Borough Market: Southwark’s Great Food Home

Borough Market in Southwalk is well worth a visit.

So, this is the 12th Valentine’s Day I will have spent with PY. We are spending much of this weekend with friends and exploring new parts of the city.

Last night we were in Balham at Dish Dash. We had previously visited the Goodge Street branch (PY had his 30th birthday party there) but had never been out this way. The evening was spent with plenty of little Persian dishes (Swordfish Kebabs & Spinach and Chick Pea Mazza being my favourite). If you are ever in the area you must go. There were, however, a large number of other, tempting, restaurants in the area Peter Sellars once called ‘Gateway To The South’. It’s an area we must visit more often. Recommendations welcome.

Today we rose early (for a Saturday) to visit the tempting delights of Borough Market. If you have never been this is a gourmet market to be found as you head eastwards. The market sells some top-quality fresh produce, and it’s a charity so it should be preserved. It is also a wholesale market at other times of the day/week. There are all types of breads, vegetables, meat and fish sold by proper market traders who, from what I can tell, know their products very well indeed. The Spanish Chorizo stall had the longest queue I have ever seen for a take-away food stall in London. It must have been superb. We bought Ostrich streaks for dinner this evening and they certainly look very tempting (and almost fat-free, apparently).

Borough Market is in Southwark which must be one of my favourite parts of London. The South Bank from Waterloo and the London Eye via the Tate, Millennium Bridge and The Globe was a deserted riverside area when I first came to London. There was, more-or-less, no life between The National Theatre and Tower Bridge. Nowadays, it’s one of the most bustling areas for tourists and locals alike. I really think a Saturday walk down the south bank of the Thames is well worth it. This is the kind of place which makes all frustrations about living in a big city evaporate. It restores my faith in London.

Tomorrow, we head for Highgate to visit some American friends. Certainly looking forward to Sunday Lunch.

Paying A Quick Visit

Nineteen hours and a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and I saw modern transportation, dull office blocks and not much else.

So, what was it about Thursday that made me so tired? Well, I spent the day in Milan. You’ll no doubt have been able to tell that I travel for work occasionally. This, however, was an extreme trip. I rose at 4am and took a taxi to Heathrow. Then I boarded an Alitalia flight to Milan where I was met by the people I work with in Italy. In turn, they drove me to an office for a meeting. The meeting lasted until around 3pm when we went for a quick bite in a local cafe (all the Milan restaurants having shut after the lunchtime rush). After an hour in another office block outside the city I took the train back to a different airport to fly back to London. Eventually, after a Heathrow Express, London Underground and South West Trains journey across the city (which took almost as long as the time I was in the air returning from Milan) I walked back through my front door.

Nineteen hours and a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and I saw modern transportation, dull office blocks and not much else. I tried to capture the spirit of the day in some pictures that I took with the ‘phone camera. They’re not great and the won’t show you any of Milan’s fabulous architecture. They will show you most of what I saw. I promise myself that one day I will spend some decent holiday time in some of these cities.

Coming with me next time?

Dawn Traders

At 5am there was queues at bus stops that must have had ten or more people in some of them. There were many more twenty-four hour shops than I had imagined (why isn’t there one near me?) and plenty of road sweepers and street cleaners – people generally keeping the city going for the rest of us that usually awake later in the morning.

Yesterday, I rose at 4am and took a taxi to London’s Heathrow Airport. This is not an uncommon thing for me to have to do. However, I imagine that I must have been a little more awake than usual as I started to pay attention to a great deal more than normal as I was driven out to the airport.

At 5am London’s streets are far from deserted. In Shrewsbury, one of the places where I grew up, I am pretty certain it would have passed for a busy morning but for London it was quiet. People were walking all around the place. At 5am there was queues at bus stops that must have had ten or more people in some of them. There were many more twenty-four hour shops than I had imagined (why isn’t there one near me?) and plenty of road sweepers and street cleaners – people generally keeping the city going for the rest of us that usually awake later in the morning.

I worked a milk round when I was younger. I am used to people being up and around in the still hours before most people awake. This, however, was different. It was busy and, in places, bustling. It was not remarkable to see a few people in the streets but it was very startling to see so many people around.

When you walk home late at night and the buildings remain lit you imagine that, just like you are about to do, they will soon be settled in a dark sleep. Yet, as we sped through West London, I was struck by the number of buildings that contained offices or shops with all their lights blazing. Many of these were shut but were fully lit as though some invisible nocturnal customers were going about their shopping. Offices were lit as though an army of night-time workers were sat, invisibly, at terminals turning the wheels of trade. When you walk home late at night this seems normal yet, in the early hours of the morning before dawn, it seems eerie.

Most unusually there was a market stall selling, I think, fruit and vegetables. It was open and lit on one of the main roads heading westwards. I can not imagine there was sufficient trade but the stall was stocked, well lit and ready for the odd customer that would pass. Who is the strange stall-holder who works the dark hours sat by the street waiting for customers to buy his fruits? Shouldn’t he have been at New Covent Garden collecting his goods at that time, not sat on a cold A-road with no passing trade?

Then there was the man who pastes the new advertising billboards. At 5.15am he was on top of his ladder with a bucket of sticky stuff gluing a new poster for the morning commuters to see on their way into the City. I had always imagined these were changed in the mid-afternoon not in the middle of the night. It must have been far too cold to be doing that job.

There is a whole world that I am not familiar with. It’s really quite strange to come face-to-face with a city you do not recognise.