Co-founder of Hoxton Mini Press (with his wife Ann), Martin Usborne studied philosophy, psychology and animation before finally settling on a career in photography and publishing. Hoxton Mini Press is an independent publisher of photography books – titles include Makers of East London, A Portrait of Hackney and East London Food.
Describe your ideal day off in Hackney.
My day would start with a walk with my wife and our two dogs Bug and Moose. We would wander down to London Fields, along Broadway Market and get coffee from Climpson and Sons. We would walk down the canal to Leila’s Café for toasted rye bread with eggs and sage. Then we would wander around Shoreditch looking at the shops, before a walk in Haggerston Park, which is a lesser-known but beautiful park. We would drop the dogs off at home and go out for a drink at the Marksman on Hackney Road and then have dinner at Morito. I am well past my dancing days, so we would probably roll onto Hackney Picture House for a movie and then head home.
What is your favourite bar or restaurant?
I have a soft spot for a pizzeria called Stories on Calvert Avenue, which is not at all well known, because the guy doesn’t seem to want anyone to know he is there – he hasn’t got his name anywhere. But he serves the best, the thinnest and the most amazing pizzas, piled high with so many flavours.
What is your favourite shop?
There are lots of amazing shops in Hackney: SCP for interior design trinkets which I never buy, but enjoy looking at; Goodhood for clothing; Artwords, where we sell our books, is a great place to find the latest books and magazines and see what is happening in the industry; and the grocery store attached to Leila’s has amazing produce. They have these huge chunks of chocolate that sit on the counter like lead weights. I once bought a hunk of dark chocolate that was big enough to knock a man out, and nibbled at it over a few weeks.
What is your favourite open space in Hackney?
It has to be good old Victoria Park – it is the go-to place for walking your dog, but it has come alive in the last few years with places like the Pavilion Café. The Southern end has a beautiful lake where you can go boating in summer, and the other part is just a massive green space that turns into a gig and festival space in the summer.
Where would you take visitors to show them the best of Hackney?
I would give them our new guidebook East London – An Opinionated Guide which lists all the places we think you should know about in Hackney. Hopefully that would do it!
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