Alex is standing guitar in hand outside a modern Bankside pub singing (not badly) the quintessential busking tune ‘No Woman, No Cry’. A small group of young girls are hurling words of encouragement at him, and they laugh when the young man introduces himself: “Hello, my name is Alex. Don’t be shy, come and say hello. Feel free to also take pics for Facebook.” Close by, the River Thames provides a scenic backdrop to walkers and diners.
The wind has a bracing but not unmanageable chill – cold enough for the jackets and coats to make their appearance after the summer break, but not quite cold enough for gloves. I’m happy to simply wander round Bankside and Borough Market, taking in the colourful sights of foods: super fresh vegetables, tasty cakes, exotic oils.
Smells hang in the air, such as the meats and poultry being grilled and roasted over open griddles. My favourite is usually the strips of duck packed into soft breads, layered with apple sauce and enjoyed while walking aimlessly around the market. But today, I want to take advantage of the dying summer embers and sit outside to eat and watch people pass by to and fro.
I find my spot outside Wokit. Small cosy tables prettified with delicate pink-flowered pot plants. I grab a prosecco and mint drink from a stall (£4) and head towards my table with a view. Wokit specialises in super fresh stir fries: I choose the jasmine rice, salmon and pak choi, completed with the teriyaki and tamari sauce (£9).
I have a few hours to fill before I go to the concert I’ve come for: Bach and Vivaldi by candlelight at Southwark Cathedral (more on that in a later post). So I wander across to the reconstructed Golden Hinde. Some children are already eagerly onboard the replica ship that took Drake on this three-year world trip. A captain wearing sixteenth-century garb appears and lines the boys outside the vessel. She’s impatient to get the excited, giggling, talkative boys to the next port of call. “Mind your heads, pay attention. If you bang your heads if won’t be my fault do you hear” she tells them commandingly. “Do I hear an aye aye captain?” “Aye aye captain” the boys dutifully reply in unison.
But having had my fill of whiling away some interesting time around the market, I settle for a striking Merlot at Bedales, before sauntering over to the cathedral for my evening concert.