Friday, 28 November 2014

Borough Market & Bermondsey Street, London

London is a city that's been trading for a long time, for how long I can't give that answer. Southwark has changed rapidly but parts remain the same since the 1200's, I don't think the hipsters had pounced just yet? Bermondsey serves a certain sophistication even though it sits within a myriad of council flat projects. L, Borough Market and Bermondsey regrets nothing!

Noted as far back as 1276 London's Borough Market has been serving the city with fresh fruit, vegetables and much more for a very long time. From the authentic English food stalls I saw a strong presence of International delicacies ranging from Tapas to Ethiopian street food. London beats its own drum, transforming the timeless Borough Market bridging the gap from yesterday to now! Food has become fashionable all of a sudden with a new wave of artsy food on offer at London's number one market. Join the hype! Won't you? I did! Restaurants aren't my scene at all, I enjoyed a gourmet chicken and leek pie from one of the open air speciality food stands. Standing cheek to cheek with Southwark Cathedral the infusion between the two formidable structures sets the perfect spark completely! Truth be told the Borough Market is worth a look around even if you don't buy anything. Watch out for the crowds! Really!

I'm no stranger to fancy food markets because I trusted the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria in Barcelona, I dined on freshly fried fish, washed down with an ice cold glass of Spanish Cerveza. London's Borough Market served me a simple food experience with my gourmet chicken and leek pie but it was so super busy it was a challenge to find a seat or a pocket of calm. Denoting the craziness I know that atmosphere was there 100% in London! Barcelona's market being away from home showed me some spice but London won hands down because I was in and out without hassle. Oh those crowds on a Saturday afternoon are a challenge to say the least but nothing in life is given to us easy. Stand your ground, that's the only way to get what we want! Protecting Borough's Market has been in place since 1832 when the market's building's were declared as a Grade II listed property. In my mind market's don't have anything on Bilston but I'll give Borough Market a positive shout out!

SE1 officially made her comeback! Once an area not to regard highly Bermondsey has been transformed with a tonne of trendy developments, restaurants and boutiques that are right up my street. Known for the location of Guy's Hospital, this corner of South East London is branching out into the big time! Touching the clouds with her razor sharp design the Shard added a luxury flair to Bermonsdey to build a new image with a brand new Shangri-La Hotel with its five star service it shines above the council estate projects to show that the Southside can be chic! I don't have that five star reservation fee so I'll just marvel at the Shard from a distance amongst the ever-changing SE1 neighbourhood. Let's give a big up to Bermondsey! Keep your hustle sis!

Bermondsey has a great mix between up-town yuppie realness and council estate grind, I took some time during my last two visits to London to appreciate that there's another kind of Londoner who lives in the shadow of the Shard and Bermondsey Street, playing by the rules I respected that. If I lived in London I would choose Bermondsey but being a part of 'generation rent' I wouldn't be able to afford a redeveloped warehouse apartment, I would be be serving Southwark Council Estate overness! There's nothing wrong with being normal but with a city wage I'd quite fancy myself as a city yuppie type! Check out Bermondsey for yourself, its just down the road from London's Borough Market so there's no excuse. I know that the Shangri-La takes an interest in SE1, hustle your grind!

Bermondsey Street is my kind of hipster London! I love Spitalfields and Shoreditch but Bermondsey Street had me stunted from the second that I first saw it in June 2014! Keeping it on the one concentrated street, she serves full reinvigorated architectural gems realness! Original features glowing with perfection, I bloody loved it! Chic restaurants, boutique retailers and much more hipster goodness lines Bermondsey Street, anchoring a new generation of cool to this part of SE1. Word on the street is that Bermondsey Street wasn't the safest place in the area before the abandoned warehouses and outlets were snapped up by developers but nowadays its the place to be seen! Fuckoffee served me up a more than lunch, I felt part of a movement of New London with an unapologetic free vibe that felt amazing! Choosing a fresh smoothie and a hot spinach and butternut squash soup, it was worth my coins! Tasty!

Make your coffee time different with a bit to eat and a chat at Fuckoffee?! It's a stunning place in more ways than one! Did I see that correctly? Bermondsey Street caters for the fashion conscious pooch with a dedicated doggy boutique and if children were on the cards I would take a look at that other store, no child of mine would look shabby! Time moves forward with a new trend, I hope the hipster vibe of Bermondsey Street digs its heels in good and proper! Staying overnight can be done along the Bermondsey hangout because the Bermondsey Square Hotel looked good to me. I might well catch a film at the Shortwave cinema in the square because it looked positively en-trend indeed. Affirmative! Trust and believe Bermondsey, I know you will stay fierce to be the top French Bulldog of the street! Endorse the Borough Market with its gourmet bites, historical worth and crazy vibe. SE1 is my hipster hangout, hustle 'generation renters' we can live excessively! B, you need to Fuckoffee right now!

Why Don't You Fuckoffee?!

Joseph Harrison

Monday, 24 November 2014

Back To The Beginning... London, England!

