If you know Stoke Newington and Dalston you’ll know they’re not short of Turkish supermarkets and bakeries. If you want a quick borek for breakfast or some rahat lokum (Turkish delight) for after dinner, your every wish can be supplied.
But the greatest selection of Turkish comestibles comes from the great grandaddy of Turkish supermarkets, the Turkish Food Centre in Ridley Road, Dalston. It has Greek food as well as Turkish and Cypriot specialities.
Not just feta, but eleven or twelve different kinds of feta. Not just olives, but olive mixes with different herbs and spices. Not just pita, but all kinds …read more
Transport for London (TfL) has now announced the two winners of the competition to design the new Routemaster. One is a joint venture between Aston Martin (who obviously think the credit crunch make buses a better bet than luxury cars!) and Foster + Partners, and the other was designed by Capoco, a firm which designs buses, coaches and trucks.
I suspect a lot of people will be disappointed. Neither of these creations actually looks like the much-loved RM. In particular, the radiator of the Capoco design looks very squashed – not the friendly ‘face’ of the traditional bus, but a pudgy …read more
If you like the Gothic – that is, the macabre, rather than the medieval style – there’s no better place to visit in London than Old Saint Pancras cemetery.
Huge trees shade the place; in winter, their trunks are stark, and you can hear their twigs rattling above you. Sometimes one hurtles down, blown off by a gust of wind. Behind loom tall brick tenements, bare and gloomy like Scottish castles. And everywhere, of course, are gravestones. Just take a stormy sky and the threat of rain, and you could fancy yourself on the set of a horror film.
Both the railway …read more
The black cab is one of London’s icons. And if you’re hailing a taxi on the street, it will be one of these – though it may not be black these days, since they’re allowed to carry advertising on the outside as well as the inside.
But black cabs are not cheap. Heathrow to Central London will cost you about £70. You can expect even a ten minute journey of about a mile or so to cost between a fiver and £8.
So it’s worth having the number of a minicab firm. You can’t hire a minicab off the street, as you …read more
Want to go to India, but can’t afford the plane fare? Buy a tube ticket instead.
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a taste of India marooned in the middle of Metroland. It’s a massive Hindu temple, built in traditional style, towering over the suburban sprawl of Neasden. All around may be mock Tudor semis and housing estates – but as soon as you go through the gate, you’re in the presence of the Hindu gods.
The temple’s profile is unmistakable; towering pinnacles of gleaming white limestone (perhaps best seen when they’re lit by a pale sun against a stormy sky). Every surface is …read more
I found the most fascinating article today on one of London’s little mysteries.
I’ve always wondered about the huge piers in the water next to Blackfriars Bridge when I pass them. They obviously supported something – or were intended to; but were they the remains of a project that never got built, or the ruins of a bridge that fell?
On Currybet.net Martin Belam makes all clear. There was indeed a bridge here, used by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, back in the 1860s.
In those days, there were scores of railway companies – every market town seemed to have its own …read more
In between the cutting edge of BritArt and BritPop (which I’ll admit is hardly cutting edge any more, really) and the classical tourist appeal of Westminster or the Ritz, there’s a twentieth-century London that we’ve almost lost sight of completely. Post-war and early Sixties London are almost foreign countries for us these days.
The Ace Cafe is a real historic site. It opened in 1938, as a roadside cafe catering for traffic on the new North Circular road. The cafe was soon joined by a petrol station. Damaged in the Second World War, it was rebuilt in a sort of late …read more
One of the big attractions of Christmas for many of us is the Midnight Mass. It’s special because it’s Christmas; it’s special because it’s at a time most of us are usually getting ready for bed (unless we’re out clubbing); it’s special because of the carols and the choirs and the candlelight.
So, where to go for the best Midnight Mass in London? Let’s start with Westminster Cathedral, a huge Catholic basilica with a finely trained choir and a magnificent organ. Here, the mass setting is Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit, lovely French baroque music – an unusual choice in England. Mass …read more
I’ve always loved the Hackney Empire. It’s a lovely theatre, but it’s the audiences thatmake it special.
When I went to the double bill Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci there, my evening was made by the two little old ladies in front of me discussing the plots of operas. Both of them had the kind of Cockney accent the casting director of East Enders would kill for, and neither of them can have been much under eighty.
“This is the one where they get buried alive, isn’t it?” said one.
A supercilious grin had just begin to display itself on my features when the …read more
It’s panto season and the pantomime dames are out in force. The jowlier and less shaven they are, the better- there’s nothing quite as British as the sight of a totally unconvincing ‘Dame’, all stubble and hairy legs under the makeup and gold lamé.
The Pantomime Dame is one of those great English traditions. I suspect Aussie Dame Edna Everage owes much of her glam to this strand of drag. Widow Twankey, in Aladdin, is always a dame – the ugly sisters in Cindarella are often blokes, too.
But London is also seeing an explosion of a rather more thoroughgoing drag style …read more
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