London Markets... A Street Sensation!

It's market day in London any day of the week, so here's three markets in the capital that grab my attention! From Shadwell's Watney Market to the Camden Market, we've got to be savvy in this skyrocketing city and live well at the same time. Leave out the ripe strawberries or anything else those ladies from Oliver sold, but I'll see Columbia Road Flower Market for certain! 

Deep within an emerging part of the East End of London is Shadwell's Watney Market, a small yet functional fair of fruit, household items and a sense of Islamic life. Meeting this East London market for the first time in December 2014 by pure coincidence I snapped away like a paparazzo, something that normal passersby couldn't really understand. Knowing that Eastenders isn't real I was pleasantly surprised to see a living East End market was good enough to see. Located just off the Commercial Road from one end to Shadwell's DLR and Overground stations, there's always a better connection to access the Realness of Shadwell's Watney Market. Times have been hard for Watney Market but its no secret that London's East End is ever-changing but after delving into the archives its clear to see that Watney Market keeps on trading! Yes E1, some of store owners were serving items of Halal fashion sense! 

London has a long and vibrant history when it concerns its many markets, predominantly centred around the East End its been a way of life for the costermongers, enterprising from the day dot its changing now but the history will hopefully remain? I really do hope so! Along with Shadwell's Watney Market there's also Pettitcoat Lane Market and the trendier Old Spitalfields Market its difficult to say in what motion these London markets are going to go in the future? I have a feeling that London's had tougher knocks before so the now smaller markets of London's East End still create an impression and serve their communities. I saw certain items of Islamic fashion being sold during my time at Shadwell's Watney Market, a sure sign of the demographic from the local area. Like I mentioned before the best thing I liked about Watney Market was that it served a sense of Walford's fictional East End market in a loose sense because Shadwell's got the real thing! Roll up E1!

Camden Town is supposedly where some of the cool kids hangout? For this one I'll keep an open mind because Camden Town serves something different for me! Yes, Camden Town's Roundhouse might bring the beat but I'm on about Camden Town Market! Set close to Camden Lock the market offers a whole range of alternative fashion and a lot more. I have been to Camden around three times but I only browse because I don't like spending my pennies at all! Leaving the clothes behind us for a short interval its always great to take a seat on a moped style seat to eat some international street food and take in the views of Camden Town along the Grand Union Canal? I stayed away from the 'Bang Bang Chicken' because I just didn't trust it but I embraced other international foods alongside Camden Lock. Camden Lock looked just fine me but the first visit was definitely the best! Camden Town sure interests me much!

Camden Town has a bohemian feel about it, well I thought that the three times I took the time to visit! Intertwined with a hint of 'hipster' there's a cool notion around the centre of the action. Back to the market, keeping calm and getting on with proceedings I bought a alternative print t-shirt from one of the huts by the many international food concessions. That side of London brings back memories from my February 2012 visit, re-grouping with some friends who I used to be members of a drama club, we had a great time even though the cold bite our faces. Originally warehouses, the area that now makes up Camden Town Market was almost crafted into a motorway but someone saw sense to make the market official around 1976. London does it again, representing as a market city with a town feeling for Camden Town and Lock both contribute a canal-side experience with a twist! So, looking back Shadwell's Watney Market serves Halal Couture Realness! A floral tone next L?!

Bring me flowers in the pouring rain! No, that wasn't meant to be a question! Bethnal Green's Columbia Road Flower Market fully blooms each Sunday, showcasing a gargantuan range of beautifully coloured flowers for those who embrace a flower power vibe. Dating back to 1869 when flowers weren't the main attraction, no it was all about food and lots of it. Located between Bethnal Green  Hackney this fragrant market street also has many niche shops that looked right up my street during my June 2015 visit. I had firstly discovered the Columbia Road Flower Market during a detour from Bethnal Green's high street, I saw a closed and quiet Victorian street that didn't fit in with the look of the surrounding council flats. Missing the boat because it wasn't Sunday, also the post Christmas weather left me with a lack of vibrancy, so a summer visit had to be planned so I could finally be part of this E2 floral show B!

