Vichy Catalan water

Vichy Catalan water is only sold in about 4 outlets in London, one of which is Monmouth Coffee. It comes from the Catalan region of Spain and has unusually ‘hard’ bubbles and a salty taste. If you don’t mind the salty taste, it’s wonderful for hangovers. Get a large bottle. I noticed it wan’t exorbitantly priced, either.

As told to me by the friendly woman in Monmouth.

Things I’ve learnt from strangers: “I’ve been to Poland, I’ve been to Ukraine. I’m telling you no black man is safe there”

I just walked past a couple of large black guys in the street. It’s just gone midnight and one of them was wearing a reflective vest, I think working as a security guard. They were chatting like they didn’t know each other, but had just engaged in conversation. One said to the other: “I’ve been to Poland, I’ve been to Ukraine. I’m telling you no black man is safe there”. I believed him.

Things I’ve learnt from strangers: fit men running in the cold

I didn’t actually talk to this stranger, but was eavesdropping on his conversation. The person in question is a tall man who I often see running and stretching in all weathers in my local park as I go to work in the morning. He wears quite distinctive clothes and stands on top of a small hill doing his stretching, so he’s hard to miss, even when dodging the kids and their mums going to the local school.

This week I happened to follow him as he walked up towards the tube, in his regular running gear, chatting to another man and trying to convince him to take up similar exercise. I didn’t pay much attention until he started getting conspiratorial and delivered the ‘killer’ reason: “you get lots of attention from the ladies”.

It made me smile. Perhaps the hill and the mums aren’t such a coincidence.

Things I’ve learnt from strangers: chickens

According to the man selling chickens in Borough Market this morning (who had a range of chickens), traditional breed chickens have less meat on the breast and more on the leg, and are far tastier. We bought one, so tomorrow I’ll find out if it’s true.

Things I’ve learnt from strangers: Bermondsey St. antiques

Last weekend I got chatting to a woman who owns one of the properties on Bermondsey Street and trades antiques and furniture from it. She originally bought the house over 10 years ago to store the items that she couldn’t keep in her space in the market at the bottom of the street. At the time, the other traders said she was mad: who would go that far up the street, beyond the established trading area? In reality, she had an established group of customers happy to walk the distance, and she brought more trade to the other shops, stalls and spaces in between. Now, the market is tiny, all the other shops on the street are gone, and the trade dying due to the rise of Ikea and eBay. She doesn’t own a computer. She’s going to shut up shop and rent the space to architects.

Think I’ve learnt from strangers: Maltby Street

I’m trying to speak to more new people at the moment and appreciate the things I learn from them.

Yesterday, a stall holder on Maltby Street told me about the plans for the businesses that formed the original collective there. Apparently, they are currently on quite short term leases and all sorts of other people keep appearing along the arches. They have found some railway arches further away from London Bridge and are likely to be moving that way quite soon.