On Sherlock and new friends…..93/100

mdeI knew I would have fun tonight. What I didn’t expect was to meet my best friend Ange in her male Jamaican version. And by that I mean that instant Vulcan mind meld. Just saying the name “Idris” leads to a spirited discussion of The Wire, complete with quotes, straight on to Cage aux Folles, (try and keep up please), a few asides about Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo and then back to mothers and children (didn’t I mention that before) , all under the sighing, patient gazes of a daughter and a long time girlfriend.  I only hope everyone else at the table had has much fun as we did.  But that is the beauty of the Literary Hour. No one is going to willingly attend a dinner party of strangers in a very out of the way terraced house in north London unless they have some joie de vive in them. And tonight there was plenty. In fact, to suggest that my new friend, Mick, and I had a monopoly on the merriment is mean spirited.  There was laughter from up and down the sizable table. We came to have a good time, and we did. Everyone.

cofI know, I have written about The Literary Hour before, in my post about dining in Naria. But this is my blog and I can repeat myself if I please. I wrote about the Northern Line twice. The Northern Line!! Twice!!! Surely I can talk about the best supper club around more than once. So, who is this Literary Hour?  A group of friends who decided  to cook and read to each other. And when they realized that that was rather fabulous, invited the public to join. I had forgotten how gorgeous it is to be read to.  Not listening to an audio book,  but to be read to.  By an actual person in the same room,  from an actual  book being held in hands. No wonder wise people are always going on about reading to children, it is,  it really, really is something special. Hearing those words delivered personally, just to you. I think I would show up pretty much anywhere if someone agreed to read to me. And to be given a delicious meal on top….well, how much luxury can a girl expect.

Tonight’s theme was Sherlock Holmes, the Arthur Conan Doyle one, not all the subsequentdav offerings. I have never read Doyle. Either has my daughter Lizzie, who shared the evening with me.  I know next to nothing about the character other than his cocaine addiction. Happily it didn’t matter. The passages read were in reference to the courses served. So it wasn’t plot that mattered but words. Oh how I love words. How I love gorgeous, full-bodied, fantastic words. Tonight, in one of the passages, a man was described as “confectious.” Oooh, my brain began instantly to sizzle with the knowledge that I too know several men I could call “confectious”. It isn’t a compliment,  by the way.

mdeBut what about the food, I hear you all saying. It is a dinner club, after all. Well the food was tremendous. Delicious. Fantastic. Starting with oysters and a Bloody Mary shot (a wedding breakfast), kedgeree,  a wonderful sampler of pates, quail stuffed with dates and then…..oh I do love a good sense of humour, a plastic syringe of froth with poppy seeds….”heroin?” one of the guests shouted out. Not quite, but a tasty little joke, nonetheless, though it did take us all  a bit of time to willingly shoot it into our mouths. Yeah, yeah…all the comments were made. Move on. There was also a mystery to solve. The murder of Irene Adler. The clues were clever but the culprit was obvious. Just the way I like it!

A lovely milk and honey tart to finish with coffee and tea on offer.  At which point Lizzie and I said good evening and started our long journey home. But wow, what a place London is. That I can attend a party completely across (and I mean far!) town as possible, be served incredibly delicious food prepared in a kitchen that must be a quarter of the size of my own, be read to,  BE READ TO, and meet people I instantly like so much that I stop talking and laughing only long enough to put food in my mouth, and am back home again before the midnight hour. But that is the genius of the Literary Hour supper club. Bringing people together with a shared passion for books, very good food and a sense of fun. How could it not be a great night. A really, really great night, indeed.