A certain buzz could be felt around the streets that surrounded Columbia Road the day I visited this flower infused market, I sensed that this market was a hit with tourists and locals alike. I could not believe the sheer amount of people that were attempting to take a glance at one of the many bright and sweet smelling flower stalls. Comparing that crazy situation with the stillness of my previous visit it was made because people really didn't know how to act over a bunch of flowers! Skipping breakfast I was hungry, finding Cakehole for a pot of tea and a deliciously rich slice of Chocolate Orange cake, Located within a cute antique shop that fitted the feeling of that backroom cake cafe. Having my cake and eating it too rounded off my Columbia Road Flower Market nicely, I'll bring you flowers in the pouring rain? Getting a grip of the three London markets that I've been to I don't have a favourite because each one showed me a different flavour entirely. Who said Costermongers?!

Embrace London's Markets!

Joseph Harrison 

E17: Walthamstow, London!

Don't worry Walthamstow it's alright, yes it's really alright! Other parts of London need not stay another day because E17's got that special something! No, I didn't want it to rain but I wasn't expecting for the streets to have such great names! Yes, I'm talking about that Turkish cooking and culture that Waltham's Forest served up! Londra gerçek bir Türk havası vardır! Evet W!

My inner tricking ass self gagged over the choice of street names during my time in Walthamstow, London! Hoe Street served European Realness judging by the wide variety of Eastern European grocery stores and restaurants along that East London street! Romanian, Russian and Polish food stores lined the first section Hoe Street as it tailed away from Walthamstow's high street. I was hungry for some good Turkish cooking that June afternoon, Istanbul had the key to my hunger! Ordering chicken soup, a Beyti Kebab and a ice cold glass of Ayran I was ready to have my taste-buds transported back to Turkey if only for a brief moment. Even though I'm a city boy at heart I just can't stand the pandemonium that tourists bring with them to London, I took the tube from London Bridge to Walthamstow Central via King's Cross St. Pancras. I wish that London's Underground was less expensive but I had the 'stow!

Why Walthamstow? My brother had previously been for a party and didn't approve of E17, he's too much of a home bird if I'm honest. The former members of British 90's pop band E17 all hail from Walthamstow, London so I used that topical reference to bolster my reason for heading to the 'stow! I know that London is an extremely multi-cultural city but E17 proved that notion without a shadow of a doubt, from the vibrant market on the main avenue by Walthamstow Central station to Hoe Street. Hoe Street took that multi-cultural vibe to the next level, hosting a large Turkish community judging by the Eastern European people that passed me by during my afternoon in East London. I might be contradicting myself in a moment! Was I in Essex? Not quite but I did see a few buses heading for Ilford and Woodford, going over the borderline to the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Brownie points for Walthamstow, I was extremely impressed by the freshly made Ayran B!

Some would say that Central London is the only part of the city worth visiting? I disagree with that thought because each neighbourhood in the many London Boroughs all have something different to say, presenting a less of an act compared to the likes of the West End as much as I love that creative corner of London I just can't be doing with all the tourists! Sorry, not sorry! Walthamstow fared to be a part of London that required basic research to see what places deserved my attention, choosing something alternative I favoured the headquarters of the Walthan Forest Council. Following Hoe Street from the Tube I stumbled upon this unassuming part of Walthamstow. Built in 1941 this regal looking Town Hall now boasts Grade II Listed status to protect it from any modification. Things were really quiet that June afternoon, giving me the chance to not look the fool, its not an average hotspot! I don't care!

After serving Town Hall Overness I didn't really have much else planned apart from heading to a Turkish bakery but that would happen soon enough. During my pre-Walthamstow research I was intrigued by the former Walthamstow Stadium dog racing track, which looked worth a nose around but places change so I kept that idea on the back burner, trust me to walk for an age when I decided I wanted to find the dogs! I usually approved of a little bit of gentrification within a city but Walthamstow's Village left me feeling flat, on social media they promote the street as a Nouveau-Riche quarter but it didn't have much edge or personality! Oh, yes I just expressed that shade! Loose the Artisan feel and shun the pressure to be trendy in a conventional sense E17 because you're already serving Realness without a shadow of a doubt! Turkish food done! I hadn't completely had my fix of Turkish delights in Walthamstow but I'll get to that chestnut guh! No, hipsters! Go sit down!

