Shard / Borough Market / Tate Modern – December 2015

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I had an appointment today in a part of London which I used to live close to and therefore used to be very familiar with but I haven’t gone there for quite a while. So it was good to get back to my old stomping grounds but it’s changed, quite a bit. For example, when I used to live nearby, the Shard was but a twinkle in an architect’s eye, I came out of the ‘back’ entrance at London Bridge Station and wow, look at it! I’m so used to seeing it as a familiar part of the central London skyline now, yet I’ve never really got up close to it. It certainly wasn’t there last time I walked that way out of London Bridge!

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I’ve been having urges to go back to Borough Market for quite a while, I shockingly haven’t been there for about 13 years. Well, it was quite a bit gentrified last time I went but now, it’s been gentrified to the max, which is a little bit of shame really. It’s still nice though. When you walk through the passage to get to the market, after coming off the cold, grey, damp road outside, it’s like walking into the pages of a Neil Gaiman book, the lights and oh the smell, the smell is gorgeous.

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Last time I was there I remember loads of fruit and veg stalls and florists and butchers and fishmongers and although you can still find a few fruit and veg stalls and quite a few butchers and fishmongers (couldn’t see any florists, but that may just be the time of year), everything is stylised to the max, to such an extent it may be a little too much style over substance. I remember a lovely fruit and veg seller, who was still there but back in the old days (yep, I’m old), they just seemed to have more stock and more choice, yet without having to resort to selling some really insipid looking out of season strawberries, that I saw them selling today. As for the butchers, well there were some but you better like Italian ham ….. One of the things though that has always been a constant is the excellent bakery stalls, there was even one there today where there was literally a crowd of people standing round the doughnuts Instagramming them! Also very tempting looking there were some lovely looking food stalls, which smelt so good, it must be lovely, if a little expensive, to work nearby and go there to get your lunch. Also lovely and extremely tempting were the sweet stalls, I went to the famous liquorice stall there and had to get some, their salted liquorice diamonds are divine!

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After Borough Market I walked over to Tate Modern, which is relatively close by because I wanted to pop in to see the new Turbine Hall installation (that is one of my top favourite things about being a Londoner, if I just want to pop into a gallery to see just one thing for 15 minutes, you can, whereas if you live further away, going to say the Tate Modern would be an all day affair).

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I’ve been intrigued by this installation since reading about it and had hoped to have seen it earlier than now but actually I don’t think I’ve missed much. Basically, the work, by Cruzvillegas, called Empty Lot, has taken soil from parks and gardens across London, put it into these containers, put it under grow lights, watered it regularly and now what ever is in the soil will grow (nothing has been planted into the soil deliberately). It certainly is interesting, it’s interesting to see the colour and texture variations of the soil across different containers and how some of them are now growing quite bountifully, whereas others are still quite bare. I spotted one container (one of the bountiful ones) that looked like it had exactly the sort of weeds my garden has! I wonder what they’ll do if any cannabis plants start appearing? Anyway, it was a little disappointing in that I had hoped that we’d be able to walk amongst the containers, but you can’t. Still, it will definitely be interesting to go back in the spring to see how much the growth has progressed.

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