Saturday, July 7

brick lane

The area around Spitalfields and Brick Lane in east London has seen waves of immigrants from the 17th century and was a centre for the rag trade due to the abundance of unskilled labor and master craftsmen.  Its darkest hour was in the late 1880's when Jack the Ripper haunted the shadowy corners.  As is often the case with dark and grungy areas, the artists moved in, and today it is a hub for warehouse exhibitions, independent designers and street art.  All this plus cheap curry. 

The Georgian town houses of Fournier Street date from the 1720's are are among the best preserved examples in England. They were originally occupied by wealthy French immigrants involved in the silk weaving industry. Following the decline of the silk trade, the area transformed into the heart of the Jewish east end. 

Street art is a major attraction around Brick Lane, with the most famous piece a large crane painted by the Belgian artist, Roa. His original vision was a heron, however he changed tact mid-spray when the local Bengali people expressed excitement in the sacred "crane"emerging over their borough. It stands proudly above the street casting an eye over the pilgrims that flock to photograph it. 

With art and architecture tickled, it was time for a coffee. Nude Espresso  is rocking the east end with their own roasting facility and Antipodean milk frothing skill.  There is currently a vegan chef at the helm so I was chuffed with many choices for brunch, settling on a quinoa and rhubarb porridge.  

Back among the masses in central London, Vitao Organic in the heart of Soho is a golden find for a cheap, healthy lunch. A fantastic vegan buffet costs only 6 quid. 

This is the last of my posts from London.  Time to put away the tea pot and get out the espresso machine, we are off to Sicily.

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