The Value Of Loving Your Leisure Time

HOBBIES, LEARNING NEW SKILLS AND BUILDING YOUR OWN TERRARIUM!

When was the last time that you tried something new? Or even just indulged for a while in something you truly love that doesn't involve work or day to day life chores and admin?! Hobbies, trying out new pastimes and learning new skills can be a beautiful thing and an incredibly important asset for our stressful, busy lives. They provide a way to pass the time that can greatly improve our health and wellbeing. Yet they so often fall by the wayside as we grow up, fill our lives with all sorts of other necessities and forget to make some time for a leisurely activity that we truly love.

Terrarium Building Class

Recently I was invited to spend an evening immersing myself in trying something different via a new online resource called Obby.co.uk* and so I took myself along to the beautiful florist Grace & Thorn in Hackney to learn how to build my own terrarium! Now I'm a real fan of all things green, especially succulents and cacti. Readers of this blog will probably be aware of my previous efforts to encourage people to bring green into their workspace as it can greatly help to create a healthier environment in which to work day to day. So I was more than keen to take the time to learn how to build and to better look after the greenery in my space from the experts.

Want to embrace the benefits of bringing green into your workspace? Learn more here: 3 Quick Ways To Create A Healthier Workspace

Terrarium Building Class

During this two-hour evening class we learnt a little about the history of the terrarium before going on to build our own using all of the tools provided; including an array of beautiful succulent plants, moss and other welcoming green goodness! Cue the passing around of copious amounts of gravel and soil over a glass or two of prosecco, whilst chatting to new friends and pimping our plants. We swiftly created a little haven of peace and prettiness in the beautiful glass bowls that we got to take home containing our creations at the end of the evening. We were also guided in the care of the plants and took some time to look around the florist itself which was a very cool space in which to spend an evening. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

Whilst I don't anticipate building many terrariums on a regular basis, (I'll quite possibly have trouble keeping this one alive as despite my love for what should be very low maintenance plants they still seem determined to whither on me!) this was nonetheless a really fun way to spend an evening in London and a great way to meet new people and experience something very different. Obby is a great new site that enables Londoners to discover classes just like this that they can go along to and try out for themselves. Whether it leads to a new longer term hobby or just provides a welcome break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, Obby offers a platform from which to get started. From terrariums to cooking, to welding and spoon making, there really is something to suit all tastes and interests and their easy online booking system makes finding and planning your newest passion all the more simple and exciting. Plus they are quickly adding new classes and interests on a regular basis. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

If, like me, you have a love for all things green and fancy building your own terrarium - or if you just have the urge to try something new and completely different, whatever your taste and interest, then Obby have kindly offered What Now readers the chance to retrieve 10% off of any class booked on their website. Just head on over to Obby.co.uk, take your pick of the exciting classes that are on offer and enter the code WHATNOW10 when completing your booking.

If you do decide to take a class then I'd love to know how you get on and hear all about your experience so make sure you share it with me via Twitter or by leaving me a comment below. 

I'd also love to know how you spend your leisure time? What are your favourite hobbies and pastimes or have you just started something new and exciting that you never thought you'd so enjoy making the time for in your life? I love to hear your stories so be sure to let me know!

Louise

 

*I was very kindly invited to try this class out on a complimentary basis. However, if I hadn't of enjoyed the experience I wouldn't be sharing it here with you on the blog today.


Street Art, Beer And Pizza In And Around Hackney

With the weekend ahead of us I feel today is a good time for a little Friday inspiration! There's so much to explore around the area of Hackney and I've only really just begun. I've long been a fan of the brilliant Hackney Empire Theatre having been both a viewer and an auditionee there many a time back in my performing days! But I'd never really had the time or chance to venture any further than that, and the area has changed so much in recent years that there's a whole lot of exciting stuff to take a look at. Today I have a few haphazard but nonetheless fun photos to share from a recent quick visit, a dog-walk, a hasty street art snapping session and a whole lot of unbelievably tasty locally brewed beer (and wine) and pizza. So why not come take a stroll with me ...