 

 

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On Harry Potter and St. Paul’s….92/100

cofThe other day was the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book. No, this fact doesn’t make me feel old. Instead, I am grateful that I have had 20 years of a life with Harry. Because I love these books. I am true believer, have been since the start. And so are my children who have grown up with the books, the audio, narrated by the stupendous Stephen Fry, and eventually the films. We really, really love the films. Our New Year’s Eve tradition is to watch them, one after the other. We have been to the Harry Potter-WarnerIMG_20160102_125348_edit Bros. studios, just north of London many, many times. It is a fantastic, magical place. The last time we were there we saw a marriage proposal…..on the Hogwart’s Express. Of course we have been photographed pushing a cart into Platform 9-3/4  at King’s Cross. I can point out the entrance to Diagon Alley in Leadenhall Market and that opening scene in Half Blood Prince with the Death Eaters Flying over and through Millennium Bridge makes me swell with pride, as I feel rather possessive of what I think is one of London’s mot beautiful locations. And then there is the St. Paul’s connection.

 

I love St. Paul’s.  It is the most gorgeous building in the world, and lucky, lucky me gets to work their as an official guide, every week. Built by the great St Christopher Wren between 1675-1710 after the Great Fire of London left the previous St Paul’s in a ruinous state, the Cathedral is awe-inspiring, it is perfection in stone and light. And then there is the Harry Potter connection…..

IMG_3022The Dean’s Staircase, also knowns as the Geometric Staircase, was built, in the south tower, on Wren’s request, by William Kempster between 1704/05. It connects the floor of the Cathedral to the Triforium, an attic like space between the inner wall of the nave and the outer screen wall of the cathedral, which among other things, contains the library. It is 88 steps of sheer marvelousness; the stairs seem to float. When I stand on the landing at the top I feel like nothing is actually supporting me, a sensation I distinctly dislike and I  am too afraid to get close to the edge. So my photos of it from above are always rubbish. But it is beautiful. Incredibly, dazzlingly beautiful. Wren was so pleased with the final result he gave Kempster of bonus of 20 guineas.  Google wouldn’t give me an exchange rate from 1705, so I am going to guess the spending power was about 200 pounds. Not a bad tip.

300 years on it is the staircase to Professor Trelawney’s  studio of Divination. Emma Thompson’s character, the one everyone thinks is crazy but turns out to be right, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It is also in the final installation of HP, Deathly Hallows Part  2, though the railing is made plain in the scene. Harry is going up to search mdefor Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem and Ron is heading down, wand out, ready to fight. They stop on the stairs and exchange a few words.

Harry Potter isn’t the only film to feature this special space. It is also in the opening scene of Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. runs down and down and down the staircase, they make it seem much longer, to rescue a woman who is tied to a table in a room that is clearly not St Paul’s. Ah, the magic of movies. Recently the cathedral was closed for the filming of Paddington 2…please, please let our favourite bear get into serious mischief on these stairs. Maybe rivers of marmalade cascading down from the top? Back in 2010, sculptor Antony Gormley created a piece specifically for the Geometric Staircase, a falling figure in a dense cloud of wire, entitled Flare II. As Gormley explained at the time, “Wren understood proportion, space and gravitational dynamics as no other British architect of his time, and the Geometric Staircase is a supreme and elegant outcome of this understanding. Flare II is my attempt to use applied geometry to construct an energy field describing a human space in space.” Stunning.

davBut all of St. Paul’s is stunning. My passion for the place is only matched by my passion for sharing it with others. So it was an honour and a privilege when the Cathedral recently asked me to yap away about the American Memorial Chapel and Billy Fiske for PBS, the American television station, for their series on English cathedrals. I was thrilled. Beyond thrilled. And I loved every second of it. Of course, I may end up on the editing floor, but I hope at least my glovedcof hand pointing out Glenn Miller’s name (the  musician and band leader) in the Roll of Honour in the Chapel will make it to air. Why is he there? Because he is one of the 28,000 Americans who died in World War II having spent time in Britain. Miller was on his way from the UK to France when his plane disappeared over the English Channel on 15 December, 1944. And what about the other man I mentioned? Billy Fiske. The first American to fight and die in WWII. A short life, but an incredible one, but I say no more. You 10960180_1052030951490292_6522425843146799131_owill have to wait for the  PBS show, due next summer. Better yet, come visit me at St. Paul’s. I will show you Fiske’s pilot wings and tell you all about him.  I will show you Prof. Trelawney’s stairs too. And so much more. I will wear sparkly shoes. You will be enchanted.

