southwest london

 Homeward Bound, 1851, oil on canvas by Sidney Richard Percy, English, 1821-1886, artist and amateur photographer.  Private Collection.

  Percy was part of the Williams family of painters in the 19th-century. He and other family members formed the core of the Barnes School in southwest London and Percy was recognized as a gifted landscape artist distinguished for color and a sense of space. 

UNITED KINGDOM, Wimbledon : A British police officer reacts as he watches a giant screen showing the second set tie-break in the men’s singles final match between Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Switzerland’s Roger Federer, on day thirteen of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL

southwest london gothic (as an american)

-it’s not as cloudy as everyone promised, but somehow even when the sky is clear it’s still foggy, it’s still hard to see 10 feet in front of you. the opacity of benson & hedges swirl with the haze of anonymity and the translucent film of languages you don’t understand. streets are narrow, the vascular system of the city. the sun is out but you can’t see it.

-the sounds of the capital were endearing at first but now you drown them out with headphones and unsubstantial thoughts. the city deserves a soundtrack, people move in accordance to the music in your ears. you used to eat the sound of buses and the murmurs of lost conversation for breakfast. you used to talk to strangers. now you put on your headphones and harden your face. you try not to speak; for some reason, you don’t want to reveal your nationality. you’ve been here for months but it feels like years. “when a man is tired of london, he is tired of life”. you are tired of both.

-sitting on the tube for 5 fare zones has an effect on you, sort of like how when you watch the waves on the beach the world starts to make sense. you wish you could help the homeless man but you’ve trained yourself to look away. you find yourself staring at anyone unabashedly, you study hands, you wink at little kids. maybe anonymity isn’t the best thing for you. maybe you need consequences. you give up your seat but don’t feel as good about it as you should. your heart is a stony thing in your chest. i hope he doesn’t sit down next to me.

-your borough sleeps but you don’t. you’re up until 5, sifting through the past. you swirl the ribena around in your mouth to try and memorize the taste. you’ve picked up the slang, you’ve picked up the blasé attitude and the cold wit. you’ve grown immune the accents that you once found so charming. you’re losing your friends. it won’t be long now.

-you run down to the thames in a fit of anxiety, you throw your journal in the water. the regatta’s almost through. the steam is swirling off the water, the cherry trees are blooming and the flying petals end up smushed and brown beneath your feet. you know you should think it’s beautiful, you know you should be happy here. you know you shouldn’t feel this alone in a city of 8 million, you know you shouldn’t have kissed her when you were drunk. you know you shouldn’t cry but it releases the pollutants inside of you, like the steam of the river water dancing up from the in-ground manholes. your lighter is out of fluid, you’re young but you feel out of time.

Barnes Farmers' Market

Last Saturday morning we strolled down to our local farmers’ market in Barnes. The main aim was to get probably one of the best breakfast butties I’ve ever had, but there are lots of other stalls there with equally tasty treats. There is a sushi stall where you can see maki rolls being made; I was quite surprised to see a little girl about 11 years old chomping away on sushi. I know when I was that age I’d never even heard of sushi and there wasn’t a hope in hell that you could convince me raw fish tastes good!

Four cookies for £5.00. White chocolate and cranberry, triple chocolate, toffee and walnut and a classic chocolate chip was the order of the day. Washed down perfectly with a mocha from Weanie Beans.

I am telling you now, if you are going to order a cappuccino or a latte or a mocha, don’t bother with semi-skimmed, skimmed or 1% milk (what is this anyway?!). BORING! Full fat (which by the way only has 4% fat) milk makes the coffee so so much better and for a fact you will not get the same frothiness or sheen on the milk. So the next time you are ordering a skinny minnie latte, think about the pint you had last night or that bottle of wine. Now tell me which you think is worse. Rant over. Getting back to Weenie Beans mocha, it was creamy, coffee, chocolatey goodness. Perfect on a winters’ mornin’ and at £1.50 a cup, much better value than any other high street coffee shop.

Now for the headliner of the morning: The Breakfast Buttie.

This is the most popular stall at the market, there was at least 12 people ahead of us in the queue. But I am telling you now it is worth the wait.

See what I mean!? £3.50 for a bacon or sausage buttie and you can add a fried egg for £0.50. Cooked right in front of us, I practically needed a bib to control my salivating. One of the girls I was with took a shine to the guy cooking all the meat. She named him “Sausage Man”. Apt.

We chatted to “Sausage Man” while he cooked our breakfast, turns out he had a stinking hangover! I asked him how many butties he normally makes on a Saturday morning at the market, he casually answered “about 320”! A man who knows how to handle his meat, even on a hangover. Sorry I couldn’t resist.

I have to say that the best part of the market is talking to the suppliers. There is a man that drives every Saturday from the Isle of White! His stall is full of amazing relishes, mustard and flour. He is always more than happy for you to try a new relish or mustard he has and you never feel obliged to buy from him This Saturday he had a selection of fresh honeycombs. I could not resist.

They put the empty circular pots into the bee hive and the bees get to work and the above pictures are the beautiful end result. Golden, gooey and delicious. You cant beat a bit of Mother Nature’s work.

So I encourage you all to find your local farmer’s market. For the delicious food and also for a bit of education on where your food comes from. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find your own “Sausage Man or Woman” while you’re at it.