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,

Scary Jack the Ripper…

I had some visitors from Texas who wanted to do a Jack the Ripper tour so much they even booked it before they came to London. We had an afternoon tour and the Jack the Ripper and it was properly scary. We met up for our tour just outside Whitechapel Gallery in the East End and set off in the dark with our wonderful guide. She was from the East End and was a real expert on the topic who researches ‘Jack’ every day so she knows everything there is to know it seems and has her own theory as to who he was. She led us around the sites of the murders for an engrossing two and a half hour tour full of stories about the era, giving us lots of context. It was a very tough area at the time with people living incredibly hard lives and especially the women who were driven to drink and life on the streets. She warned us and then came the grisly details of the murders and even photos of the victims, but these were optional! It was not the sort of thing I would usually do as I’m not keen on the horror stuff but our guide was so knowledgeable that the time just flew by. No photos of this tour as it was a very dark night!

The afternoon before Jack saw a great Indian lunch of very tasty curries at Tayyabs near Whitechapel, a wander up Brick Lane dropping into a wonderful bright cloth shop with such cheery staff, a quick shopping trip in Spitalfields and a nip to the Tate Modern to show them the wonderful Sunflower Seeds by Ai Wei Wei (see blog from 22nd October). We spent time admiring the night lights over the Thames and it was a great photo opportunity. What an afternoon and evening – we all enjoyed it and loved packing so much in.


The run up to Christmas has started and you’ll be seeing the lights and the shops in future blogs but the big Spirit of Christmas Fair took place in Olympia this week. I was helping out a friend who had a stall and we spent a day selling lovely Xmas decorations and high quality candles. It was a busy day and we did well – I thought so anyway! You can see the Olympia room which is great and our very special stall before the customers emptied it…. I treated myself to a proper visit the following day to start my own present shopping as there was no time when we were working to leave the stall even for a minute!


Then there was one wonderful autumn day out which started in my garden where the Japanese maple was brighter than ever (the close up photo), then we set off for a great Portobello market day. The sun was catching the buildings beautifully with more flaming trees. Lunch was taken at the Electric Brasserie as it’s so hard not too and we had to dodge the cameras filming the Channel 4 programme Seven Days so watch out for me passing quickly by! The leaves have nearly gone but it was a bright and vibrant autumn to remember.
Bye for now,

Fireworks, fairs and fun evenings

This weekend saw the main fun and games for Bonfire night although the actual night was of course on 5th but as ever we have the nearest weekend for the big events. I went to was at Alexandra Palace which is a great venue as it’s a steep hill so you get the best view of the huge fireworks with suitable musical accompaniment – Star Wars, ET, Doctor Who etc. It was absolutely packed with families having a good scream as the rockets exploded with maximum noise and they almost slipped down the hill in the excitement! I tried my hand at firework photography which is pretty hard so here’s one to give you an idea.

Sunday was the Luxury Travel Fair at the Olympia Exhibition centre so of course I went to that. It was quite quiet and as a friend had a stand at the next door Spirit of Christmas Fair, they let me in and I helped out on their stall for a couple of hours. This was great fun and I even sold a few things for them! Her company is called Floreat and we had beautiful candles, holders, decorations and the like. It was much buzzier in there and I began to feel a bit Christmassy helped by the wonderfully decorated massive hall it was held in – see photo.

One very fun evening was at the Jonathan Wylder Gallery in Knightsbridge. They were showing their fabulous sculptures, many of ballet figures ranging from tiny to life size and paintings, mostly of London. The garden was open and was also a venue for sculpture and was a magical oasis. We were wonderfully entertained by Rebecca Poole’s jazzy tones and I think she is one to watch for the future. Afterwards we adjourned to the famous Motcomb’s bar and restaurant to savour the evening.

Any other restaurants this week? Of course – Mulberry Street in Notting Hill with their 20 inch pizzas and yes they really are that big but between 3 they seem to disappear quite quickly and they do offer them by the slice for the faint hearted! And coffees at the excellent people watching venue of the Kitchen Pantry also in Notting Hill.

Off to meet some business contacts in Pimlico so bye for now.