 

On the Serpentine Pavilion….91/100

IMG-20170622-WA0015I’ve got (another) confession to make……no, no don’t worry, I am not about to burst into song, much as I love Dave Grohl. But it is a serious confession. I have never been to the Serpentine Pavilion before. Pause. I hear the gasps of shock, of incredulity. Yes, I know it seems so “my kind of thing,” but there it is. Never made it before. In my own small defense, this time of year, when the new Pavilion is unveiled, is the busiest, and I mean really, really, really busy, time of year for any SW London mother of school age children. Christmastime is dull in comparison. End of term, end of school, new school, summer birthdays, celebrations, showcases of talent, just one last party, just one more last party….oh and the summer fetes, maybe a street party or two, toss in some badly timed visitors….it is a nonstop carousel of child-based, though sometimes only tangentially, activities. It is enough to make even the hardiest of us weep with exhaustion.. I am forever murmuring Velvet Underground “I am tired, I am weary, I could sleep for a thousand years….”. But this year I showed up,  mainly because I got invited to the preview, and I love exclusivity.  So off, on a gorgeous, balmy, London summer evening, I went.

What is the Serpentine Pavilion, I hear you ask? Well, it is privilege, an honour, bestowed on an international architect whose work has yet to be built in the UK. The annual commission began in 2000 with Zaha Hadid, who, as we all know, went onto architectural superstardom and died, suddenly, last year. A temporary “pavilion,” in whatever form the artist sees fit, is constructed on the Serpentine Gallery lawn and stays for the summer months. Free to the public, visitors are welcome to explore, photograph or just enjoy the structure. It is an opportunity for the Serpentine to showcase talent people here might otherwise not experience. And of course, it is an excellent excuse for an outdoor cocktail party in the still shiny light of late June London.

These year’s commission was given to Diébédo Francis Kéré, now living in Berlin, but originally from Burkina Faso. His structure is reminiscent of the tree that served as the central meeting point in his home town, a gathering place for the community. A place to IMG-20170622-WA0014rest or chat or just hang out. And that is exactly what he has built. Made of wood, obviously, it’s a tree, with blue, triangular panels, patterned to the touch, like a bark. A roof that stretches out like leaf laden, shade giving branches. Inside is a warm, cozy atmosphere, rather like a sophisticated fort made in the woods. But with benches and a bar. And a great little wooden slide.  In the center is what can be a waterfall, when it rains. But rain isn’t something we have had in quite a while here in blazing hot London, so the well was definitely dry on opening night.

IMG-20170622-WA0021Art previews are always a fabulous people watching opportunity, the outfits, the ages, the sheer exuberance of life, all the more so when the architect himself is present. “Oh, I would like to meet him,” I told some in-the-know gentlemen. “But of course,” and that is how I came to have a little cuddle and a picture. He was completely charming, and when the Artistic Director of the Serpentine tried to drag him away to meet more worthy patrons, he said “not yet, I am having my picture taken.” So Mr. Hans-Ulrich Obrist and another guest had no choice but to hop into our photo as well.IMG-20170622-WA0029

A beautiful pavilion, an utterly divine architect and a gorgeous summer night…why haven’t I been doing this for years?

On the Summer Solstice and London Commons….90/100

cofI suppose THE place to be on the summer solstice is Stonehenge. But I loath Stonehenge. My youngest drew a picture of me being sad at Stonehenge a few years ago, when yet another American guest demanded to visit. The drawing hangs proudly on the refrigerator. Why do I hate it so? Because it is just a bunch of rocks. In a field. That takes 2 very very very long hours to get to from my house, a journey that feels even longer as it shouldn’t take that long at all. If only all those idiot gawkers on the 303 didn’t make the traffic crawl along. Actually it doesn’t even crawl. It stands still, with occasional bursts of forward movement. And no, it isn’t a Druid site. The Victorians made that up. So you put all those ridiculous costumes away. (it is actually much older ….but I just can’t muster any enthusiasm…). However, the summer solstice I do love. The longest day of the year in a country that can often be dark and cold. And what better place to spend it than with Alice on the Common.

