Borough Market

FOODIE OVERDOSE IN LONDON

Borough Market

One of the first things we did when we moved to London was going to the very famous food market, Borough Market. If you are a foodie, you will love to immerse yourself in this food mecca. The market is located at 8 Southwark Street in London SE1 1TL. The closest underground station is London Bridge. The market runs Thursday from 11 – 5 pm, Friday from 12 -6, and Saturdays from 8 – 5.

The market is very popular and can get very crowded. They recommend for you to visit either on the earlier or later side. My husband and I like to go early on Saturday mornings when we have the market almost to ourselves.

By noon you can barely walk through this area.

At this market you will find vendors selling baked goods and confectionery products. You will find stalls offering dairy, fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, fish, beer, wine and international foods.

There are dozens of artisans selling their culinary creations. The market also offers a huge selection of cafés, bars, and restaurants. Once the market closes to the retail customers it turns into a traditional wholesale market for London’s restaurants and shops.

Although, I don’t have a picture of the spanish store, Brindisa, I am here to tell you that they sell the best Spanish chorizo I have ever had in my life. They also hand cut Iberian ham to order that will melt in your mouth. In addition, they have a separate tapas restaurant at the market. For more information go to:

http://www.brindisa.com/

Notice the Gigantic English Muffins on the Left

A decadent late morning breakfast for me is to buy the grilled cheese sandwich at Kappacassein. This most delicious toasted cheese sandwich is loaded with Montgomery Cheddar on onion, leek, & garlic bread. You will have gone to grilled cheese sandwich Nirvana and back by the time you finish this delicacy.

Grilled Cheese Nirvana at Kappacasein’s Stall

Another very popular place for a take away (take-out) lunch is the deli arm of the restaurant Roast. The lines to this place are huge. There you can order all sorts of beef, pork, and turkey sandwiches.

For Delicious Fish and Chips go to Fish!

Whether you live in London or you are just visiting, if you love food then a trip to Borough Market is a must.

For more information go to:

http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/borough-market

Borough Market

Marathon Maya Takes The Gold

It seems the sporting world missed one amazing performance.

Marathon Maya

Maya took the Gold Medal in the Regent’s Park Marathon during the 2012 Olympic Games.

Maya Accepting Her Gold Medal

Even with fierce competition, no one could out run this powerful athlete.

Maya Posing with the Olympic Mascots at the Park

After hours of interviews and posing for the paparazzi, Maya was humbled by the experience.

“Please, it’s nothing, anyone could have done it.”
“Thank you to all my supporters and fans”

What the 4th of July Means to Me

In the parade with my Brownie troop in 2006
That’s my daughter waving to the camera.
Westport, CT

With the 4th of July approaching us, I sit and ponder on the meaning of this celebration. Everyone is decorating with red, white, and blue and preparing for picnics and barbeques. Beautiful desserts will be made that resemble the American flag. Parades will be held. Firework displays will fill the skies. For many, it’s just a summer celebration. For me it’s a time to reflect on what it is we are truly celebrating.

My son in the parade with his baseball team.

The Patriots

Now that we are living in England I have learned some facts of how the British people view the 4th of July. In essence, they don’t think much of our holiday. It’s really not taught in their schools. Some of them refer to our Revolutionary war as the Civil War. It was viewed back then as an act of treason. Others think of it as just another mishap or incident with a colony. The year 1776 is really not even mentioned. Testimony to this was the ride my children and I took at London’s Madame Tussauds Wax museum. The ride explains British History throughout the centuries. The ride passes through historical exhibits going from the 1200’s through the 1600’s, and then it mysteriously skips the 1700’s, resuming once again in the 1800’s Industrial revolution. My children found this quite interesting.

To me, the Declaration of Independence was not just about 13 colonies feeling mistreated by the crown, and choosing to become an independent and sovereign nation. To think that these 13 colonies would take on a world power like England was at the time in of itself an amazing feat. What strikes me the most was the determination of our founding fathers to establish a nation in which we are entitled to “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”, unalienable meaning impossible to take away or give up. You have to realize that not all nations offer this. Furthermore, that our Constitution has survived 236 years is an incredible accomplishment. Of course we have made amendments to it but it stands to reason that it was and continues to be an amazing document. The United States is the country with the longest running constitution. Many countries and regimes have rewritten or abolished their constitutions.

