One of the great things about living abroad for six years in the 90s was that it made us see Britain as a holiday destination. Even now, I get just as excited about visiting somewhere new in this country as I do about going abroad. And since there is just so much to see and do here, I'll never exhaust the place. Which is why I was enthralled by the idea of taking the tube to Bethnal Green (previously unvisted) to see Amanda Caines who makes the only jewellery I ever wear (it never fails to elicit a comment at supermarket checkouts).
We shall be having a holiday in Spitalfields soon (yes, the rest of the world can take Spain and Sardinia, we are off to Spitalfields) and I know there simply won't be enough time to do everything on the list, so I thought I'd do a morning's recce while I was in the area.
I walked along Bethnal Green Road and enjoyed the plastic flowers above a pub, because I grew up in the heyday of the plastic daffodil and still admire floral chutzpah.
I visited the Grade II listed E. Pellicci cafe which is truly amazing,
and they don't mind if you ask for a 'slightly frothy' coffee and even serve it with a sweet heart on top. (See, who needs Italy?)
While I was in there, they were filming a programme about historical maps for BBC Four. (See, who needs Hollywood?)
There was a walk round the Boundary Estate (pausing to take in the Arnold Circus bandstand because I also grew up with and have a great affection for bandstands) where I was amused to see that the blocks were all named after beauty spots along the River Thames. (See, who needs boating holidays?)
And on to an eerily quiet Columbia Road without the Sunday flower market but with some wonderfully bright colours (see, who needs the Caribbean?),
and a place to which I might retire. (See, who needs Florida?)
Plus a wander round the Geffrye Museum which is as interesting on the outside (historic 1716 almshouse and period garden 'rooms') as it is inside (reconstructions of period rooms) and a wander down to Leila's Shop and Cafe on a road that feels like something out downtown New York. (See, who needs New York?).
Now you know what I mean about it being a fabulous holiday destination. It even has blue skies and sunshine. And all for the price of a day return train ticket.