Saturday, 8 February 2014

How is that you can live in a city for decades and still find places that surprise you? Take The Jamaica Wine House, London's first coffee house, originally opened in 1652 and visited by the famous London diarist, Samuel Pepys. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be the same building and it's now a pub, but a jolly, Victorian rabbit warren of a place, with plenty of wood-paneled partitions and tucked down one of the many medieval alleyways in the very oldest part of London that is what people mean when they speak of the City (which, unlike most cities, is the name of an actual area within the capital. I hope that's clear!).

So to the Jamaica etc last night to meet a couple of chums and drink ale with names like Spitfire and Master's Brew, sensibly taking ourselves off to find food before we went beyond the point of wanting any.

We stumbled out and turned the corner and – voilà! There was Leadenhall Market. "How is it," I practically screeched, "that I've lived here all these years and never saw this place before?!" So, like a tourist (and, with my American accent, I feel a license to behave like one at will), I began snapping away and saying the expected things ("Isn't it beautiful?" "Look at the ceiling!" And, probably too many times, "How come I've never seen this before?!")

I've now learned that it's on the site of the center of what was Roman London and that there's been a market here since, like, the 14th century. Though, obvs, this building is from the 1880s and it was used for various film sets, including Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter ones.

With its little inside/outside cafés, it reminded me very much of the market area of Bordeaux, where I once whiled away an evening by myself waiting for someone who was getting in late. And, on that note, I'm taking this as an excuse to say that, while I don't particularly like traveling alone, it's also true that by yourself everything comes into sharper focus and sits on a special shelf in the memory vaults.

And so to today. As Son has gone to Amsterdam for the weekend and Boyfriend is at the football, I have a rare Saturday all to myself, which I am already enjoying: drinking tea, listening to the wind through the trees and watching as the sky goes from the crystal-clear light I woke to, to subtly darkening grey as another – and allegedly the biggest yet – storm of this year rolls in.

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