Sour Cherry juice and Ulker treats? Yes, Walthamstow's Akdeniz Turkish Market unlocked the key to a world of Turkish groceries that I last saw in Turkey during the summer of 2013! As if I couldn't be anymore hungry I found another Turkish foodie treat! How about some Turkish tea and savoury Gozleme? Yes, please Walthamstow! Niyazi Usta had caught my eye not long after getting off the Tube from South London, I had so much choice so I left this Turkish gem before I got the bus back to London Bridge. I had been so greedy that day, going one further by taking away a seriously sweet Turkish pastry from Niyazi Usta. Look for a little Turkish lady who will be sat in the window making the Gozleme's fresh for order, I chose a cheese and spinach Gozleme but I had to get that wrapped up aswell! Thankfully I had walked a lot that day because I had eaten so much good food! Yes, E17 serves Turkish Delight Realness!

Getting away from the tourist traps by the River Thames gave me the chance to see so much cultural diversity, also reconnecting with a Turkish vibe was absolutely amazing! Walthamstow holds many identities but its Turkish influence allowed me to eat some delicious food and to find freshly made Ayran! It's unclear if Walthamstow's dog days are over yet but I did my research anyhow. Ditching the London Underground for the 48 bus to London Bridge I was baffled by the sheer amount of Romanian businesses that operate within E17, from Romanian barbershops to a bar called 'Bar Transylvania!'. Challenging the concept of Walthamstow Village gave me a sense of nothingness because Hoe Street served a side of E17 that I imagined would be there. That Town Hall impressed me much! E17; Walthamstow, you already know that everything's going to be alright! I'm not going to apologise about making cheesy references to E17's lyrics, I know that I'm good with that!

Walthamstow... It's Really Alright!

Joseph Harrison 

London - Limehouse, Canary Wharf & Poplar

London's got many looks, moving forward with the times during a phase that questions the make-up of London historic Docklands. Delving further into the Docklands I wanted to see how the everyday folk and professionals operate side by side. Staying in love with a certain city I saw a new side to Limehouse that I previously didn't know existed! Yes, I'll get to Poplar! 

London's Limehouse Basin hasn't always been a swish canal-side address! Limehouse worked its waters back in the earlier years of London's busy industrious past. Receiving vessels from Scandinavia, America, Belgium and other far out posts, the work was hard but that that's how London's Docklands made its money! From 1820 to 1969 there was a whole lot of coal and ice being processed through this southern terminus of our grand canal network. This E14 waterfront is connected by the Docklands Light Railway its not difficult to be a city slicker! The former Docksmen literally worked their fingers to the bone, there wasn't modern machinery for those working men around Limehouse's former powerhouse. Oh, they worked it! Nowadays, the money is made from the heights of the many towering glass fronted skyscrapers at Canary Wharf, the suits wouldn't like to that former Docklands way of life. No L!

Those converted storehouses may now be hot property for those with the budget but remove that notion for a moment, the Medland and Bergen Wharves welcomed large shipments of fruit, timber and ice. The Limehouse Basin was a distribution centre for London, spreading the wealth across the city to their respected addresses. Colder than ice those frozen shipments were packed off to the fishmongers, ice cream parlours and butchers of London and quite possibly beyond. Sipping their speciality Starbucks Coffee and negotiating a business deal of another kind, the pro's of Canary Wharf operate from their futuristic offices to carry on the Docklands knack of enterprising. The Docklands got a new groove in the 1980's, transforming those forgotten storehouses into luxury apartments that boasted convenient marina views. I wouldn't mind sitting one of those balconies with a strong drink as the lights flash from Canary Wharf! Limehouse's Basin impressed me so!

