Sunday, 15 June 2008

happy birthday cabbage

On Friday night after some reading and research I decided that we should to give our eyes another treat and see the Borough Markets in London which are apparently quite famous and very good. The funny thing was that on two previous visits to London I was completely unaware of the existence of the markets even though on more than one occasion I would've been in spitting distance (if I spat, which I don't - ugh) of them but was oblivious. And now that I've been I keep on hearing about them. They've even popped up in a book that I'm reading (Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver) which is nicely coincidental. I really like reading books when I travel that relate to where I am and must confess that when choosing the books I brought with me I packed some books that would suit each place. I'm saving the Marcel Pagnol for Paris and I've reread 44 Scotland Street in preparation for Edinburgh. Anyway I borrowed PBW from the library because I'd heard good things (it's like a highbrow version of Sliding Doors) and knew that Lionel (a woman) had won the orange prize for We need to talk about Kevin, which I tried to read but gave up. I started reading PBW when I was tired and was feeling a bit de ja vu about the whole thing. But then I read it after the visit to Borough Market (which I promise I will talk about in a second) and the main character Irina lives in Borough and shops at the market (she bought rhubarb) and I was pleased. I am persevering and being rewarded. So I did the research and looked at maps and found the closest train station and decided that it should be easy to find even with my off kilter sense of direction. We caught the train (which was crowded and raucous) and got off at London Bridge station. We walked out of the exit and there it was, we didn't get lost, not once, which is unusual in itself.
The markets were fantastic. They looked and smelt wonderful. There were so many wonderful things to choose from and they were by far the best markets I have been to by far (and as you know I've been to a few). There was fruit and veg, bread, chocolate, ice cream, one stall that just sold tomatoes and another asparagus, olives, chorizo, wonderfully odoriferous cheeses, venison and alot more. It was very crowded so Jack and S went next door to the lawn of the Southwark Cathedral to wait while I perused and sniffed and sighed with satisfaction. It was a treat for someone whose culinary senses have been so treated so shabbily of late. Being Australian and it being time for lunch we did the sensible thing and bought a sausage sandwich, but not just any sausage. Mine was a wild boar sausage with a piquant tomato sauce and rocket and S had the Londoner sausage, which was Pork with thyme. They're very keen on their pork here. Very keen. Jack had a Nutella sandwich (not from the market). Then for dessert I bought some Cornish ice cream. Chocolate for S (and Jack) and lavender and honey for me. Mine was okay but a little too stalky. If I was making that ice cream (as she thinks fondly of her ice cream maker languishing in the cupboard at home) I would just use the flowers. The stalks are very strong and a little tough and I felt like I was eating Nana's hand cream. The chocolate was good though or so I was told.
After making some purchases to take back to the manor we strolled down to the Thames. I've had a bug up my butt about making sure that S saw the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.. Not sure why but maybe because they are so iconic and made such an impression on me my first day here (13 years ago!). So we strolled along the Thames to take a gander. As we got close a lot of planes started flying in formation overhead and then a cannon started firing, repeatedly. This being London it does make you pause for a second but all the air power and noise was for the Cabbage (HRH) who was having her birthday celebrations (even though her birthday is in April and June was her father's birthday). In other parts of London there was lots of pomp and ceremony to be had and we had decided to avoid these due to the crowds but we ended up getting some anyway. The cannon near the Tower kept going and S suggested that it was a 21 gun salute but then it really just kept going and going. In the photos you can see all the smoke. It turns out they fire the cannon 62 times. And the planes just kept on flying overhead. They are the tiny specks in the photos.
After that was done with we strolled some more and I snuck into Starbucks to use the loo. Normally I would feel guilty but you know it's Starbucks. S and I were happy, Jack was happy so we decided to head home while we were feeling tiptop. Jack flirted briefly on the train (which arrived 1 minute after we got to the station) then fell asleep. I had given my eyes a treat and had a bag of goodies for the party that was planned at the manor that night. Splendid!
Apologies for any florid prose as I was imbibing cough syrup as I wrote this post (see what I mean?)

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