I have a problem. Once in a while, and to the disapproval of my amazing hairdresser Pont at Blue Tit in Dalston, I get an all consuming urge to add a touch of pink to my otherwise bleached white hair. I know very well that I do enough damage to my locks as it is, any of my friends will be too aware of my almost meditation like daily fringe straightening session, but that hint of pink pastel will every couple of months see me attempt a little DIY dying session at home. I have learnt a lesson or two in the course of doing so and boy some of the colours I have tried along the way left me with an unidentifiable hair colour in the washing out process that usually follows the approximately 2 days of enjoyment of the colour. Crazy Color was the first I tried with the dye coverage pretty poor and the pink patchy rather than cotton candy like. For a while I was a Directions convert but the pastel pink I used of theirs may have covered my hair a lot more evenly however also for a much longer than desired time, 20 washes with anti-dandruff shampoo ( the best way to get colour out of bleached hair) later I was often left with a peachy tone I had not really bargained for. This time I wanted to give the new Bleach London dyes for home use a go. I went to their Dalston salon for a good 2 years and always enjoyed great cuts and colours so couldn't help but raise high hopes for their foray into at home dyes. At only £5 per bottle and with enough dye for more than one use ( unlike Directions and Crazy Color) I was excited to see how it would turn out and after just over 10 minutes on my head and washing it out with lukewarm water, was indeed left with the perfect shade of pink. It also happens to wash out like a dream, by day two my hair the fluffiest shade of baby pink and after four days now nearly back to the white I started with. I may have finally found a way to go pink once in a while without the hair drama that usually followed!
Though I am nearing my tenth year in England, there are certain British institutions and traditions I have never quite gotten on board with. I have yet to sample a roast dinner, Yorkshire pudding or mince pie ( all of which don't appeal to me greatly in their concept alone) and along the same lines have never been able fully embrace the pub as a place for drinking. It is probably a purely cultural thing, in Germany there isn't a whole culture built around it as is the case here, but still it has as result never been easy for me to find affordable and most importantly nice places with a good atmosphere to just have a drink and catch up with friends. Here are two of my most recent discoveries that may not have cured my phobia of pubs but are nonetheless great hidden gems when it comes to having a drink in East London and places you can happily chat away at for hours with your nearest and dearest!
Farr's School Of Dancing
As the name reveals Farr's School of Dancing has had a few former guises ( not only in fact as a dance school but also a squat before it was resurrected as bar a few months ago) and as such has a real sense of history inside. With the dance-floor lovingly restored, old school dial up phones mounted to the walls and beautifully retro wall paper adorning the walls, one can't help but feel a little bit of mid twentieth century nostalgia when sat down and sipping one of their tremendously well priced house wines. It isn't as crammed as a pub yet lacks the pretentiousness of the bars in vicinity to Farr's, in fact it located just a stones throw away from the clubs and going out venues of Dalston's Kingsland Road, and as such is a near perfect place for a first date or just a casual catch up with a friend with an atmosphere that will see you return time after time to forget a bad day!
Hidden down a metal staircase in the heart of Shoreditch (Hoxton Square to be precise), Happiness Forgets is no doubt my favourite cocktail bar in London. Dimly lit, with dark walls and shiny wooden floors you cannot help but get drawn in by its intimate speakeasy style atmosphere, matched by the equally fantastic cocktail menu that is expertly mixed by one of the suitably 1920's style bow tie clad bartenders that work their magic here. Not that you have stick to the fine selection of both classic and more experimental creations, every time I have been these experts when it comes to any alcoholic spirits were more than happy to create a cocktail based on my favourite flavours, in fact on my last visit mixing up an amaretto concoction that no doubt was the best cocktail I had ever had, tailored to my exact taste bud. What you get here is flawless and intimate service that at £8.50 a pop for a cocktail is a rarity in London and a place that will become your best kept secret.