Westferry DLR Station passed by, I wasn't having contractions but I wanted to 'Call The Midwife' when I saw the signs for Poplar! My sights were set upon the former residence of the midwives from Nonnatus House, to be honest the majority of Poplar served Tower Halmets Realness with the abundance of council flats but I'm not going to judge the Poplar that stood before that June afternoon. Depicting a Poplar from the 1950's the midwives of Nonnatus House worked to serve the expectant mothers of E14, delivering up to one hundred babies per week. After seeing the latest series of  'Call The Midwife' in late 2014 I had to see what was left of Poplar's baby boom! Home to many seamen and immigrants from the rapid expansion of London's port I recognised a certain modern Islamic flare present in Poplar during my visit. Have the towels and tea ready, Poplar needs to 'Call The Midwife!' Those babies B!

Hold that gas and air! Poplar stood under the umbrella that was Canary Wharf as it overshadowed the low lying council projects that now exist. Those banking corporations rule the skyline around that London Docklands region, leaving the marinas of Limehouse Basin in the distance I looked up from an ordinary Poplar street with a state of confusion for the HSBC's didn't match the grey council flats! The ways of midwifery may well have changed within the streets of the East End of London it was easier to imagine the what Poplar might have looked like in the 1950's along Woodstock Terrace with the aged look from the Victorian terraces. Poplar's Recreation Ground had a sense of calm about it, considering the number crunching centre of Canary Wharf being on the doorstep! The ways of delivering babies probably hasn't changed a whole lot but the nuns of Nonnatus House made their contribution to the mothers and babies during Poplars past! Yes, I want the gas!

One moment, E14! London's Chinatown began its day around the streets of Limehouse, East London. Those Shanghai sailors called London home not long after dropping their ships anchor along the banks of London's busy Docklands. Limehouse served some serious Chinatown Overness from the 1880's to the later 19th century before London's Chinese community up-sticks Westwards to Soho. Comprised of Oriental supermarkets, gambling dens and restaurants there's not much left of London's former Chinatown. Washing the suds away from those epic Chinese sea crossings its believed yesterdays Chinatown boasted many launderettes or washing houses, instilling the strong Chinese work ethic that was instilled by the earliest Chinese settlers to London. Ming Street and Canton Street both bore names that resonate the most likely Chinese fit for Limehouse. London's East End has many secrets to share!

Seeking the unconventionally appealing I admired the stories that Limehouse shared with me, I appreciated it all! London's Docklands will keep on changing far off into the future but we'll always have the same past to recollect and be proud of. From the busy Limehouse Basin, trading a manner of raw materials that powered London in many ways. Utilising those former storehouses as redeveloped high-end apartments may have been a controversial decision but they possess an expensive view for certain! Certain shades of Canary Wharf need to be thrown, those bankers live a life that those Poplar council estate tenants don't but I'm not going to be too judgmental! Keep the gas and air on hold because the former midwives from Nonnatus House helped the women of Poplar's past, bringing babies into an ever-changing city! Soho wasn't the original London Chinatown! Limehouse takes the gold! I'll have no airing of any dirty laundry because that's really shady!

The Real EastEnders?

Joseph Harrison

Life's A Drag!

Dressed as a Girl? Yes, William Shakespeare wrote that line because drag has been going since the beginning of time! From Priscilla Queen of the Desert to the runways of Rupaul's Drag Race I will bow to the queens forever more! Let's keep it sickening, lip-synch for our lives and beat that face for the gods! Life may be a drag sometimes but we've just got to work B!

Queen, I knew from the very start I was all about drag when I saw Ms. Lily Savage do her thing on the BBC. Her show on the BBC had me straight away with her Scouse tone, I was like 'Mom that baby must be called Lily Savage Harrison!' She bargained at Lewis because I was too fabulous for my own good! Lewis didn't get those middle names I was promised but he's cool enough! Blankety Blank didn't mean much because that Shanghai Lil's ivory frizz was on point, never-mind that cheque book and pen I was completely captivated by her leopard print fashion! Her razor sharp tongue commanded a roaring rate of applause, she was so unapologetic! If that was my first viewing of drag then I'm glad it was Ms. Lily Savage! Yes, she's a true Scouse legend! I visited the city of Liverpool in October 2011, seeking the sight of Ms. Lily Savage, I didn't see that Mersey icon after I crossed the Mersey River over to The Wirral.

