Showing posts with label Mews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mews. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Mews in London

One of my favorite things about being in London are these funny little side streets and alleys that are called mews. I always feel like I am in Victorian London and on purpose walk through the mews,imagining myself some damsel (in corset and big petticoat) that has hidden with her secret beau to steal a kiss among the cobble stone mews and a full moon night. One evening I was taking a black cab and the cabbies, most of the time are quite friendly. He explained to me that the Mews were once the stables where the wealthy kept their horses. Now, no longer used as stables they are often prime property, very expensive and for the very posh.

I delved further into my research and this is what I found:
Mews is a chiefly British term formerly describing a row of stables, usually with carriage houses below and living quarters above, built around a paved yard or court, or along a street, behind large London houses of the 17th and 18th centuries. The word may also refer to the lane, alley or back street onto which such stables open. It is sometimes applied to rows or groups of garages or, more broadly, to a narrow passage or a confined place. Today most mews stables have been converted into dwellings, some greatly modernized and considered highly desirable residences.

The term "mews" is not used for large individual non-royal British stable blocks, a feature of country houses. For example the grand stable block at Chatsworth House is referred to as the stables, not the mews. Instead the word was applied to service streets and the stables in them in cities, primarily London. In the 18th and 19th centuries London housing for wealthy people generally consisted of streets of large terraced houses with stables at the back, which opened onto a small service street. The mews had horse stalls and a carriage house on the ground floor, and stable servants' living accommodation above. Generally this was mirrored by another row of stables on the opposite side of the service street, backing onto another row of terraced houses facing outward into the next street. Sometimes there were variations such as small courtyards. Most mews are named after one of the principal streets which they back onto. Most but not all have the word "mews" in their name. This arrangement was different from most of Continental Europe, where the stables in wealthy urban residences were usually off a front or central courtyard. The advantage of the British system was that it hid the sounds and smells of the stables away from the family when they were not using the horses.

Mews lost their equestrian function in the early 20th century when motor cars were introduced. At the same time, after World War I and especially after World War II, the number of people who could afford to live in the type of houses which had a mews attached fell sharply.[citation needed] Some mews were demolished or put to commercial use, but the majority were converted into homes. These "mews houses", nearly always located in the wealthiest districts, are themselves now fashionable residences.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Borough Market- The Oldest Market in London

When I first came to London I lived back in October 2008, I lived in Southwark at the St. Christopher's Hostel. Just 2 blocks down was the fun, eclectic and energetic Borough Market, which made it bearable to live in the loud hostel. It also helped me make up my mind where I was going to root myself in this great big daunting uknown city. I loved and still love going there on Saturday mornings just with a spirit of adventure trying to new foods,like Ostrich burgers or cassoulett. It's a favorite of Londoners on Saturday mornings. You can have hot apple cider from England's best Apple Farms. There are hundreds of vendors there selling everything from tortellini, truffle oil, to the most authentic Indian masala tea( you must shake your head back and forth). You may also just buy exotic fruits and veggies. I didn't think London would have exotic fruits and vegetables, but they do, some I have never tried. You can also sample Basque ham, foie gras, goose fat, confit, bouillabaisse, regional wines, chorizo, Arabic spices for a true Morroccan cous cous, Somerset jams, organic cheese, and tempting tantalizing artisanal bread. It's a Foodies heaven ! (Julia Child should have visited a few times, if she did. Speaking of Julia Child did anyone see the movie Julia and Julie?) The sad thing is I can't pack this food home back to the USA, but just live with the memory of savouring the gastronomic delights that is both a feast for the eye and the pallette.

But, what's so interesting about this market is that it's been around since the 13th century. Borough Market is London's oldest food market. It was established on the south bank of the Thames when the Romans built the first London Bridge. It has occupied its present site for 250 years. The romantic in me pretends I am in the renaissance times, in a big huge corsetted dress with a bustle (that my skullerymaid has taken 1 hour to help me tie up the laces) wandering about the Market trying to gracefully dance through the masses of people, smelling this bread, touching those apples as I fill my basket with the abundance of this great earth. Lovely !

For hours and Location

Monday, 28 September 2009

PART 2: Dating in London: What's it Like to Date an English Man

My experience in dating in London is unique to me, of course, but perhaps there are other species of the more delicate gender who would agree with me on the courting rituals of the male beast. And, that thereof of the English man.

