No complaints and no regrets

“I’ve got sunshine, on a cloudy day,” is playing on the radio as I write. It’s grey and miserable and wet and cold in London today. The song is perfect encouragement for me.

So back to our weekend. After our delightful breakfast in Bethnal Green on Saturday morning, we went to Greenwich to show our friend the market and the wonderful second-hand record shops. The first record shop we went into had this poster on its window – there’s a bit too much reflection in the photo, but it’s clear enough to show you the message. Sorry to all the Celine Dion fans out there … nothing personal! Promise.

So this was a great record shop!

“You got the new Celine Dion, man?” “Gulp! Err, No. But we have got some decent music, though.”

My husband and his friend were lost in old records and memories, and moved on from that shop to another that has two levels of second-hand sounds. Wall to wall records and CDs … heaven, indeed!

After a good old bogle, we moved across the road to Greenwich market. The market in Greenwich dates back to 1700, when the Royal Charter Market was assigned to Greenwich Hospital for a thousand years. It has moved site since then and over the years has grown and evolved into the arts, crafts and food market that it is today. You can buy anything from a divinely iced cup cake to a leather handbag, jewellery, clothing, second-hand books, Italian nougat and a hat. Flanked by vintage clothing stores, pubs, coffee shops and toy shops, there is also a fabulous food section in the market where you can buy any kind of food from curries and Turkish wraps (our absolute favourite!) to cakes and sweets.

One of my favourite places in London.

One of our favourite things to do is to go there after church on a Sunday, pick up a Turkish wrap and then go and walk through Greenwich Park, venturing up to the Royal Observatory if we have the legs, or just relaxing on a bench or on the grass. It’s always lovely there, and if you do walk up the hill, you can see just how curvy the Thames is. I look forward to going there when it’s snowing and watch the tobogganers speeding down the hills. Earlier this year, a few English bobbies were reprimanded for tobogganing on their shields (somewhere in Oxford, I think). I loved that story – they just couldn’t resist the thick snow and they had perfect makeshift toboggans!

On Saturday night we took our friend to the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston, north London, to see Britain’s finest jazz singer, Ian Shaw. Despite getting slightly lost en route there (our trademark), we got there good and early and sat and had a drink in the pub downstairs until the doors opened.

We went upstairs as soon as we could, and waited for the great muso to arrive and start his show. He was just fabulous. He sang a few of his Joni Mitchell numbers – mashing Edith and the Kingpin together with Big Yellow Taxi, Talk to Me and a wonderful mix of River and A Case of You. In between he delighted with Stuck in the Middle With You, Bowie’s Ch-ch-ch-changes and a beautifully poignant Alone Again, Naturally that brought me to tears.

Ian Shaw, jazz singer extraordinaire.

When we were waiting downstairs before we went in, we saw a huge posse of youngsters arrive, all dressed in matching tracksuit tops, and heading towards the Club. The Club is pretty small and we couldn’t imagine that they could possibly be going to see Ian Shaw. Where would they sit, and why would youngsters – apparently on a school trip – want to go to an evening of jazz? Turns out they were a big band from a school in Finland and were obviously mad-keen musicians. I felt quite ashamed of my assumptions, and listened in awe as a handful of them scatted along confidently at Ian Shaw’s nod, and one took out his saxophone and, with perfect attitude and flair, accompanied Ian Shaw’s intuitive piano playing. I was humbled and oh so impressed.

Ian Shaw took a few requests, and generously sang Baghdad Cafe, mixing up a hilarious snippet of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights in the middle. An absolutely fabulous version of Al Wilson’s The Snake led him to the perfect closing number in Shirley Horn’s Here’s to Life. A beautiful conclusion to an exceptional day.

No complaints and no regrets.
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets.
But I have learned that all you give is all you get, so give it all you got.
I had my share, I drank my fill, and even though I’m satisfied I’m hungry still
To see what’s down another road, beyond a hill and do it all again.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life the dreamers and their dreams.
Funny how the time just flies.
How love can turn from warm hellos to sad goodbyes
And leave you with the memories you’ve memorized
To keep your winters warm.
There’s no yes in yesterday.
And who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away.
As long as I’m still in the game I want to play
For laughs, for life, for love.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life, the dreamers and their dreams.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that’s good get better.
Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that’s good get better.
Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.

Sunshine signing off for today!


18 thoughts on “No complaints and no regrets

  1. I was thinking about your posts last night. I’m going to get my Frommers London book out and start marking some of the things off that you have mentioned for my Sunshine Tour. My daughter lives in Marylebone, and I love to walk, so off I will go, pushing Jonah in his stroller. 15 days….

  2. I’m listening to ‘Alone again, naturally’ … wow!
    And Greenwich Market sound like Kalk Bay on steroids 🙂
    Cheers Sunshine xxx

  3. Love the poster!

    That is a beautiful song…I know someone who could use that right now…going to copy and paste it!

    Thanks for another delightful tour, Sunshine!


  4. Anyone visiting is sure to have an adventure with y’all. Can relate to the assumptions. I, like you enjoy observing people and working them out. Spotted a lady with rather wierd headgear on the other day in a store and then again later that same day in her car. She was on oxygen and must have had a small tank under her big turban. It taught me so much. How creative to disguise it.
    Love your tour Sunshine. Thanks! Xx

    1. Glad you’re enjoying the tour! Hope y’all will come and have an adventure with us in London one of these days!
      Yes, assumptions are quite humbling … interesting example, yours. Gosh. xx

  5. “But I have learned that all you give is all you get, so give it all you got.” That has to be one of the truest sentiments ever recorded.

    I love that the track-suited youngsters were scatting! Doesn’t it warm your heart that they even know what it is?

    Another fine post, Sunshine! Happy Tuesday!

    1. Thanks, Maura. I was so amazed at the youngsters – turns out they were in London to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in a “schools’ proms” concert. Their talent and confidence left me open-mouthed. So refreshing.
      Happy Tuesday to you too! xx

  6. I couldn’t live in London. I’d never get anything done. I’d spend all my time wandering between used book stores, used record stores and jazz clubs.

  7. I love all your descriptions of places in London. I feel like I am there. I love your description of the students. After teaching school for many years I know first hand they can surprise you with their hidden talents. Many are eager for someone to just ask them what they are interested in and then the floodgates of their enthusiasm will flow freely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s