Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A weekend in London - Brixton

We were invited to spend last weekend with Dave's daughter Carrie who
New streetart mural near Brockwell Park 
has a gorgeous little flat in Tulse Hill, London. I drove up on the Saturday afternoon which was a little stressy, but nowhere near as fraught as city driving has been on previous occasions. We got there in just over two hours and even managed to park right outside! Carrie had booked for us all to see the new Suffragette film in the evening so we spent the late afternoon walking around Brockwell Park towards Brixton which is one of my favourite London districts. To be fair, I don't know much away from the touristy centre, but I do love the vibrancy of Brixton. There are so many different peoples and cultures represented giving us the opportunities to try cuisines from all over the world, see fruit and vegetables that I haven't a clue how to cook, browse gorgeous fabrics and homewares, hear music and chatter in dozens of languages ... love it!

The new mural being painted in the first photo (top right) was just over
Brixton Market 
the road from the Herne Hill entrance to Brockwell Park. The Park has a miniature railway too, but it wasn't running. We paused for refreshments in The Lido Cafe which was nicely busy and cosy against the October chill although there were some tough swimmers doing lengths in the outdoor pool. I had a rooibos tea and a very good carrot cake while Dave treated himself to a new taste experience: an Espresso Martini. Apparently it's delicious!

Brixton Market was surprisingly calm for a Saturday evening and Carrie said this was because we were much earlier than everyone else. It was only about half past five! This gave us a good chance to browse the vintage clothes shops and also to start narrowing down our choices of where to go for dinner. There was already a bewildering choice in the Market, but then we also went to visit a new commercial area called Pop Brixton. This is a brilliant iniative utilising waste ground where a temporary ice rink used to be. The shopping, eating and office-y area is entirely constructed from shipping containers. I remember reading about a similar space created in Christchurch, New Zealand, after that terrible earthquake. Pop Brixton is now home to microbusinesses, artisans and bars and looked fabulous in the dusk with plants in tubs and lights strung across the walkways. The only think I didn't like was being able to see through the stairs - not good for those with vertigo! I wonder how many of my woven bags I would have to sell in order to pay the rent on a little shop unit?

Pop Brixton
Pop Brixton
After much wandering and deliberation we decided on a Latin American style tapas meal and returned to Brixton Market and The Provincial. This tiny looking restaurant actually seats about two dozen people and had a good offer of six tapas dishes and a litre of sangria for £35. The Broken Eggs with Onion and Fries was good and slow cooked Aubergine was fantastic. We can also recommend the Meatballs and the Cassava, but the Chorizo With Beans and Potatoes wasn't so good - the veg was nice, but the chorizo a bit tough and burned. Overall I we enjoyed our meal and the retro music playing was fun.

I was very impressed with The Ritzy cinema where we went to see
Vintage mural near to The Ritzy 
Suffragette. There's a popular bar area - which was full and loud - and a few quieter tables in the lobby. The screen seats are comfortable with loads of room and a good unobstructed view. It's £12 a ticket though!! We're certainly not used to London prices!

We all loved the film. It is pretty hard-hitting and doesn't shy away from showing the violence meted out both by suffragettes against property and to their persons by policemen, prison guards and (indirectly) by the political establishment of the 1910s.  Such basic inequalities as a woman being unable to sign a cheque for her own money - her husband must sign - or having any rights over her own child - her husband's decision is all that is legally needed - or even to run her own pharmacy - her unqualified husband owns the business. (We learned about the pharmacy inequality during our summer travels, but I can't remember exactly where now. Women could train and qualify as pharmacists because an oversight meant they weren't specifically excluded. All other professions had made sure to state 'men only'!)

The performances, especially from Carey Mulligan and Anne-Marie Duff, are superb. This is definitely a film that everyone should see! Before the credits a list of dates shows when various counties around the world gave their women the right to vote. Switzerland was particularly surprising, not having gained equality until the 1970s. However, I would also have liked a statistic showing what percentage of British women actually USED their right to vote in the recent General Election. Hopefully seeing what the suffragettes endured will encourage more of today's women not to waste their vote.

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