescued when the bridge was pulled  down in 1831 and date back to 1760, when the architect George Dance the Younger added them to provide a safe place for pedestrians to stop on the narrow crowded bridge. Head to the far east end of the park near St Mark's Gate, where they were placed in 1860.  Inside you can still see the Bridge Association insignia carved into the stone. 

Adventures at Home on London Adventure Walks

Those lovely people from Adventures at Home have reviewed our Great Fire of London walk from the blue book.  Click here and take a look at their day out in the Big Smoke.

Join the Lord Mayor of London for the day

It's the annual Lord Mayor's Show this weekend - head to the city to see one London's best free parades.  Watch the 'floats' at 11am, so named from the days when the parade took place on the River Thames.   See the Lord Mayor in his Golden Coach, ridden in since 1757 and built at a grand cost of £1065.0s.3d. 

While you are at it, explore the City.  Discover the secrets of Dick Whittington's London: where he lived, where he worked and where he is buried.  See the City's greatest buildings including Guildhall, with its medieval hall where Lord Mayor's have traditionally feasted on turtle soup, and Mansion House at Bank, where the Lord Mayor lives and holds court.   Check out the walk in our Adventure Walks for Families in London book which takes you round the city to discover the story of London's Lord Mayor and the city.  

Did you know?  The first pantomime performance of Dick Whittington's story was at Covent Garden in 1814.
Whittington paid for a 64 seater public loo, overhanging the river, nicknamed 'Whittington's Longhouse'.  It was one of the first public toilets in London.

Free Family fun days out for half term

Five free things to get up to this half term...these are some of our favourites

London's Roman Amphitheatre 
Hidden in the bowels of the Guildhall Art Gallery in the heart of the City is a REAL Roman amphitheatre, not to be missed.  Only recently unearthed, it is the only Roman amphitheatre found in London.  The amphitheatre was big enough to hold 6,000 people, a quarter of roman London’s population and was the site of many fierce gladiatorial battles, public executions and wild animal fights.   To soak up the blood, the centre of the arena was filled with sand...

Smugglers’ Hideouts
Wander along the cobbled streets of Wapping dip down to the water’s edge at Wapping Old Stairs for a spot of mudlarking.  See where the pirates of long ago were hung in gibbets at execution dock and have a pint of lemonade at the Prospect of Whitby, once a haunt of sailors, smugglers, footpads and cut-throats.

Great Fire of London

Follow the trail of the fire from Pudding Lane to St Paul’s Cathedral.  Climb the Monument (small fee) and claim your certificate for doing so.  Wiggle down the lanes that were licked by flames, past St Mary le Bow on Cheapside.  Look for blue plaques marking the buildings that burnt.  Take the lift to the top of the new shopping centre, One New Change, just by Wren’s magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral and see the City spread out below. 

Isabella Plantation

Explore one of London’s little known secret woodlands tucked  away in the wilds of Richmond Park. The Isabella Plantation is a hidden haven, complete with twisty paths, stepping stones, bridges and bushes to hide in.  What makes this place great is that it is enclosed, making it perfect for children to explore without disappearing all together.  For the grown ups, there are 50 different species of rhododendron; camellias and magnolias.  In autumn, the guelder roses, rowan and spindle trees are at their best and the leaves of the acers are turning a glowing red.


Jump aboard a Thames Clipper boat from anywhere along the river down to Greenwich and spend the day exploring the wonderful National Maritime Museum.  Climb the hill to the Observatory for a picnic.  Beware that you can’t straddle time any more for free – there is now a £10 fee to walk on the Greenwich Meridian Line that divides the globe, east and west.  Boo hoo.  Make sure you look up to the top of Flamstead House at 12.55 and watch the large red ball rise slowly to the top of the spire.  At exactly 1pm, it dramatically drops down again.  It is one of the oldest public clocks and was designed so that ships on the Thames could correct their watches.  At the end of the day, walk under water via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and take the space age DLR home.  

Escape to the forest: hideouts and highwaymen

The Adventure

This weekend is good for a leafy autumn walk.  Head out to Epping Forest, a perfect place for playing ambush games, just like the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin might have done in his day.  It is said that Turpin used to stash his loot and hide out at Loughton Camp, an Iron Age fort, deep in the woods. 

Explore the forest to find the Lost Pond and take the opportunity to do some fishing or build a twig house, whittle sticks and climb trees. Practising orienteering would be a valuable exercise here too as it’s easy to get lost the moment you leave the paths.  

