It seems to have become a bit of a habit for me to try and do something I've never done before on my birthday every year. This year I went to Bethnal Green!
I've been wanting to visit knit/craft/gifty shop Prick Your Finger for ages, but it's not the easiest place to get to from south east London, particularly since the Greenwich foot tunnel has been under refurbishment, making it awkward to get my bike across the river.
So I decided to combine it with a few other bits of birthday exploration of the East End, and I was lucky to get a gloriously sunny day on which to wander the streets.
In preparation I put on my favourite boots.
First stop was Hoxton and the Geffrye Museum, to see the Christmas Past exhibition for which they dress all the period rooms in decorations of the era, with information about the customs of the time.
Although these little cottages look lovely, I did find the shabbiness of Bethnal Green Road rather more comforting and familiar. It reminded me strongly of Deptford with its market and inviting-looking shops selling all kinds of fascinating goods - and not just for the depressing reason that it also features far too many betting shops and pawn shops.
Prick your finger proved to be just as quirky and fascinating as I had been led to believe by my most regular commenter Colleen whom it seems from her blog is a frequent visitor. I was also quite surprised by the amount of yarn that they stock, and the range of colours, to such an extent that it took me some time to pick out my own little birthday treat - two balls of 4-ply Wensleydale Sheepshop yarn in a lovely pastel blue. Definitely the place to return to when I have a specific project in mind.
The Larder just across the road proved to be an excellent lunch stop, serving the kind of food that I would imagine convincing even the most hardened carnivore that vegetarian food can be really special. Polenta chips, smokey beans (oh so deliciously smokey!) and a fried duck egg. Like breakfast but not like breakfast - perfect!
Next came a visit to Two Temple Place - a new museum which has opened in a former private house near Temple - to see the William Morris exhibition that is currently on show there. Morris' glorious tapestries and wallpaper designs that were on display inside were almost overshadowed by the interior itself, which features a stunningly over-the-top wooden staircase, lots of panelling and a huge stained glass window. Worth a look - and free entry as it's owned and run by the charitable institute the Bulldog Trust.
I rounded off the day out by meeting my lovely friends Gareth and Martin in town for a cream tea at the National Gallery restaurant, then it was home to dinner with the Curse at the Rivington in Greenwich. Quite the perfect day!