Weekend Stories: Joseph Pickard
Working for one of London's leading global affairs & lifestyle publications, Mr Joseph Pickard's role lies as Travel Guide Editor. Through organising overseas editorial teams and embarking on trips himself to absorb sights, sounds and cultures first hand, the end result of each excursion is a publication curated to best recommend an authentic and truly insightful travel experience.
We had a quick chat with Joe after his last haircut in Murdock Soho
to discuss all things adventure and how to shape the perfect weekend, be it at home or away...
Epping Forest as photographed by Joe
Talk us through your perfect weekend Joe...
As much as I love London, I like to get out of the city as much as I can. It need not be a far-flung destination, just a change in scenery. An afternoon in Epping Forest can be as restorative as a week in the Mediterranean (right?). Recent expeditions have taken me to Dungeness and the Seven Sisters coastline in East Sussex – a world away from the Big Smoke and bleakly beautiful.
When I find myself at home, Saturdays are invariably spent walking our black labrador down to London Fields before swinging past Broadway market for a cheese toastie from Deeney's and a Crosstown doughnut (or two). If the weather is good I like to get out on my bike and take some pictures (do be sure to follow Joe with envy on Instagram
) or maybe go for a swim. Evenings are generally spent in and around Dalston: perhaps a pint at the Talbot or dinner at one of the Italian restaurants on Church Street in Stoke Newington.
Most Sundays see me at Columbia Road flower market, either taking a few snaps or buying a new addition for our increasingly jungle-like "garden".
How well do you manage to stick to a grooming regime when you travel/go away for a weekend?
Terribly, on the whole, which is why I like to travel with a hat. My hair can be unruly at best but it's nothing a baseball cap (or my most recent purchase – a stetson from a ranch town in Northern California) can't fix.
I actually really enjoy packing and have quite a methodical approach, but if somebody can share some wisdom on how to ensure that shirts emerge sharp and crease-free once extracted from a suitcase after a long-haul flight, I will be forever grateful. I always stick a toothbrush and toothpaste in my hand luggage as I find this is the best way to feel comfortable on a flight, however long the distance.
The Chandelier Tree, as driven through on Joe's Californian travels
Where has been your favourite place to visit on your travels so far?
Too difficult! Last month I spent a couple of days in Tokyo, which was my first time in Japan and far exceeded expectations. I couldn't get over how low-rise, residential and cosy most neighbourhoods were – easy to navigate and a far cry from the Lost in Translation disorientation I had imagined.
Indonesia was hands-down the most inspiring place I have been to recently: a land full of smiles, spirituality and sunshine. We spent a couple of weeks in Bali and Lombok and I would love to go back and explore some of the other islands.
I have just retuned from a 10-day road trip around Northern California which was incredible: we spent a night in a lighthouse keeper's cottage (childhood dream number one: fulfilled), drove the classic sinewy coastal road of Highway 1 through Big Sur, chased waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, hugged a couple of Redwood trees (drove through the middle of another – only in America) and even saw a whale (childhood dream number two: fulfilled).
Do you have any top recommendations for someone spending a weekend in London?
Plenty. I always encourage visitors to spend some time in my neighbourhood – even people that come to London regularly will be sure to find something new in East London (see above on Broadway Market and Columbia Road). For retail, there are a couple of nice shops on Wilton Way and a wander down Redchurch Street is always worth enduring the crowds. Hatch cafe in Homerton is one of my favourite pit stops for a caffeine fix.
Although already on the agenda of most tourists, I always prescribe a trip to the Tate Modern (with the requisite drink in the bar/cafe on the top floor for a great view of St Paul's Cathedral and the river) followed by a meander across the Millennium Bridge to explore the Brutalist residential playground of the Barbican (try to visit on a Sunday when the conservatory – the second biggest in the city, complete with cactus room – is open). Wandering around the lake and the elevated walkways gives a unique taste of utopian London living.
One of my favourite views in the city can be found from the Greenwich Observatory which towers over Canary Wharf and offers sweeping vistas down the river to the gherkin and beyond. While there, nip into Queens House, a (free) gallery in the grounds with possibly the most photogenic staircase in town.
If you had free reign to work on a new travel guide, which city would you choose to explore?
I studied Spanish at university and spent a year in Mexico as part of my degree programme. I am itching to get back to Mexico City – I think it would make a great guide. Watch this space...
Continue to follow Joe's travels and picturesque adventures on Instagram