Keep your eyes open as Epping is a site of special scientific interest and many rare plants and animal species can be found here. You might even see deer as about five hundred roam in the forest.

To get there, take the M11 for just a few junctions north of London.  For full details of a walk in Epping Forest, see Chapter 5 of Adventure Walks for Families.

What’s it like 
Well maintained gravel or sand paths and woodland tracks. Gentle incline. Can be muddy.

What will I need?
  • A picnic – there is no obvious place to buy food en route and nowhere once you are parked up at the forest. If you visit the information centre there is a tea hut across the road that sells the basics.  Back in Loughton there are the usual pizza joints.
  • A compass. It is easy to get disorientated in a forest even though you are only a mile away from the road at any point. 
  • A penknife for whittling sticks or making a fishing rod
  • Bread to feed the mandarin ducks at the Lost Pond
  • Dressing up sword and highwayman’s cloak

    Make a weekend of it
    Pack up your tent and stay the night.  There is an excellent campsite at Debden on the edge of the forest where you are allowed to have real fires.  Toast marshmallows and roast sweet chestnuts gathered in the woods.  Debden Campsite  Tel 0208 508 3008 

    This is a map of the walk we did in Epping Forest in Adventure Walks for Families in and Around London hand drawn by talented graphic artist Frances Bennett.  

    Secret London: Great views

    The newest and, we think, the best vantage point to gaze at London’s iconic skyline is one of London's best kept secrets, yet to be discovered.  Get there first! 

    To find it head down to Cheapside at the St Paul’s Cathedral end.  Slip through one of the discreet entranceways of the spanking new shopping mall, One New Change.  Jump into one of its funky clear glass lifts to be whisked up to the 6th floor and step out onto a breath-taking roof top terrace and the best free view in London. 

    Simply walk around and take in the 180 degree view from the Shard, to the river, to St Paul's and the City.  Or have a drink or dinner in the Madison Restaurant up on the roof.  It's open from 7am to midnight, seven days a week.

    You heard about it here first.

    East End Chic: a London walk from Brick Lane to Bethnal Green

    We thought we'd bring you a free walk this week.  Let us know what you think if you try it out.

    Adventure Walks in London

    Get to grips with London’s cutting edge street scene in the East End with this easy to follow walk through the heart of one London’s most happening places.  Find out where to hang, what’s hip and happening and why Shoreditch is dripping with cool. Scroll down to The Knowledge with our hot tips, best offs and must dos in the area.

    The Bare Essentials

    Start the walk at Aldgate East Tube station (Hammersmith and City Line, District Line)
    End the walk at Bethnal Green Tube station (Central Line)

    The Walk

    Leave the tube station via Exit 3 Northside and pop out onto the Whitechapel Road, bang next door to the recently revamped Whitechapel Art Gallery. Nip in to for a quick blast of modern masters and contemporary art, all free. Grab a good cup of coffee in their Dining Room on the way out.

    Turn left out of the gallery and then first left onto Brick Lane and Banglatown, the scene of Monica Ali’s book Brick Lane. This is less trendy end of Brick Lane is packed with tempting Indian sweet and cake shops, shimmering sari shops, Bangladeshi signs boasting best curry in London, all to the strains of Asian music and the smells of spicy roast chickens.

    Up ahead is the shining silver minaret of the Jamme Masjid mosque. This mosque captures the history of Spitalfields: the building began life in 1742 as La Neuve Eglise a Hugeunot chapel by 1809 it was known as the Jews Chapel, to promote Christianity to Jews, by 1898 it had become a synagogue and finally 1976 it became the mosque it is today.

    For a short detour off Brick Lane to see some of the best preserved Huguenot houses in London, turn left at the mosque into Fournier Street. The elegant Georgian houses with their distinctive painted wooden shutters belonged to the Protestant weavers who fled religious persecution in France. The large attic spaces were used for their looms for silk weaving. Turn right into Wilkes Street and then right again into Princelet Street to rejoin Brick Lane.

    Turn left.  The cheap curry houses are now cheek by jowl with vintage clothes shops, artisan galleries and cutting edge architectural practices. As you cross over Hanbury Street look down to the right to see a stunning 20ft high bird graffited on to a bare wall in marker pen by Belgian graffiti artist called Roa. He has daubed lots of squirrels, rats and the like all round London’s streets.

