Jardines like to loiter, just hang out and enjoy whats going on. We kind of wander from place to place with no real meaning or plan, and just see what we encounter along the way.
Mothers Day this year had changed from one thing to another, we knew we would head up to London for the day just not sure where. We finally decided on Hackney City Farm as NJ has now perfected his farm animal repertoire and who could ask for a better audience than a selection of livestock.
We drive most places from Sussex, we don’t mind the train (travel cards for two adults are £20 each from Horsham). On this occasion we decided to drive. It means NJ gets to nap and we can listen to his catalogue of farm animal sounds, and listen to the Mary Poppins soundtrack on repeat. Because who doesn’t want to listen to Step in time 456789098765 times.
We found parking on the Hackney Road just a 5-7min walk from Hackney City Farm, on a single yellow, free on a Sunday. If you do decide to drive up on a weekend there were lots of roads closer that weren’t residents only or metered on a Sunday.
We weren’t really sure what to expect, we are quite spoilt in Sussex with huge farms bursting with animals and space. I grew up in London and don’t ever recall going to a city farm so this was a first for all of us.
Its small so don’t go there expecting to spend the day, you don’t have to pay for entry but donations are accepted, we read it costs £20,000 to feed all the animals on the farm for a whole year, and they run on donations, so be generous!
The cobbled courtyard is really sweet and its small enough to let your minis roam around, there are chickens, sheep, donkeys, pigs, goats, rabbits guinea pigs and ducks. Slightly off the courtyard is a path leading out to the field, where NJ spent most of the time shouting at two completely unfazed pigs. There was a touch and go moment where NJ decided he absolutely must see a horse, so we did try to explain that donkeys were like small horses but it was absolutely not good enough..cue huge meltdown tears stamping, thrashing the works, thank fully we were able to distract him with the prospect of lunch…
There is an Italian Cafe at the farm called Frizzante Cafe just off the courtyard, which smelt incredible and sounded busy, but we had already set our sights on Spitalfields Market for lunch, but maybe next time.
After about an hour of letting the pigs know that they smelt at high volume, and numerous farm animal impressions to a few unimpressed goats, we decided it was time to leave the farm and find lunch.
We headed down the Hackney Road to Kingsland Road, and then onto Commercial Street, there are lots of places to duck into for lunch on the way Morito, Pizza East, Boxpark to name a few. If you want to go on to Spitalfields though carry on down Commercial Street and you will hit Spitalfields Market.
By this time NJ was ravenous and negotiating busy London streets with a semi hysterical toddler isn’t the most fun thing in the world, we were all ready for a sit down and some food.
There are lots of places to eat at Spitalfields, the usual chains, Wagamamas, Leon, The Real Greek, and some quite tempting pop ups and food trucks, we opted for The Grocer. We sat outside, big squishy sofas and large tables mean its comfortable, and roomy enough so your fellow diners are safe from possible toddler food missiles that maybe launched. We opted for burgers which were good, thumbs down for the chips though they 100% came from the freezer. They don’t have a kids menu, so all they could offer was kids sized portions of two dishes on the menu not great but we could live with it, the portions are huge. NJ had fish and chips, it was good. The chips didn’t come from a bag and were more like little roast potatoes. We had a long slow lunch, NJ was pretty occupied people watching, and loudly recounting the animals that he had just seen at the farm over and over again, whilst politely reminding us that there was no horse, the donkey thing clearly didn’t wash. #ParentFail.
We stopped at Crosstown doughnuts truck, and OMG it is EVERYTHING. Sourdough doughnuts… just so good! I got the Sea salt Caramel Banana, SJ got the Glazed Cinnamon Scroll (he chose badly in my opinion) We didn’t eat them there and then (absolutely not my choice, i would have smashed it right there on the street but husband insisted we saved them for later.)
We left Spitalfields behind and made our way down Hanbury street en route to Brick Lane. I always feel a fondness for this road and the surrounding streets, my Grandmother lived on Hanbury Street, and my Grandfather in Davis Mansions which is now New Goulston Street, i also went to Art School just down the road. For some reason it feels like home. I enjoy the feeling of watching NJ treading the same but very different streets that his Great Grandfather and Grandmother did.
You will need to fight your way through tourists and young hipsters with very skinny jeans and over waxed moustaches. If you or your minis don’t like crowds or busy places then Brick Lane at the weekend on a sunny day isn’t the place for you. If you aren’t confident navigating a buggy through crowds don’t come.. Brick Lane Market is chaotic, its busy, and its loud..we like that and feel quite at home in this environment but i can see where others wouldn’t. NJ shouting “Hulk Smash” at passing pedestrians is drowned out by the music and crowds…. small mercies!
