Monday, 22 October 2012

Out and about in Greenwich and Hither Green

One of my favourite occupations is to go for a walk and chat to random people about their lives, stopping at times to just sit quietly to enjoy a spot of people watching. When I travel to another country I love to find the local market and then spend several hours looking at all the different foods until finding a place to eat as far off the tourist trail as possible.  Luckily I have a cast iron stomach lining and believe that if one kills an animal for food , in respect for taking its life, one should utilise as much of it as possible. I am unfazed by the ingredients of haggis, quite happily eat fluffy bunnies that are considered a terrible pest in Australia and in the UK, and surprised the locals in Greece by declaring the sheeps’ testicles quite delicious.  Many of those I know who are squeamish about such things have never really considered what goes into sausage rolls and cheap hamburgers.

Anyway – I digress.  That was meant to be an introduction into telling you of my adventures in Greenwich and Hither Green, chatting to the local traders and hearing their stories. I even met three Alumni.

Greenwich is a fun place to wander around between classes and at lunchtime.  There is such a variety of people from all over the world – students, tourists, locals and traders.  This sweetshop near the DLR has my favourite Catherine wheels and all those delicious sweeties that you remember from your childhood, along with lots of new things. The assistant agreed to have her photo taken but remarked that she is asked this several times a day – no wonder she is looking distinctly unamused!

Greenwich sweetshop

This packaging amused me with its lovely play on words:

Just opposite is one of the entrances to Greenwich market,  I discovered this lovely little cake and coffee shop called Red Door.

Anyone that knows me is aware of my complete coffee snobbery and their coffee is superb. Kate graduated eleven years ago from Greenwich with a BA Hons in Arts Management.  She started Red Door eight years ago as a gift shop and began to offer coffee to the browsers.  Gradually she has transformed it into a café with gifts. She is from West London originally but loves it here in Greenwich where she is ably assisted by Holly.

Greenlands is a health food shop that has the most delicious chocolate.  It has been in the market for fifteen years, moving to its present location two years ago.  I spoke to the owner David who told me very proudly that this was the first health food shop in this area and it is now quite an institution with many regular customers and a very friendly ambience.


Next to Greenlands is the Arty Globe, full of wonderful classy souvenirs of London and Greenwich; ideal if you are looking for something quirky and out of the ordinary.  The business is run jointly by Isaac, an entrepreneur, and Hartwig, an artist, who does the most amazingly detailed drawings of Greenwich and London that appear as 180o views.  I met Hartwig on a previous visit when I bought a set of cups and saucers for my visiting San Franciscan cousins who are almost impossible to choose good pressies for.  However , on the day of this visit, Tom was behind the counter.  He graduated from the uni with a BA (Hons) in Creative Industries and now works as a freelance photographer. After doing some product photography for the shop he has begun working with them more regularly.

Arty Globe
 John has had his market stall here for ten years and specialises in royal memorabilia.  He is quite a character and proudly showed me around his stall with artefacts from Queen Victoria’s reign up to the present Diamond Jubilee.  Here he is with his enamel Queen Vic cup.

Royal memorabilia

Tao and Tina Franks arrived in the UK in 2008 and within the year had established their stall called the Thai Kitchen. As I chatted to them, mouth-watering aromas of ginger, coriander and lemon grass wafted into my nostrils.

Thai Kitchen

The sushi stall uses ingredients that always taste so fresh and feel very cleansing.  Tsering (known as ‘T’) is Tibetan and has been in the UK for four and a half years.  He explained that a sushi chef in Japan takes ten years to learn his trade. Lazlo, busily making up the sushi that day, has been a European style chef for twenty two years and came from Hungary four years ago. Although he said he is still in training, I could not fault his work.

St Sugar of London is a lovely cake and pasty stall. All through the summer they served the most scrumptious version of Eton Mess – strawberries, meringue and cream. As I chatted to Sonia from Slovakia and Enzo from Italy as they described how much they love the friendly atmosphere of the market, the small of the strawberries was almost overwhelming.  I tried very hard not to drool!

St Sugar of London
All that chatting left me very hungry so, after purchasing my tray of sushi (I had Thai the day before), I sat on the steps with the other diners to enjoy another spot of people watching.

Greenwich Market

Just down the road from my house is a lovely little park called Manor Park.  Not many people know about it as it is a bit off the beaten track making it a lovely and peaceful experience to visit. Earlier this year a little café opened there called Tranquil café.  It is run by Jasper, a delightfully friendly chap who is also working to complete his MBA at Uni of Greenwich.

We have taken to going there on our bikes for coffee as much as we can.

Sitting in this beautiful little park with the Quaggy River flowing by and hardly any traffic sounds, it is easy to imagine being somewhere out in the country rather than five minutes walk from the middle of Lewisham.  I was really saddened to hear that the café has already been burgled twice since opening and there is a gathering swell of people wanting to support it and ensure that it keeps going.  When I took these pics, Jasper was busy helping to set up an art exhibition.

Proper coffee is only £1.50 a cup and is perfect for the coffee snob part of me!  Sometimes there is a bar-b q going and the smell of good quality sausages wafting though the park is to die for!

