ERICA McEWAN GEORGE
Erica McEwan George moved to London 14 years ago with no prospects, money or mates. The art director and graphic designer in the film and television industry has spent the past 11 years living in the north-eastern borough of Hackney, and eight of those years working on the Netflix Black Mirror anthology.
A stone's throw from the bustle of central London, Stoke Newington is all about soaking up the village vibes. Abney Park is an amazing old private cemetery from the 1800s with fascinating heritage and Europe's oldest surviving non-denominational chapel at its heart. No matter what the weather, it always feels very special to roam, reflect and get away from the noise of the city. See abneypark.org
Try your hand at one of Europe's most renowned rock-climbing facilities, in a heritage-listed castle that was once a Victorian pumping station. Castle Climbing Centre has an interesting history and is the perfect way to crack a sweat if you're feeling adventurous (or have had a few too many Sunday roasts). I can't say I'm a master at bouldering but I recommend it for all ages and levels, with a cafe, garden project, yoga and its history. Some days, Stokey (Stoke Newington) feels like a mini Amsterdam with all the bikes: not just cyclists, but parents with their kids in bike trailers, too. We love to cycle to Esther's or The Good Egg for a proper coffee, then cruise around Clissold Park or the Woodbury Downs wetlands. See castle-climbing.co.uk; estersn16.com; thegoodegg.co
At Spanish restaurant Escocesa, we never forget to order confit artichokes with red chard, leeks and coriander seeds, and the tuna tartare with avocado and sesame oil. Otherwise, Primeur is set in an old motor garage and is always packed with locals. It runs a chalkboard menu, so apart from the consistent and amazing Teruel jamon, you don't really know what you're going to have until you get there. The wine list is always perfection, with some interesting whites from Alsace and Hungary, and a couple of Muscadets. See escocesa.co.uk; primeurn5.co.uk
There are countless trendy cocktail bars and speakeasies in East London, but we still love our old local on the corner of Shacklewell Lane for a "Friday-feeling" beverage. Viva is a pretty modest Mexican/Brazilian bar with super lovely staff and killer margaritas. I always order the Classic Margarita followed by a Mezcal Negroni (negronis are the staple go-to cocktail in these parts). And we responsibly line our tummies with tacos, sea-bass ceviche and the vegan Brazilian moqueca. See vivadalston.com
Avoid saying anything about "those loud Aussies" if you're in Hackney, you're probably never more than a metre away from one.