Visiting London Fields and Broadway Market not on a Saturday
Setting up shop on Netil Market has meant that we have been spending an awful lot of time in E8. Walking the dog in London Fields, lunching up and down Broadway Market, and generally scoping out all that the area has to offer. While there is no doubt that the crowds descend on a Saturday for both Broadway and Netil Markets, turns out the area has a lot more to offer and many more permanent shops and attractions that happen week-long and even on Sundays. Read on for my 10 favourite reasons to venture to E8 on days other than a Saturday.
1) TAKE IN A LONDON CRICKET MATCH: at the north end of London Fields is a cricket pitch which is the home ground of the aptly-named London Fields Cricket Club. It might not be the first thing you think you'd find yourself doing in Hackney but, if the weather's good, while away a pleasant half hour watching from the boundary.
2) SAMPLE PIE AND MASH AND LIQUOR: At the south end of Broadway Market is F Cooke, serving up pie, mash, liquor and jellied eels. It doesn't matter whether plates flooded with parsley sauce are your thing or if you can stomach a jellied eel, you have to give this place a go simply for the interior. Tiles, mirrors, benches worn by bottoms squeezing in to tuck into pies. It is a London experience that even if you are only a temporary Londoner passing through, you should definitely partake in.
3) STOCK UP YOUR SPICES, OILS AND PASTES: E8 has a fairly large Vietnamese population and it follows that they also have pretty decent supermarkets with a selections of ingredients from across Asia. Just the other side of the arches from London Fields is the romantically named London Starnight Supermarket. If you are after galangal, fresh banana flower, frozen dim sum, or multiple packets of luridly coloured tapioca products, you have to head there. There is a massive selection of fresh ingredients - often including a massive fresh jackfruit slumped in a trolly - as well as more types of rice, noodles and rice noodles than you can reasonably expect.
4) DIP INTO LONDON FIELDS LIDO: if you are at all familiar with the area, it won't be news to you that London Fields Lido is worth a visit. Unfortunately it is closed at the moment for major tile repairs but, with a general refurb also on the cards if the Evening Standard is to be believed, it will reopen this summer better than ever.
5) FLICK THROUGH SOME ACE BOOKS: while bookshops aren't unique to E8, there is a particularly good selection at The Broadway Bookshop. Not your heavily stickered holiday "3 for 2s", nor an over-reliance on Richard and Judy's bookclub (not sure that this still exists, but you know what I mean...) but really interesting books you haven't seen before and want to flick through and stroke. Rather pleasingly its also almost always heaving.
6) WATCH THE NARROW BOATS NAVIGATE THE LOCK: just up the Regent's Canal from Broadway market is Acton's Lock. It gets used by passing boats more than you'd think and there is a conveniently positioned bench where you can sit canal-side with a craft beer and watch the steering, pushing, puffing, panting and manouvering unfold.
7) GET YOUR PING PONG ON: apparently it's not called ping pong but, if it's your thing, there is a large concrete table for just this at the very southern end of London Fields (it's not on this map but it's definitely there). My sister went through a stage of killing time in London between appointments by always carrying a pair of table tennis bats and a ball with her. Turns out there are tables all over the place, it gets the adrenaline going without making you unsociably sweaty, and if you do it on a regular basis then the likelihood of you being able to do a curve shot with top spin dramatically increases.
8) FROLIC IN THE FLOWER FIELDS: Not just London Fields generally, but specifically the field of wild flowers that are planted there every summer. They are possibly the most instagrammable thing in E8 and, when the fug of London is getting you down, provide instant countryside escapism.
9) HAVE A NEGRONI WITH A VIEW: You won't see the attraction of Netil 360 from ground level but head up there and get a different London skyline shot for your instagram (remember if you didn't instagram it, it didn't happen). Yes, you can see the Gherkin and the Shard, but you can see the Shard from pretty much everywhere. More unique is the view down the railway tracks into the centre of town and out further east. A much more original instagram angle.
10) COME SEE US AT NETIL MARKET: In short, the area is well worth checking out on a Sunday. If nothing else, there is a much much shorter queue at Climpsons for your coffee. Our Kitchen Provisions store at Netil Market tends to be much more relaxed on a Sunday - we can normally sharpen knives while you wait and Saunders has a lot more time for chatting and a show and tell of our products.
* Note, I didn't suggest you have a BBQ in London Fields. As soon as the thermometer gets above about 15 degrees there are so many BBQ-ers in the field that it looks like the whole park is alight with massive clouds of smoke billowing through the crowds of hipsters. I think we have reached peak BBQ in the park.