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30 July 2018

london days out | peckham levels

i don't keep my ears to the ground, but i do keep my eyes to the screen, and thanks to the wonder that is instagram (are you following me? you should be), i've managed to track down many a wonderful and colourful thing to explore both in london, and further afield. my most recent discovery came in the shape of peckham levels, which was first brought to my attention last summer during the insta-rise of frank's cafe, and then again more recently during the blogtacular colour walk hosted by my insta-pal and design queen, emma jane palin. i didn't go, mind, but i watched the whole thing on insta-stories, and then followed up the very next day on my own, to take it all the rainbow glory on my own.

i suppose i thought that peckham levels was simply a reclaimed car park. that it was painted and bright, but that's it, really. but that couldn't be further from the truth. the eight-storey car park building has been renovated into a multi-functional space for local artists, indie businesses, and specialist food stalls for the whole community to use and enjoy.. for free. as in, being in the space is free - whether it's in one of the many brightly-painted stairwells, on the roof of bold tendencies (the art space where frank's is located), or in the communal spaces within the levels that house small businesses from the surrounding areas - you're welcome to come in, say hello, and use the space however you see fit. coffee? sure. working lunch? plug on in. hungry? pull up a chair. honestly, it's such a great space with such a nice, community vibe, and i don't know how it was literally 20 minutes from my house for so long and i didn't know it was there.

near and far bar is by far (ha) the very best thing about the food hall space, because - well, look at that decor! stripped back pink palm wallpaper complimented by bright blue stools and bar tiles, with a hot pink neon sign screaming the name of the bar - not to mention that view! honestly, i walked into near and far and was blown away instantly. wanted to sit on everything, and take photos of every corner, and the staff? had absolutely no problems with me doing so. in fact, i get the impression that's sort of the point... and how could you not? see what i mean:

the variety and quality of the food stalls is also pretty excellent. there's a range of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free dishes - in fact, more so than anything else, and a lot of them are working with refugee charities and the like, which shows a little positive step for humanity. the dining space is huge, and open plan so you might end up sitting across from people you don't know, but that sort of adds to the community vibe. the bright yellow park benches let you know where you can sit freely, as opposed to the two or three licenced venues inside the food hall too (near and far being one of them, vegan restaurant wildflower being another, and californian wine bar "west" being the last), but those licenced places also won't mind you bringing your food into their spaces either. it's all just really casual.

then there are the stairs. there are a lot of them, many, and each of them needs to be seen to be believed. the colour combos that greet you on every level are fresh and bright, and the perfect spot for your next album cover shoot - just mind the general public rounding the corner every other minute. the view from the top, though: so worth it. especially on an amazingly blue and sunny day. you'll be hot, mind, after all those aforementioned stairs, so a drink at franks will be necessary - a very clever marketing hack for an otherwise tricky bar location, i'd say!

there's no way you can miss the levels, either. once you make it to peckhamplex (i'd also never been there until recently, and now - because of the £5 daily cinema tickets in actual london, i've been back many times since!), you'll be greeted by many colourful paste-ups and murals directing you the right way. i've been back a few times since the first, and most times it's still never busier than the last time. which seems craaaazy to me - but then again, i am a magpie for colour, so this spot has recently become my spiritual home...

there's so much more happening at the levels, too, more than i have really taken much notice of myself when i've popped by. from supperclubs to raise money to support refugees, to community-run dance classes to help locals give back to their area, to support services for those who need a little bit more help from their community, there's quite literally something there for everyone. but like, mainly colour. so, be prepared for that.