As West Londoners we don’t go east very often and not much further than Brick Lane, so on Sunday we decide to go for a ride on the Docklands Light Railway. We haven’t got any kind of plan – randomly we get out at Canary Wharf, a concrete business citadel with a huge plasma advertising screen and a ribbon strip of Reuter’s news streaming across another wall. Hmmm, back on the train rapidly after a strong coffee in Carluccio’s.
Past more quays and a great station called Mudchute, all announced in an authentic London accent, unlike South-West trains who have an Audrey Hepburn-ish voice. Let’s try Island Gardens? It sounded rather magical. Well, we didn’t stay long there either, although there were some areas of wild flowers and magnificent rosehips to photograph.
“Silvertown”, Tim says, “I think that’s interesting, I read about it in a book once”. Back to Westferry and onto the Woolwich line, we glide along high up like on a big dipper, through vast industrial landscapes – creeks, factories, wasteland, blocks of flats and a massive amount of construction and cranes. “Just like Shanghai”, I declare, never having been there. Past the Tate and Lyle sugar refinery with a giant Golden Syrup tin on the side, gleaming out of the greyness, we both remember childhoods spooning the delicious yellow goo into puddings, now far too sinful.
Travelling on the train seems more fun than getting off, especially as it is now pouring with rain. We turn around at Woolwich and get the train back to Shadwell, to change onto the Overland, but the station is closed. We discover a Bangladeshi food wonderland under the railway arches - huge bunches of herbs, unfamiliar fruit and veg in boxes outside, inside: big bags of fish and prawns and what they call “Cow Meat”. My God they must eat well around here. We bought some okra from a charming man whose English wasn’t good enough to answer my interrogations about the produce, except by saying “vegetable” or “fruit”.
Fruit and veg
Thanks to fantastic app. Citymapper we found a bus to take us to Shoreditch and to the Owl and the Pussycat in Redchurch Street for lunch – for Tim a large sausage with kimchi and me poached eggs on avocado, delicious. Really friendly staff and a lively, colourful young crowd who were getting drinks and then going out to the garden at the back.
The Owl and the Pussycat
The Owl and the Pussycat
Restored, we pop into Dragana Perisic’s shop to say hello and then jostle our way down Brick Lane, I am determined to find the Spitalfield’s City Farm. I met two people who work there last Saturday, at a picnic on Hackney Marshes, an amazing open space area of London I’d never been to before. The sun has come out and we find the farm easily, I can’t believe I never knew it was there, just off Brick Lane. Free entry, you can wander about amongst goats, sheep, geese, small animals, compost heaps, vegetable growing, herbs, wheel-barrows, sheds, greenhouses. The donkeys were cantering around the field having a play fight. I spot Roseanna my new friend who invites me to a chilli festival they are having in September. It’s an amazing community centre, a hive of activity (and bees), that runs all kinds of classes and courses
Herbs growing out of wellie's
Watering produceDonkey in the City
Back on a 26 bus to Waterloo, thanks again Citymapper, and home to Barnes. We feel we’ve broadened our horizons – a day trip to other worlds, as different as getting on a plane and flying to another country. Tim’s high spot of the day is the Bangladeshi food shops, mine is the farm.
Homeward bound over Waterloo Bridge