The Liberty Bell
Philadelphia, PA

We as Americans are quite privileged to live in a country where we are allowed to speak our mind, where we can criticize our government without fear of being incarcerated, where we can protest something we don’t approve of.  We live in a democracy where we have the luxury of electing our government officials. We live in a country, in a culture that permits us to have choice. How wonderful, to feel this empowerment. Sure, there have been recessions, scandals, and presidencies we may not totally approve of but even with its ups and downs, The United States of America is still the country of opportunity. It is a country where if you are born the child of a maid, you can aspire to be something other than a maid. My liberal friends would beg to differ and argue that not everyone enjoys equal opportunities in the United States. This is a topic that we could develop into a doctorate dissertation. Perhaps I am too naïve and optimistic to feel that if you work hard enough in the United States you can make something of yourself. I compare the social structure in the US to that of Colombia. In Colombia, it is still pretty much like the caste system in India. If you are born into a certain social class,  it is very difficult to break out of that social class.

One of the aspects I appreciate the most about international travel and reading about people from other countries and cultures, is that it teaches me to better understand and be more accepting of others. Perhaps the biggest lesson in life for me has been that by observing the conditions of others around the world that has allowed me to better appreciate the countries that I have lived in. When I come across countries that are unsafe, unjust, oppressive, economically unstable, or not open-minded to different ethnic groups or religions, it reaffirms my conviction that everyone should be entitled to the rights of life, liberty, and happiness, and also to the right of “choice”.

So I’d like to share with you a little bit about two worldwide figures that inspire me this 4th of July, this day of celebration of our freedoms that we take for granted everyday. I am deeply inspired by two heroic international women. The first woman you may be very familiar with, she has been in our headlines since 1990. The second woman has made her contributions since the late 90’s and has become more mainstream in the media since 2005.

  •  Aung San Suu Kyi led the democratic movement in her country of Burma (Myanmar) that opposed the Burmese military government in charge at the time. In 1990, her party the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 59% of the votes in the elections. However, the military nullified the elections and refused to hand over power. Suu Kyi was put under house arrest for 15 years out of the last 21 because she was supposedly considered a threat to the peace and stability of the country. Instead, she went on to become a worldwide symbol of democracy and of the fight against oppression. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. She was not able to receive the prize in person because of her house arrest.  She not only sacrificed herself for the cause, but her family as well. She lived apart from her English husband and two sons since the house arrest. The Burmese government wanted her to leave Burma hoping to then deny her re-entry into the country. Instead she chose to not abandon the Burmese people and stayed her course. Even when her husband was dying of cancer in 1999 he was still denied an entry visa into Burma. Suu Kyi was never able to see her husband again. Her husband had always been very supportive of the Burmese democratic movement. After enormous worldwide pressure, the Burmese government finally released Suu Kyi in 2010. She ran for office in 2012, and finally in April of this year she won a seat in parliament. Just a few days ago, on June 16th of this year, Suu Kyi finally delivered her Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway, in what was considered to be one of the most amazing moments in the history of Nobel Prizes. She was also finally reunited with her two sons whom she had not seen in 24 years. During her 2-week tour in Europe she met with political leaders of Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, England, and France where she was cheered for her pro-democracy efforts and was treated like a head of state. She continues to champion Burma’s transition from military rule to a democracy. You can read more about her in the many books that are available. In 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi published Letters from Burma.  Her story has inspired many authors to write about her, the most recent being, The Lady and The Peacock, by Peter Popham.A
  • Fawzia Koofi is an inspiring Afghanistani woman who has been not only a women’s rights activist but also became a parliament member in 2005. She now aspires to run for president of Afghanistan in 2014. Fawzia has received many death threats and attempts from the Taliban but she continues to fight for what she believes in. Fawzia has written a wonderful memoir called The Favored Daughter. In the book she shares letters she has written to her two daughters, Shaharzad and Shuhra. In these letters she is inspiring but also realistic and pragmatic. She navigates us through her last 30 years in Afghanistan. When Fawzia was born, because she was born a daughter and not a son, so she was put outside in the sun to let nature take its course. But even then she showed her determination, and although she was severely burnt by the sun, she had survived her first 24 hours in such harsh conditions. The fellow women in the family pitied her and returned her to her mother. Her mother made a vow to ensure she would give her daughter the best life the she could. Fawzia’s grandfather and father had been parliament members representing one of the most remote regions of Afghanistan. Life in the 60’s and early 70’s under the monarchy and parliament appeared peaceful and fairly modern in the bigger cities. However, in 1973, there was a coup d’état that led to the dismantling of the parliament and suspension of the constitution. Her father was imprisoned and later killed for speaking against the new establishment. What followed were the years of Russian communism and the Soviet war in the 80’s, while the mujahideen grew stronger in power leading to their eventual takeover by 1995. Although, Fawzia had completed high school and started medical school during the war years, she was not able to complete her studies because the Taliban prevented women from getting an education. Unable to continue her education she focused her work on women’s rights. After the fall of the Taliban, Fawzia completed her degrees in business and in law. In 2005, the first elected parliament in 33 years was put in place. Fawzia Koofi made history by becoming the first woman Second Deputy Speaker of the Parliament. Her contributions in the area of human rights have been numerous. She continues to champion women and children’s causes. Fawzia continues to strive to make Afghanistan a better place for her daughters and others. She hopes to become the next President of Afghanistan. For further reading, read A Favored Daughter by Fawzi Koofi and visit http://www.fawziakoofi.org/mission.html and http://www.fawziakoofi.org/

