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Portobello Market, British Library; Liverpool Relatives

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Saturday morning we headed out early, walking down Portobello Road into the market. First blocks of cute pastel-colored houses then an explosion into antique shops and stands. From card tables on the street holding old telephones, to what looks at first like a one-room shop which gives on to a warren of tiny one-desk antique dealers each specializing in something--jewelry, furs, tools, chandeliers, ceramics, buttons, watches, lace...I was in heaven. After a few block of that is a street with food vendors, produce, baker's carts, and then past the flyover used clothes, then some really wacky things.

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I violated my first rule of markets--"If something appeals to you, strike a deal then because you'll never find it later." So much for a filigree pin I liked, when turning back up the street I couldn't find that vendor again. I did thumb through antique laces for a while, so much more variety and better priced that what I've seen at Brimfield and our antique markets. I settled on a silk maltese lace collar, which I'll sew onto a sweater.

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By 11:30 the crowds were horrible, swarms of Italian-French, and Japanese tourists pouring down the street. I was very glad we began at 9:30. We fought through the crowds in the opposite direction back to the flat, and had lunch of the vegetable tarts and tomatoes we had bought.

We were taking a late afternoon train to Liverpool to see Larry's relatives, so a visit to the British Library a few blocks down from Euston Station seemed logical. We took the bus through the throngs of shoppers on Oxford Street.

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There's a "Treasures of the British Library" exhibit which we loved. The display is divided into types of printed material--literature, music, religious, science, maps. I especially loved the Literature section, with Beowulf, Piers Plowman, Shakespeare's First Folio, Jane Austen's notebooks. Lots of beautifully illuminated manuscripts, including the Catalonia Hagaddah. Understandably, no photos allowed. There was also a fun special exhibit on the crime novel.

We caught our train, after some amusing last-minute racing to the new track five minutes before departure. In Liverpool we were picked up my Larry's cousins, and had a fun time in a large Chinese restaurant renewing acquaintances. Larry's father and his siblings had been sent from Germany by their parents in the late 30's on the Kindertransport, which rescued Jewish children from Germany. Of the 5 children, only one, Kaye, remained in England. In 1948 she boarded an illegal ship for Palestine, spent a few months in a resettlement camp, and then lived on an early kibbutz. She and her husband Norman raised their children in Israel, and later returned to Liverpool.

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The next day we had a whirlwind tour of Liverpool, which has the largest number of Eduardian and Victorian buildings out of London, and some very charming residential areas. The city is climbing out of it's gritty past, with a new riverfront development and renewed commercial enterprises. And of course, we had to see the Beatles sites--John McCartney's childhood home, Abby Road, where John met Paul, the Cavern club where they played.

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Comments (1)

Isn't it funny how often that rule gets violated??? I saw an amazing pair of shows when I was in Rome . . . walked past them 4 or 5 times before I decided I had to have them. Then when I WANTED them I could not find the store. Spent an entire morning searching to no avail.

Wonderful that you could spend some time with Larry's cousin - I bet she has some fascinating tales to tell . . .

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