I’m excited to announce that my sister Christina, a fellow Londoner who’s 5 years younger than me (and a lot hip-er!) and works in the music industry, is going to be getting involved in the blog! Starting with a series of London neighbourhood guides, which we’re going to be publishing here, in the ‘London Life’ section of the blog (previously the Culture section… which never really got off the ground… clearly I’m just not that cultured!). Our first neighbourhood guide sees us take to the streets of De Beauvoir, where pretty canal side walks and cute cafes can be found alongside wide, tree-lined residential roads and quirky furniture stores. We hope you enjoy our guide to the area and do let us know of any neighbourhoods in particular you think we should explore, we’d love to hear your suggestions!
London Neighbourhood Guide: De Beauvoir
De Beauvoir. Not a quaint corner of Paris but an intriguing district in the London Borough of Hackney. You may not have stumbled across this area if you’re not a North Londoner but it’s certainly worth taking a trip to wonder through. Sat proudly between Islington and Dalston it’s easy to forget how central you are, the roads are wide and there’s a welcome quiet and calm on the day we visit.Getting off the train at Haggerston it’s an easy 5 minute walk before you’re strolling along the Regents Canal. The usual city mix of new build, council and period properties are the backdrop to the canal boats dotted along the water, everything working in harmony to result in a cool, assured atmosphere. Regardless of how new some of the bricks being laid down may be, you feel you’re in an old part of London that’s seen it all and can weather any storm – or indeed trend.
If you’re in need of sustenance you’ve got a number of options along the canal itself but we opted to head into the heart of De Beauvoir and popped into the wonderful 52A Coffee House on Southgate Road. Vintage decor is the order of the day here, even the bathroom is papered in headlines from the 50s/60s. Art hangs on the wall which, should the mood take you, you could purchase along with your coffee and cake. Serving breakfast, lunch, snacks, you’re pretty much covered on all fronts and there’s a warm feeling to the place as if you’re hanging at a friends home (all be it a very well stocked up friend). We had coffee accompanied with avocado on toast, and I’ll be returning for what looked like a very moorish Portuguese tart.
Just nearby is 2 and 4 Vintage Furniture, which coincidentally also serves coffee and cakes – it seems you’re never more than 5 mins away from a decent coffee in De Beauvoir. If you’re of the retro persuasion this is the store for you; walking through the door it feels very Mad Men, think Don Draper’s Manhattan pad and you’ve got the gist. It’s a teak obsessives paradise, but even if that particular wood doesn’t float your boat (!), there’s undoubtedly other stylish pieces to be found that could work well for other decors too. I was particularly fond of the stoneware vases and bowls – I can’t get enough of the texture of stoneware (just me)?! With a wide range of price points it’s a pretty cool place to spend some time and pick up something unique for the home.
Being the daughters of restauranteurs food is always at the forefront of our thoughts, and so it was that we found ourselves salivating over more delicious produce at two exceptional delis in the area. Both situated on Southgate road (quickly becoming the road of dreams), the first store Field to Fork, sells great quality fruit, veg, meat and has a beautiful display of flowers outside its doors which makes you want to pick them up and pretend your Belle from Beauty and the Beast prancing through a French village singing ‘Little Town’ – again, perhaps just me.
Across the road, the second equally wonderful deli, is the aptly named De Beauvoir Deli. A bit of a neighbourhood stalwart the range and quality of the food and beverages on offer is pretty special. Much of the produce is homemade and whether it’s a slice of cake, sausage roll, loaf of bread or just a big old wedge of cheese, having sampled most of these said items I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be happy with what you’ve picked up from this gem of a place.
If you’re in need of getting back to nature – and not spending all your disposable income on Brie – this district has something to offer in that department too. First off the award winning N1 Garden Centre on Englefield Road, with a huge selection of outdoor/indoor plants and succulents, it’s got something for everyone and you’ll likely come across ‘species’ you’ve never even seen before – I actually had to touch one to make sure it was real. They also stock a fantastic range of pots and hangers for your plants which will see them housed in suitably stylish surround. It’s a place I’ve lost many an hour in and would highly recommend.
If you’re requiring additional greenery and zen then a short stroll down the road will find you in pretty De Beauvoir Square. Holding a green flag award the square has a rose garden (not currently in bloom), seating area and should children be in tow, a small playground for them to run about it too. Flanked primarily by Jacobean inspired architecture, as well as a post war housing estate, it’s a characterful Square with a family feel. Small neighbourhood events often take place here but note, no dogs or bbqs allowed so leave Rover and your sausage baps at home!As our visit was a few hours on a sunny but chilly wintery day (rather than an evening explore), in amongst all the delis and the cafes and the strolling down enviable streets, we didn’t quite have time to explore the pub culture. I know, big mistake! But a couple that are highly recommended and worth a visit if you’re in the area are The Scolt Head on Clifford Road and the De Beauvoir Arms on Southgate Road. Similarly, if it’s a restaurant you’re after then Sweet Thursday and The Barge House are recommended. If you have any spots you’d recommend in De Beauvoir, do let us know – we’d love to hear about them and add them to our guide.
Bianca & Christina xoxo