With the summer holidays coming to a close here in Perth it seems a good time to move away from Western Australian posts for a while and finish off my travel series from last year (late April/early May).
After visiting our respective families in Yorkshire and the West Country, Moniseur and I reconvened in London, then travelled to Mainz in Germany for 6 nights in the Rhine region (see that series of posts plus more German travels here).
We headed back to London again by train to spend a long weekend with our daughter Mlle who currently lives there. The train journey was very efficient despite a couple of changes. We left Mainz at 9.20 am and got back to London St Pancras at 4pm (of course it’s an hour behind the continent back in the UK so the real travel time was just under 8 hours). We went from Mainz to Cologne, Cologne to Brussels and then took the Eurostar train back under the “Chunnel” to London. You do need to book all of those sectors in advance though as they are extremely busy lines.
Our London base was a spacious AirBNB flat in the suburb of Haggerston. It’s one of those places that we’d heard of but never ventured to when we were living in London in the 1980s. Back then this locality in the London Borough of Hackney was not considered a particularly safe area and was rather run down. Today it has been redeveloped with many of the old council estates turned into private dwellings and new buildings constructed. My great grandmother grew up in the Haggerston/Bethnal Green area in the 1870s so it had a particular interest for me (I’ve previously blogged about her mother’s family connections in London here and here).
Our spacious flat had a little balcony with a charming view of the Regents Canal, the same one that wends its way across London passing through Little Venice (see here for a post I did on a previous trip when it was distinctly colder!). We had a regular visitor who popped by to say hello and seemed unfazed by our presence (I know grey squirrels are considered vermin but he was rather cute).
Mlle works in Shoreditch and lives in a flat in Clapton close to Stoke Newington. Since space is at a premium in her flat-share she came to stay with us for the weekend and showed us round her local stomping ground. Haggerston adjoins Shoreditch and Hoxton, now definitely more gentrified than we remembered.
Kingsland Road connects Shoreditch High Street with Dalston and Stoke Newington. It was just a few minutes walk from our flat up to the road where we could pick up one of the numerous London buses or catch the overland from Haggerston Station just off the main drag (when we weren’t walking). The whole area was bustling with people going here, there and everywhere! The elegant buildings fronting onto the high street house a huge variety of shops including many speciality stores. You can take your pick of cuisine from the numerous cafes and restaurants – there should be something to cater for every taste.
We always enjoy Mlle’s local tours, which take us to places that perhaps we wouldn’t have considered otherwise. A pleasant evening walk along the canal took us to Broadway Market in London’s E8 postcode. The iconic street joins London Fields with the Regents Canal. It has the feel of a bygone era – a range of street stalls and permanent shops selling fresh produce, artisan breads, traditional London fayre such as jellied eels (pass from me!) and pretty arts and crafts amongst other things.
At night it is obviously the place to be seen judging by the crowds with the famous Cat and Mutton pub (established 1729) so popular we had to join the throngs of patrons standing on the street with our drinks. Still the ambiance was electric and the street corner was an excellent place to people watch whilst we enjoyed our aperitifs.
The tapas restaurant (El Ganso) that we were lucky enough to get a late reservation for was worth the wait. It was an authentic experience run by very friendly Spaniards – the food was simply superb and the wines outstanding. Highly recommend if anyone is visiting that part of London!
Don’t know if it’s just me but WordPress seem to have changed their entire editing system overnight and when I came on to finish off this post it took me a while to navigate the new system. Hopefully all the links on this post work – please let me know if anyone experiences any problem viewing anything thanks!
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