Whenever the sun peeps through the clouds overhead, people begin to spill out onto London Fields: with their bikes, their beer, their barbecues, heading for the lido or taking a moment to sit and rest after a night spent partying.
That was me once: staking out my tiny plot of grass, watching as the park filled with a teeming mass of life. I remember hula hooping in the sunset, leaning back on a lion to catch some rays; picking out a picnic in the Saturday market, laughing off a hangover with whoever happened to be passing by that day.
It’s hard to imagine any spot in Devon getting quite so crowded. When we first moved out of London I found its emptiness so exhilarating, and the thought of my friends jostling for their space in the sunshine made me feel slightly sad.
But there’s no doubting that Hackney is exhilarating too. I love the new world I’ve discovered out of London, but being back there reminds me of a whole other pace of life, one with a richness that it’s hard to capture out in the sticks.
H is for Hackney.
Joining in with The Alphabet Photography Project over at PODcast.
Before we moved to Devon, I’d been in London for sixteen years. I lived, worked and studied all over the city, but it was when I moved to Hackney that I knew I’d found my London: the place in that sprawling metropolis that felt like home.
We still have a flat in London Fields – one of my best friends lives there now, but it’s been ages since we’ve made it over to that part of town. So as part of our adventures last weekend we thought we’d go back to our old manor to take a stroll.
We wandered through the park, down Broadway Market towards the canal. As an area it’s constantly changing – it has been for as long as I’ve known it – but its spirit remains the same. A vibrant mix of people and cultures, quirky shops and friendly bars, street art and ice cream vans and bicycles and community cricket.
I know there are plenty of people who turn their noses up at its gentrification or self-conscious variety of cool, but there’s something about Hackney that has got under my skin. It was great to be back, to introduce Arthur to the world we were a part of before he came along. It was almost enough to make me want to move back to London. Almost.