Hackney Wick Street Art

We began our walk at Hackney Central station after hopping onto the London overground on a drizzly January day with a soggy cocker spaniel and a willing to take a wander somewhere different to our usual North London stomping ground. The thing with having a dog is that you cover a lot of ground every day and the usual walking spots can get a little boring pretty quickly! Luckily our beloved hound loves a trip on the train so she's more than happy to head off on new adventures, even if it does mean some very awkward 'our dog's staring at that strangers' sandwich' moments for us! From the station, we made our way onto Mare Street, past the beautifully restored and aforementioned Hackney Empire and headed into nearby London Fields where the pup happily ran riot for a few minutes finding furry friends at each turn.

Hackney Wick Street Art

Strolling through and out of London Fields we eventually found ourselves on Broadway Market a beautiful shopping street full of independent shops and suppliers, coffee shops and restaurants and somewhere that we have to head back to on a day when we are less rained on, muddy and with said soggy dog in tow. I really loved this street and can't wait to head back and see more. Here I hastily snapped my first street art picture of the day. Not really having planned to turn this trip into a blog post some of my snaps are a little skewiff and taken at speed before the spaniel pulled me hastily away and further down the road! But any regular readers will know I have a thing for street art so I like to capture it when I can to read about it when I get home. The art photographed above can be found just off of Broadway Market and is by French Street Artist, Zabou. It's entitled 'Summertime (yay!)' and with the colourful raindrops, brolly and less than impressed faces, this seems to me to be an accurate portrayal of the infamous British summertime!

Hackney Wick Street Art

From Broadway Market, we took ourselves along the Regents Canal and then up into beautiful Victoria Park. My only previous experience of this park was a visit many years ago for the first ever Lovebox Festival that's held there every summer. But to walk around, even on a gloomy, rainy day, and see more of it was a treat. Canals, ponds, pavilions and pagodas make this huge open space in London well worth exploring, a welcome break from the city bustle - and a great place to walk your dog.

Walking along the canal side also offers more street art gazing opportunity, like this flamingo by Frankie Strand whose work I often also see on my many walks around Camden. At this point all of the walking was leading to some serious hunger pangs so we crossed out of the park and made our way towards Hackney Wick where a little place I'd heard of called Crate Brewery was beckoning with the lure of beer (well white wine for me) and freshly made pizza.

Hackney Wick Crate Brewery

Set within the ground floor of The White Building a centre for art, technology and sustainability in East London, this heavenly little place greeted all three of us inside with their welcome one and all policy which meant a nice warm spot indoors not out in the rain, a happy spaniel in tow and some time to sample some of their food and beverage offerings, and sample we did. 

Hackney Wick Crate Brewery

Cue delicious pizza made to order with unique and fresh flavours. We went for the middle eastern lamb and the courgette, feta and red onion and yep, they were so, so good!! A warm and inviting treat away from the grey day outside. Seriously tasty ingredients, a base that was soft and crispy in all the right places and flavours to totally die for! This was an unexpected treat of a find and somewhere I'd highly recommend that you visit if you're ever in that part of town.

Hackney Wick Crate Brewery Pizza
Crate Pizza

After suitably satisfying our taste buds and warming ourselves up at Crate we decided it was time to make our way home and headed off in the direction of Hackney Wick station, passing some more amazing works of art as we went. I'll leave you with a final few snaps, a small sample of all that there is to see. If you enjoy street art like me then they'll provide you with a little colourful gazing and wonderment I'm sure but I'd recommend checking them out for yourself if you can. Head to the area and take a look around someday!