Where do I begin? Upon my previous visit to London I revisited the place where I grew up to the age of five. Going back to Ealing in London had to be done, it was like tiding a cupboard that's been avoided for some time so I felt the need to get the task completed. Let's just say it was a day that I won't forget for a while! Would it feel strange to go back to the beginning? 

Catching the London Underground to Perivale didn't take much thought but as soon as the Tube had left the tunnel it was apparent I was almost back onto home turf, a place I hadn't been for at least nineteen years. I wanted to make the trip back to the place I grew up for many reasons, I don't feel the are right to share that now. It's my drama! Born on the 14th of November 1990 I grew up in Perivale, West London until I moved up to the West Midlands when I was around five or six years old, I was half hoping things would  not of changed in the surrounding area. To my delight nothing much had changed as me and my mum exited the Tube station. Seeing the larger suburban homes from the Tube station started to bring slight memories of my early childhood back. The weirdness hadn't kicked in at that moment. It's mad to think I have lived in Bilston for over eighteen years so returning back to Perivale felt really strange!

So out of the Tube we made our way through a park that I spent a lot of time as a young boy, I had to take a few minutes to take in the sight because I knew it registered a memory of some sort. That park saw some drama from when I was three years old, I was playing on the climbing frames with one of my aunties when I broke my arm for the first time. It was bizarre to think that the same climbing frame was remaining, I suppose it wasn't that long ago? It took me back to a time when I remembered going to nursery and reception, early childhood memories that I look back on fondly. I know deep down why we had to leave but like I said that's classified information! Bilston got me thinking mad, I appreciated being back in that scene for the short time we passed through. People always say to me that I sound too posh to be from Bilston, I just say oh I'm serving you my telephone voice. Maybe I'll go back one day? Let's all go back to the beginning! UB6, I found you Perivale! Yes!

We've all got that first home you sort of remember if you haven't lived there for a while? If you still live in your childhood home I'll try not to throw you evils! Tees Avenue was literally where it all began. It was crazy mad when my mum said we had made it to the street where we once lived. I do have memories of going to and from reception school and spending long summer days playing in the garden with my friend Barney. If I'm honest its like a delayed reaction thinking about these things. Life gets crazy so we all have to make our movements onto our next thing, I'm grateful for those fond memories but whatever really. So much time has gone past I connected certain emotions with my former childhood home but not enough for me to want a tour around to see if the kitchen look the same, it was good to go back. Life takes us in many different directions but its funny that we always go back to the start. It felt right! 

Some spend the afternoon at Madame Tussaud's with the waxworks or take a stroll down London's Thames Path but I was all about reconnecting with yesterday. Cards on the table I would say I'm from the West Midlands with a twist, its been my home for so much longer than Perivale but I always have that UB6 town printed in my Passport. Since moving from Tees Avenue me any my brother went back a few times but then life decided we wouldn't return until I choose my West London day of reflection. What would of life been like I still lived there? Would my jobs prospects be better being by the City of London? I need to take this towards a different avenue! Leaving the street behind us it was a shock to the parade of shops look so down-trodden and out-dated when I remembered them how to be when I was a boy. Do you have somewhere to return to? I say go go! Tees Avenue was part of my past so I'm going to leave it. We went forwards without a second glance. No mistakes, UB6! 

Adding some Eastern promise to our day of discovery me and my mum took the E5 bus towards Southall Toplocks estate. Southall Broadway looked good to us, if you didn't know Southall is a diverse neighbourhood with a large Asian population from the Indian Subcontinent. You know I'm all about that International hype! I'm a sucker for some Indian food so I bought two veggie samosas to munch on. I loved the vibe of Southall's bustling high street with its abundance of sari fashion stores and curry houses. Leaving a spicy meal for another day I bought five pounds worth of Indian sweets because I love that Besan muchly! Southall is about ten minutes away from London Heathrow Airport so if I ever work at the airport I shall be looking for a flat to rent in that part of town! Our time in Southall mixed things up, for seeing those ghosts wasn't as cute as I thought it would have been. It was a life lesson to go back to the start. 

I couldn't get any closer to the beginning than see the hospital I was born at! Passing through on the bus to Ealing Broadway we saw the Ealing General Hospital and I even caught a glimpse of the maternity wing. It was strange to not remember somewhere when you know you were there once before, I definitely underestimated the day because it was down right crazy to see Perivale, Southall and Ealing once again after such a long time. I don't remember much from Ealing but it wasn't really Polish when I lived there, I suppose that European Union is the cause of that? So, its true that London means a lot more to me than I thought and I can identify why I strive to find interesting and alternative corners of London that are away from the central tourist traps. On a deeper level I recognise that I can enter the next phase of my life with the knowledge that I know the area where it all began. Thank you Perivale, Southall and Ealing for taking me back to the very start. That's it, I'm done! 

Never Forget Where You Come From! 

Joseph Harrison

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Peckham, London: No Fools, No Horses!

Only fools and horses? Peckham showed me something quite the opposite, now who's the blinder fool?! How many times, how lies? I must put the blame on the media and the lack of exposure on lesser known parts of London especially in the South East of the city. I know full well that London has many different sides but Peckham opened up my eyes! Peckham kept it vibrant! 