DSC_0017_18 (2)London is a very green city. Surprisingly green when you read the stats. Of course there are the 8 beautiful Royal Parks, which would have all been royal hunting grounds back in their day, and cover almost 5,000 acres in Greater London.  But the Commons are for the people, hence the name, a place where people could have grazed their sheep. I googled the total acreage in London and got a long list of public green spaces with the footnote that other large, green spaces are recognized under a different Commons Act….suffice to say, London has a lot of protected, common land. And while the sheep may have gone, we don’t need the land any less. In fact, given the closeness that is modern urban living, we need them even more. Down here in SW London, everyone uses the Commons. Dog walkers, exercise clubs, cyclists, football leagues of all ages, cricket, lots of cricket. Rugby too. Families, teenagers, runners, power walkers, packs of chattering women holding takeaway coffees.  My youngest had a lacrosse training session on Wandsworth Common last Sunday. All the local schools use the Commons for games, coffor matches, running children round. And in the hot weather people just lay themselves down, anywhere, and soak up the rays. I have always lived near a Common, in London. Our first house was close to Wandsworth Common. Our second equidistant between Wandsworth and Tooting Bec. Now we live just off Tooting Bec Common, a sprawling area of green that even boasts its own Lido. That is an outdoor, public swimming pool to my non-UK friends. Clapham Common is only up the road and I have run more races round it than I can count. These three Commons are a reason that southwest London is such a desirable place for families to live. Maintained by the local council, these spaces are taken seriously by local residents. Very seriously. Recently, CrossRail   (a new speedy railway) development threatened a corner of Wandsworth Common……wow, I have never seen residents so angry, so motivated, so engaged. No way was that going to happen. And by use of all democratic processes available, it didn’t. Thankfully.

sdrSo when Alice suggested we meet up, in the evening, on the Common, Wandsworth Common, how could I say no. We bought gin and tonics from the Hope Pub and carrieddig them across the street, you are allowed to do that here. Flopped down on the rather parched grass, it has been hot, hot, hot lately, with Alice’s gorgeous dog Peppa next to us.  We watched a game of softball played by two London Adult Mixed Softball League teams, strangers all. The level of skill was impressive from these Brits. We mdecheered for both sides. And we set the world to rights. For hours. The sun stayed out….and eventually turned the sky to that amazing inky blue.

Stonehenge can remain the venue for misinformed, historically inaccurate, aging hippies. Southwest London, on the Common, is the truly perfect location for the solstice, and perfect it was.

 

On Smashing Plates…89/100

davOne of the great things about living abroad for so long is the opportunity to blend cultures. Sometimes the mix is, well, excuse the pun, but sometimes the mix is SMASHING!

In August of 2012, while the older two were away at a Scottish outdoor adventure camp, I took the younger two to Mull, an island off the west coast of Scotland, better known to most of us as Balamory. Yes, those colourful houses on the water do exist, in fact it is a beautiful place,  rugged and hilly with lots of art everywhere, but I digress. While on Balamory, a summer fete in honour of the RNLI (Lifeboats) coftook place and one of the restaurants on the water was getting rid of their old place settings. They set the stuff up on wooden shelves and for few coins you could hurl cricket balls at the plates and bowls….and well, is there anything quite so satisfying as the sound of breaking crockery. I knew instantly that this would be the perfect THE PERFECT stall for me to run at the annual Northcote Lodge Summer Fair, the gorgeous English prep school both my boys attended, at the time. And run it I did…for 5 consecutive Fairs.

