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They say you can never go home again, or step in the same river twice, or… WHATEVER. This time round it wasn’t me that had changed but the fabulous Maltby Street Market I had fallen in love with last August. That had been a day I was out on my own in London, and somehow the whole market seemed to welcome me, and I spent a few wonderful hours talking with everyone there and even making new friends. So I was eager to relive the experience and made a plan to meet up with my dear friend John @cityjohn.

As it was a very pretty morning Peter and I decided to walk there from Wapping, which takes about an hour, and is a very pleasant walk along the riverside and across Tower Bridge. On our way there another dear friend José @jose_pizarro called me and said that, although pressed for time (he was between trips to Spain), he wanted to at least pop over and say hola, so we also arranged to meet at the market. In the end we all met up at good ol’ Bar Tozino, where we stopped in for a quick manzanilla with John and his friends, and then José also stopped by. Considering José’s crazy schedule, it felt very special that he made the time to come over and we got to catch up a bit.

By this time it was feeling like we should try to get some lunch so, after José left us, we had a look around the market. Which was jammed in every direction. I managed to find my pal Mark @thegayfarmer and we had a nice chat (he also very generously gave me some of his newly harvested evoo). Then John had to leave because his friend was suddenly ill, so it was just me and Peter left, looking around this once charming but now super over-crowded street market and we decided – let’s get outta here!

I mean, by then it was 3 pm and breakfast had been quite awhile ago, and we’d been walking A LOT, so our first necessity was to eat SOMETHING before deciding on what to do next. Luckily José’s tiny and perfect tapas bar in Bermondsey was just around the corner, so we stopped in there for a drink and some of his sublime squid ink croquetas. Thus fortified we ventured out to find some non-Spanish food and I remembered the fabulous Arabica, just outside Borough Market, that had been recommended to me last summer by my friend Thane @thaneprince. And I knew I had to try the muhamarra (roasted red pepper, harissa, toasted walnuts) again. Well, imagine my surprise when we walked in and the barman Emanuel remembered me (!!!). Seriously? I mean, how many people have passed through those doors since last August? And so, feeling very welcome, we had a lovely late afternoon lunch.

After that we did something I had planned on doing last visit but time (and Panic Attacks) got in the way. We walked along the South Bank from London Bridge to Westminster Bridge, then crossed over, making our way past Big Ben, etc and ending up in Covent Garden. By then we seriously needed to sit down and so stopped in at Rules for a drink in their upstairs cocktail bar. Rules is London’s oldest restaurant (and was also featured in Downton Abbey – where the Crawley family dined while “in town”), so what the heck. Perhaps a bit too formal and with too much plush velvet for my taste, but it was an experience. After that we thought a small snack before going home was probably a good idea, so we stopped in at Polpo (across the street from Rules) for a small dish of their delicious pork meatballs. And then we caught the bus home… with front row seats on the upper deck.

the Bar Tozino team

Mark the Gay Farmer – makes fabulous olive oil and pesto too

José Pizarro’s famous squid ink croquetas

THIS. Turkish Muhamarra (roasted red pepper, harissa, toasted walnuts)
Arabica just outside Borough Market

hola Shard!

the Globe Theatre

the supports for the old Blackfriar’s rail bridge (new one on the right)

walking past the London Eye

Big Ben and Parliament buildings

wheel closeup with serpents

London Eye – no filter!

drinks at Rules – London’s oldest restaurant

quick snack before heading home – meatballs at Polpo, Covent Garden

upper deck, front seat view