Tag Archives: bethnal green

Bargain Hunt


In Bargain Hunt, the popular daytime TV programme on BBC, two teams of amateur collectors have a limited time to find the best bargain that they can. The rivalry is always fairly light but I imagine that bragging rights must go on for ever. 

From time-to-time I turn my lunchbreak into my own little version of Bargain Hunt. My stamping ground is always the same – the 3 or so charity shops of Bethnal Green, AyokaLama’s Pyjamas and the Spitalfields Crypt shop

Today, I had a walker, some books and some Xmas decorations to give away. Since they were bulky and heavy I took them to Ayoka, about 20 yards from my office. Then I set off with nowhere in particular in mind – I just wanted to get some light exercise for Janathon and I wanted to practise a bit of walking mindfulness. 

I found myself on the Roman Road and popped into the Lama’s Pyjamas where, hidden under the women’s dresses rack, I found a super little Biemme trike. Only £3.50! It’s only couple of weeks since Christmas but I couldn’t resist buying it for my son. As I paid, the woman at the counter asked if I wanted a bag. No, I replied, I’ll ride it home. On the way back to the office a woman suggested that I might need to find myself a larger bike. Carrying children’s toys around is a great way to gather quips from passers by! 

Janathon stats: Steps so far today, 3,536. 

Related posts

Tired of London, tired of life visits Ayoka

This is my England records graffiti around Bethnal Green

Living for the adventure’s weekend Janathon catch-up


I will be good

“I will be good.” So said an 11-year-old Victoria when told by her governess that one day she would be queen.

With that sentiment in mind I knew that I had to get out and do my first lunchtime run of 2014. To help me deliver on my promise I signed up to Janathon (daily exercise and blogging) and Jantastic (goal-setting in teams).

I will be good. A lunchtime run involves leaving my office in the St Margaret’s House Settlement in Bethnal Green and heading up to Victoria Park. Named after the same Victoria, the park perimeter is around 5km long. Victoria Park contains 218 acres of space. It has a beautiful lake with plenty of birds to watch, though when I run I mostly see the path.

I have a lot of time to think about things when I run. I loved Haruki Murakami’s book What I talk about when I talk about running and I often think of that book while running! Though it is only now looking the book up online that I discover that in my head it is called ‘What I think about when I think about running’.

Mostly today I was thinking about the beauty of the park. I enjoyed seeing a cormorant perched upon a branch above the lake. I was also thinking about how to publicise a vacancy we have at work. We’ve advertised in the Guardian online and Charity Job, but from the last job we advertised eventually appointed someone who saw the role on Twitter. Social networks really are important! So if you know anyone who would like to manage QSA’s Down to Earth funeral advice service, based in east London, send them to www.quakersocialaction.com/vacancies.

I followed a guy for about 3/4 of the way round, he was going only marginally faster than me for the first couple of miles, but I lost a bit of pace in the third mile. I finished with a determined sprint on the final stretch and, partially blinded by the sweat in my eyes, I almost tripped over a wizard’s dog. Well, I way I saw a wizard. It was a man with a fine long silver beard a la Gandalf, with a hat (pointy?) and a long overcoat. It was quite a small dog. I greeted the wizard and his dog as I ran. Who knows when one day I might need his help?

So I got out. I ran. I will be good.

Janathon stats: 3.15 miles in 27:02. Also walking 3.5 miles in my work and nursery commute today.

Related posts

The fat girl’s guide to running downloads the Murakami book

Alastair Campbell’s review in the Guardian of What I talk about when I talk about running.

Mum reports blog on Victoria Park.

Phil Lengthorn sticks with Janathon when the going was getting tougher.

Morning prayers

Yesterday, at St John’s church on Bethnal Green I noticed that they have morning prayer at 9am. I don’t think I’ve ever been to morning prayers before at an Anglican service.

So today I got into work extra-early and at three minutes to nine I slipped off to church.

As I walked through the park I wondered how many people would be there. I enjoyed the smell of blossom from the trees and the brilliant colour in the feathers of the feral pigeons stomping about the grass. The sun is shining and it feels good to be alive. As I walked the bells of St John’s chimed to mark the hour and then struck nine. I would be just a minute late.

Except that when I arrived at the front of the church and at the steps I stood happily on yesterday, it felt deserted. The sign was there, advertising morning prayer. But the door was resolutely closed. I realised then that there were 3 huge sets of double doors, but all were locked shut.

I stood on the steps for a moment and took in the morning sounds of traffic, of people rushing by and the smell, wafting in from somewhere, of chocolate pastries.

Perhaps there’s another way into the church I thought. I set off around the Roman Road side of the church. High above me, I could see vaguely through the windows of the church that some lights were on and I couldn’t help but think to myself ‘the lights are on but nobody’s home’.

At the back of the church I noticed a winding set of steps and a woman just going in through a door at the top of the steps. I rushed after her, up the steps and pushed into a locked door. After a few seconds, the woman answered. I said that I was here for morning prayers and asked if this was the way in. I was told that the priest wasn’t in and the doors weren’t open yet but if I waited, she would open a door at the front soon. I thanked her, but decided just then that I might have morning prayers in another way.

I walked back to my office. Praying.

So I had my morning prayers anyway, in the sunshine and on the streets of Bethnal Green. I’d still like to attend an Anglican morning prayer, but I might check in advance the precise arrangements before I try to go again. 

From the steps of St John

This lunch break I went to the church of St John on Bethnal Green. I stood on the steps and enjoyed the view. It is a good vantage point to look west down the Bethnal Green Road and north and south along the Cambridge Heath Road. Two parks can be seen from the steps and one end of the Roman Road. There’s a lot of bustle. 

It reminded me, in a way, of Rainham Marshes. I was almost invisible on those steps, like being in a hide. And the more I stood still and watched, the more I saw. I caught glimpses of other people’s lives. 

And without having particularly intended to, I began to pray. Holding each person that I saw in the Light and wishing God’s grace upon them, that they might share with someone else today. 

After a while, a man came and joined me on the steps. He didn’t speak to me. Then he left, into the church. And he came back. We both stood on the steps. I wanted to ask if he was praying too, but I didn’t feel the need to speak. 

A few minutes later, I left the church steps and continued on my walk.