I wanted to tell you about a great little place I discovered recently, one of those hidden gems which make you glad to live in the neighbourhood. There is so much to see and do in East London but a lot of it is more grown-up than kiddie fun and it’s always exciting to come across something new for children in the area. I was browsing some websites when I came across a mention of a shop in Hoxton which was part of a social enterprise encouraging kids and young people to write, the Ministry of Stories. The Ministry is partly funded by sales from the Hoxton Monster Supplies shop. Intrigued, I set off with the kids and Other Half. We had lunch at Viet Hoa, a great local Vietnamese restaurant (this was a triumph as we finally discovered a menu item that Felix will eat apart from plain noodles – thank you, spare ribs!). And then went to look for the shop. It’s tucked away on Hoxton Road behind Hackney community college and has an old fashioned wood and glass front. ‘Angry mobs please douse your torches’ said one sign. ‘Nocturnal visits by appointment for vampire customers only’ says another.
Inside the shop has lots of beautifully designed products including tins labelled ‘A vague sense of unease’ or ‘Utter terror’. After a while trying to work out what was inside we found out that they contained short stories – a brilliant idea. We also checked out the invisible cat in the basket in the corner (don’t pet it too hard) and bought a book of children’s stories for the boys. It’s such a great concept and I will certainly be back. The Ministry is currently looking for volunteers and there is also a Book Club.