Lil' didn't lip-synch, she was a comedienne and a insult queen with a sickening sense of humour and a script that would always slay! Boasting the Beatles and Cilla Black its true to say that Lily Savage brought the drama from the other side of the Mersey River. After watching back the Lily Savage Show and Blankety Blank on YouTube and the outtakes I now understand why I was so adamant for my unborn brother to be called Lewis 'Lily Savage' Harrison, some things never change! If I ever go into the field I hope that my wit and sass is half as outrageous compared to Ms. Lily Savage's! Will Lily ever make another comeback? Flashing forward into the future from the 90's heyday of Ms. Lily Savage I can see her American sister in the form of Bianca Del Rio, a snappy insult queen who won the sixth series of  a fabulous show for those girls with something extra! Of course I meant to say the extra part was their talent! Dame Edna Everage has never my cup of tea, no it has to be that Lily S!

Before talent shows and social media I saw two of the campiest films in my life so far, yes they were that fabulous! Both To Foo Wong Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar and Priscilla Queen of The Desert have a special place in my heart, both sets of courageous queens made one long crazy journey to then finish with style. Featuring Patrick Swayze as Vida Boheme and Wesley Snipes as Noxeema Jackson, along with their Latino boy in a dress they travelled cross country en-route to Los Angeles for that special event, not making any allowances for their thought-provoking pit-stop in the middle of nowhere! A car? Mary, Alice, Louise that vehicle those queens chose didn't get them to the city of stars in one piece! It had to be style over substance for those queens, darling! Showing that every boy starts off his drag journey as a mere 'Drag Princess' or whatever Noxie said? Err Rupaul started that engine up?

Going down under it was the turn of Priscilla to serve Queen of the Desert Realness for another epic journey beckoned! Felicia, Mitzy and Bernardette indifferently made their way across the vastness of Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs on a pink coach who went by the name of 'Priscilla!' Giving everything they had got those three queens weren't greeted with glitter and gratitude, no those haters read that Australian trio to filth! Mitzy revealed that she had a secret son, battling her demons she climbed that Northern Territory rock in full drag! I must have been twelve or thirteen when I was saw this colourful film, I look back and I'm so glad it was part of my early teenage years! After turning up a bit of Tina Turner with a group of Aboriginals the three drag performers slayed the final number over the movie, finally it happened to me! Serving three shades of Australian Realness, I have to say that Felicia and her sisters brought the party! Yes, she's a jolly good fellow!

2011 brought the first series of Rupaul's Drag Race, a groundbreaking reality competition that was set to find America's Next Drag Superstar. Fronted by legendary Drag icon Rupaul Charles this revolutionary show wasn't broadcast on British television so I had to wait a little longer to see what the queens were doing to win the race! Over the years certain rising stars have caught my eye such as Jinkx Monsoon and Sharon Needles for their daring and different qualities I'm on their team! Willam Belli personifies everything for me, she got disqualified but made damn sure she never made any ruapologies for her misdemeanors! Being large and in-charge, Latrice Royale taught the children to be sickening and to let those bitches have it! Miss Latrice Royale, I adore your spirit! Showing us that streets can really be our runways whilst serving 'Hot Couture', I'll always root for Manila Luzon! Filipina's certainly got style B!

Keeping within American drag culture I can't get enough of a web series known as 'Hey Qween!' Hosted by Jonny McGovern and his gorgeous sidekick Lady Red Couture, each episode gives me life because its just like having a kiki with friends! Michelle Visage appeared on this fabulous show before her 2015 Celebrity Big Brother appearance to show that we are just people at the end of the day and being they way that we are is nothing to be ashamed of. I'm all about spilling the tea and throwing some serious shade, Jonny McGovern always knows how to get his guests saying all the right things. Spawned from the Drag Race two pop groups have been headed by Willam Belli to receive a string of successful hits, don't forgive the changing line-ups because 'Boy Is A Bottom' and 'Dear Santa, Bring Me A Man' would of not been possible! Would I ever serve my Drag persona? Yes of course I've already dragged up as a boy, so BB will be making her comeback when the money is right!

BB... Do You Know What I Mean?!

Joseph Harrison
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