The start of the London Olympics has me thinking a lot about the summer I lived there in law school. I was in London when it was announced they were getting the 2012 games. I was on the tube on my way to the British Muesum when the conductor announced it. An old man went on a mind-blowing, profanity laced rant about how the Olympics were going to ruin London which made everyone in the car look uncomfortable in that proper British manner. Up on the street, the city threw a party –
Sporty Scary Spice performed. The next day, terrorists set off bombs around the transport system and the jubilation from the day before turned to shock. One of the papers ran two photos of Trafalger Square side by side - one on the day the Olympics were announced with people celebrating and the other with it completely empty on the day of the bombing. I’m trying to forget that association with the London Olympics.
The majority of my time in London was wonderful, if not a little lonely because I knew very few people. I spent a lot of time in parks and public gardens reading and a lot of time wandering markets. Almost every Sunday morning I was at the Columbia Road Flower Market. A few blocks of Columbia Road in the east end are turned into big outdoor flower market every week, selling both cut flowers and plants. The flowers were cheap. Huge bouquets for 5-10 pounds. I usually didn’t buy anything because I wouldn’t be returning to my flat until the evening. There were some cute gardening shops along the road and a few places to get a good sandwich or some coffee. It’s just a lovely spot to spend a morning.
Why don’t we have flower markets like this in the States? The flower district in NYC hardly compares. Boston has a flower market, but it’s wholesale only. Okay, yes, you can get a cheap bouquet for $10 at most bodegas, but the selection mostly sucks. For 10 pounds I could walk away with spectacular bouquets so big I’d have to carry them with both arms. I miss the flowers in the UK. It’s one place where, this Olympic season, the Brits have us beat.