Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sunday 29 August 2010

Back on the bike, to Broadway Market

I haven't been cycling much: too lazy when it was hot, too comfort-loving when it was raining, and all the time too aware of various creaks and rattles and too mean to pay for professional servicing (the place I bought it from ended up charging me, for its first annual service, about half what it cost in the first place).

With some help from the local cycle group's monthly maintenance workshop, I sorted out the wobbly wheel with a spoke-wrench and a new tyre; only to find that somehow I'd misadjusted the gears, and couldn't work out whether I had the cable too tight or too loose. Finally, after weeks of on-and-off ineffectual prodding and puzzled staring (I'm good at that), the gears magically relented, and suddenly worked as the shift control said they should.

So yesterday I went for a gentle ride up the Regent's Canal to Broadway Market. This is a short street between the canal and London Fields, barely a hundred yards long, nowadays the heartland of the knit-your-own-vegan-bicycle classes.

Above the street, there is a fine display of flags of all nations, suggesting a high proportion of transient flatsharers from other parts of the world alongside the established immigrant communities (in this part of London, noticeably Turkish and Vietnamese).

Further gentrification is clearly on the way in the surrounding neighbourhood, to judge by the estate agents' windows, but for now, there's a mix of old and new, with art bookshops and upmarket florists cheek-by-jowl with secondhand furniture, the Turkish barber, and a traditional tiled-interior pie and mash shop:

This isn't really a general, buy anything you need, sort of market. True, there are ordinary shops along the street, but I only saw one greengrocer's stall. This market is more about entertainment and casual, fancy-that, shopping. Beside the street musician, there were crocheted blankets, knitted teacosies and winter coats for your hairy-handbag dog, handmade guitars, secondhand bikes, homemade birthday cards and ladies' scanties:

Mostly, what's on sale is food - and more food. On top of the cafés and restaurants spilling out on to the street, you can browse the stalls, and let yourself be tempted by Portuguese hog-roast, German bratwurst, Polish pastries, Italian varietal olive oils, fish, fudge - and (this year's craze) cupcakes:

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