Category Archives: London Fields

Walking in a London Wonderland

London Wonderland 1

Hackney Marshes, looking less marshy, more snowy and beautiful

We had our biannual snow day two weeks ago, but unfortunately, my son’s school was still open. This presents a slight problem when all you want to do is go play in the snow and your living, breathing excuse to do so — your small child —  has gone off to school for the day. How dare he.

So instead of building snowmen and pegging each other with well-packed balls of ice, the missus and I took a brisk and beautiful walk along the Hackney Marshes, a vast swathe of green space local to our part of East London, providing playing fields and picnic spaces in fair weather, and bright, crisp splendor in the winter as you can see here.

Regents Canal running through the marshes.

Regents Canal running through the marshes.

What I began to notice as I savo(u)red the beautifully self-contained sound of snow compacting underfoot was the underestimated panoramic joy afforded us so close to the center of one of the largest and busiest capital cities in the world. And how it genuinely feels ever so slightly different to stroll though open spaces and trails that neighbo(u)r the grey, sludgy, dull roar of busily trafficked thoroughfares like the industrial Orient Way and Leabridge Road, a stretch that slices right from Hackney to Whipps Cross, just short of Essex. So, with the following photos, I have tried to capture something of the uniqueness of nature within earshot of the chorus of rumbling engines and angry horns scurrying about the roads on their daily grind. I hear it’s snowing again in many parts of America. I hope this captures the brighter side of it. Enjoy.

London Wonderland Winter snow

‘Ello ‘ello. Even the Snowmen in East London demonstrate fine cockney wit.

#Hackney Marshes

“The powerlines have floaters so the airplanes won’t get snagged.”

Tower Blocks on the Horizon.

Tower Blocks on the Horizon.

#HackneyMarshes #snow

Old England, looking a bit like what I envision New England looks like in my unschooled imagination. Puts me in mind of Emerson, Thoreau, Frost etc…

Snowy Path in Hackney Marshes

Beauty dotted with flecks of industrialization on the distant horizon.

Snowy Path Hackney Marshes

“Take nature altogether since time began…” Frost, “Our Hold on the Planet”

Snowy Path under Leabridge Road

“Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Snowy Hackney Park

Signposts worn hard by the snow…

London Wonderland

And alas, back amid the sludge and drudge of civilization. Still, a park in the middle of all this or even just below it near the canal, can be an ephemeral bit of magic. Enjoy it while it lasts…

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Divine Revelation Under The Arches: Coffee Is My Cup Of Tea

Last Monday was Shavuot, the Jewish festival celebrating the bestowal of the Torah on God’s chosen people. I work at a Jewish school and the school was closed for the day. As a gentile and not one of God’s chosen, I had the day free to enjoy the rare appearance of the London sun shining down and bestowing its blessed warmth on all God’s creatures. 
My wife and I, footloose and child-free for the day, aimed to lunch at The Happy Kitchen, which we’d heard so much about but had always found difficult to locate. As it happened, last Monday was no different for us. We searched and searched the arches around that little paved tributary of London Fields letting out all the sun worshippers on these rare, bright days and found The Happy Kitchen bakery, which by all accounts is still doing lovely gluten-free cookies and cakes and ended up lunching at E5 Bakehouse, sitting amidst the buzzing atmosphere full of bright young self-made stylistas of Hackney, enjoying an unusually delectable chilled pear and pea soup.
However, the real epiphany came after lunch when we decided to head to somewhere else for iced coffees. A couple doors down, where The Happy Kitchen used to be, we found Coffee is My Cup of Tea, where we were promptly served deeply luxurious iced coffees that cooled us as we sat outside and sipped in the afternoon sun. The inside was bright, airy and full of clean bright whites with welcoming, railway arch industrial chic about. Sadly, I cannot speak for the menu, except to say it was full of organic classic looking Spanish-leaning savouries and richly tempting cakes and muffins that I am looking forward to trying on my next visit. But if you are ever in need of some divinely inspired iced coffees on a warm day in Hackney, Coffee is My Cup of Tea does not disappoint. 

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