Day 9 – Brick Lane, Spitalfields, and School Nights

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My second Sunday in London was a bit relaxed, but that’s quite all right. Much like last Sunday, Jen and I went to church a bit early and returned to campus for some lunch. We each had a cup of tea and sat down with our lunches to watch Oliver & Company on Netflix, a relaxing early afternoon before heading off to one of the busiest places I have seen so far in London: Brick Lane Market.

Instead of hopping on the Tube or bus to get there, Nicole, Jen, and I opted to walk the mile and a half it took to get there from campus. At about halfway, my feet started throbbing from my poor choice in shoes, but I pushed forward. Keep Calm and Carry On, as they say. It took some time, but we eventually arrived in this alley-type street with market stalls lining each side and people selling handmade and antique wares. It was pretty cool to see independent designers and jewelry makers selling their work, like at a school craft fair but slightly scarier. I will admit I was apprehensive once I saw the throngs of people shuffling and bumping into one another, but once you enter a storefront or room it dies down somewhat. There’s pretty much a sampling of goods for anyone: from food to jewelry, dresses to graphic tees, pastries to Asian entrees, there’s literally everything you could hope for. I think I even saw a couple juice bars, if you were so inclined.

We hopped into each storefront we saw, but we were all working on tight budgets and opted not to buy anything for a bit. It wasn’t until we approached a fruit stand that we scored some great deals (10 apples for a pound!). Of course there were plenty of secondhand book stalls, and naturally I looked into every single one. Luckily Jen caught my next big find: a British (Bloomsbury) edition of Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. I got so excited I couldn’t contain myself! I really would have preferred Deathly Hallows, but Half-Blood Prince is just as good AND it was in hardcover! For only 4 pounds, I say it was a steal and a great find.

After a couple more stops, we ambled out of Brick Lane and towards Old Spitalfields Market, not a far walk from where Brick Lane ends. The same sorts of things were being sold at Spitalfields, so we spent about half the time there and headed back to campus. The cool thing about Spitalfields, though, is that it’s a market comprised of local vendors but it’s among chain restaurants and well-known shops. Also, if you’re worried about atmosphere, Spitalfields seems to be a bit safer and more controlled than the hectic vibe that is Brick Lane.

On the way back, we stopped at a Tesco Express to pick up groceries. It’s partly my fault that we stopped at this one; I didn’t know there was one closer to campus. In hindsight, it would have been better if we waited. We trudged about a mile holding our heavy bags; I felt like the personification of death when we finally returned. Jen’s hands were swollen from all of the pressure put on them from the bags! Tesco is one of the cheaper grocery store options, so I guess I’m glad we stopped, but I wish I had known there was a closer one. My hands will never feel the same.

So, like I said, the day was almost uneventful. The markets were cool to see, but we had to return early because I had some preliminary reading to do before classes tomorrow (EW). After being out of class an extra month than I’m used to, I don’t think I’m fully ready to dive back into the swing of things. I guess I’ll find out if I’m ready, won’t I?

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