These are the two women who are inspiring me on this 4th of July. Their experiences help me appreciate where I live in and the societies that I am part of. As I think of my children, I am grateful because I am raising them in environments, both here in the US and abroad in which they have rights, unalienable rights, of life, liberty, happiness, and choice.

Sitting and Thinking of My Children
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

Happy Fourth of July!!!!

Happy Fourth of July!

Enjoying the Summer.
2005

A Wee Bit About Our Wee Weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland

(Noteworthy Fact: The Scottish say the word “wee” a lot to mean, small quantity or amount.)

Mum’s Restaurant

Last weekend we visited the beautiful city of Edinburgh, pronounced more like Edinboro.  The “r” is pronounced like a Spanish single “r”. As hard as I tried to pronounce “Edinboro” correctly, the waiter at Mum’s, a delicious Scottish comfort food restaurant, told me he would not bring my beer until I pronounced the name properly. It was a Scottish beer called, Edinburgh Gold. And obviously my American/Colombian “Edinboro” pronunciation was not cutting it. After several futile attempts I think the friendly waiter gave up and still rewarded me with my beer.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the second largest city in Scotland, after Glasgow.  The first settlements of the city can be traced to where the Edinburgh Castle resides today. In AD 638, the Angles captured what was known as Din Eidyn and renamed it Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle

The Edinburgh Castle sits on a natural fortress formed by a volcanic plug. A volcanic plug is a rock land formation created by the hardening of volcanic magma. In 1130, the royal castle was built on the rock. Among the first structures built was St. Margaret’s Chapel, one of my favorite buildings on the grounds.

St. Margarets Chapel Alter

It is the only medieval building to have survived the 16th century artillery bombardment during a siege. It is a quaint, small, and cozy chapel that is also the oldest building in Edinburgh. And it is said that all Scotsmen want their daughters to have their wedding at St. Margaret’s Chapel (in case you are unaware, the Scots have the reputation for being thrifty) For more information about Edinburgh castle visit http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/index.htm

Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

The Royal Mile (pronounced mail) is the street that extends between the Edinburgh Castle on the west end and the Hollyrood Palace on the east end. Hollyrood Palace is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland.

We have known Scotland, as the land of “Scotty” from Star Trek, the land of handsome burly men in kilts like Mel Gibson playing William Wallace in Braveheart, and of course the land of single malt and blended Whiskies. It is also the land of castles and palaces, of High Lands and of Low Lands.

In more recent times, Scotland has been known for J.K. Rowling writing the first Harry Potter book in a small cafe called The Elephant House.

The Elephant House – Where JK Rowling began writing the Harry Potter series

It is said that she modeled Hogswart School after a private Edinburgh school.

Hogwarts was inspired by this private school

We climbed Arthur’s Seat, another volcanic peak formation. From there we enjoyed beautiful views of the city.

