Travel

Top 10 Places to Visit in Mile End

Are you new to Queen Mary and exploring the area? Maybe you are a Queen Mary veteran who simply wants to leave the house without having to endure the tube. Whatever your age, interests (or the weather), Mile End has an abundance of activities to suit everyone. To help you enjoy those long summer days, here is a helpful guide to the top 10 places to visit without having to leave Mile End.

10. Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is London’s most urban Woodland, and one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian cemeteries. Whilst the Cemetery is now a designated park and hasn’t been used for burials since 1966, the unique history and solace of the park makes it the perfect summer escape. From the stories of mass graves burying up to 30 deceased bodies during the 1850’s to being bombed 5 times during The Blitz, the cemetery is now a nature reserve and educational facility. From my experiences, the Cemetery Park is the perfect place to escape to with a good book on a sunny afternoon, although it is open from dawn until dusk. Looking for something to fill in the long summer days? The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park are always searching for volunteers to join their team and help tend to the park.

9. The Half Moon (AKA ‘Spoons’)

Everybody knows that Wetherspoons is a student staple: cheap food, cheap drinks and a relaxing atmosphere. Mile End is home to the beloved Half Moon Wetherspoon franchise, “the local” for Queen Mary students. The pub and restaurant is the former home of the Half Moon Theatre and a Methodist Chapel; the interesting history and architecture of the Half Moon therefore makes it a must-see for anybody visiting Mile End. If you’re looking for summer drinks, ‘pub grub’ or in need of a substantial meal, The Half Moon is the place to go. And fun fact: The Half Moon was dedicated to showcasing modern socialist plays during its time as a theatre.

8. Mile End Skate Park

Looking to take up a new skill? Mile End Skate Park is perfect for learning the art of skateboarding, with several ledges, flat areas and manual pads to help assist beginners with getting their balance on board. Come rain or shine, Mile End Skate Park has indoor and outdoor ramps and many unique lines on which you can spend all day practicing. You could even pass the time at the skate park celebrity spotting, as Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks filmed their music video for “Heart Skips a Beat” in Mile End Skate Park back in 2011 when the park first opened.

7. The Coffee Room

With all the leisure facilities and sporting opportunities available in Mile End, this list would not be complete without a hip café to refuel and relax. My personal favourite is the Coffee Room, situated on Grove Road. Run by a team of friendly Italians, the coffee and food is perfezionare and the café has an authentic Italian ambiance. Whilst the coffee may be slightly more expensive than coffeehouse chains, it is worth paying those extra pennies; they even serve a bespoke Italian hot chocolate. As a lunch option, The Coffee Room offers a healthy selection of foods which can be enjoyed in an intimate terrace or cosy indoor seating area. Ultimately, I would recommend The Coffee Room for its delicious selection of cakes, cookies and brownies (and its baked goods in general, of which I have shamelessly tried them all).

6. Mile End Leisure Centre

Also known as Mile End Stadium, this venue has multi-sports facilities available to use at reasonable rates. The leisure centre currently holds 10 sports courses, ranging from street dancing and trampolining to a specialised Tom Daley Diving Academy. Alternatively, the leisure centre has a variety of facilities such as a fully-equipped gym, sports hall, studio and swimming pools which you can use on a pay as you go basis or for a subscription fee. If you’re looking to get fit with friends, Mile End leisure centre also has numerous pitches and tracks which can be hired out for group sessions.

5. Mile End Park

Running alongside Queen Mary is Mile End Park; a unique park divided into different zones, each with their own personality. A popular hangout for Queen Mary students during the summer months is the Art Pavilion, which hosts community events including farmer’s markets and summer fetes. My personal favourite part of the park is the Ecology Park, which is home to many species of wildlife that live in the picturesque lake. In addition to wildlife spotting in the Ecology Park, the Ecology Pavilion is also a popular venue for weddings and christenings. And of course, no park is complete without a play area… the one situated in Mile End Park is very impressive and boasts state-of-the-art children’s playground facilities (which I unfortunately haven’t tried). As the park is an impressive 32 hectares in size, there is also an audio walking tour to help you discover all the opportunities Mile End Park has to offer.

4. The Greedy Cow

For award-winning burgers and steaks, Mile End’s Greedy Cow is a must-visit restaurant. Every visit to the Greedy Cow has been an exciting fine-dining experience, with exotic meats such as Wagyu, kangaroo, bison and crocodile recently appearing on the menu. Matching the unusual steak cuts is the quirky interior of The Greedy Cow, which has a rustic theme but a cosy atmosphere. The Greedy Cow has also won several TimeOut ‘Love London’ awards for its quality service and quality meat. Great food and good value really does lie at the heart of The Greedy Cow, and with a special Student Lunch Special offering a burger, side and unlimited soft drinks for £7.50, missing it would be a real miSTEAK.

