It’s hard to imagine it’s been 6 years since I first took off to Whitechapel to do that much needed research for my first novel, ‘Beginnings’ but this summer, we had a rare opportunity to spend the entire August Bank Holiday weekend in London!
My husband, Peter, has been vying for an opportunity to play in the London Open Backgammon Tournament, a perfect opportunity for me to explore. So I’ll be posting this experience in four separate parts, each covering the diversity of areas I found myself in. It was largely thanks to a friend, we got to stay in a lovely flat in Bounds Green and not only that, she was a mine of information with regards some of the best haunts in this vast city. The touristy side is not for me – especially given the book I am currently writing, which is Book 4 of my decade spanning thriller series ‘Same Face Different Place.’
Book 4 ‘Retribution’ actually kicks off in Shoreditch, East London and here is a brief outline: 18 year old Elijah Jansen is as keen as ever to pursue a degree in design, but preferably at Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham. His girlfriend, Caitlin, has different ideas; hoping she can convince him to join her in London where she wants to study fashion. Her quest drags them to the London College of Fashion, in Curtain Road Shoreditch. All goes to plan until a road sign looms, halting him in his tracks – places associated with the horrors of the 7os, (where the dark mystery of ‘Beginnings’ was set.) But that’s not all. It is only when they think they are safely hidden in a nearby pub, a stranger wafts through the door like a bad smell. It is no-one he recognises until he passes on a sinister warning which can only mean one thing; the criminal underworld of London are onto him and they have his card marked… It is only a little later, Elijah realises who he is up against. His name is Alan Levy, reputed to be London’s most feared ‘King Pin.’
About the Area
Once I ventured into the heart, Shoreditch was a far cry from the towering cityscape of office blocks and cranes depicted on Googlemaps. The area was a lot more ‘arty’ than I imagined with vast, multi-coloured murals painted on buildings and walls, a sprinkling of art galleries and as the streets expanded, I saw a few more cafés and pubs. From Great Eastern Road, I crossed Shoreditch High Street before it ultimately branched into Commercial Street. I was looking for a pub for this story; stumbling across a traditional alehouse ‘The Golden Heart.’ Except further down and a little more tucked away, I discovered the ‘The 10 Bells.’ Yes, this was definitely the one! A little off the beaten track, dark windows and a perfect setting for my scene.
A Lighter Side
Thanks to the guidance of our friend, the area was home to Spitalfield Market which she recommended was worth a visit. ‘The area has changed quite a bit and is increasingly hip with lots of students. Spitalfields Market is a skip away. A real foodies paradise…’
Yes, it’s an amazing place, steeped in history and with a fabulous array of stalls. I enjoyed a sausage bap in the ‘Market Tavern’ for breakfast, mulled over the beautiful creative gifts on display and even managed a little shopping. The variety of foods is staggering – just about every type of food and nationality you can think of.
I tried to find Columbia Market with no success but after losing myself in ‘Liverpool Street’ somehow ended up back at Curtain Road (where I started), before returning for a much needed cup of goji berry juice – delightfully refreshing and healthy. Last of all, I headed down Brick Lane – a cultural explosion! It is an extremely bustling place, young and vibrant, lined with trendy shops and eateries, (not to mention some of the wall art which is breathtaking.)
I was on my way down to Whitechapel and Wapping but that is another story…