Monday, 6 February 2017

'Shrooms and Liqourice and sour grapes.

We came out of The Shard, on our big day out in London, and I was feeling quite poorly. Robyn walked up to London Bridge, which she hadn't been to before but I didn't feel up to it so I waited for her and took in all the sights and sounds of Borough High Street, while I got myself together.

I used to come to this part of London a lot when I was working - the last time was in 2011 and it's changed a lot since then.

Southwark is one of the oldest parts of London, it was from one of the pubs on the High Street that Chaucer's Pilgrims set off for Canterbury, amusing themselves by telling tales on the way.

A short walk away was 'The Liberty of Clink' which was the site of London's original 'Red Light' district, it was where Shakespeare staged most of his plays and it was where people came for fast food, fairs and frolics in the middle ages. On the river by Southwark were the famous 'Frost Fairs' when it froze over in the 'Mini Ice Age' of the 18th century.

As I waited for Robyn I marvelled at the number of tourists flocking to Borough Market - in my day this was a depressed and failing fruit and vegetable market that served a local population that was quite deprived.

Over the years, big firms of accountants opened offices on the riverside, local working class people started to get forced out by the rents and the lack of traditional jobs and the whole area changed.

When Robyn got back we walked through the 'new' Borough Market; there's been a market here for a thousand years although not on the same site.

The building was crammed with tourists and 'foodies', who would never have come here 10 years ago;

There's continental cheese;

All under the shadow of ancient Southwark cathedral;

It's impossible not to be impressed by a stall selling Liquorice from all around the world;

There were fish stalls selling some beautiful fresh fish - there were expensive meats from all over Europe and lots of cooked food stalls.

My favourite was 'mushroom corner';

But these little baskets are £9-50 each, when you can buy a bigger basket (of slightly less exotic ones but still nice - ceps and chanterelles) for about £1-50 in Tesco's.

But what a display;

I do like a nice 'shroom.

I didn't bother to ask about the price of these; a jar of truffles hiding modestly just out of view;

There are still fruit and veg stalls but a bit on the pricey side;

I'm being sour - I was starting to lose it in the market. Too many people and too much pain and we still had quite a way to go.....our day wasn't over yet.

We struggled out and walked along Borough High Street to the Tube station. I could see it all going upmarket as we walked by....regenerating in front of my eyes.....with every third shop shuttered up with the builders in. 

The question is 'where do the people go to?'

Opposite the Tube we caught our bus (Robyn is amazing with buses, I never got the hang of them myself) and I collapsed gratefully into a seat.

We headed off through the Elephant and Castle and over the river for the last part of our special day out.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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