London off the beaten track

In January I was inspired by Makelight to choose a word to guide me through the year, instead of or as well as New Year’s Resolutions.

My word for 2017 is Explore.

To me, Explore means meeting new people, learning new things and visiting new places. I find exploring in this way really opens the mind, allows creativity to blossom and creates a great work life balance.

Today, I’m talking about exploring East London.

I met up with friends to discover off the beaten track places in East London. Kathryn (@wanderforawhile) and Miranda (@mirandasnotebook) helped considerably with their knowledge of London.

I was also joined by Makelight members Kaye, Sara and Lois.

The first stop was Barber and Parlour in Redchurch Street. I cannot believe I have never visited this amazing place before.  There’s relaxed dining at entrance level and hair and beauty on the upper floor.  In addition to delicious food, a friendly atmosphere and an opportunity to book in for hair and beauty, this is an Instagram destination! Photo opportunities are everywhere!


The exterior of the building and it’s surroundings are as quirky as the interior and the photo opportunities as great.


Opposite the entrance you can find Whitby Street, renowned for it’s stunning wall art.

These amazing green tiles clad the walls of Labour and Wait, a store specialising in functional products for the home that are designed to last a lifetime.  The store is housed in a old Truman Brewery pub in Cheshire Street.  References to the Truman Brewery are abundant across the Shoreditch and Spitalfields areas.

Wall art can be found at every turn.

There is an abundance of eating places to suit most tastes …

… and quirky corner street shops. This one in Boundary Street has a colourful display of fruit and vegetables.


Independent stores sit alongside leading top end high street brands.

Rustic benches painted in an array of designs add character and resting places for weary feet.


Calvert Street above leads to Arnold Circus Bandstand reached by stone steps perfectly set in a large gap in the wrought iron railings and pretty blooms marking it’s perimeter.


There is a strong sense of community here … places where people can sit, talk or just watch the world go by.

In the 1800s Old Nichol Slum was an over populated, poorly constructed housing development and the last stop before the work house for many eastenders .  It was eventually demolished and the soil beneath used to create this raised bandstand.


Adjacent to Arnold Circus is the leafy Rochelle Street.

Rochelle Street School was built in 1899. The former classrooms provide working accommodation for creative businesses.  Community and shared values are at the heart of this place.

I didn’t think for one moment, when I set out on this tour of East London, that I would see vines harvesting huge bunches of grapes and cute walled flower gardens but that is exactly what I found in the grounds of Rochelle Street School.

There is a feeling of seclusion and peace within these walls.

Housed in the converted school bike shed, there is a relaxed restaurant where pride is taken in sourcing fresh local produce for the menu which changes daily.  It is little known that it is open to the public.  Find out more here.

The hustle and bustle of Brick Lane is close by.


Trumans Brewery was the largest of it’s kind in the world in the 1800s. The Brick Lane HQ now houses creative businesses, independent stores, galleries, markets, bars and restaurants


The Princelet Street and Fournier Street areas are just off Brick Lane close to Spitalfields Market.  Built in the early 1700s to house wealthy French Huguenots who bought silk weaving skills to London, these houses form one of the most important collections of Georgian domestic buildings in Britain.

I felt like I had just walked onto a film set.


This pink house is 4 Princelet Street. It has been used for many photo shoots and as a film location house.


Close by is 18 Folgate Street (below).

This house is open to the public (for details of how to book a tour and to find out if this is something you would enjoy see @dennisservershouse).  Tours aim to depict the life of a family of Huguenot silk weavers.

I always enjoy seeing modern and historic buildings co-existing in perfect harmony.


The day ended with a visit to a coffee shop in Spitalfields market.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it’s inspired you! There are so many wonderful places to see — whether it’s something local or far away. There is so much to learn and so many new people to meet.


Stay safe and cosy until the next time.

Yvonne x


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