3. Mile End Climbing Wall

If you’re really looking to challenge yourself over the summer months, look no further than Mile End Climbing Wall which has some of the highest walls without roped protection in the country. The 16,000sq ft climbing surface has something to offer for everyone, as the centre runs sessions for complete novices to seasoned professionals. Famous for having one of the friendliest and most relaxed atmospheres of all the climbing walls in the capital, Mile End’s climbing wall has the perfect environment and tailored sessions to help you learn; including taster sessions, level 1 bouldering and weekend or evening beginners’ classes. Looking for a more social occasion? Why not book a party or join the climbing club at Mile End climbing wall?

2. Roman Road Market

As a self-confessed shopaholic on a student loan, Roman Road Market is my paradise. Whilst the shops on Roman Road are an eclectic mix of modern and traditional, the market is primarily a clothes market which sells branded favourites, such as Topshop and French Connection, but at a fraction of the price. Roman Road Market has been running for over 150 years and is situated on the oldest known trade route in Britain; its long-established history therefore attracts some of the best market sellers around. The market runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; although I’d advise anybody to get there early to grab the best bargains.

1.Victoria Park

Number one place to visit in Mile End is, of course, the famous Victoria Park; London’s oldest and most beautiful parkland. The 218-acre park is also known as the People’s Park, as it was created by the Queen Victoria to provide a recreational space for the working classes of East London during the Victorian era. Today the recreational function of the park continues all year round, with Victoria park offering numerous leisure facilities, including a boating lake, lawn bowling area and a large bandstand. During the summer months, the park really comes alive and hosts some of the UK’s biggest music festivals, such as Lovebox and Field day. The park actually hosts an extensive summer events programme, and all the events are free! Moreover, for the best brunch in London, look no further than the Pavilion café in Victoria Park. Situated in the Western area of the park, the Pavilion Café sells a delicious range of brunch classics (well, in my experiences, a delicious range of avocado-related dishes which have satisfied my avocado obsession). Whilst an afternoon chilling in the park is a quintessential perfect summer afternoon, in Victoria Park you can spend your day in London’s best park without even having to leave the comfort of Mile End!

Hello From The Other Side!

How’s everybody doing? I hope everybody’s having a great time relaxing, or preparing in advance for many things ahead! Summer’s always the best time for everybody – personally for me, this is the first time I am experiencing summer that lasts for around 3 months and this explained fully why summer is said to be the best 104 days (according to Phineas and Ferb…anyone?). Why? Because this is not the case from where I come from, that is, Indonesia!

 

Coming from the other side of the world means that coming home after 9 months of living in London has made me miss home more than ever. Coming back to Indonesia allowed me to meet my family and friends, and also savour all of our dishes and street food and all the small things that I have always been craving for in London. Of course, happiness is meant to be shared and hence I will share my joy with all of you through some pictures to allow you to see through my eyes.

 

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Food as expected – and a bowl of chili!           Nighttime culinary market called Cibadak.

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Nature! Indonesia attracts tourists mostly for its natural scenes!

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A bowl of meatballs in soup would cost about 1.5 pounds and two or three bowls are enough to make you full! Definitely, the picture on the right is a restaurant that serves everyone’s (ehem) favourite instant noodle – Indomie – that is topped with Indonesian traditional spices and sauces!

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Being at home means being able to play with the cats again!

 

Even though summer is such a great time for all of us, let us not forget a few things! For many of you applying to Queen Mary, don’t forget to sort out your accommodation, tuition fees, or even your visas if you are coming from outside the UK. Get prepared for university life! It may be hard to settle and fit in in the beginning, but eventually ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and you will meet the right group of people for you, and QMUL is even glad to help you out with their buddy scheme which allows you to feel more than welcome on campus. Most importantly, going to Queen Mary means that you are about to be surrounded by a diverse environment, and you will be able to see the beauty coming from the differences every one of us owns.

 

With that, have a fantastic summer and have a good time, and see you soon!

A Summer Guide to East London

Summer is officially here! Exams are over, Bank Holiday weekends are upon us and the sun is shining (for once). Yet as East London is currently scorching in 28° heat, we become completely unsure of what to do with ourselves in the nice weather, and guilt-ridden by the realisation that Netflixing in bed is probably not acceptable. Alas, grab your sunglasses and ice-cream, here’s a helpful guide on how to make the most of the sunshine in East London without blowing your budget.

