With just a couple weeks left in the UK and a Sunday off (God’s day, after all), I scoured the list I kept in my phone of random boroughs and areas to visit before leaving London. Walthamstow had popped up over and over again, so I hopped on the tube and took myself out exploring all the way to the end of the Victoria line (have Oyster, will travel).
I had seen a few Instagram posts about the place, which painted a mediocre picture at best, but I figured if the trip was a bust (Zone 1 for life) I’d at least be able to tell the story of my visit to friends, which would allow me to say my new favorite word: Walthamstow.
After I got away from the *absolute mess* that is the Walthamstow Central tube/bus/train station, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be at Froth and Rind, which I had read online was a coffee shop, but what, in reality is actually a cool little cheese and beer shop that also serves coffee. Life is full of surprises.
I popped into a few adorable stores and took oodles of photos while enjoying my latte. Walthamstow is definitely THAT kind of place. Hipsters abound, as do cute young hipster families with beautiful children dressed as dinosaurs. Also, old women in leggings with purple hair. I feel a song coming on…
🎵 …these are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighhhh-bor-hood! 🎵
It’s that adorable small town that you never want to leave because everything is SO CUTE, but in real life, you know you would get bored after one day. I love those places. And even if you don’t move in, Walthamstow is a great area to spend a few hours on a sunny afternoon.
What I hadn’t been prepared for, and what is now my new favorite place on earth (sorry Disney), was God’s Own Junkyard. Was I the very last person to find out about this place? Because hello, Walthamstow! What a gem you are hiding. God’s Own Junkyard is a magical warehouse where neon signs go to die. It’s a creative person’s version of heaven on earth. It literally inspired me for the rest of my life. (And I only exaggerate sometimes.) But for real, this place made me do the cheeks hurting kind of smile. And when I found out Vogue did a shoot there? Forget it.
God’s Own Junkyard is at the end of a residential street, sort of in this cool warehouse-y type open area. There is also a brewery in the same area, which was packed to the brim with East London looking people (my favorite look, by the way). Walking into the warehouse was literally one of my favorite moments of life so far (apologies to the guys I’ve loved). I swear to you, all I felt was complete glee. It’s impossible to feel anything but pure happiness in this place.
**Side Note: If you have ever been to Warsaw, Poland and gone to the
world famous neon sign museum, well, this is THAT kind of place times 1000. **
There are neon signs from all over, of all different sizes and shapes and colors and they are all plugged in and lit up. There are neon signs on the walls, hanging from the ceilings, sitting on the floor, leaning against other signs, propped up on furniture…there is no end. You could stare at one wall of signs for 25 minutes and still miss some. Just thinking about this place now while I write this is making me SO HAPPY. It’s just bright and colorful and inspiring. Simple.
Some of the signs were inspirational, like the colorful “Ideas” hanging across the wall of the cafe inside the warehouse. Other signs were sexual, advertising where to buy women (naturally?) and some signs were small and cute, like the purple hearts that hung in a separate smaller room, just off the entrance. There were also giant disco balls throughout the warehouse which added to the atmosphere in the best way.
I spent hours at God’s Own Junkyard (it’s free!) and then went and sat in the cafe and charged my phone which died after I took 7 thousand photos. **Side Note: I sent all 7 thousand pics to my boyfriend who was on vacation in Las Vegas at the time. I like to picture him being so excited to receive the photos, and then opening them just to see a neon sign telling him to follow his dreams. Ha!)**
As someone who grew up in a small town but dreams about big cities, I learned early on in life, that sometimes we’ve got to seek out our own adventures and at least attempt to inspire our own damn selves. Open your eyes a bit wider, wherever you find yourself.
Go to Walthamstow if you’re in London, explore, get inspired, see some lights, and let life be pretty and easy and bright for a few hours. Or at the very least, promise me you will say “Walthamstow” five times aloud. (Small joys, people. Small joys.)
(Final “Walthamstow” word count: 10)