After a tip off by Domestic Sluttery, the boyf and I decided to head out East on Saturday morning, and to the floating market on the Regent’s Canal in Mile End Park. I CAN’T BELIEVE I’ve never taken a stroll along the canal before…. I’ve been meaning to for ages, and I was so glad we did.
We hopped on a bus to get us down to the canal, and had a little bit of a wander in the wrong direction before getting on the right track. We didn’t mind at all though, as we were just so excited by the lovely environment around us….there were dozens of dragonflies and mayflies over the water, some huge fish, and lots of pretty flowers and plants along the water edge.
Finally heading in the right direction, we strolled along just soaking up the tranquility until we came across the Art Pavilion, which was showing Philip Pinchin‘s ‘Sleeping India’ exhibition. The photos are nearly all black and white and show some of the most diverse aspects of the country, as well as how it’s such common nature to take a nap right out in public. Adam found himself wanting to go back to India badly, recalling memories from his trips there, whilst I was reminded how much I want to go for the first time.
The Art Pavilion itself is a wonderful place, so bright and open, and surrounded by gorgeous ponds and gardens….
Just a little wander further and we found the Floating Market. Set up along the towpath are around a dozen narrow boats, all with something wonderful to share…. there are cafes, a hat emporium, jewellery shops, a bookshop, and artists…. in fact, plenty to while away an afternoon with. It’s been set up to coincide with the games and will move on to Little Venice in West London for the Paralympic Games. The towpath itself is an official Olympic walking and cycling route, and nearby Victoria Park is one of the official Live Sites showing highlight from the Games on big screens, so there’s quite a buzz there!
We took our ease for a while, at a little picnic table with a cute umbrella outside Rawlings cafe. With a generous mug of tea each we took on two of their wheat and dairy free cakes….. the sweet potato muffin was super gooey, and the banana loaf just divine. We also enjoyed the company of Jasper, a friendly dog who hangs out at the cafe. He was lovely.
Next we explored the floating bookshop, which was especially great because we got to go onboard! It’s filled with shelf upon shelf of second hand books of all sorts, and also has a beautiful tortoiseshell cat! There are more racks of books on the outside too, but I loved being on board and finding all the goodies stowed away so cleverly and tidily.
Further along we found the Chapeau Bateau, where there are stacks of lovely hats, as well as some ace 70s style sun glasses. After that, we found the Print Galley, where a suitcase full of old cameras caught my eye….. we ended up chatting to the shop keeper about lots of them, including a couple of awesome Super8 cameras and an incredible medium format camera. Elizabeth Hayley is a print maker and photographer, and is currently selling some of her work at the market. I immediately fell for her dreamy images, all of which have such amazing texture and luminosity.
By this time, we were practically at Victoria Park, and wanting to continue our stroll we decided to make our way to the World in London exhibition there. We entered the park via the Rose Gates, whereupon we found the most stunning roses I think either of us has ever seen. Each one seemed so perfectly formed and alike, and almost as though they were made from fine silk or tissue. Just gorgeous!
In our efforts to find the exhibition, we ended up wandering around the whole South side of the park, not realising that there is a much bigger end to the park over the road! It was gorgeous just to snoop about though, and the place smelled just amazing with all the beautiful flowers about. On our wanderings, we found the Pavilion Cafe, and got terribly excited as we learned that all the ingredients are ‘us friendly’, meaning everything is free range and organic! That was enough to remind us it was lunch time, and we chose seats overlooking the huge pond after ordering kippers with poached egg and potato cake (for me), and Eggs Benedict (for Adam). Both arrived in no time and were exceptionally good. The portions are a great size, and very good value I think (about £7 for each dish), and we enjoyed a really yummy iced coffee there too.
We will definitely be back to sample more of the menu…they have a wonderful sounding Full English Breakfast, and a yummy looking burger I want to try! It’s just such a glorious place to sit and eat when the sun is shining…there’s so much going on in the park so it’s really buzzing, but overlooking the water makes it seem tranquil at the same time.
For pudding Adam bought an ice cream from the van behind the Pavilion (I opted to steel the top off it rather than having a a whole one, having scoffed the cake earlier). It seemed that our summer had finally arrived as we walked through the balmy park with an ice cream!
Eventually we found the World in London exhibition, which is actually posted on the exterior wall to the BT London Live event which is showing parts of the games on big screens. An outdoor display of over 200 portraits blown up on large, glossy boards, it showcases a collection put together by the Photographers Gallery over the last three years. Coinciding with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the project was created to show images of Londoners of all ages and walks of life, each originating from one of the competing nations. The photos are arranged alphabetically by country along one long wall, and are also being shown in Park House…. you can actually see all the images online too, here.
Despite having said we weren’t going to do too much over the weekend, we were having such a jolly time that we couldn’t bear to end our day of adventure. So, from the park we walked along to Bethnal Green, and on from there to Brick Lane. It was perhaps the quietest I’ve ever seen it, and at least in many years….I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be indoors on such a lush day, but I guess lots of people wanted to watch some of the Olympics events. I rather enjoyed being able to wander about in a more civilised way than usual though, and took in several of the little markets I love.
The Tea Rooms market is one of my favourites, and is filled with all kinds of lovely treasure….. there is an incredible stall selling loads and loads of beautiful vintage china and crystal decanters…. a cake stall…. loads of bric-a-brac and nick nacks…. and a wonderful collection of old cameras.
After a pootle about some of the other markets along Brick Lane, we headed to Old Spitalfields Market, although by then lots of stall holders were packing up. We zipped around though and took time to stop and take some photos of Adam with some of those crazy mascot things….
Then, pretty tired and with rather achey feet, we made our way home for cups of tea and a light (ish) supper of wholemeal penne with roasted butternut squash, pepper and broccoli. What an amazing day!
Hope you enjoyed a sunny Saturday!