Check out one of the beautiful parks of East London. In the summer months, the once unfamiliar green spaces proximate to campus become densely populated with sunbathers, picnickers and ice-cream trucks. My personal favourite is Victoria Park, which is approximately a 10-minute walk from the Mile End campus and the oldest public park in the country. Situated around a stunning lake, Victoria park is a popular destination for sailors, sunbathers and brunchers (the brunch menu at the Pavillion café is delicious). The park also hosts world famous festivals including Field Day and Lovebox, with performances from the likes of Chase and Status and Frank Ocean.victoria-park

 

Running adjacent to Mile End campus is Regent’s Canal, a tranquil waterway leading into the river Thames. Ambling alongside the Canal with friends is a great way to spend an afternoon without spending a penny. I would recommend walking North along the canal, passing through the likes of Victoria Park, Battle Basin at Kings Cross and finally into trendy Camden Market for some well-earned street food. Feeling brave? Why not try running or cycling alongside Regents Canal for an ultimate workout.

Hiring so-called Boris Bikes is one of the best ways to see the East End when the sun is shining. For just £2 for 24 hours, Santander Cycles could take you anywhere. Furthermore, hiring Boris Bikes could not be more convenient as there are several docking stations surrounding the Mile End campus and a new cycle highway, separating cyclists from motorists to ensure that you remain safe. Whilst cycling is fast, fun and affordable, the process of hiring a Santander Cycling is somewhat confusing on your first time. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find a Santander Docking Station
  2. Go to the docking station terminal with your debit/credit card, touch the screen to begin and follow the steps on screen
  3. Take your five-digit release code to your chosen bike and type it into the docking point’s keypad
  4. Once the green light appears, pull the bike out (and take note of the time)
  5. Adjust the seat and cycle away!
  6. Return your bike by pushing it firmly into an empty docking point and wait for the green light (to avoid incurring a charge, do this within 30 minutes)

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East London is also famous for its trendy pubs and bars, which become a hive of activity when the sun comes out. Want to stay close to Mile End? The beer gardens at the Morgan Arms and the Lord Tredegar are perfect for catching those rays and refreshments, and not to mention the beloved ‘Spoons’ of Mile End Road. Fancy more of an adventure? Shoreditch Boxpark and the many rooftop bars of Shoreditch are great places to hang out and host numerous cultural and musical events during the summer months to keep you entertained.

Finally, whilst summer is all about relaxing and recharging, for some studying continues. Yet studying and sunshine are not necessarily incompatible, but present a great opportunity to make the most of Queen Mary’s picturesque outside study areas. The green at the heart of the Student Village is transformed into an outside study area, with an abundance of garden furniture and motivational banners to get you through the last push. Venturing further into the Student Village, the many picnic benches alongside Regents Canal and the Canalside study room are great places to study when the sun is shining.

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Sunsets, Science and Sunflowers

Exploring London is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable elements of living in this city.  From scouting out hidden treasures; obscure coffee shops and underground bars; to being able to weave through the crowds of tourists and relax with a book on parliament square with Big Ben in view, the quote “When a man is tired of London; he is tired of life” has never felt more true.  Here are 3 of my best-loved outings at the moment:

 

Columbia Road Flower Market
Between the hours of 8:00 and 15:00 every Sunday, Columbia Road transforms into a vibrant floral paradise.  After popping to The Hackney Coffee Company for my early Sunday morning caffeine fix, a stroll through the bustling flower market is the ideal way to begin my day.  The incredible aroma of the plants intertwined with hint of coffee coming from one of the many independent shops along the street, as well as the hundreds of people socialising whilst boasting their large bunches of sunflowers and attempting to balance their over-sized orchids on under-sized coffee tables makes Columbia Road Flower Market my happiest place in the city.

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The Science Museum
London boasts an impressive range of Museums and Galleries, however the most significant one for me is, of course, the Science Museum.  I could spend hours meandering through the Space section, gawking at the rockets suspended from the ceiling.  Every so often the museum opens its doors after hours and hosts a range of unique workshops and interactive experiences, as well as a silent disco.  An evening spent talking to astronaut impersonators and dancing to Beyoncé below a suspended United States Scout was undoubtedly one of the most memorable evenings I’ve ever had.

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Primrose Hill
After 15 minutes attempting to navigate the streets encompassing Regents Park in what felt like arctic conditions following a rather temperamental phone which occasionally told me to “make a legal U-turn”, I finally noticed a rather large hill poking out from behind some houses.   Honestly, the difficult journey and slight dizziness just made the view from the top even more satisfying.  Roughly 65 metres tall, Primrose Hill offers panoramic views of the entire city and on a wintery evening at sunset, it is one of the most spectacular things I have ever laid eyes on.  At the top very top is a stone with a William Blake inscription, reading “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”

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I have an ever-growing list of favourite places; and an ever-growing list of places I want to visit.  I am so thrilled that I have another 2 and a half years in this city; although I highly doubt that this is an adequate amount of time experience everything London has to offer.

 

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