What?: Lush community garden replete with greenery, booze and dilapidated (though still very welcome) wheelie toys. Free to use (though donations are encouraged), the Curve Garden is a haven for anyone and everyone in need of a place to chill, kids or no kids, and provides a refreshingly leafy retreat from the urban jungle of nearby Kingsland Road.
The garden is open all day, every day and, while you’re welcome to simply take a seat and bask in the wonder of nature or enjoy a stroll around the well-stocked flowerbeds (some of which have been planted by local primary school children and marked with laminated self-portraits), you’d be missing out if you didn’t sample the delights of the on-site cafe/bar, which serves hot and cold soft and alcoholic drinks, as well as homemade food including soup, cakes, and sourdough pizza on weekends.
You’re free to bring your own picnic but any alcohol must be purchased on-site, which is just as well since the selection is brilliant, with most drinks sourced from Hackney and East London suppliers, and you’re unlikely to find such delicious (or indeed any) elderflower cider in the local Co-Op. In fact with drinks this good it’s likely you’ll be here a while, so be sure to install yourself at the bottom of the garden, next to the toy graveyard, so the little ones can explore while you get (moderately) merry. Almost all of the ride-ons, scooters and walkers in this oddly charming necropolis have been quite violently preloved and are often wheel-free but the kids won’t care and will no doubt have fun propelling them up and down the length of the bark-chip path while you trail behind praying to the tricycle gods that they don’t disintegrate mid-ride and mash a tiny hand.
Obviously it goes without saying that this garden is at its best on sunny summer days but in more typically British summer weather (and winter), visitors can take refuge from the rain in the wooden pavilion or Pineapple House conservatory with its wood-burning stove. Blankets and hot water bottles are available on nippier days, and mulled wine and spiced cider are served throughout the winter.
Where?: The garden is situated at 13 Dalston Lane, two minutes from Dalston Junction and five from Dalston Kingsland (both Ginger) stations.
Best Bits: There is a real 50:50 split between adult- and child-friendliness here, which is surprisingly hard to come by. The verdant garden is simultaneously the perfect setting for a chilled Sunday afternoon beer and a Sunday afternoon frolic in the flowers with a trike in tow – even if said trike is missing all its wheels.
Worst Bits: The garden might be family-friendly (in the summer, at least) but it’s still in the middle of Dalston so don’t be surprised if you and your kiddy crew are periodically subjected to exasperated eye-rolls from childless fellow garden-users who are much cooler than you and can’t comprehend your need to breed. We had: “oh look, a kids’ area. How adorable. Let’s move” and “I just don’t understand why anyone would have kids. It’s like, just get a dog?” I also find myself wondering how child-friendly this place is when the weather’s too miserable to use the ride-ons and have visions of Bab trying to climb into the wood-burning stove for want of a more infant-appropriate distraction.
Facilities: Step-free access; no baby changing as such but there is enough sink-top space in the disabled toilet for a comfortable change.
Would We Come Back?: We’re planning a return trip this Saturday, weather permitting
Bab hijacks a three-wheeled walker at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, Dalston.