So, you want to know my opinion on dating an English bloke? Yes, you do, or you wouldn't be reading this blog. Well, first of all, what you see in the movies could be true of an English gentlemen. The Hugh Grants, the Colin Firths and who else? Those are fine examples that Hollywood shows you of an English gentlemen. But are those examples real? Is there a likeness, where Hollywood and fantasy meet reality and truth? Well, I love Colin Firth and his portrayal of Mark Darcy was sexy, sublime and true to the reality of an Englsh man or was it? Well, in a way it was and in a way it wasn't. My impression of the English men comes from my real life, what I have observed on the street, in the tea houses,in the pubs,in parliament (no, just kidding), in my true life experience. And, with my true archaelogist eye for seeeing through things and exacavating those hidden elements that make people in certain cultures click it's my desire and pleasure to share with you those impressions.

The English men are gentlemen to the extreme !!: courteous, thoughtful, well mannered, polite, and disarmingly charming. They are great models for the rest of the men in the world on sophistication and plain old fashioned good manners. They are always very dapper, well dressed and svelte. Yes, svelte ! Most drink a lot of beer, it's called the pub gene, but I have never seen one English man with a big belly. It's a mystery to me, because I don't see many gyms around London, not like in California anyway. English men wear elegant suits and seldom see a pouchy pouch.

Seriously, English men love to write. They are natural great and talented writers.Even their natural speech is quite eloquent and they have a great vernacular of elegant words at thier disposal. Being a words smith and poet myself, I just love it. I think it has to do with their upbringing and the school system requires them as young lads to write many essays. It's any wonder England has produced some of the world's greatest writers. I can attest to this because I am a lover of Literature and am particularily fond of English Literature. I love Shakespeare, Eliot, Hardy, Austen and Thackeray. I think England is a land of poets, so naturally the men are quite naturally poetic even if they write you a text message. If they have degrees from Oxford or Cambridge they are like this to a more intense degree. It's very romantic and quite refreshing.

So, once they start writing they may write you or let me correct myself, they will compose ( this is said in a POSH British accent) an email. Usually, it's no more than a simple concise 3-4 paragraphs. I don't have time to read 3 to 4 paragraphs from a man that I just met. The English men are quite long winded. They like to beat around the bush. It's all very romantic and lovely, for sure. But, this day in age, I have to bring home the bacon and sometimes fry it up in the pan. I don't have time to sift through a deluge of words from a man I just met and had one connection with. In their boyish charm they often forget that women just like a man to call them and ask them out on a date. It's very simple.

By this time all this attention is wonderful. It's quite good to be showered with so many compliments and the intrigue is building. But, don't buy into it. The next thing, is that they'll text you about 20 times. Telling you how much they love the moon when it's full and that it reminds them of you. Or, how they are wondering why you stopped emailing and texting them. And, that they dropped by the original place that you met in the hopes that they might run into you again because they really miss you. Then if they run into you at the local pub they have to drink 5 pints before they muster their courage to talk to you and ask you for your phone number again. Once, they start a rampage of texts it's endless. They'll practically conduct the whole courting rites and propose marriage to you via texts. The intrigue and sexual tension is building, meanwhile your hands are getting carpal tunnel from so much texting!!

The English men are quite reserved and are afraid of the initial intimacy. It's quite aggravating for me to conduce a relationship email/ text or otherwise, with a man I hardly know. If a man is not brave enough to just call me and ask me out for a drink or a lovely cup of tea, I don't want to have anything to do with him. As, the English say " I can't be bothered!" On the other hand, if the man is your boyfriend or someone your attracted to, then by all means, a bit of techo flirtation is de rigeur in this day and age, so indulge yourself!

And, if you really like the bloke, you can always consider going with the flow and just enjoying the unique qualities of your English man instead of fighting the flow. What is that saying patience is a virtue. As Eart Kitt sings in her song " An Englishman needs time". Well, you might have to be a bit patient with the way the English blokes are so shy and reserved, but it could also prove quite rewarding. Besides being reserved is quite beautiful thing.

Here is a video of Eartha Kitt Singing An Englishman Needs Time."

Enjoy !
Note Bene: These blogs are meant in the spirit of good humor and love.
No offense meant. Hopefully, no offense taken. Hey if you can't laugh
at yourself you are going to shorten your life span. Duh!


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