To me Brick lane is a treasure trove, second-hand / vintage clothes shops, lots of Bric a brac to rifle through, kitsch collectables, art Deco furniture, old books and magazines, loads of street art to take in. I love that every time we go, the walls have changed and there is something new to see. So if you are that way inclined, keep your eyes peeled, have a look in the surrounding streets too, Hanbury Street, Grimsby street, and Bacon street have their fair share of street art. There are food stalls..so much food! Vegan gluten-free cake and baked stuff without sugar if you are into that stuff and a juice stall which is always rammed, plus everything else you could ever possibly want to eat in a 200m stretch.
We had a wander round the Sunday Upmarket in the Old Truman Brewery, with more than 140 creative traders, selling everything from Art to food, furniture to fashion, keep your minis on a leash its busy, we tried on some vintage snap backs and pondered over some art for our new home but NJ had asked for a cake for the 3000th time so we cut our losses and made our way to Beigel bake at the bottom of Brick Lane.
Now Beigel bake is an institution, if you know you know, I’ve stood outside Beigel Bake at 4am many a time queuing for a Salt Beef beigel. I’m sure many nights out East ended that way for lots of people. Its open 24hrs, it sells bread 24hrs a day… what is not to love! Its £3.70 for a Salt Beef Beigel, super cheap London eats! Don’t go expecting to eat in, your beigels will get thrown at you in brown paper bags, and you need to make a quick exit to not hold up the queue, or you WILL get shouted at. It is an eat it on the street, or take it home kind of place. As a side note, the mustard is hella HOT, like clear out your sinuses type stuff… i did warn you!
Any trip to Brick Lane means salt beef beigels for dinner, so i queue and buy dinner, and half a dozen beigels for my freezer, (because any self-respecting Jewish mum has beigels in the freezer) and exit to SJ negotiating with an exhausted looking NJ who is purple through tears insisting he needs a cake or a chocolate and its the only thing that will stop the world from ending.
We decide to make our way back to the car, and made our way down Bethnal Green Road, no crowds so NJ ran down most of the road pretending to be a Goat, turn onto Squirries street ( we made a tactical Kinder egg stop) and at the end of that road we find ourselves back at Hackney City Farm where we started.
My mother’s day, was exactly what i wanted it to be, a day wandering aimlessly around one of my favourite bits of London with no real plan just seeing where we end up. It did mean a late car nap for NJ and the clocks going forward, resulting in a hyperactive toddler running around at 745pm in nothing but a superman cape…..
If you are more the planning type and don’t like to wing it like us, I have included info on where we visited, there are also a few other things in the area that we didn’t quite make but will definitely go back and explore.
If you are on Instagram you can follow us in pictures @mrssarajardine #jardinelife or #jardinesontour
I forgot to say these are all my own opinions, i am in no way being paid to endorse the places i have mentioned in this blog post, if it is an ad or an endorsement i will always make sure you are aware
Brick Lane Sunday Market Opening Times: Sundays 10am-5pm
How To Get There
Address: Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL
Aldgate East (8 mins)
Liverpool Street (10 mins)
Shoreditch High Street (5 mins)
West End 8, 55 & 242
East London 8, 26, 48, 55, 57,242, 388
South London 35, 47, 48, 78, 149
The City 26, 55, 242, 243, 388
The Sunday Upmarket
The Old Truman Brewery 91 Brick Lane London E1 6QL
Every Sunday 10am -5pm
Hackney City Farm
Hackney City Farm
1a Goldsmiths Row
London E2 8QA
Lots of bicycle loops outside the front entrance, in the farmyard and near the school office, which is accessed via the park entrance. Please lock appropriately.
There is also Santander bike parking directly outside the farm on Goldsmiths Row and you could cycle from many locations and park outside the farm.
By Tube: Bethnal Green Station on the Central Line is the nearest tube station. Walk north along Cambridge Heath road for about 500 metres then turn left onto Hackney Road and walk for 500 metres.
Hoxton Station on the East London Line is the nearest station. Walk south along Cremer Street until it meets Hackney Road. Turn left and walk for about 500 metres.
By Train: Cambridge Heath Station on the National Express East Anglia line from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town. Walk along Hackney Road for about 500 metres.
55 route from Oxford Circus to Leyton – get off at Warner Place
48 route from London Bridge to Walthamstow Station – get off at Warner Place
26 route from Hackney Wick to Waterloo – get off at Warner Place
394 route from Homerton to Angel Islington – get off at Haggerston Park and walk through the park.