Mila attends The Guildhall School of Music Junior school in London every Saturday in term time where she studies piano and violin and learns about music from some very inspirational teachers. It’s also a great opportunity to socialise!
When the trains are running to time, early Saturday morning when it feels like the rest of the world is sleeping, we leave the house at around 6.40am to get the Liverpool Street train from Whittlesford along with another family, the Butlers who travel with us. For Mila and Annabel (who is a year and half older than Mila), this is their second year of attending (Annabel’s first instrument is the violin, she also learns the paino but she learns this at school. Both girls have distinctions at grade 8 on both of their instruments). Since September 2016 Annabel’s brother, Henry, who is in Mila’s year at the same school, also attends (he plays the trumpet and violin). They always have great fun on the journey and whenever possible we make sure that we travel together.
Card games are usually the train time activity especially Slam which Mila is fiendishly good at (many hour of practise have gone into Mila being the champion), they all joke about how Henry likes to openly cheat at card games and no one seems to mind. (Below are two older photos of Annabel and Mila playing Slam).
Every Saturday on arriving at the Guildhall . . .
. . . Mila’s first thought is always the same, “Doughnut time . . .’. Mila always chooses the same type, white icing and plenty of multi-coloured sprinkles!
We (Annabel and Henry’s mum Isabel or dad Tom) and myself, as well as many other parents, spend quite a bit of our day in this small cafe area, or along the top corridor (which can get a bit draughty, so we always sit downstairs). I usually use the time to catch up on my knitting or plan Lake District walks and also attend Mila’s piano lesson with Kasia Borowiak and violin lesson with Emma Blanco (though she’s on maternity leave at the moment so Mila has David Spence teaching her). Kasia’s lessons are always very inspiring and I envy Mila’s ability to create such incredible music and with only slight changes, the direction of a piece can be altered significantly. If only Mila could appreciate what an awe-inspiring pianist she is!
Between lessons and orchestral rehearsals I often take the opportunity to explore the local area and today I’m exploring Borough Market, an area I’ve explored before but in the light of recent events, with the terrorist attack I felt I wanted to visit again so here I’ve included the photos from today as well as some others to fill in any blanks.
So, heading out of the Guildhall passing their impressive new concert venue, is Milton Court, where Mila plays in the orchestra. I’m going to head down this road and turn right at the end of the road onto Moor Lane as I’m heading for London Bridge and Borough Market. From Moor Lane it’s a case of cutting through to the left, past the building sites onto London Wall and then right onto Moorgate.
Then crossing onto Princes St by walking through the arch or taking the path past the pillars of the Bank of England, the choice is up to you . . . (Wikipedia tells us that the Bank of England is the central bank of the Uk and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in operation today, after the Sveriges Riksbank (the central bank of Sweden). The Bank of England is the world’s eighth oldest bank. It was established to act as the English Government’s banker and is still one of the bankers for the Government of the UK. It is one of eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the UK, but it has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Here we have the Bank’s headquarters which are in London’s main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734. It is sometimes known by the The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street or The Old Lady, a name taken from the legend of Sarah Whitehead, (also known as the Black Nun) whose ghost is said to haunt the Bank’s garden on account of her brother Paul, an employee there, being charged with and executed for forgery in 1811. News of his crime and execution was, however, kept from his devoted sister, Sarah Whitehead. But one day, Sarah turned up at the Bank of England to enquire of her brother’s whereabouts, and an unthinking clerk promptly blurted out the story of Philip’s crime and ignominious death. The shock of the discovery turned the poor woman’s mind and , thereafter, she took to turning up at the Bank everyday asking after her brother in the belief that he still worked there. She became known as the “Black Nun” on account of her peculiar attire that consisted of a long black dress and a black crepe veil work over her face and head. The city merchants took pity on her and give her money but she became convinced that the Bank governors were keeping an immense fortune from her and this led to her frequently hurling insults at them. By 1818 the Bank governors had grown tired of her daily disturbances and so gave her a sum of money on condition she agreed never to return to the bank again. In life she kept that contract, but in death her wraith has broken it many times. More than one late night wanderer along Threadneedle Street has been surprised by her ghostly figure appearing before them asking, “have you seen my brother?” (London Ghost Walks)
Continuing onto King William Street . . . past the Royal Exchange (founded in the 16th century by the merchant Thomas Gresham as a centre of commerce for the City of London. It has twice been destroyed by fire and then rebuilt, the present building was designed by William Tite in the 1840s. The site was notably occupied by the Lloyd’s insurance market for nearly 150 years. Today the Royal Exchange contains offices, luxury shops, and restaurants. Traditionally, the steps of the Royal Exchange is where Royal Proclamations (such as the dissolution of Parliament) are read out by either a herald or a crier. Following the death or abdication of a monarch and the confirmation of the next monarch’s accession to the throne by the Accession Council, the Royal Exchange Building is one of the locations where a herald proclaims the new monarch’s reign to the public (Wikipedia) . . .
