There is a reason why most people trade mainly during the spring & summer, and leave London for the winter; some of them going to cheap & exotic destination like Thailand or India. Not so many people are willing to go out in chilly weather, resulting in takings going down, unless you have a strong & loyal customer base who requires daily bread.
With several attempts of snow, this winter has been particularly harsh, the coldest one I can remember in my 10 years in London and I am sure, as about the amount of chocolate in my brownies, that the Retail sector would feel the frost.
When my wife asks me, from time to time, why you have to do this outside in the cold, I always answer that I do it for my regulars. They deserve my chocolate tart more than me. Even when it was snowing lightly in Roman Road Market last Saturday, white sourdough loaves vanished quickly, so who cares? When they are happy, I am happy. A simple philosphy for simple men!
By the way, sometimes the weirdest things can happen in a cold & dark winter morning, especially when you are in the right place. Last Sunday, at around 5 am, when I was already in full swing setting up my stall in BrickLane, an old lady approached me, carrying several heavy bags, asking if I was interested in buying some lemons.
Such an encounter at such unsociable hours must prove the fact that the elderly find it difficult to sleep. It may be part of a spreading syndrome including people enquiring about the same things at regular days.
There was one guy passing by every Friday in Greenwich and asking, each time, for the price of the same bread: a loaf of Campaillou. I haven't seen him in the market for few months now & I am honestly worried.
Plus there is an old lady who comes around every Saturday in Roman Road & pops the question:
-Do you have scones?
What's a scone? I don't know... but I am always happy to answer.
Spring is coming!
Dear listeners, St.Sugar is back, sweeter than ever, with the first post in 2013 anno domini.
Sorry for the delay but I've been busy gifting my parents with their first holiday in 60 years ( they are both aged 60 ).
I know my relentless speaking should be all about food, recipes, pictures of food, what I am eating tonight & other kinds of fried nonsense. But.... after a serious reflection of the array of food blogging sites ( easy & swift like reading The Sun ; 3 words & 300 pictures), I've decided to fill my posts with my personal reflections, direct experiences of life as a StreetMarketTrader & the obvious link between food & philosophy.
-Whaaaatt? Food & philosophy ? Are you the posh guy?
-No, I am just stating the obviety of the connection between different diets & the diversity of backgrounds/lifestyles & approaches in life. You can understand it very well when you travel through several countries.
I took my parents to Bratislava, Vienna & Prague, like a beautiful trip in the snow in Central Europe.
In the little big country of Slovakia , Bratislava is the small capital city with a tiny old town at its most marvellous best at dusk after heavy snow fall. It's a lucky time to go there during the winter, because all the historical sites are deserted - the locals prefer, nowadays, to find warmth & glamour in the several shopping centres popping out after the end of the communist era.
So... you can have all the Bratislava castle for yourself, walk along the Blue Danube or stand up where the two rivers, Danube & Morava meet in front of the old ruins of the Devin Castle... like being catapulted in a time of knights, fortresses & beautiful dames to defend.
Prague, instead, is mysterious, a city of legends, folk stories, ghosts & artists; an urban outfit to be enjoyed early morning or in the evenings, when there is not much light, & you are free to be a vagabond before the invasion of tourists, moving between bridges & bridges... imagining to see the strange face of Kafka or the huge phisique of a Golem.
When Bratislava represents a glacial beauty, slender & lingering to the sky, freezing the spectator in front of the blue, watery eyes of its ladies - Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal described Andy Wahrol, born by Slovak parents, as having the same eyes of Christ - In Prague , women have the hair the same colour of its famous beer, golden Pilsner.
A bit gothic, a bit Art Nouveau, every piece of architecture seems to have a symbolic meaning, even the lamp posts have an unusual shape.
Well, honestly & sincerely, Vienna is above all, a supreme city; nothing bad can be said about it. One of the best places to live for the quality of life, so clean, so tidy, so organised, so precisely spotless that you could eat on the sidewalk. With 50% of urban space covered with park area, the best tap water in the world, the facades of the buildings restored to the magnificence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire can blow you away with Art Nouveau magic; Vienna is the only place where humans should be possible.
That's all. If you around Prague one day & you crave caffeine & a proper espresso , I may kindly recommend a visit to 'Alla Corte Di Angelo' an Italian restaurant in the city; my father really enjoyed his coffee there. Plus something to read : everything written by Bohumil Hrabal.