New Year’s resolution? More exploring!

We're using the New Year to visit some of the east London line's top spots.

Photo: Archie McPhee Seattle

The beginning of the New Year invariably brings a whole host of invigorating resolutions: slim down, shape up, get going… All those regular, annual promises which always get broken by the middle of January.

Wouldn’t it be great to plan some resolutions that actually get done?

Instead of some kind of new fangled athletic regime guaranteed to kick-start 2011, I would much rather partake in something a little more fun and enjoyable to help turn over a new leaf and welcome in the first months of the year.

Because the truth is, while many might be concerned with jumping on treadmills or bypassing booze, the east London line is still ripe for exploring and there are a bunch of spots I should have visited during 2010 but didn’t quite manage to.

I’ve neglected whole chunks of the ELL – a sin which I am eternally sorry for and very much looking forward to put right.

So, here are a few resolutions that should provide a colourful alternative to all that dreary belt-tightening, as well as being a good excuse to get back on the hunt for some of London’s best hidden gems, which are all only a train ride away.

Photo: Woody1969

1 – Catch a slice of Hollywood at Peckham Plex

Peckham Plex is situated just off Rye Lane in the centre of town, and while not strictly on the east London line, is worth the extra bus ride from New Cross Gate for its old school charm and great value prices.

Tickets on a Tuesday and Thursday are set at a rock bottom £3.99, with concessions at £4.99 and adults at £5.99 at all other times. Compared to Greenwich Picturehouse up the road, and other screens in central London, where prices rise well above a tenner, the Plex is a steal.

Although the seats are a little cramped and sound isn’t mind blowing, the cinema is homely and unpretentious; perfect for catching those guilty Hollywood pleasures!

2 – Get stuck in at the London Particular

Although I’ve been walking past the London Particular since it opened, I still haven’t been in. I don’t know why. The menu is totally alluring and the cakes on display look fantastic.

Even the founder of this site, Angela Phillips, can be found raving about the fare and sneaking out to the cafe for lunch.

All the dishes come in a bowl – a sure promise of hearty, tasty food. And most of the ingredients come from local and sustainable sources. Which makes for a double thumbs up.

Many are hailing the London Particular as one of the new saviours of New Cross, a safe haven away from the fried chicken shops and greasy spoons which, I confess, have been distracting me up to this point. Whoops.

The cafe opens again following a Christmas break in early January; this year, there should be no excuses not to visit.

3 – Become hypnotised by A Love From Outer Space

Nobody told me that A Love From Outer Space has been running monthly since the summer and that the club-night is the latest psyche-disco bomb created by the legendary Andrew Wetherall and cohort Sean Johnson. Damn!

I narrowly missed their Christmas shindig but will be taking the trip to Dalston pretty sharpish when the duo return to normal service in February.

A Love From Outer Space specialises in melting post-punk, disco, dub, Krautrock and rock ‘n roll together for the pleasure of the dance-floor, which is pretty intimate at chosen venue The Drop on Stoke Newignton high street.

Photo: Richard Kaby

4 – Freak out in the confines of the Vortex

So the Vortex is really quite established and also pretty cool, but sometimes one just can’t hit all the spots that they should have.

A glance over the Vortex’s forthcoming programme is enough to get any muso rubbing their hands in the prospect of some most excellent sonic vibrations. It’s also good for anyone with even a passing interest in jazz, such is the quality on offer.

There are performances almost every night, each costing a reasonable £8 or thereabouts.

Upcoming highlights include the improve duos  of Veryan Weston & Trevor Watts and John Edwards and Hannah Marshall who both play on January 10th, a spoken word/music crossover featuring Geoff Dyer and Curios on the 13th and Might I Suggest?, a series of performances curated by the brilliant Evan Parker that start on the 26th.

5 – Cop a groove with Crystal Palace Soul Club

Crystal Palace Soul Club has been running for the last two years and is most definitely a bastion of groove at the end of the east London line.

Club-nights run fairly frequently but for those wanting a taste of the flavour down in SE19, the guys have posted a bunch of great mixes to Mixcloud, for listening any time.

The club is also on Twitter, so start following their movements and get down to the next shindig pronto!

Photo: Moff

6 -Front crawl a few calories away in Hackney

A good way to escape the memory of one too many mince pies is always with a good, thorough and rigorous swim.

For those of us who missed the glory of Hackney lido in the summer, fear not, for the pool is open all year round and is even heated too.

This January is most definitely the month of the speedo!

Photo: MYK

7 -Pick up some threads from Rag N Bone

It’s easy to forget about Rag N Bone, buried as it is in the hustle and bustle of Deptford high street. But, as south east based bargain hunters and trend setters know, the boutique always delivers a good bargain (or a high priced piece of couture, if the mood takes you.)

Knitwear fanatics should be warned that Rag N Bone is the absolute gold mine for great, pattern garms. Decent selection for blokes too.

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