The junction you can just about see in the photo below is known as Bank Junction, incredibly busy on a weekday, the six arms of traffic are so complex that there’s an experiment closing it to all but buses, bikes and pedestrians on weekdays as it’s seen as one of London’s most dangerous interchanges. On a Saturday, however most of the city is closed and it’s consequently very quiet!
. . . and before you know it you’re at London Bridge (crossing the Thames river). Here you can see the Shard (of Glass) rising up above the bridge. It’s a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. It stands 309.7 metres high and is the tallest building in the UK (the fourth tallest building in Europe and the 111th tallest building in the world – and I’ve been up it with Jane Bentham our neighbour on the 20th April 2016!)
As you can see (above) there are now anti-terrorist barriers along the bridge resulting from the recent terrorist attack. On the 3rd June 2017 (two weeks ago) around 10pm, an attack took place when a van mounted the pavement of London Bridge and was driven into pedestrians. The van crashed, and the three male occupants ran to the nearby Borough Market pub and restaurant area, where they stabbed people with long knives, eight people died along with the three terrorists and 48 people were injured.
Below, looking back along the bridge the way I’ve just walked you can see the iconic buildings of the “Walkie Talkie tower” (famous for being a “thuggish comedy villain of a building which has melted cars and caused winds strong enough to knock people over” (The Guardian) and behind it you can see the top of the “Leadenhall Building” informally known as the, “Cheese Grater”, because of its distinctive wedged shape.
. . . where you get great views of Tower Bridge in the distance. (The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the river hidden behind the trees on the left of the photo. The Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. It has played a prominent role in English history and has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England and a prison).
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule (draw bridge) and suspension bridge crossing the River Thames. On the left of the photo you can see the distinctive Canary Wharf Tower, One Canada Square (often referred to as simply “Canary Wharf”, with its pyramid roof, which contains a flashing aircraft warning light, a rare feature for buildings in the UK. From 1990 to 2010 it was the tallest building in the UK till it was surpassed by the Shard (completed in July 2012). The ship you can see in front of Tower Bridge is HMS Belfast. HMS Belfast is a museum ship and opened to the public in 1971, since 1978 Belfast has become a branch of the Imperial War Museum, moored on the River Thames in the Pool of London (the Pool of London is a stretch of the River Thames from London Bridge to below Limehouse).
. . .and finally you come to Borough Market hidden away down some stairs at the end of London Bridge. At this time of the morning it’s wonderfully quiet!
I usually go down these stairs to Borough Market but if you happen to miss them, there’s another entrance further down the street under a railway bridge on the right.
At this time of the morning it’s wonderfully quiet so you can really look around and admire all of the incredible artisan food stalls.
Borough Market is positioned at the south end of London Bridge and has existed for about a thousand years in one form or another being positioned in such a convenient place at the end of London Bridge, the only route across the river at the time, into the capital. In a famous collection of Scandinavian sagas the Anglo-Saxon king, Ethelred the Unready having returned to London from exile to reclaim the throne from Canute hired a number of fierce Vikings including the mercenary Olaf Haraldsson. Olaf would later become king of Norway and, surprisingly, given his violent reputation, became a saint! Olaf’s story recounted in the sagas describes how in his assault on the Danish defences, slung strong cables around the legs of London Bridge and used the force of the Thames current to pull it down – a key moment in Ethelred’s victorious campaign. The passage begins,
“First they made their way to London, and so up into the Thames, but the Danes held the city. On the other side of the river is a great market called Southwark . . . ”
And there we have it, a great market town in 1014! (Information taken from ‘A History of Borough Market’).