On a serious note, a very good friend of mine, a Vicar who also runs an organization to help adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, told me recently that they often set up a crockery smashing pit at their retreats. When asked if participants would like to donate money or just bring crockery to break they inevitably choose the latter. There is just something so satisfying, cathartic even, about it.

davBut where, I hear you saying, is the American twist. Aaahh….do you remember my post three back, when I told the tale of London baseball. At my plate smashing stall we don’t use cricket balls. I drag the enormous canvas sack of old baseballs and softballs out of the basement. The kids are fascinated. Yes, they have seen them in the movies, but to hold an actual one in their hands is a novelty. They are especially taken with the softballs. I don’t bother to explain the difference, size is all that matters at this age. Remember also in that same post how I explained that all 4 of my children have played up at Wormwood Scrubs, year after year after year. What I may have left out is that for many years, they often played on two teams, each, simulataneously. The junior team in the morning and the seniors in the afternoon. Now take a moment and do the maths. How many team jerseys (of various sizes) and caps do you think I have had in my house. Oh, yeah, and my husband often coached all these teams and had swag as well. What a perfect way to recycle all this stuff, as prizes. Prizes just for participating. How American is that!  I can’t lie. There is something so privately pleasing about looking round at the end of the Fair and seeing boy after boy after boy wearing an American baseball team jersey or cap.

13433356_1375691929124191_2703113526929270780_o3 years ago someone donated a Frozen mug. The boys went crazy trying to break it. Suddenly there was target above all the others. It took a while, but someone finally did get it, to the cheers of all his schoolmates. Last year it was a One Direction mug that caused the frenzy, and because there is justice in my little corner of America that is the plate smashing stall, a very quiet and shy boy won the honour. Hero for the evening.

 

cof

This year I outdid myself. As a joke, I promise as a joke, someone at the office gave Craig a Trump 2016 coffee cup. It was enormous. Of course it was. Craig gavecof it to our older son Joseph, who posted photos of it on social media and got the insane response from his friends he hoped for. But that was back in February, so I convinced him that the joke was long over and it was now my turn to have a little fun. And destroy it. The reaction was incredible. You could have been excused for thinking you were at a Make America Great Again rally for all the chanting of Trump, Trump, Trump as each youngster stepped up, baseballs at the ready, hoping to be the one to give it the final blow. I must admit, it took a long, long time. Ole golden Donny T proved to be rather indestructible as ball after ball, tumble aftedavr tumble, left it unscathed. But finally it happened, and again justice was meted out, as it wasn’t one of the older, stronger boys,  one of those who had been baying for its blood, but a young one, named Finn. He was thrilled, beyond thrilled. He asked for the pieces which I put carefully into a plastic bag to take home. What he parents thought of it all I have no idea. Nor do I care. My game, my rules. And I love it.

 

Speaking of the parents, the school wisely keeps my stall in the cricket nets (covered in tarpaulin) in the lower playground. The Bar (of course there is alcohol at the school fair, this is England, parents wouldn’t come otherwise) in the upper playground. Therefore, there is obviously no need for them to ever wander down and see the potentially dangerous (those shards fly!) activity their precious son is engaged in. And I am happy to report that in the 5 years I am the only one to ever be injured. I always manage to cut myself on something, but a small price to pay. Occasionally a Dad will come along, bolstered by rose in the sun, and ask to play. I always warn them they will only embarrass themselves. A cricket bowl doesn’t do much when trying to break stuff on a shelf, as the ball goes down rather than straight, and while the boys can manage to adjust, the Dads can’t. Usually they just miss entirely. This year, a father managed to hit a teacher who was foolishly poking his head round the side. I was totally unsympathetic. I told you so, I said to them both13482916_1375692019124182_4454196663676850203_o. They sheepishly returned to the bar, where they belonged.

This past Friday night was my last time as the Northcote Plate Smashing Queen because Stephen is moving on to secondary school. But I certainly went out with a bang. How I managed to get away with it, there isn’t anything health and safety about it, I don’t know.  But boy did the boys love it. Boy did I love it. And for two short hours  that nagging existential question: Why am I here? was answered. My epithet may read “she let boys smash things,” and that would be very good indeed.

