Meet Henry and Jess. (Nope, as much as they look like brother and sister, they’re not related!) Together, they write the creative London Living blog which celebrates its one year anniversary on December 1. Here they tell us about their favourite blog posts over the past year, what this new E20 East Village neighbourhood is all about and some of their recommendations for food and drink away from London’s tourist traps.
LLO: Are you both originally from London? If not, where are you from, how long have you been here and what brought you here?
H&J: Jess is from ‘the borders of London’; a classy enclave you may otherwise know as the setting for TOWIE. She has, however, thankfully gradually migrated along the Central Line to become a slightly less orange resident of Dalston, where she has now lived for the last five years. Henry originally grew up on army bases around the UK and Germany, and has consequently since suffered a crisis of identity. He also now resides in North-East London (not on an army base). We both work in marketing as bloggers and social media gurus, out of our office in Soho.
LLO: How do you define the new E20 neighbourhood, the East Village? Tell us a bit about it and how it’s changed and developed since the Olympics. What’s the plan for 2013?
H&J: It’s been absolutely incredible being a part of East Village‘s transformation from the Olympic Village to the capital’s first legacy neighbourhood. East Village is more than just a large-scale development in one of London’s most exciting areas; it’s set to be a unique model for living, a self-contained village complete with its own first-rate school, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and, of course, the best sporting facilities in the UK. Made up of 2,818 homes, each one with access to either a courtyard, a balcony or acres of surrounding greenery, the homes are split into affordable homes, social housing, and private rental and sale options, so it really will be a neighbourhood for every type of Londoner. People will be able to move in from Spring 2013, so we are about to enter one of our most exciting stages yet.
LLO: Which part of London is home for you and what’s the best part about living in your postcode?
H&J: For both of us, it has to be East. It’s a wonderfully exciting place to live, not least because from week to week, there’s always something you never noticed before, popping up on your doorstep. Dalston and London Fields are our favourite playgrounds; from watching the fabulously eccentric hipsters run their way down Broadway Market and downing raucous mid-week cocktails at Platform to languorous brunches at Duke’s Brew and Que and bracing winter walks in Victoria Park. We feel rosy inside just thinking about it!
LLO: December 1 is the one year anniversary of the London Living blog. Which has been your favourite post to write in this time and why?
H&J: That really is a very good question! And a hard one at that. We’ve both been lucky enough to interview some pretty amazing Londoners (including yourself, obviously!) on London Living. Getting the chance to fire your own questions at people like Matt from Londonist, Sonya Barber from Time Out, London Puddles maestro Gavin Hammond, The Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life, the UK’s only professional LEGO builder, Duncan Titchmarsh and being able to speak to local London businesses like The Amazings and Newham Bookshop has been so very cool! It was awesome to be able to talk to some of the world’s greatest athletes who were staying at the Village during the Olympic Games too, like Kerri-Anne Payne and US sprinter Tony McQuay. If we had to pick a favourite post it might just have to be an article we wrote recently documenting London’s top taxidermy spots, simply because it was so interesting (and rather peculiar) to write!
LLO: What have you learned about London through blogging that you wouldn’t have known otherwise?
H&J: It’s almost hard to comprehend just how much stuff there is to see and do in London. Writing a London blog has allowed us to see below the tip of the iceberg and realise just what London has to offer. If you read through London Living, there are some really amazing tips and secret London treasures from the people that know this city best. We should probably add that doesn’t mean we have done it all (like Ben Wallace) and we’ve now got a hell of lot of stuff to tick off the to-do list that we have slowly acquired. Blogging has also shown us that London is a fantastic city for many reasons and people appreciate it in so many varying ways; every corner has its own identity and personality. Writing the blog has also reminded us that many Londoners suffer from the same irksome pet hates and truisms found within this city – which is always good to know!
LLO: I have one night in London and I’m looking for somewhere to eat and drink away from the tourist trail. What are your recommendations?
H&J: Firstly, we’d take you to Off Broadway for a Dirty One Martini or two to warm you up. Then we’d walk down the Kingsland Road and go to the simple but fantastic Viet Hoa for a fortifying meal of summer rolls followed by crispy noodles with peanut sauce and chilled Vietnamese beer. Then it’d be on to Callooh Callay in Shoreditch, a bar inspired by Alice in Wonderland, for a gramophone filled with cocktails (are you seeing a theme here?). If you weren’t blind drunk by this point, we’d take you through the Smeg fridge in back of The Breakfast Club in Spitalfields and down to the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town for a night cap, before popping you in a cab back home for safe keeping.
LLO: Tell us about a Londoner you know who’s doing something worth talking about.
H&J: It would have to be Gavin Hammond. This guy is a creative genius. You may have already seen his widely acclaimed London Puddles series, it’s well worth checking out if you haven’t done so already. Gavin also writes music and draws cartoons. He’s got everything on his blog – there’s so much going on you could spend hours reading it! Gavin’s always got a few projects up his sleeve too, so watch this space…
LLO: You run a weekly Twinterview series on the blog. Which Londoner would you most like to Twinterview and why?
H&J: We’d love to Twinterview Polly Morgan, a London based artist who specialises in taxidermy (we know, taxidermy again!). Some of her works have been bought by people like Kate Moss and it would be really interesting to pick her brains (sorry) on all the amazing things she has created. It would be an experience to chat to Spitalfields residents Gilbert and George too. We’ve spotted them a few times out at Mangal II in Dalston (they dine there every night of the week) and they’d definitely produce a memorable Twinterview (that’s if they even have Twitter though).
LLO: What’s your ideal way to spend a free Saturday in London? Is there anywhere you’d like to explore or visit in London that you haven’t gotten to yet?
H&J: Every Saturday should start at Borough Market; the perfect one includes the rest of the South Bank. Starting your day at Borough Market simply can’t be bettered; you can fill your boots with all the freebie nibbles, or spend hours deciding what you actually want. There are too many options for the human mind to contemplate for lunch; spend a few hours chopping and changing and annoying your companion before settling down (probably for the wrong one – always the way…). Then it’s time to walk it off with a brisk stroll along to the Tate Modern for a peek at the latest installation in the Turbine Hall, before continuing your riverside journey towards Waterloo Bridge. Then time for quick coffee in the BFI café, one of the best spots overlooking the river, before a browse in the book market under the bridge, stocking up on lovely old books to read on the lazy Sunday after our long day. As dusk falls, it’s time to climb up the stairs and walk to the middle of Waterloo Bridge and there you have it – the best view in all of London, whichever way you look.
Thanks Henry and Jess!
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