Sunday, 6 November 2011

East End Girl

Is it just me, or are the weekends not long enough? By the time I’ve caught up on my beauty sleep, done my cleaning, stuck in a load of laundry and phoned my mum, half of it has disappeared – and I haven’t even left the flat. Which brings about that usual quandary – what to do with those precious 24 hours that I have left before beginning another rotation of nine til five drudgery. Do I catch a bit of culture? Hit the shops? Or kick back with some mates over a beer and a curry?
This Saturday I managed to squeeze all three options into one afternoon – in one very small area of London: Brick Lane. It was perfect. I met my friends at 2pm outside the Whitechapel Gallery and, after a wander around Wilhelm Sasnal’s first solo UK exhibition and a coffee and cake, headed down into Bangla Town to catch street artist Sick Boy’s show. We managed to get hopelessly lost looking for it and only located it after we had given up and popped into another interesting looking gallery. It turned out that the one we were looking for was next door. In our defence, there was no sign outside and the windows were blacked out but, despite this hint of pretence, the show was actually quite good – think Dali for the 21st Century.
The good thing about getting lost is that we ended up walking through a fair few markets and by a range of boutiques. Spotting a rather pretty vintage cake stand in one second hand shop, I bit my lip and walked away, vowing to come back with a fellow shopaholic rather than a group of culture vultures.
Our quest complete, one of our party lead us to the Carpenter’s Arms, a proper pub that served real ales behind a traditional East End bar. I opted for a Truman’s Pale ale – very tasty and not too heavy for my usual lager-loving palate.
One pint in and several laughs later, we were getting hungry. There was no real question what we were going to have. We were accosted by the owner of the first restaurant we walked past. He tried to entice us in with a free beer. The singular male in our group attempted to haggle us up to a pint each, and managed to negotiate a pint for himself – and a glass of wine for us ladies. Despite our feminist tendencies, we were too amused (and hungry) to argue, and sat down to a very tasty curry.
Next on the list were fireworks. After some negotiation we pottered down the road to Weaver’s Park, where Tower Hamlets Council put on a free firework display for its residents to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. Cans of Grolsch in hand, we danced to the cheesy countdown music and oohed and aaahed our way through the show.
By the time I sat on the bus with a box of Indian sweets and headed home, I was tired, but content. London had ticked all my boxes in one easy afternoon.
Or rather, Brick Lane had. I think I shall be back soon.

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