The Time Out Guide to the new London Overground(Exclusive)
The extension of the Overground this weekend will open up fresh areas of London that previously didn't exist. Entire new social playgrounds will be unlocked, brimming with retail, cocktail and clubbing possibilities, and all because there are now orange trains from somewhere central every quarter of an hour or so. Here then are ten places we'd never heard of before, but which are now our favourite special recommendations on the fast train to Party Central. London Overground, we salute you!
For Varsity-themed entertainment, this vibrant London suburb has much to commend itself. College types love to mingle with the smart set in the hub zone by the crossroads, perhaps getting their bicycle fixed at Figarude or picking up vintage bargains at Frockney Rebel. As a bonus Hackney Road is widely known for its handbag wholesalers, which we think you're going to love, offering a multiplicity of top deals on unique, hand-crafted, capacious accessories. Or simply stop off in the shadow of the famous Mare Street gasholders, arabica bean latte in hand, and soak in the edgy vibe.
Just three stops out of Liverpool Street, this newly-created neighbourhood boasts a truly pastoral attitude to life. Hackney's London Fields are a tree-lined Elysian expanse spread out beneath the railway viaduct, featuring a wild flower meadow and a conveniently located set of public lavatories. Create a splash by stripping off at the Lido, or drop into the railway arches for nutritious sourdough, seeded rye or rugbrøt from the E5 Bakehouse. If you're feeling adventurous, a short stroll takes you to Broadway Market, a canalside shopping parade whose bohemian schtick and streetwares are, we think, about to become very popular.
Rectory Road's semi-rural platforms deliver you deep into unspoilt suburbia. There's space in the elongated ticket hall for a organic kiosk, or dry-cleaning pop-up, whose imminent appearance surely can't be too far away. Residents buy their exotic fruit and comestibles from the excellently-named Local Express, a veritable bazaar of global goods, while weekend entertainment is provided by the United Reformed Church on the corner of Evering Road, whose Vision4Life sessions are ever-popular with young and old alike. Coffee shops are in short supply hereabouts, however, so best buy your flat white at Liverpool Street and bring it with you.
In its commanding location on the High Road, this must-visit location truly delivers. If it's gold you're after, family-owned Erbiller Jewellers will buy your stash in any condition, while nextdoor at Shoe Zone the '£3 off' summer deal on sandals is going down a storm. Those in the know, however, are to be found picking over the exclusive vegetables outside the Bruce Grove Supermarket & Meat Market, or getting makeover tips from the adjacent Cosmetics outlet while soft reggae gently plays. Turn up on the right day and you can look round Bruce Castle Museum in the park at the end of the road, although it's not actually a castle, and they don't appear to have a cafe, so maybe don't bother.
Even the name reeks of wealth and luxury. Lovers of bling should make tracks to the banks of the North Circular, if not to rifle through the trinkets round the back of Lidl, then at least to take a selfie of themselves in front of the station sign. But we recommend a trip across the railings to Pymmes Park, for what else, but a jug of the finest fruit-topped alcoholic beverage. The bar at the boarded-up Pymmes Park Inn will we're sure be reopening soon, for what must be a well-deserved makeover, and if not then at least it'll make some lovely two-bed apartments you can move into later.
Bush Hill Park
One stop before somewhere called Enfield, this overlooked suburban enclave is preparing for a rush of visitors. Staff at the Sainsbury's Local by the station await the discerning shopper, while the turreted Bush Hill Park Hotel has several pumps of branded lagers ready and waiting. One offer that's sure to be popular is at the B-Chic Hair & Beauty Boutique, where a cut and finish with Alberto is only £10 (terms and conditions apply). But to fully grasp the area's beating green heart head north to the open space of Bush Hill Park, whose lengthy horse chestnut avenue is the equal of any to be seen elsewhere in London.
Almost on the edge of the capital, if such a place exists, this former country lane leads west from the renowned Freezywater Shopping Centre. Here the Squirrel House Chinese takeaway features a menu full of surprises, the Blessed Launderette offers a devoted while-you-wait ironing service, and the Cyprus Corner Meze Bar rightly proclaims 'Welcome to Tasty'. If foodies can ever tear themselves away, the delights of the Turkey Brook linear park await. This minor streamlet tracks the roadside for almost quarter of a mile to the Gateway Open Space, where a sculpture of an amphibian-topped egg can be freely photographed. Weary visitors can then retreat to the First Choice Off Licence for some much needed refreshment.
If it's cosmopolitan chic you crave, then a sojourn in E17's Wood Street might be enough to recharge your retail batteries. Untroubled by high street chains, its independent stores offer a wider range of lifestyle options for the wardrobe, mantlepiece or shed. Agombar's quality shoes rarely disappoint, while few craft icing quite so stylishly as Wood Street Market's bespoke cake artist. Don't miss the amazing Mural of Fictional History at the top of the street, while for sheer architectural panache, the bleak windswept concrete blocks snaking between the Co-op and the Post Office are hard to beat.
Lurking unnoticed on the Chingford borders, Highams Park exists within a dapper bubble of gentility that few have ever pierced. The first evidence of culture is Not Quite The End of the Line, a pop-up shop on the southbound platform which sells penny sweets and handmade vintage greetings cards in aid of the Highams Park Society. Other bijou outlets clustered around the iconic level crossing include The Village Florist, everybody's favourite V&A Books and Gifts, and the TOWIE-friendly Fakin' It tanning salon. Only your own recreational inertia is preventing you from making tracks to this unique and on-trend urban village.
Apparently this station lurks somewhere between Romford and Upminster, but we at Time Out have never reported on anything east of Barking and we have no intention of starting now. A friend's gran told us there's a chippie called Oh My Cod! at the top of the ramp, and a neighbouring shop that sells Fireplaces and Stoves, but they sound ghastly and we certainly won't be visiting any time soon. If you have the misfortune to live out here in this godforsaken wasteland, our apologies, and we hope you get the disposable income together to move somewhere more achingly hip as soon as possible.
Next week, we retreat to Camden, Hoxton, Peckham and Clapham, as per usual.