IMG_1684Situated along the Lea canal, in a former print factory, lives the Crate Brewery and Pizzeria. A stone’s throw away from Hackney Wick overground station, hidden unassumingly in what can only be described as a car park, this bar and brewery is a gem well worth finding if you’re in the mood for a chilled lunch with a friend or an evening drink. With a charming interior that has an open, rustic and homely atmosphere, there is a feeling of authenticity to this well-placed bar.

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The Crate inhabits the ground floor of the White building – an art project consisting of studios and event spaces. Its in-house brewery creates a fine selection of lagers and ales, the taste of which is hard to be beaten within the Wick area. The most endearing feature of the place is its strong sense of realness; its a stylish (yet not overstated) canal side bar where you can go to sit and chat, listen to good music and enjoy a few drinks over some great pizza. No song and dance, just honesty and good beer.

IMG_1676Having obtained the large building opposite, aptly named The Brewshed, Crate now houses a ten-barrel brewery and an ample event space. The 5 barrel set in Crate itself is reserved for their ‘weird and wonderful concoctions’, most of which are only available on site.

I can imagine that in the summertime, Crate really comes into its own. With a strong culture surrounding it and a location on the canal that could brighten anyone’s lunch hour, this place has real, genuine character. If you’re in the area and find yourself looking for a reasonably priced place to grab lunch then head down to Crate Brewery, I hear it livens up a treat after dark too.

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Overall Rating: 4/5

Individuality Rating: 4/5

Price: ££

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The East End is home to a large number of individual and stylish cafes, but there is one with a particularly notable theme – bicycles. ‘Look Mum No Hands!’, situated just along from the Old Street Roundabout is a great place for a coffee, drink or cake at any point during the day. Existing as a self proclaimed Café-Bar-Workshop, this establishment is a much loved spot for writers and cyclists alike. Open from 7.30am to 10pm on weekdays, the place seems to evolve throughout the day from a quick-stop coffee shop in the morning to a buzzing yet seemingly relaxing bar in the evening.

IMG_1515One intriguing feature about Look Mum No Hands is that it houses its own bicycle workshop. Cyclists are welcome to come and have their bike issues resolved by the friendly staff, for a reasonable price. There is also much to be said for the food, a range of homemade delights including some interesting vegetarian options are on offer here. Along with its numerous hanging bicycles, intriguing artwork and well-chosen soundtrack, this place has a really unique feel. Looking out onto Old Street as I happily write this, I can understand why this place is real favourite of those in the area.

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Whilst sounding like quite an odd concept, the place has its very own atmosphere that feels not at all peculiar but extremely charming. Whether you want to pop in for a cake and a coffee or sit down and get some work done, ‘Look Mum No Hands!’ offers the perfect inner-city atmosphere. Come and take a look for yourself if you haven’t already, it’s definitely a place that you have to visit to understand, and if you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Plus, the bikes really grow on you after a while.

 

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Overall Rating: 4/5

Individuality Rating: 5/5

Price: ££

A few hundred yards North of a bustling Shoreditch, next to Hoxton station, lives the Geffrye Museum – The Museum of the Home. Seemingly caught in time, this wonderful building and courtyard previously stood as an Elderly person’s care home and now, with the aid of the London City Council, this great building exists as a museum of past living spaces. Its many rooms are home to a number of re-creations of the family living room dating back from as early as the year 1600 to the present day. What may seem at first to be just an assembly of antique furniture is in-fact an extremely interesting window into the past.

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Whilst sauntering through these chronologically arranged living spaces, each with their individual IMG_1455charm, there is a distinct feeling of time moving on consistently. Changes in how people live that seem to go unnoticed soon become apparent once explored in retrospect. Each space holds its own snapshot of the past – a family piano from the 1800s or an old family portrait, every detail tells us something about the times that may have been had in these spaces many years ago. This may seem irrelevant considering the times we live in today, but on the contrary, it’s a valuable and worthwhile pass-time to take a look at how the ways that we live and entertain ourselves have evolved over the years.

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IMG_1483The Geffrye museum is a good piece of history that’s worth a relaxing visit on a pleasant winter afternoon. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly interesting. Even if for no other reason, go and take a walk through the courtyard and enjoy the wintery vibes (plus it’s free so you’ve got nothing to lose). If you’re open to an interesting experience and have a few hours to kill, take a walk down to Hoxton and enjoy some snapshots of the past at The Geffrye Museum.

 

 

Overall Rating: 4/5

Individuality Rating: 3/5

Price: Free

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The word ‘authenticity’ is thrown around a great deal, but the Bridge Coffee House and Bar in Shoreditch really brings new meaning to the word. Having walked past the place countless times, I thought I would venture in and see what this intriguing establishment was really like. When first stepping into the place, it feels like a cross between a bar and an eccentric hoarder’s lifetime collection of memorabilia. With such great charm and welcoming staff, this gem is quite a remarkable one. The place is like a museum in itself; I’ve never seen so many charmingly retro objects in one place before and it certainly makes for a great atmosphere

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As I walked upstairs with my cappuccino, I was welcomed by an array of antique furniture and plenty of space. I sat and enjoyed the relaxed and interesting atmosphere whilst thinking to myself that this is probably the coolest place I’ve ever sat down and enjoyed a coffee. I could imagine sitting there for hours and just enjoying the décor. Established four years ago, The Bridge has since gained a reputation as a great place for both a lunchtime coffee and an evening drink. Having experienced the former earlier today; I can most certainly vouch for this.

