We were asked to do a shop, show or exhibition review however this is a bit of all three…
I was recommended the area for shopping by a close family friend who lived in London for years when she was younger, although not what I expected it was an interesting place that contradicted itself in many ways. I started with the market, a cute but clearly not wealthy place with fruit and veg galore! I even got a free freshly made smoothie, although lovely, far from the professional yet unappeasable smoothie I had bought earlier that week in Camden where the woman asked me not to take pictures (despite if I was to put it on the web it would have been exposed to many more potential costumers) The woman on this stall spoke to me for a while, recommended some shops and let me try out some of her new recepies.
Unfortunately I was not in Dalston for the food but I had spent the night before looking for places to visit and one of those was a shop just along the high street, on my way there I found so many interesting things to look at including a shop window turned into a exhibition space with just one large work of art on show, there was no way I could see to get in and the lights were all out which I found incredibly strange but yet interesting. The other shop windows, real shops this time were also aesthetically pleasing, including a Turkish cafe called “The cave” which was actually decorated on the outside to look like you were entering a cave. As well as pubs, shops and clubs with exciting and enticing window displays like this one below.
One of the places along the way just looked too good not to go in, so I stopped for lunch, chatted to the owner and explored. When I walked in the entire place was like the inside of a pirate ship, and I don’t mean with its decor, I mean the whole body of the room, I had no idea what I had walked into but i couldn’t help but be enticed. It was filled with book, people reading and drinking coffee, on one side of the room there was an old style phone with a note saying you could pick it up, so I did and a voice came on of what sounded like a young girl who told me a bit about herself and the hardships she, at such a young age had already overcome, but it wasn’t sad or depressing, she then told me how she overcame her experiences and how she can now shed light on them, she said this was to help me in my own life, that she wanted me to be happy and stay kind no matter what. I thought she needed my help, thats what it was all about, raising awareness and getting through her own pain, but it turned out she just wanted to brighten my day, someone who didn’t ask for it, that she didn’t even know. It probably sounds silly and is certainly one of those things you have to do for yourself but I was almost in tears stood there in this tiny, strange coffee shop surrounded by strangers, but everyone in the room understood and I didn’t feel embarrassed at the time. I went to the tills to buy some food and ask about what had just happened, and I found out from the very friendly staff that this cafe was used to raise money for a charity called Hackney Pirates and that all of the staff here were volunteers. The organization was to help children in the surrounding areas to learn when they may not get enough help through school alone. A lot of children have the potential to grow into intelligent young people but are held back by things like dyslexia, trouble in their homes or even just lack of confidence, as well as this, not every child is the same, some need more time than others or to be taught in different ways and with one teacher to 40 kids sadly this isn’t always possible, through no fault of the teacher, its simply a fact of life.
After that emotional ordeal I continued on my adventure and finally ended up in the place I had been in search of all day. A popular vintage shop called Beyond Retro. I walked in the first entrance which lead to yet another interesting and very hipster coffee shop, everything looked like it had been searched for with great care and thought from vintage shops and junk sales. The building had been renovated with exposed plumbing draped in ivy and the original wood floors. It was lovely, however not as homely as I described, the staff were not that friendly and the space was so big it felt cold and eerie. Although I was impressed that a glass or milk was clearly stated on the menu and being the big kid that I am, thats what I ordered. Once I was done relaxing I found my way through to the actual shop, walking into it was like an 8 year old walking into Disneyland for the first time. my mouth wide open and my eyes glittering I began to search through the shockingly organised racks. I found some great buys and the staff in this are were a lot nicer than in the cafe. It was huge and packed full of fun trinkets filled with more fun trinkets. I could have spent the whole day there but unfortunately my credit card was telling me to pay up and get out. I know a vintage shop is different to a charity shop but I was not expecting those prices! I felt the whole place lacked heart and soul, there was no deeper meaning behind it, yet again I know thats silly of me to expect but I do and I don’t feel I found something special in this commercialized heaven. However the experience along with the satisfaction of my new/old clothes was enough for me and I left Dalston £100 down but still with a smile on my face.