On a recent Saturday evening, I found myself in a secret green space, in the centre of London, eating delicious fresh produce and dancing with strangers. It was pretty much the complete opposite of how I’d spent my previous night, a totally new kind of special.
I was in Global Generation’s Skip Garden, an area that was once intended as a pop-up organic garden but has gained so much love from Londoners that it’s stayed a bit longer. I first learned about this little oasis after checking it out on Kylie’s blog, and learning all about the food, people and ethos behind Global Generation. When I heard about their 10th birthday celebrations, which were taking place while I was going to be in the city, it was perfect timing. What would it be like? Can there really be something so serene in such a busy location? Will they serve prawn cocktail Skips? I was most certainly intrigued and keen to finally check out Skip Garden myself.
One thing’s for sure – when they call this place a secret garden, they aren’t kidding! After about twenty minutes of wandering around Kings Cross with Kylie and Erica (“but Google Maps says it’s right HERE! Where is it?”) we eventually followed our ears (and noses) and found it!
With a cute campfire (marshmallow roasting was actively encouraged!), home-made bunting for days and a live folk band setting up, we had time to explore the site – which is like a community garden, allotment and outdoor cafe all rolled into one. The amazing thing about Skip Garden is that it’s always developing – thanks to the input of local volunteers. They invite everyone to take part in shaping what the next steps are, and even as a first-time visitor I was made to feel VERY welcome indeed with a hearty spread of food and a fizzy rhubarb and honey concoction to sip on.
Every part of the garden has been designed with sustainable living in mind, from the plants growing in colourful tins, the food being produced on-site (literally – they even have their own bees creating the honey, honey!) to the upcycled wooden furniture.
After having some dinner – special mention to the to-die-for focaccia bread, spiced carrot dip (no Skips, but that’s OK!) – and blethering with my girls in the soft evening light, it was time to take part in a little bit of dancing, courtesy of Ceilidh Liberation Front who were raring to go! I hadn’t really done much Ceilidh dancing since I was in high school (where we had a Ceilidh every Christmas), but it turns out its a bit like riding a bike – you never really forget the steps! Traditional dancing was mixed with other styles, and – somehow – it worked!
The atmosphere was amazing – gentle, friendly and encouraging. I expected to see at least a small group of people that didn’t want to take part in the dancing (as you normally do at any sort of event) sloping off to the side, but nope! This 80-strong jolly crowd were up for anything and happy to laugh at themselves for getting it a bit wrong, and hi-five each other when they had the routine licked. There were young people, older people, trendy guys and hippy chicks – all getting into the spirit of things. “Ladies!” the band leader called out, “what does a turnip sound like? Throw out your arms and release that energy” – I swear I’m not making this up! It was, as I’m sure you’ll have guessed by now, totally unlike any other Saturday night out, utterly bonkers and 100% awesome.
Mid-way through my umpteenth twirl of the evening I looked up. Beyond the garden, a mere few metres away I could see that we were still surrounded by concrete, as huge, grey towers loomed over. Even though I could see how close they were, they seemed a million miles away from this calm, rustic Eden.
As the three of us made our way out of the Skip Garden and into the London night, we couldn’t stop grinning. Did all that really just happen? I looked over my shoulder and could still see the faint glow of the fairy lights, and with light laughter and singing in the distance behind us, I knew that it had.
Thanks again to Global Generation and the Ceilidh Liberation Front for showing us an evening to remember. If you’re ever in the centre of London and in need of some downtime from the hustle and bustle (and a damn tasty meal to boot!) be sure to check out Skip Garden!
With carrot dip and Ceilidh twirls,
Miss West End Girl x