Arthur’s Seat

Climbing Arthur’s Seat

View of Hollyrood Palace from Arthur’s Seat

Views of Edinburgh from the Edinburgh Castle

Scotland was also the home to Deacon Brodie. By day, Deacon Brodie was the model citizen, a cabinet-maker, head of the trade’s guild, and a city counselor.By night, he was a burglar who did this in part for fun of it but also to support his gambling habit. Deacon Brodie was the real life inspiration to writer Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Deacon Brodie’s Tavern

Greyfriar’s Bobby

 Edinburgh was also the home to Greyfriar’s Bobby. Greyfriar’s Bobby was a Sky Terrier dog who belonged to John Gray, also known as Auld Jock, a constable in the mid 1800’s. Originally, the dog was named just “Bobby” a suitable name for a constable’s watchdog. Bobby and Auld Jock were inseparable until Auld Jock’s death in 1857 of tuberculosis. Auld Jock was buried in the Greyfriar’s Burial Grounds, the cemetery of the Greyfriar’s Kirk (Church). Bobby went on to mourn his master’s death by staying at his grave for 14 years until his own death in 1872. Eventually he became known as Greyfriar’s Bobby.

Greyfriar’s Bobby Burial Site

Over the years, Greyfriar’s Bobby was taken care of and protected by his neighbors and friends.  Greyfriar’s Bobby was also buried in the Greyfriar’s Burial Grounds, and friends from around the world visit his grave. http://www.greyfriarsbobby.co.uk/home.html

Edinburgh has its fair share of gruesome stories, like that of the serial killers William Burke and William Hare of the West Port area of Edinburgh. Burke and Hare discovered that they got paid good money for delivering dead bodies to the Edinburgh Medical College for dissection experiments. Initially, they started out as grave robbers but then realized they could just kill people and sell their bodies. Burke and Hare’s accomplices were their partners, Burke’s mistress Helen McDougal and Hare’s wife, Margaret. Margaret ran a lodging house where unsuspecting guests would be lured, drugged, or gotten drunk, and then Burke and Hare would commit the murders. From here comes the term “burking” that means to purposely smother and compress a victim’s chest. Their first victim was in 1828. In total, they killed and sold 17 bodies to their contact at the Medical School, Dr. Robert Knox. Eventually, Burke and Hare were caught. However, since it appeared there was not enough evidence to convict them, Hare was offered immunity from persecution if he confessed everything and agreed to testify against Burke. Burke was found guilty and hung in December 1829. He was then dissected in public at the Edinburgh Medical College.

We spent a day traveling through the Highlands visiting various castles, lochs (lakes), and villages.

Views in the Highlands
Castle turned into time-share units
Highland cows on the pasture

Our first stop was to Stirling Castle located in the center of the town of Stirling. The castle dates back to the 1100’s and its history is linked to famous Scots like William Wallace and Queen Mary of Scots. The Palace located on the grounds of the castle was built in the 1500’s and has been beautifully restored to its Renaissance splendor. One of my favorite buildings of the palace was the Great Hall.

The Great Hall at Stirling Castle

The Great Hall is one of the few buildings to be restored to its original color.  The Great hall was used for feasts, dances, and pageantries. For more information about Stirling Castle visit http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk/

We drove by the National Wallace Monument honoring William Wallace the Scottish Hero who led the fight for freedom from England and united the clans of Scotland. Mel Gibson plays the role of William Wallace in the movie Braveheart.

National Wallace Monument

We drove by Stirling Bridge where the first battle of Scottish Independence from England was led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray on September 11, 1297. For more on William Wallace visit http://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/index.html

Stirling Bridge
Site of First Scottish Independence War

We also visited Doune Castle where the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed.

Doune Castle

“Hamish” the famous Scottish Highland Cow

So as we made our way through the city I discovered a wee of an interest with the Che Guevara. Then again, I think there’s a general global obsession with him since his image appears everywhere. Good topic for a future blog. In brief, he was the Argentinian born to a well-to-do family, medical student turned Marxist revolutionary who ultimately joined Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Well, somehow The Scottish must feel a connection with him because I found the following t-shirt of El Che wearing a Scottish hat.  I also located a Sudanese restaurant called Che and sporting el Che’s image.

Sudanese Che Restaurant

A 3500 bottle collection of Whisky bottles at The Whisky Experience in Edinburgh

That concludes my wee summary of Scotland.