Brick Lane is at the end of the street we’re staying in, probably less than 100 metres away. It’s a well known street, so well known, in fact, that a book and a movie bear its name. Today it is a very multicultural street, home to many Bangladeshis. They say you can get the best curries in London here. Even the street signs are written in both English and Bengali. It also has a famous bagel bakery that is open 24 hours a day, and a Muslim mosque. It was once linked closely with London’s Jewish community.
Every Sunday is market day in Brick Lane. The streets are buzzing with a multicultural mix of people from all races and religions. The stalls range from pre-loved clothing and vintage goods to artworks and jewellery to an exotic range of street foods. There are artists painting canvases while you watch, musicians playing familiar tunes on unfamiliar instruments, a chess guy taking on multiple challengers at a time, and spruikers trying to convince people that something they didn’t really want was, in reality, absolutely indispensable.
Marg and I had fun walking from one end of the market to the other, checking out all of the stalls, stopping often to inspect the goods on sale. In a market like this, you have to assume that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. I was bemused by the long queue that began on the footpath outside the bagel shop and snaked around in a loop inside the shop, eventually ending at the woman stuffing salt beef (corned beef) into bagels and slapping on a dash of mustard. There must have been about 30 people in the queue when I joined it, but the queue moved fairly fast and soon I was tucking into a delicious fresh bagel with thick chunks of warm corned beef. Yumm! The downside of all of the activity in the market today is that when we walked home at about 5pm, there was litter everywhere, and only some of it was bagged and ready for collection. I imagine the street cleaners might have to come in tonight if the street has to be clean again for the start of the working week tomorrow.
Not only does Brick Lane’s multicultural mix and its fabulous shops and restaurants make it a great place to explore, but also its street art is amazing, and well worth a visit, as long as you bring a camera.
When we reached the end of Brick Lane and the last few market stalls were behind us, we continued on towards the river, in search of the Tower of London.