Winter in London

St Paul’s Cathedral & Millenium Bridge

So it was after New Zealand that we packed our bags to head out to London to see in the New Year. Yes, I know, we’re past January but I wanted to share something ‘wintery’ since we’re still in the season!  It was a nice contrast to my summer in Leeds but I didn’t expect the early winter to be mild – the trees and flowers bulb were trying to flower – thoroughly confusing for the poor plants!  And because it was nice and mild, we enjoyed taking photos more.  I just cannot imagine shivering away in the cold trying to hold a camera steady and clicking the shutter.

I read in the local Tourist Info Office that London was formed out of a multitude of little villages in the area.  Perhaps that’s why a ‘market town’ culture is dominant in this city.  I love the buzz, the food smells (even in the financial district!) and the sheer ‘Englishness’ of it all. While there are a large number of markets in London, the three well-known ones that we visited were Covent Garden, Borough Market and Camden Lock Market.

Each had it’s own charm and uniqueness.  So here’s a collection of my pics of these vibrant markets:

Covent Garden:

Arguably the most well known of the three markets here, Covent Garden is a riot of music and song on the weekends.  There are buskers galore and people not only get to nibble along the way but are thoroughly entertained at the same time!  I loved how the busker in the picture gave a beautiful aria to all of us walking in the courtyard or having a cup of tea.  Despite her petite look, her voice filled the cavernous courtyard!  These days, I think Covent Garden is visited not so much for its food but more for its music and entertainment.

Borough Market:

Built under the rail tracks (much like the shops in Ueno, Japan), Borough Market is a whole sale fruit and vegetable market.  It is also reflective of the cosmopolitan city that London is and the market pays tribute to foods and produce from around the world.  The beauty of this market is being able to rummage through fresh produce and talk to shopkeepers who are fiercely proud of knowing where their food comes from.  One particular butcher called ‘The Ginger Pig’ even has a farm outside of London and brings his lovely pork to sell in his city store.  I hope this concept of knowing the link of where our food comes from catches on in Asia. After all that heavy duty marketing, one can then make a pit-stop to the many little stalls that sell a mind-boggling variety of food – not only is there traditional English food like fish and chips, but also French, Thai, Italian, Turkish and a whole lot more that regrettably, I hadn’t the time to investigate!  Food smells here waft through the air, putting out subliminal recipe thoughts as you wander through the maze of shops 🙂  And if your other half is bored by all that food, send him to the many pubs that surround the market!

Camden Lock Village Market :

Ah, Camden Lock Village Market and the Stables – what a funky place!  Preservation at its best – an old large stable and lock that transformed into an expansive village market.  One can find all sorts of things here from old books, ‘vintage’ suitcases and photos to clothes and food.  Take a walk along the canal path, meander through the markets of Camden and then chomp through some Turkish kebabs and a strong coffee 🙂 I spent a good four hours here on the Sunday that we came for a visit and if not for the rain, would’ve stayed longer!

Markets in London are not open all the time so be sure to check websites to which I’ve included links in the first paragraph of this blog article.  Transport to all markets is easily accessible by tube as well as bus.  So next time you have a chance to visit London, drop by a couple of markets for some good walking exercise and reward yourself with the scrumptious food available 🙂