The timber embrace of the Ship of Adventures is one of Dalston’s most unlikely and endearing experiences. This is the ship-shaped shop and café of the brilliant literacy charity Hackney Pirates, an imaginative programme which offers one-to-one lessons for children. Volunteers – who receive a three-hour training session – read with kids and help with publishing projects; goals are to promote literacy, confidence and perseverance.
The Hackney Pirates work in partnership with Compass Coffee, who make all the food and drink in-ship. Profits from the shop and cafe support the Pirates’ educational workshops. Pop in for sandwiches made with sourdough baked in Hackney, salads with locally grown leaves, smoothies, cakes and coffee. In the shop you can browse Hackney guides and audio projects created by local children, and buy jewellery handmade by pirate volunteers, greetings cards, ethical gifts and kids’ books.
As well as being a worthwhile stop, it’s also a piratical visual feast, with a hidden passageway, cutlasses round every corner and a whole boat hanging from the ceiling. Below decks, steps painted with favourite kids’ book jackets lead down to the blue-painted Deep section, where volunteers sit and read with kids and help produce projects such as their Hackney Guide.
Out back is a yard, which Eat Hackney is greening up and painting with the help of friends, Freecycle and kind plant donations from the De Beauvoir Gardeners, St Mary’s Secret Garden, the Geffrye Museum and the Old Fire Station. Paint is from the brilliant Forest Recycling Project (free paint for community projects in Hackney!), and we’ve got timber to build planters from the Freeusable project at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
You can support the Hackney Pirates by volunteering with the kids or working in the café, or just step on board the Ship, browse the ethical gifts and have lunch. Thanks to Andrew in the café for three great recipes: matcha biscuits, granola and the Jeremy Flaxman smoothie. And landlubbers – if you have a plant to spare for the pirate garden it would be very welcome. We’re collecting ferns, climbers, succulents and exotic flowering stuff.
Matcha and white chocolate cookies
- 200g butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 150g light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 360g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp matcha powder (available in health food stores)
- 130g white choc chips
Cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs and then add the remaining ingredients. Roll into a log and chill for at least an hour. Cut into about 15 cookies, then bake at 180C for 20mins.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 150 ml golden syrup
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300g steelcut oats
- 200g nuts, blitzed ever so slightly in a blender – Hackney Pirates use a mix of equal parts pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, and brazil nuts
- 100g dried fruits – Hackney Pirates use a 60:40 mix of raisins and dates
Mix all the ingredients except the dried fruit in a bowl. Lay on a baking tray and bake for 15 mins at 130C. Chuck in the dried fruit and bake for another 10 mins. Leave to cool. Once cool, you may need to break it up with a knife so that you can have granola chunks – which are arguably the best part of granola!
- 1 banana
- 1 tsp flaxseeds (available in health food stores)
- 1 tsp honey
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1/2 glass milk
Whizz in the blender and enjoy.