Hackney Wick Street Art
Hackney Wick Street Art
Hackney Wick Street Art

I need to go back to Hackney and look around more, in fact, I'm heading that way for a terrarium building class next week, more on that to come! Despite the gloomy day, this was a walk well worth having with so much to see and enjoy. I always feel that if you're in need of a break, need new inspiration or just need to get yourself moving more, then heading out for a walk (dog or no dog) and exploring somewhere new is one of the cheapest and simplest things that you can do - and can ultimately end up being really, very rewarding. 

Have a great weekend everyone.

Louise

 


A Neon Wonderland In God's Own Junkyard

THIS WEEKEND EXPLORE A HIDDEN CORNER OF EAST LONDON WHERE NEON NEVER DIES!

If the January blues and dark winter nights are already starting to get you down, then take a moment to explore with me a heavenly little enclave of bright neon lights, vintage signs and old movie props guaranteed to brighten up your day. Tucked away on an industrial estate in Walthamstow, East London you will find God's Own Junkyard, a wonder in neon that shines brightly and beautifully into the night.

Gods Own Junkyard

I'd been wanting to visit this place for so long, ever since friends who live nearby had told of its glorious, glistening existence and also after reading about it on a favourite fellow bloggers site Emma Inks. On a few occasions when visiting the area, I was disappointed to find it closed, so when I managed to finally get that first, fluorescent glimpse just before Christmas, it was every bit the colourful, crazy, neon wonderland I'd expected. Queue gasps of delight and a wildly snapping camera as I tried in vain to capture each and every bit of its shiny, quirky goodness.

Gods Own Junkyard
Gods Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard houses the work of the late and legendary neon artist Chris Bracey. Often known as 'The Master of Glow' Chris started out in the 70's and over the years, until his passing in 2014, created literally hundreds of neon signs and artwork for many Soho bars and shops, as well as commissions for an impressive list of Hollywood blockbusters - including the likes of Bond, Batman and Blade Runner. God's Own Junkyard is a home for much of this iconic work that is now looked after by his family.

Gods Own Junkyard

This really is a great place to visit, and if you're in this part of London then somewhere I'd highly recommend. Take your time to wander around and marvel at the bright, funny and provocative collection of neon lights and signs - some old, some new, that grace every crevice of each and every corner of the industrial block in which it's situated. With colourful content literally spilling out all over, you'll probably find yourself standing and staring in awe for a good hour, taking everything in, trying to decide which sign you'd personally like and if you could feasibly take one home and find somewhere suitable to put it! 

Gods Own Junkyard
Gods Own Junkyard
Gods Own Junkyard

If you wish to sit back and rest a while as you gaze at the walls around you, then the Rolling Scones cafe will see you right with its selection of freshly baked cakes and food, or if you prefer grab an alcoholic tipple from the bar. A fun place to sit and chat as your eyes take in the wonder of your surroundings.  

Gods Own Junkyard
Gods Own Junkyard
Gods Own Junkyard
Gods Own Junkyard

God's Own Junkyard is situated on the Ravenswood Industrial Estate in Walthamstow and is open on Friday and Saturday from 11am to 9pm and on Sunday from 11am until 6pm. Once you've taken your time to have a look around then I'd definitely recommend popping into the nearby Wildcard Brewery for a nice local beer to finish off your evening. Or if gin is more your thing then maybe check out Mother's Ruin the new Gin Palace that has recently opened in the area. I haven't had the chance to visit yet - but it sure sounds fun to me!

Louise

 


Spending A Saturday Exploring Dalston

Dalston in East London had been on my 'to visit' list for a very long time but was somewhere I just hadn't found the time to get to and take a look around. Since moving back into London earlier this year and being based this time in the north instead of the south, a whole new selection of now far easier to reach destinations has opened up. Exploring this unchartered (for me at least) territory has been one of the best things about being back in dear old London town. I love exploring new places whether that be through travelling or just finding out what's nearby my own doorstep. So here's a few photos from a Saturday afternoon in Dalston and some points worth checking out if you ever find yourself in this part of town and looking for something to do.