Originally a wholesale market, it now centres around artisan foods and is one of the largest food markets in the country, with more than a hundred stall selling gourmet goods from both Britain and abroad. The market and its surrounding streets have also been used as film locations for such films as Bridget Jones’s Diary; Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Fancy trying some liquorice? . . .
An over whelming choice of pastries, cakes and breads . . .
Chocolate . . .
This is about the only non-food stall but very interesting none the less . . .
There are numerous food stalls selling an incredible range of food from around the world.
The market is quite large and is broadly divided into two sections. The second section is through here and for me this part of the market seems even more vibrant and has more of the artisan food stalls; fruit and vegetable stalls as well as fish mongers food stalls etc . . . come and take a look with me . . .
Fancy octopus for dinner . . . ?
An impressive array of vegetables . . .
Fruits from around the world . . .
Any fungi you care to name as well as truffles . . .
Just a little bit of cheese . . .
Did you notice that on this Normandy cheese stall the brie is in the shape of the Eiffel Tower?
These look interesting though I haven’t ventured to try them yet . . .
Wow, fancy some jam for your toast . .
Spices for just about anything, most of the spices I’ve never even heard of!
There’s even a florist at Borough Market . . .
And yes, that is the Shard tucked behind Borough Market . . . when I went up the Shard with our neighbour Jane we got the most incredible photographs . . . (as yet to be posted)!
A better view of the Shard . . .
I saw the queue for this coffee shop and wondered what all the fuss was about . . . I’m not really into coffee and usually ask for a weak latte but today I had time on my hands and thought I’d follow the other tourists and join the queue . . . I did find it a little intimidating as it’s so busy and actually a very small cafe . . .
The cafe is surprisingly small inside . . .
Sometime I’d like to buy some of their freshly ground coffee but there’s such a choice, where does someone with zero knowledge even begin . . .
As I’d never been before and it looks like a cafe for real caffeine experts I thought that the only way to really test it was to have my coffee full strength though I still went for a latte! I was surprised that they made the coffee using these filters as I remember my parents having these coffee filters when I was a child but I haven’t seen them around for at least the last twenty years or so . . .
Well, here’s my latte. Despite having little understanding of what makes a good cup of coffee I was amazed by the sheer smoothness of my drink, like velvet is the only way I can describe it. It tasted of everything good you think about coffee without any of the bitterness and sour after taste . . . I think it’s got me hooked! Now I know what a really good cup of coffee tastes like.
Inside the cafe they have a leaflet you can pick up telling you all about the Monmouth Coffee Company. They began roasting and retailing coffee in 1978. They source their coffee from single farms, estates and cooperatives and research throughout the world for the perfect coffee beans, it must be a really interesting job to go around the world tasting new varieties and learning about how the coffee beans are grown and how to combine the various flavours to achieve the ideal final results – I wonder how you get into such a job, what qualifications would you need, how would you start . . . I can’t even begin to imagine!
Time to be heading back to the Guildhall . . .
All of the post-it notes etc., are messages of love and condolences in response to the recent terrorist attacks in the area.
Flowers and memorials to those who died or were injured in the recent attacks, it was very moving and also very sad to see the young lives, many of them tourists, caught up in such hatred.
Large numbers of floral tributes have been left by London Bridge
As I was leaving London Bridge I was rather alarmed to see so many police and wondered whether they feared another attack, it made me feel quite nervous to be honest.
There were so many police standing around that I asked them what was happening and they told me that there was to be an EDR – Unity Day march. It was expected that thousands would march to celebrate diversity after the London Bridge terror attack. Unity day was first set up last year (2016) in the wake of a surge in hate crime following the Brexit vote. It seems so sad that such a huge police presence is needed and it did make me feel rather nervous, so I was quite pleased to be leaving the area.
Just after crossing the bridge, on the right hand side is this huge Monument to the Great Fire of London. Sir Christopher Wren’s flame-topped Monument to commemorate the Great Fire of London in1666 is the tallest isolated stone column in the world (62m). A couple of weeks later Mila and I climbed all 311 steps to the top and got some great views of the surrounding area!
Heading back to Mila at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, part of the Barbican complex.
Below are a couple of photos just giving a flavour of the journey home. Usually it involves eating copious amounts of popcorn, biscuits etc and playing card games or games from their phones, a very sociable time is had by all. Mila chooses to stay at the Guildhall after her final lesson so that we can all travel back together. They’re great company.