You think you know it, a row of Indian restaurants, the Truman Brewery, hip boutiques and graffitti. But you don't know Brick Lane, fully until you've had a proper tour of this rich and fascinating part of east London.
Enter the new Brick Lane walk by Soundmap, a high quality downloadable audio tour by the team who made the Sweeney Todd walk earlier this year. Narrated by novellist and former Brick Lane local Tarquin Hall, it is a measured, soothing voice that guides the listener calmly but with enthusiasm through this walk with subtle incidental music enriching the experience, especially as cultural and religious influences in the area are described. Interviews with Brick Lane dwellers makes the tour quite special.
This reviewer undertook the walk at the end of work on a sunny, early summer Thursday so there was no threat of night settling suddenly but no Brick Lane market to encounter. Clement weather and relative calmness of the streets outweighed the prospect of a Sunday tour with all the colour and noise from the weekly market but perhaps that's for the second go at this walk. Because it's such a pleasure and there's so much to find out, once is not enough.
For those considering the Soundmap Brick Lane audio tour, we recommend paying attention to the instructions and the helpful measure of the footsteps between locations. Do not assume this walk can be undertaken at the average pace of a hassled Londoner hurrying to get home on foot! Otherwise you too will find yourself a third of the way down Brick Lane when the narrator is still saying "and now start the walk by turning right and walking away from the Beigel Bake..." If there's one thing this audio tour can teach you, it will be the pleasure of stopping and staring and slowing down to take in your surroundings.
The walk is just the length of Brick Lane but takes an hour, which shows how dense the area is with stories, history and interest. It's a perfect Bank Holiday activity that gives the listeners a good excuse to shop, eat and chill out in the Brick Lane environs which you will have earned after the hour long walk.
For more information on Soundmap audio tours and to purchase the walks, go to the website here.
Image courtesy of Tanya N from the Londonist flickr pool