Hackney Peace Carnival Street Mural

If you're visiting Dalston then one of the first things you're likely to come across is the beautiful Hackney Peace Carnival Mural (pictured above) that sits proudly on the side of an empty building opposite Dalston Junction station. This quite breathtaking mural is staggering in its size and you can't fail to take a moment to admire it. It was designed by muralist Ray Walker in 1982 as part of the Greater London Council's year of peace initiative. Ray Walker sadly died of a heart attack aged 39 and before painting of the mural had really begun. His wife and colleague stepped in to complete it and it was unveiled in 1985. The mural depicts the Hackney Peace Carnival procession as locals gather together at the height of the cold war, united for peace and against nuclear war. It really is a vibrant and colourful picture to stand and gaze at in awe even despite the somewhat hefty subject matter.

Dalston East Curve Garden

Hunting out the mural will mean that you conveniently find yourself at the entrance to the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and this is definitely a spot to grab a glass of something chilled, pull up a slightly battered but very comfortable garden sofa and relax with friends for a good while. A peaceful and incredibly relaxed spot that you can happily spend hours in just sitting back and chatting away as the evening draws in. 

The garden is maintained by volunteers, is full of beautiful wildlife friendly trees and shrubs and provides a place for local residents to grow their own food. You can buy food and drink at the bar or take in your own as long as that doesn't include alcohol which must be purchased on site. Old chairs and sofas grace this long and winding leafy space, with a play area at the end for the little ones. Decked out with fairy lights, bunting and cosy wood burners, the laid back vibe pretty much ensures that you'll never want to leave. This is well worth a stop if you find yourself in the area, and give yourself time to sit back and enjoy a little bit of peace and serenity amongst the urban sprawl just outside. Heavenly!

Dalston East Curve Garden
Dalston East Curve Garden
Dalston East Curve Garden
Dalston East Curve Garden

Next up on the to do list and still along the garden theme but in a slightly different sense is nearby Dalston Roof Park. Located on Ashwin Street not far from the famed Arcola Theatre and providing a unique space to eat, drink and dance overlooking the landscape below. I loved this space. It's relaxed, uninhibited, unpretentious and so much fun. Another place that I could have happily spent the entire evening just sipping my mojito and watching the sun go down, then dancing my socks off on the spongy astroturf without much of a care in the world! Normal entry is £3 but make sure you check the calendar for special events that you may need to purchase additional tickets for, or for private events that may inhibit your entry on that occasion.

If you can't get into the roof garden then also well worth a stop is Cafe OTO situated below where you can catch new and original live music everyday of the week as well as chow down on one of their delicious home baked cakes alongside your glass of wine - well why not!!

Dalston Roof Park
Dalston Roof Park
Dalston Roof Park
Dalston Roof Park

Finally I'm going to mention Dalston Yard and Street Feast London even though the evening that we went was actually the very last evening at this particular location. Despite that I still wanted to include a few photos of what was a great hour or two of rum cocktails and mouthwatering street food. Plus even though Dalston Yard is sadly no longer with us, Street Feast London do still have three other locations that you can visit so these pics might just tickle your tastebuds and give you a little inkling of what to expect. AMAZING food, great cocktails and a chatty, friendly vibe that isn't to be missed. I certainly still need to eat my way around the rest of the saliva inducing food stalls on offer so will be making my way to another of their locations quick smart to get my fill. Let the next few photos fill you in on the sort of thing to expect and also provide a fond farewell to the fabulous Dalston Yard.

Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast
Dalston Yard Street Feast

So therein lies a short and swift but ultimately very satisfying trip to discover a few of the delights of Dalston. There is no doubt far much more to uncover and see and I don't think it'll be long before I'm back doing just that. If you're planning a visit to the area yourself I hope this post offers a starting point. If you're from or are a huge fan of the area and have some further tips and top spots to visit then please leave those in the comments below. All ideas, as always, are very, very welcome.

Have a great weekend everyone and hope to see you here again very soon.

Louise