    Keep going and you will pass the old Truman Brewery building with its iconic brick chimney. Back in 1683 a brewer called Joseph Truman drew water from the wells here to make Londoner’s Black Eagle Beer. Come at the weekend (Saturday and Sunday 11-6pm) if you want to catch the Backyard Market and the Sunday Up Market, teeming with edgy urban design, street food fashion and jewellery.

    Pass All Star Bowling Lanes, a retro American style bowling alley, karaoke and burger bar, vintage clothes stores and the Brick Lane Bookshop, one of London’s great new style independent bookstores. At weekends this stretch is choc a bloc with market stalls and flea market tat.

    Walk under the railway bridge and take the first right onto the Cheshire Street lined with the best of the independent shops that inhabit this area this draw the independent thinking shopper to the East End. Lots of these shops are only open at the weekends. Our favourites include Handmade Interiors with its simple patterned textiles, fabrics and cushions, A-non great T-shirt shop for teenagers, Tools stuffed with vintage French bric a brac and the Duke of Uke London’s best ukulele and banjo shop.  Just beyond the shops is a great deli and café the Tramezzino Store where you can pick up a sandwich or a coffee.

    Keep going past the Beyond Retro vintage clothing warehouse, the old Repton Boxing Club and the Bath House to traffic lights by the railway line. Turn left up Vallance Road towards. Cross at the zebra and walk straight on alongside the park down Chester Street.  Turn left on Kelsey Street and into the park ahead, Weavers Fields by the old Victorian school. Follow the path to the right, past the swings towards the sculpture. Keep going straight ahead towards Weavers Field Woodland Walk a nice diversion for anyone with children and a good spot for a picnic. Walk out of the park, passing the adventure playground on the left. Turn left onto Wilmot Street and turn right on the high street, Bethnal Green Road, a short walk from Bethnal Green tube station and the Museum of Childhood on Heath Road. 

    Turn left at the traffic lights and walk through Paradise Gardens to the pedestrian lights just opposite the museum. It is completely free to wander round and is busy with family events and activities. It is a wonderful cornucopia of childhood nostalgia packed with huge glass cases of mechanical toys, exquisite dolls houses, wooden rocking horses and good old fashioned games. Eat at the great child and adult friendly Benugo café and spend your pocket money at the museum shop.  Take the tube home from Bethnal Green.

    The Knowledge
    Here are some places nearby worth coming back for….

    Cool East End streets to shop in

    Best places to Eat
    Pizza East Shoreditch High Street
    St John’s Bread and Wine Commercial Street
    Rochelle School Arnold Circus
    Rivington Grill Rivington Street
    Mangal Arcola Street (Turkish)
    A Gold Brushfield Street
    Beigel Bake Brick Lane (Jewish)
    Tayyabs Fieldgate Street (Pakistani)

    Something for the weekend
    Experience 18th century life at Dennis Severs House Folgate Street 
    Take your sketch book to The Prince's Drawing School, Charlotte Road
    Hone your juggling skills at Circus Space, Coronet Street
    See a screening at the art house Aubin Cinema Redchurch Street
    Experience cutting edge theatre at the Arcola Theatre Ashwin Street
    Shop at London’s most beautiful hardware store Labour and Wait Redchurch Street
    Oggle the best YBA’s work at the White Cube Gallery, Hoxton Square
    Roll your sleeves up at kids Saturday workshop at the Geffrye Museum Kingsland Road
    Get mud on your boots at the Spitalfields City Farm Buxton Street
    Fill your store cupboard with Indian and Bangladeshi lata, danga, pulses, grains and spices at the Taj Stores, Brick Lane.

    On the Trail

    This morning we walked under the stunning 3 storey high Timber Wave at the Cromwell Road entrance to the V&A.  Snaked our way through the galleries to the London Design Festival hub and picked up our map.  Rolled around on the Textile Field in the Raphael gallery, then did a speed walk round the rest spotting the LDF exhibits along the way.  It was a bit like hunt the thimble looking out for the LDF exhibits nestled in between the usual fare of the museum.  Loved designing our own wallpaper on the ipad in the Beyond the Valley gallery (2nd floor of the British Galleries).  Touch the screen and add glorious images and illustrations to a background scene, a bit like high-tech fuzzy felt.  Uploaded our creations.  Loved the David Mach's giant silver gorilla. 

    Top Tips for the V&A:  
    Start at the Exhibition Road entrance to get information, free bag, free directory and map etc.
    Exit via Cromwell Road and the Power of Making exhibition, V&A and Crafts Council joint effort.  

    We got a bit lost.  Highly recommend asking the very helpful gallery guides who know just how to get about the museum.  
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