Tower Bridge and Oxford Circus are okay but I challenge myself constantly each time that I visit London. After a recommendation I trusted the 78 bus to Peckham to see the fictional home of Del Boy and Rodney from Only Fools and Horses but was I mistaken? Yes! A fusion of Nigerian, Ghanaian and Jamaican culture fronted me without any warning, you know I favour some flavour in my life! I was left hungry after my visit to Woolwich in June 2014 so no one could test me! Absorbing the pumping Naija beats along the high street corner shops I loved life because that's my jam! I wasn't looking for a perfectly gentrified area because I know what that story looks like boy! Peckham, gave me nothing less than what I wanted. The new library looked swish but I was all about the unique shop fronts that served African fashion houses fit for an African bride. SE15, London's African-Caribbean corner. 

My inner African queen knew where to go for a new fashion forward hairpiece or weave, save your drama for this South East London town to serve your legendary style! Someone told me a big fat lie, the television show Only Fools and Horses was actually filmed in Bristol but that didn't make any difference during my time in Peckham. The high street towards Peckham Rye served South East London realness with its infectious beat of people making their way around the town, I didn't see many yuppie types so that impressed me much! Whereas in Woolwich I felt a more laid-back vibe even though the streets resonated a vibrancy that Woolwich possessed. Crossrail and the Docklands Light Railway has unevenly transformed that SE18 part of South East London so I saw the difference in Peckham for sure. The landscape changed so much from my Bermondsey beginning to Peckham High Street, it was ace to see the message unfold that alternative London works. I stepped outside, SE!

I worked up a hearty appetite when I saw JB's Soulfood and Jerk Chicken Takeaway, it was a done deal. I ordered Jerk Chicken, rice and beans served with a side of coleslaw. Being greedy I opted for the large portion because I loved my soulfood! Captured to the right is my food, I didn't fancy any juice so I went for a vanilla Nourishment can. As I unassumingly enjoyed my Jerk Chicken I couldn't help listening to the conversations that were going on around me. Let's just say that Peckham mom raises her boy with a non-nonsense parenting approach! One lady just wanted Peppered Prawns! She was told to chill and come back a little later to get her dish. I tell you I couldn't finish my dinner but I made damn sure I enjoyed the rest a little later on that day. I appreciated the uncomplicated vibe of JB's Soulfood Takeway on Peckham's High Street, who really needs fancy food? For my lunch it was about JB's! Recognise! 

Peckham's other foodie options consisted of a selection of Nigerian takeaways and Persian infused cafes but I wasn't on that hype one bit. Flashing back to my experience with Nigerian food in Woolwich I have to say I had my adventourous palate to cope with the spice! I was served an intense plate of Jollof Rice and Beef at Tasty African on the Plumstead Road. Peckham came to the rescue with my Jerk dish because I wasn't up for trying something called 'Suya!' I now know where to satisfy my cravings, getting down to Peckham for a wide choice of Caribbean and West African dining options wins! Have you tried anything daring from the Caribbean or the African continent? It doesn't take a mug to see London's West is getting more costly to consider property, a new movement of living has transcended upon neighbourhoods such as Peckham. I think a spot of regeneration would push Peckham in the right direction. I blog about places that have flavour for this reason! It's all irie SE15!

Peckham had me spoiled for choice when I was looking for some Jamaican Spice Bun! After pacing the high street and having some lunch I took a chance on Zara's Tropical market. I knew exactly what I was looking for, I'm no un-educated fool! Not lying, Zara's reminded me of a South American bodega with the selection of Hispanic food and drinks products. Finding my bun didn't take much thought because it just looks like a dark loaf of bread. Do I wish that I lived closer to one of these Afro-Caribbean food stores? Of course I do because I'm a lover of a wide range of foods from around the world. Zara's would be somewhere that I would chose, I don't take kindly to the international aisles that have been fashioned by the big supermarkets, I prefer to keep it local. That wasn't a question! Thanks Peckham for reuniting me with my favourite Spice Bun! I needed some cheese to go with my Bun loaf! Oh, Jamaican Spice Bun! 

My day in Peckham left me with a feeling of hope and expectation for the future of the SE15 area. I adored the original Afro-Caribbean vibe that engulfed the busy high street that chilly November afternoon. The energetic and infectious Naija beats that filled the main road to Peckham Rye made me want to Azonto! Going hungry would have been a crime, that being a testament to my delicious and spicy Jerk Chicken dinner from JB's Soulfood and Jerk Chicken Takeaway hit the spot! I have to say the conversations I listened to gave me jokes because I've heard that real talk before! Get your lives together whilst in London, I don't have time for your feeble excuses that you don't trust places in London that are off the tourist map! Peckham just gets on with its grind! Who needs Del Boy or Rodney because those jokers haven't got a clue! Like I said Woolwich has its own hype but I still feel blessed that both SE London communities serve a flare of West African realness! London serves more! 

No Fools, No Horses! 

Joseph Harrison