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It’s the characterful places like this that really make Shoreditch what it is for me, there is a creative presence to be met with through almost every door along those streets. The Bridge Coffee House and Bar is a fine example of somebody’s vision being brought to life in all its genuine charm. Next time you’re in the area, take a wander down the Kingsland Road to The Bridge and have a Coffee and a chat upstairs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This is a true Gem of the East End.

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Overall Rating: 4/5

Individuality Rating: 5/5

Price: ££

Every Sunday, in the heart of Brick Lane, there emerges the infamous Brick Lane Market. This gem is of course far from hidden, attracting hundreds of people each week. Nonetheless, I feel that the IMG_1440spectacular diversity and plentiful atmosphere of the place deserves a loving mention on here. Walking to Brick Lane on a Sunday afternoon and wandering through this plethora of multi-cultural food, artworks, clothes and people is always a fulfilling experience for those of us who love a bit of fresh diversity on the weekends. Stepping into the main hall is like emerging into a field of old commerce; each stall representing its own unique dish or product with a smiling face to go with it. With a great deal of history reaching behind it, having originally been a 17th Century, Jewish influenced Farmer’s Market, there’s a really authentic feel to the space that now houses countless stalls of all things weird, interesting and wonderful.

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IMG_1427Known to many as a haven for new creative work and a spot to get an exquisite Sunday meal, the mix of people that the market attracts is always a nice sight to witness. There is a real charm about the bustling maze of stalls, an infinitely cross-cultural feel at the same time as being unmistakably London. Brick Lane is known for it’s creativity and diversity and the Market captures this essence perfectly. Taking in all of the sounds, smells and faces on a Sunday afternoon can be a revitalising and in many ways calming experience after a memorable Saturday night.

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It’s an area that’s never short of its hustle and bustle, especially on this day of the week. The Market can always be relied upon to bring you back to earth by appreciating some of the finer things like good Chinese dumplings or a truly original collection of paintings. Whatever you’re into, if you haven’t already headed down here on a Sunday then make sure you do soon; it’s an aspect of London that everyone should enjoy. Just a quick tip though – try to go for a different nation’s dish each week, there’s too many delectable meals here to be tied down to just one, even if, like me, you adore you’re authentic Mexican cuisine. Whenever you next have a free Sunday, go and take a look for yourself.

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Overall Rating: 5/5

Individuality Rating: 5/5

Price: £

Situated pleasantly within Mile End Park is The Mile End Art Pavilion. Wonderfully placed within a relaxing and tranquil setting by the canal, this is the perfect place for a reflective exhibition viewing. As I cycled along the canal on Monday I noticed the building and ventured in for a closer look. Much to my satisfaction I was surprised by an exhibition of varying photographs, some culturally rich and others visually intriguing. After speaking to the organisers and some of the photographers, I learned that these pictures were the work of the London Independent Photography Central Group. A conglomerate of seventeen photographers have contributed to the exhibition by working along the theme of Slowing Down, an interesting concept spurring thoughts of contrast within our fast-paced inner city life.

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A view of The Mile End Art Pavilion from its adjoining bridge.

The expression of the theme Slowing Down is explored through differing and individual methods from IMG_1390each photographer. Varying techniques and styles represent the concept with some literally slowing down the process of making pictures and others focusing on aspects of life that encapsulate the idea. Some photographers approach this through still lives and nature photographs and others cityscapes and portraits. Whichever method used, there is a tremendous amount of content and meaning to be experienced from each photographer’s work, a real mood of the city is captured by focusing on the people and mindsets that arise in this fruitful and mysterious environment.

Other than housing interesting and thought provoking exhibitions from The LIP Central Group, IMG_1391The Mile End Art Pavilion is a source for local East End artists and creatives. Lest I forget, the architecture is brilliantly spatial and angular, the space breathes openness as it looks out upon its man made lake and crafted greenery. A brilliant place for reflection and a glorious gem to stumble upon along the Mile End stretch of canal. If you’re in the area and feel like a wonderful delve into some wonderful photography, catch the LIP Central Group exhibition Slowing Down, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

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London Independent Photography Central Group – Slowing Down is exhibited until December 1st at The Mile End Art Pavilion, Clinton Road, off Grove Road, London E3 4QY.

http://www.londonphotography.org.uk/satellites/about/

http://www.artpavilion.info/

Overall Rating: 4/5

Individuality Rating: 4/5

Price: Free

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Situated for many years in the heart of Whitechapel is The Blind Beggar, a pub infamous for its historical relevance in the East End. Now standing as a friendly and happening public house, there is a feeling that the place has seen a few sagas unfold since its birth in 1894. Over time the establishment has played host to a whole number of cultural figureheads, including that of the great social reformer William Booth and indeed more recently, the notorious criminal twins, the Krays.

IMG_1397With such a rich history under its belt, it’s no surprise that The Blind Beggar remains a focal point for tourists, regulars and Friday night drinkers alike. The homely interior, equipped with its fireplace and historically poignant images makes for a very cozy winter drink. When we step into the garden however, we encounter an impressively modern yet equally charming setup. Features such as their flame heaters, shaped hedges and a pond housing fish larger than your arm all add to the atmosphere, making this a busy place to be of a Saturday night.

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The pints aren’t cheap however as they’re no stranger to good business. With this overlooked,the charm, history and approachable staff make this a good place to be if you’ve got some money in the pocket. Surviving this long throughout the rapid cultural changes in the area mean that this pub has long earned its place and reputation on Whitechapel high street. If you feel like going for a nice evening drink by the fire, go and enjoy a cup of mulled wine at the Blind Beggar.

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http://theblindbeggar.com/

Overall Rating – 4/5

Individuality rating – 3/5

Price – ££

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