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Tourists and townies flock to the Thames

Nicole Toczauer | Friday, October 19, 2012

LONDON, U.K. – Festivals rock the Southbank Centre of London regularly, but a series of weekend-
long outdoor markets during autumn stands out in its effort to redeem England of its less-than-
stellar culinary reputation.

On Oct. 5, the sun went down and the lights came up as the first Real Bread Festival was launched
along the Thames River. Tourists and London foodies alike greeted the fair with open arms. As for
where Notre Dame students fall on that spectrum, I’m not sure. We like to pretend we’re locals now,
but we still gawk openly at huge festivals and run around snapping photos in the usual American

Visitors strolled along the river, tasting and buying goods from the best bakers in London. Bread
vendors boasted loaves from around the world, gluten-free options, savory pastries and sweets.
Companions for the much-loved carbohydrate were also available, and vendors flaunted their rich
cheeses, charcuterie, jams and cider.

Unable to resist temptation, I had to grab a red velvet cupcake to munch on by the river, a jar of
raspberry jam and a monster of a brownie for later in the weekend. A flatmate of mine went for a
muffin baked and sold in a terracotta pot. Fancy stuff there, kids.

Alongside the stalls of food were baking demonstrations from some of London’s top bakers and
other displays. When we swung by yesterday afternoon, a man sheared a sheep. We’re still not sure
exactly why, but it attracted quite a large crowd. The sheep itself seemed unfazed by the event. It
knew it was a ‘sheep thrill’ for the spectators.

Running smack-dab into an odd, somewhat strange show is pretty common in London, though.
Walking along the Thames – essentially the central axis of London, since everything is judged as
north or south of the Thames – there is always some festival, show or street performer to dazzle
the crowd. A few weeks back, I went out with some folks from the London Program and we ended up
spending the evening eating curry and watching Indian dancers.

These events don’t just take place at night. On an early run mid-September, heavy techno beats
blasted me out of a morning stupor as I approached the skate park along the Thames. Confused, I
stopped only to watch a string of models weave their way down a runway of neon lights. This was at
7 a.m. on a Saturday, but evidently Fashion Week had a claim on every hour of the day.

Though it’s a bit colder now and the carefree, summertime atmosphere has been swapped with a
rainy autumn, people continue to flock to the river and the events keep rolling in. The Bread Festival
this week was fun, but my flatmates and I are far more excited for the Tea and Coffee Festival and
the Chocolate Festival, coming up later in the semester. What can I say? We’re all addicts and proud
of it!

Contact Nicole Toczauer at [email protected]