Chatting to all these wonderfully innovative and entrepreneurial people is so inspiring.  Education is not just about cramming in facts and reading ancient texts.  It is about broadening the mind in all its facets and nurturing all the senses to experience life with all it has to offer.  It does not cost a lot of money to be curious and interested in everything around and by engaging that curiosity and openness there are huge rewards to be reaped.  I have had such fun preparing this blog and met so many wonderful characters.  I hope it inspires you to do the same.

Friday, 19 October 2012

In the limbo land of awaiting results

Am I student or not?  It is a weird position to be in as I await the final verdict of my tutors.  Have I passed or haven’t I?  The marks of this last assignment will determine whether I will be awarded an MSc or a PG Dip and I still have a month of waiting to find out.

I am in a particularly strange position here on the campus as I am now working full time on my student contract  while the students I have worked with over the last three years have either graduated already or are continuing their studies in this new academic year and are working part time again.

My friend Nicola is graduating today with a BSc in Psychology and she has promised to come and show me her outfit.  I first met her when we arrived for our first day’s Clearing training three summers ago and we have been Enquiry Unit/Clearing  friends ever since.  She is now embarking on an MSc in Research in Psychology – a glutton for punishment in my view.  I hated all those lectures on statistics and quantitative research methods but she has taken to them like a duck to water.

I thought that I would have lots of time and energy now without any papers to write but I seem to be just as busy with full time work and catching up with my neglected friends.  My over worked brain craves easy reading (i.e. trashy novels) and easy viewing (non intellectual or D&M – deep and meaningful) and I am enjoying feeling completely no guilt whatsoever as I indulge.

It was fun going out at lunchtime last week to be thrown back to scenes from the 1800’s..  Filming was taking place for Belle featuring Tom Fenton (Draco from Harry Potter). 

The carriages looked magnificent and it was easy to feel transported back to that era.

But the modern day visitors in the background spoilt the illusion somewhat.

…Even 19th century chaps need a spot of lunch

…and to catch up on their texts.

The lighting rig was very impressive as it lit up one of the beautiful domes designed by Christopher Wren so long ago.

But if I really wanted to imagine myself back in that time I just shut my eyes to listen to the clip clop of the horses hooves and inhale that earthy countryside smell of their dung!

It is quite delightful to be on such a beautiful campus with interesting things happening around us again.  It all seemed so quiet after the Olympics ended.  The most exciting thing has been watching the infrastructure being disassembled – which is not very exciting at all.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Oh the relief…

…of handing that last coursework in. 

I have been working full time all summer in clearing and I took last week off to complete my final course work – the dreaded 8000 word Professional Development Project.  I was so tired after those weeks of work and trying to study every weekend that I decided a weekend in the country was in order before the final onslaught.

My gorgeous daughter and boyfriend spoilt me rotten for two days as we snuggled up under the duvet watching the new Sherlock Holmes film. Dog walking through the magnificent Petworth Park in West Sussex was amazingly restorative despite having to avoid all those testosterone filled stags in the middle of rutting season.

 Deer in Petworth Park

Monday arrived and I buried myself in my office and, stuck on the computer searching for academic papers, surrounded by piles of books and old essays, him-at -home fed me cups of tea at regular intervals and allowed me out for meals if I worked hard enough.  I emerged blinking into the daylight and left the house for the first time on Wednesday afternoon when we took a break to see the Leonardo da Vinci drawings in the Queen’s Gallery near Buckingham Palace.  It was so mind boggling to see the actual originals of those stunning works that I had only viewed in books before.

Leonardo da Vinci’s study of the shoulder muscles

I also managed to attend my first stained glass class that evening although I was too brain-dead to do more than catch up everyone’s holiday news, look at their works in progress and leaf through books looking for inspiration for my next project.  The glass of wine with my sister in law afterwards ensured a good night’s sleep and then it was back to the coal face on Friday morning. I had been so hoping to complete the work ready to submit it by 4pm on Friday but it was not to be.  However because I had set that early deadline I was much further on than if I had worked towards the real one of 4pm Monday.  Saturday morning was more slogging and then we met friends for a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum to see the Heatherwick studios exhibition. 

 Thomas Heatherwick’s traffic cones installation at the entrance to the V&A

This was the studio that created that amazing Olympic cauldron and the exhibition included a model and videos about its creation.  That was so awe inspiring that I was ready on Sunday morning for the final essay push. I managed the electronic submission by 5.30pm Sunday - a day ahead of schedule - and was about to sit down with a very welcome glass of bubbly when the phone rang to say my cousin was in hospital and needed a visit so I was very sorry to have to put  the bubbly on hold, as I also had to get up early to do my paper submission at 0830 the next morning.  I am working all month on the Greenwich Maritime site from 9-5pm, and I could only submit 8.30- 4pm on the Avery hill site where my school is based.  I had to get up early, rev up Priscilla Piaggio (my little scooter) rush over, drop it into the school and then get to Greenwich to start work at 9am.

…aah the relief as I handed it over and then dropped into the library to return my sixteen books I have had on loan for at least two months.

I have promised him-at –home that I will not be subjecting him to me and a doctorate.  Instead, we will be looking forward to that lovely bottle of bubbly on Friday evening (actually tonight) with all the delight that comes from delayed gratification – what bliss!

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