Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bargain Hunting: The Markets @ Camden Lock

I love markets, but I hate the crowds they bring (see left - that is an actual depiction of how I perceive crowds, conveniently taken by a shaky hand: blurry, chaotic and anxiety-provoking).  However, when you're with a tourist (my mom), you can't not go to a market, especially one of London's most beloved, Camden Lock.  Okay, so Camden Lock itself isn't actually a market, but I use the location to collectively refer to the several markets that fill the streets and infamous Camden Stables.

It wasn't until I with John and my mom last week that I'd realized how long it's been since I last visited.  "This is like Hong Kong's Ladies' Market!" my mom marveled as we pushed through the crowds, referencing the busy markets on Tung Choi Street and Fai Yuen Street in Kowloon where a lady selling fake Links of London bracelets once latched onto my hand and wouldn't let go because I refused to purchase her overpriced fakery (but that's another story for another time - I usually do come back with a lot of goodies from the Ladies' Market). 

I *heart* Camden Market.  Give me a £100 and a few hours there and I'd bet I'd come back with a few great finds.  It's less crafty than Spitalfields and Greenwich, less antique/worn/pretentious-driven than Portobello and perfectly in between all of the above.  It's not particularly easy to get to from where I live, but lovely on foot, along the canal. 

There is stall after stall of scarf dealers selling "pashminas" (yeah, I put that in quotes as I highly doubt their authenticity) and other decorative neck warmers, such as this lovely fuschia piece I picked up on the right for £10, guaranteed to brighten up my typically bland, boring, "I-liked-the-Gap-mannequin-so-I-bought-the-whole-damn-outfit" ensembles (I reached for the navy, but my mom shouted, "Don't you dare!" and swotted at my hand before I could plunge myself any further into wardrobe boredom purgatory).   My mom chose a similar one, albeit in a more sophisticated silver (to tone down her typically colorful ensembles ... two words: apple green *shudder*) and minus the little knitted balls.  To be honest, I could have spent a lot longer lingering at that particular scarf stall, but John looked like he could keel over at any minute due to man-accompanying-women-shopping syndrome, a condition which I am sympathetic towards.

But I guess that's one of the reasons why I haven't been back in such a long while - I have no reason to go and it's not exactly fun for my usual partner in crime, since almost all the stalls cater to the whimsical needs of women (yeah, I said that, and no, it doesn't make me any less of a feminist), minus the stables, where one could purchase some vintage cowboy boots, leather jackets or men's Levi's.  But I don't think he's particularly interested.

I suppose one thing that would interest both sexes, however, is the blessing of an overabundance of food stalls at Camden markets.  My mom and John opted for some West African goat curry served in little tinfoil containers with a fork stuck in (I love the sight of those containers - they make everything look unbelievably delicious for some reason) while I stuck to the safer option of a falafel-filled pita from Falafel Queen, which is a delicious option, btw, for all you vegetarians and vegans out there (though the filling could have had a bit more sauce in it, tbh).  From where this photo was taken, I spied a stand selling ice cold pina coladas served in a pineapple shell.  I didn't make it down there that day, but will sure do on my next adventure into Camden.

So yeah, if you're looking for a nice day out and don't suffer from agoraphobia, then you should definitely head over to Camden Lock.  Then, why not stay for an evening performance at The Roundhouse?  Or take a canal boat trip back the other way?  Both things I'd like to do.


  1. Awwww! I'm soooo stinking jealous! I lived in Camden during my junior year, and I seriously went to the market at least every other weekend. Such a vibrant place. Your blog is so much fun yet so painful to read, I miss living there so much! Start my new job on Monday and I will immediately put in for a transfer to the London office ;)

  2. Brianne, I keep forgetting you lived in London and more importantly - WAITRESSED at Fuel Bar. You have to come back here ASAP.


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