3 top London markets!

My 3 favourite markets in London are Camden, Portobello and Spitalfields. They have a different feel and are in different parts of London but beware, don’t ever try to do more than one in a day or you will have a severe case of market overload!
Let’s go to Camden first. It’s in north London and is made up of several markets that cover a huge area around the Grand Union Canal’s lock which is why you’ll see many references to the lock and this can be another name for the markets. Camden market grows every time I visit and has mushroomed from being some stalls around the canal area to the massive redeveloped Stables area which is full of huge bronze horse statues as it was once a stable and horse hospital. There is always something new and one area which burnt down a couple years ago has been rebuilt and incorporates a fun cafe of Vespas (see photo)
One thing hasn’t changed in all the years I’ve been coming, is Camden fashion’s love of black and leather and outrageous visuals. There are tons of food stalls, clothes stalls, jewellery stalls but most of all clothes stalls. My last visit was rather sad as the news of Amy Winehouse’s death spread through the crowd while we were there and as fellow local, the stall holders felt a great affinity with her.

Camden is full-on over the weekend when they reckon 100,000 people visit, especially on a Sunday, but you can visit during the week tho’ don’t try going in the morning as no one is up! The streets leading to the market are amazing too, trading on the image of Camden of black leather and tattoos – see photo
Photos are: the lock and the market; Vespa cafe; classic shop entry!; Camden fashion; and, the street leading to the market.


Next we are off to east London to Spitalfields market where Sunday is the big day, tho’ again there are some markets during the week but unlike Camden, they are much smaller. On Sunday the square is humming with stalls manned by new designers just starting off with their creations – mostly clothes but other items too. They are always keen to tell you about their work and tell you about the creative process. Of course there are the food stalls and stalls with stuff you’ll see elsewhere but there is still a good selection of one offs. This market has grown recently and is now surrounded by large shops and well known restaurant chains but it has kept its buzz and is a great Sunday out.

There has been a market on this site since 1638 when fish, fowl and roots were sold here. The original market, specialising in wholesale fruit and vegetables was moved to new premises out of central London in 1991 and now it is at the centre of a busy market area. Close by is Brick Lane, Petticoat Lane and Truman Brewery so on a Sunday you can wander from one to the other and experience the amazing range of cultures and styles in London.

A key landmark in the area is the beautiful  Christ church built in the early 1700s which is the first photo. The others show the busy market trading .


Our final stop today is my favourite market because it is round the corner from where I live – Portobello Market. In fashionable west London this market is best visited on Saturday, as the other days of the week are a shadow of the bustle of the main day. The market lines both sides of Portobello Road and it changes character as you move down from antiques at the beginning, to fruit and veg, to general items, to a new designers section, a major second hand clothing section, a farmers market (with a seasonal pop up cinema!) and finally to the north African/Portuguese/Spanish section as you get to Golborne Road. The area where the antiques are is where you see the classic views of the brightly coloured houses that typify the road.

Portobello Road was the setting for Notting Hill the film and we still get lots of visitors trying to find the famous blue door and the travel bookshop. The market is also famous as a favourite Saturday activity for Paddington Bear who lived locally! Trading however dates back to the early 1900 when it was mainly fresh food with the antique traders arriving in the late 1940s and 1950s. 

Photos are: busy market day ; a quieter day with the food stalls and the Electric cinema; the beautiful coloured houses; and, the famous travel bookshop.



I hope you’ve enjoyed my favourite London markets – there are loads more, but that’s for another day.

Bye for now,

Ham and other foods…

This week saw a visit to an amazing old house in Ham, next to Richmond which is rich in history and decoration, a trip to Camden in the sunshine, a visit to a local festival and a major restaurant festival, and a couple of meals out round a theatre trip.

The very grand Ham House (in Ham!) dates from 1610 and saw great drama during the Civil War and being a royalist household, happily entertained the King and Queen after the restoration. The rooms were expensively decorated to reflect the standing of the guests and is beautifully maintained by the National Trust who are continually renovating the fabric and the fabrics of the house. Bathing and toilets are always a fascination from old times and the Duchess of the house installed a bathroom for herself in 1675, one of the first in the country and even built one for her servants although this was outside in a courtyard! The gardens are wonderful too as you can see and the diary has the most amazing shelving supported by legs elaborately carved as cows’ legs – rather strange for a room tucked away outside the main house! We dropped into the Petersham Nurseries on the way home to look at the plants and take afternoon tea at their famous cafe but nothing happens there on a Monday so we found the Petersham hotel with its views over the river and tea and cake instead.

It’s festival season in London and I went to 2 which were at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was the local Golbourne Road festival which was a low key but fun affair with stalls, dancing and a stage with local bands. There were stalls from the nearby college, a neighbourhood school, a plant stall, the Police demonstrating finger printing (!) and our own raffle stall which was raising funds for Arts Mentoring (http://www.artsmentoring.wordpress.com/) . The dancing was impressive and well worth a photo.

At the other end of the scale was the huge and showy Taste of London in Regents Park where all the top restaurants take a stand and serve 3 signature dishes – everyone from La Gavroche, through Gaucho, The Grill at the Dorchester to Busaba Eathai – sooo much choice! Other stands were selling or doing tasters of all manner of goods from vodka to cakes, to sausages to spicy dips. It started off really sunny but got a little chilly later so here’s a photo of Regents Park early on looking glorious.

I took a trip to Camden market to see how busy is it during the week in anticipation of some It’s Your London visitors coming in soon and was delighted to see it was buzzing on a Wednesday. There’ll be more about Camden soon but here’s a couple of photos of the famous canal and the Vespa bar next to it!


Restaurants included the Mall Tavern where we had a meal ahead of the cinema – the meal was good and it’s a nicely done gastropub worth a visit and so was the film – ‘Please Give’ at the top cinema, the independent Gate in Notting Hill. The theatre trip to ‘Holding the Man’ was less successful as I’d hoped to see ‘Dream of the Dog’ on at the same theatre but it was sold out and the second string was not for us. However we retrieved the evening but going back to Terroirs, a wine bar off Trafalgar Square where the Cotes de Rhone saved the day!

It’s full on sport at the moment with the World Cup continuing (tho’ whether England will continue to be in it is yet to be decided) and Wimbledon starts in just a few hours. So hard to get anything done!
Bye for now,