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On the House of Dreams…88/100

davI keep a pretty, fabric covered file box in which I collect all the pages ripped from magazines and newspapers of things I desperately wish to see. The write-up about the House of Dreams from Time Out is so old it is crumpled and the edges have ripped away. This incredible homage to life is tucked quietly away in East Dulwich and only open a few times a year, and never when I could make it. Until yesterday. Was it worth the wait? Oh yes. Was it what I expected? No. No, not at all. It was crazy and colourful and wild. It was also emotional, a house that has experienced grief, but ultimately it is a validation that life and love are worth celebrating.

Grief. Well there is certainly plenty of that going round London at the moment. Two terror attacks, the after effects of Manchester and then the Grenfell Tower fire. A tragedy so shocking, so horrific, it doesn’t seem possible in the year 2017, in a major world capital. And yet it happened. And the reactions of the politicians, of all stripes, has been mind blowing in its collective paucity. Only the Queen managed to give the people what they want, what they need. But then, that is why she is the Queen. People themselves, of course, have responded tremendously. Even pop star Rita Ora was lugging packs of water. But the full-scale of this misery hasn’t yet been realized. And years of questions, anger and grief await. This was also the weekend that the widower of the murdered MP Jo Cox, the one who said more unites us than divides us, asked the UK to hold street parties to show a little love to our neighbours. Apparently,  over 100,000 such events took place yesterday and today. I am sure the fact that the weather has been unusually warm, sweltering actually, helped add to the good humour that comes of people being together. We seem to know the direction we need to go, even if our so-called leaders haven’t a clue.  The House of Dreams was therefore a perfectly timed experience as it  makes you realize that life isn’t always measured in the big and the grand, but more often in those small moments we make our own.

This house, the whole house,  except for a tiny bit of personal space upstairs, on ancof otherwise nondescript south London street,  is an art installation. It is the brain child of Stephen Wright, a successful fashion and textile designer who, in 1998, began creating a safe, magical space away from the overwhelmingness of London, with his then partner Donald Jones. Gaudi-esque mosaics inside and out, collages and assemblages using souvenirs, toys, relics of daily living. An Aladdin’s cave of things most of us throw away, but only after we have kept them preciously.

On Christmas Eve 2004 Donald died. Soon afterwards, Stephen’s father and mother also died. The 3 most important people in Wright’s  life gone within the space of 18 months. How does one begin to rebuild after this grief? How does an artist begin to rebuild? By building, of course. Not a shrine to the dead, so much, but a shrine to life. To lives that have been lived, lives filled with laughter, filled with love. The entry hall is covered in writing. In fact there is writing throughout the house. Not horrible, pithy, meme-esque clichés, but thoughtful, often funny, sentences. In this front hall is a long passage, taken straight from Wright’s diary, about Donald’s death in hospital and subsequent funeral. To say it packs a serious punch is an understatement. He was asked if he was afraid to see Donald’s body laid out. Why, he responded, I was never afraid of him before. Why would I be now.

cof10 years ago, Stephen met his current partner, Michael Vaughan. Michael doesn’t contribute directly to the installation, but provides endless emotional and intellectual support, though, it might be fair to say that his thoughts on the project are sometimes different from Stephen’s. In a lovely 14 minute video about the house, there is a wonderful scene where Stephen brings home some old curlers from a car boot sale and Michael suggests they go straight into a strong solution of bleach. No, no Stephen insists, he wants them to retain the strands of hair, evidence of the person who has used them, proof of the life they touched. And that is what the house has become, evidence of being, of having been. People he has known, and recently, more often, strangers. Isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day, for someone else out there in the world to say: you lived and you mattered and I  will miss you forever.

Stephen and Michael do all the meeting and greeting and chatting themselves. They arecof utterly, utterly, utterly charming, like men of a certain age often are. Welcoming and kind, they are a  couple you could easily spend hours and hours with, sitting in their lush back garden, enjoying soft cheese and crisp wine and laughing, laughing and laughing while solving all world problems. The property has already been promised to the National Trust, and while it will no doubt preserve the House beautifully, the absence of these divine hosts will be noticeable.

