I'm still on the hunt for neighbourhoods in London where I might eventually settle. I'd heard good things about Stoke Newington, so I decided to check it out after church. It's known as a place for young, cool parents which worried me a bit as I am neither a) cool or b) a parent. I am young(ish), however, so one out of three isn't bad I suppose. Stoke Newington - or Stokey as the locals call it - is in the borough of Hackney on the overground and is definitely cool.
The first thing that struck me about it was the variety of places to eat. From independent coffee shops to brunch spots to rustic pizza joints, it was a foodie's dream. It was a hot day and the majority of the cafes and restaurants had overspill seating on the street, so the whole area had a vibrant atmosphere. Church Street is the main hub of Stoke Newington and has a bit of Bohemian feel, full of little shops and markets. It was definitely a bit hipster - I saw many a hat and many a vintage bike - but not in an obnoxious, penny-farthing-riding kind of way.
One of the other main attractions is Clissold Park. It is big and beautiful and is especially great for kids, although I thoroughly enjoyed it too. It was originally a Georgian estate belonging to an abolitionist and the manor house is still standing, now housing a cafe. Just some of the amenities of the park are a paddling pool, skate park, animal enclosure (there are goats! One is called Dylan!), tennis courts and well-equipped play park. The New River runs through the park, which stank a bit but looks very pretty, as well as the Capital Ring walking path.
The only thing that stopped Stoke Newington from being my absolute perfect place to live is the transport options. The overground around the entire area wasn't working which meant either getting the bus or walking half an hour down to Dalston Junction. I suppose the lack of tube means that it can stay relatively unspoiled and un-touristy. There are a lot of buses, so it not completely cut off.
Pretty, hipster and interesting? Stoke Newington, I've got my eye on you.