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.


  1. All this food and coffee talk is making me quite hungry even though I am on the other side of the world and have just had a scrumptious salad nicoise with anchovies and snow peas instead of beans. What a shame I will be in London in winter as I am dying to try the Eton Mess. YUM. Thanks for this gorgeous chatty post and so many beautifully composed pictures.

  2. What a difference time makes ?
    Good to read .... As U Get Older the Lust for Life is still there