I honoured their request not to take pictures inside, it is their home after all, though was allowed to snap away in the gardens. Truthfully, my feeble photographic attempts would not have done the interiors justice, and they deserve to be experienced first hand.  The front garden is concealed from the street by blue boards. You push open the door and viola….you are in a magical land, made all the more so on my visit by the strong London sunshine which cast everything in an ethereal glow. Mosaics, sculptures, lush greenery davand one of the best two lines I have ever read. In fact, if I were a mantra kind of girl this would be it:

I want an Adventure

My life could have been like that. But it’s like this.

The back garden isn’t as filled with art work, instead it is a garden so full you could be excused for forgetting you are in London at all. As Michael explained, there used to a garden centre at the end of the road and obviously it was nearly impossible to walk by without seeing something irresistible. Perhaps that captures the essence of the House of cofDreams, and of the artist himself. Wright can’t walk through his days without seeing something irresistible, extraordinary, dreamlike, sentimental in things we otherwise might no longer notice. Baby dolls, ceramic tiles, reading glasses, glass beads, old shoes, his father’s false teeth, and I swear, as you walk round you can hear them whispering…look at us, look at us, look at us. WE REMAIN.

 

 

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On Borough Market…& food for the soul 87/100

IMG_20160325_134702Oh how I love Borough Market. How my husband loves Borough Market. In fact, it may be the single thing in London he really, really likes, as he finds my beloved city loud, crowded, dirty, inconvenient and ridiculously expensive. All of which is true. But I love it still. And Borough Market is certainly top of the list. I would never consider myself a foodie, far from actually, but there is something about the quality and the beauty of the market that makes it irresistible. It lulls you into believing you can cook anything, turn every meal into a feast, excite every taste possible. I have davstruggled home with bulging sacks filled with fruit and vegetables, not the boring kinds but the good stuff: artichokes, figs, pomegrantes, mushrooms. Once I decided that I had to have a dozen blood oranges too. Certianly appreciated by my family, but bloody heavy to carry home. Cheeses, saucisson with hazelnuts, Spanish ham, olives, bread, fish, exotic meats, cake, licorice, everything that looks good, and it all looks good. Why I haven’t written about it before, I don’t know. But now is certainly the time. Sadly, sadly now is the time. Following the devastating terror attack, the market was closed for 11 days. But it has reopened, and I was there.

cofThere has been a market, in one form or another, at London Bridge, for at least 1,000 years. Over the centuries, and more recently, the decades, the market’s size and success has waxed and wained, and by the 1970’s the growth of the supermarket made the market obsolete. But nothing this good could be gone forever. In the 1990s the interest in local and artisan foods began to grow. A collection of traders met once a month, then once a week and now the Market is open Monday-Saturday and has stalls from all overIMG_20160325_135011 the UK and Europe. A quick glance down the current trader list includes Spanish cheese, vegetarian pasties made with Balkan recipes, French pastries, olives from Greece, Turkish condiments, Oysters from Essex and  charcuterie from south Wales…you get the idea. It is a destination for anyone interested in food of any kind. It is also a popular spot for after work drinks and dinner. A gorgeous place to spend a warm Saturday night. Hence the horror that took place there only two weeks ago. And why I had to go back as quickly as I could.

davThis time I wanted to be a little more organized than usual, not just roam round and grab anything and everthing that appealed. I wanted to prepare something exclusively sourced. Given how hot the weather has been, I decided on a salad, a gorgeous, colourful summer salad. A Borough Market salad. I chatted with vendors, all of whom were so happy to be back at work. “Everyone is coming with so much love,” the adorable olive seller told me. The market was crowded, but less so than I have seen before. Everyone was taking pictures. Not just the hideous selfie versions, or artistically arranged piles of peppers, but of the market itself, as if people wanted to prove that life was continuing on. I shared my idea of the salad and got great suggestions. In the end, I made something really rather beautiful. And delicious. Rocket, bibs of many colours, tomatoes  in all their many, many shades of sunset, black olives and violets. A treat for the eye and the stomach. Made with so much love, food for the soul.

Instagram: @mylondonpassion