Being that we work so jolly far away from our flat, we don’t seem to get a great deal done on weekdays here. However that makes weekends more important to get out there and do stuff! Last weekend we were both sick so didn’t do a great deal except discovering Chinatown in Soho on saturday to stock up on soy sauce etc, and a long lunch on Sunday in a ‘gastropub’ for some friends’ birthdays, which are all the rage here (gastropubs that is, not birthdays, although they are popular too), but unfortunately no-one has really introduced the whole concept of vegetarianism or veganism to them. That said, the pea, fetta and and leek pie I had was very good, I was just surrounded on all sides by lashings of sausages, roasts and game. Vego restaurants here, of which there are quite a few, are seemingly not as good as ones in Australia due to the whole British meat fetish. Two out of three vego restaurants/cafes we have been to have served mock-meat as their speciality, and not the asian style but full-on mock-hamburgers etc. We had burgers last weekend at Red-Veg, and I’m not sure why they bother as they were so very MacDonalds-esque right down to the pickle, that I had terrible golden arches flashbacks from my mis-spent youth. The other place, Eat and Two Veg is a bit better as they do a few non meaty dishes but also have a range of burgers and sausages. I guess the idea is good if you manage to convert a few meat eaters (and I guess what with the mad cow thing and now bird flu there’s no better time to convert) but I couldn’t even finish my burger, it turned me right off.
Getting back onto the topic, this weekend we decided to head to Spitalfields market for the Taste East fesival, being east enders we thought we should support our local festival. It was pretty much what is there most sundays though, with lots of specialty food stalls selling mainly country meats and cheeses, boring, although I did hang around the bread stall a while and also perused the dried fruit stall, and glanced once or twice at the middle eastern sweets stall with rows of turkish delight and baklava. While at the market we discovered an art gallery that displays ‘light art’, ie works of art that are made using lights of all different colours, film projections, strobing, magnets, light-sensitive wall paint, perspex shapes to split the light into different component colours etc. It was free so we went in! It was actually very good although I don’t think a lot of people went in as it looked a bit closed from outside, being dark and all.
We then set out on a London walk – we bought a set of cards with set ‘touristy’ walks on them, explanation on one side and map on the other, and have been attempting to do one per week – should keep us busy for a year. We have done Sloane Square, Borough Markets, Tower Bridge, Spitalfields, and now Liverpool St station to Old Street station, well technically we were supposed to do it the other way round but we found ourselves near Liverpool St and we do have a habit of doing things from back to front (like our experience in the famous Berlin Jewish Museum which is supposed to tell a story as you move through the path of the building, not much made sense to us till we got to the end and discovered we’d done the whole thing backwards – how did we miss all those backwards arrows? Too busy looking at the building) So the walk was great, my favourite bit was an old cemetary from the 17th century in Finsbury Square, very nice relaxing place, meandering through old moss-covered tombstones gradually eroding away so you can’t read the inscriptions on most of them but I did see quite a few dates around 1728 etc, and we stumbled across the stones of Daniel Defoe and William Blake! For some reason there were copper coins lined up along the top of Blake’s stone, not sure why. After that I bored Justin stupid by going to a knitting supplies shop as you do, so I can now be fruitfully engaged at home in the evenings with scarf making, he’ll thank me though as it’s not just a hobby but a matter of survival in this cold cold city.
Last night we decided to turn up to the Barbican Centre, our new favourite place in London (I want to live there but it costs too much), on the off chance that we might be able to get last-minute tickets to a performance, which we did, we got £12 tickets to see ‘the Bull’ a performance by the Fabulous Beast dance/theatre company from Ireland. It was a contemporary interpretation of an ancient Irish tale of a couple who fight over who is worth more, he owns a prize bull and she decides to obtain one to match his wealth, starting a feud between them and another family resulting in much death and destruction, it’s a bit like Hamlet in that everyone ends up dead – except actually not like Hamlet, because there’s not even anyone left to say a rhyming couplet to wrap the whole thing up. Instead all the dead people got up and did a hugely energetic dance and drum performance using real drums as well as upturned flower pots and banging sticks, shovels, cement mixers etc, in the rain (water falling from the ceiling strategically avoiding the drums) in the mud (the stage set was a big mound of dirt which started off pristine and gradually got dug in, rolled in, wet with hoses, scattered with fake money etc) So it was all a bit confusing but great fun and worth every penny! (I can say that now we deal in pennies – or pents as Justin calls them, 1 pent, 2 pents…) Especially as we walked out after the performance into the foyer and were handed a glass of champagne as we just happened to be there on the 25th anniversary of the Barbican Centre! Perfect timing.