11 July 2012

Travel tales - Camden market: from grunge to street food

I am the type of girl to get on any train and see where it takes me. In a city this amazing, it is a good risk. So when I did my best to navigate Euston Station after a business meeting this afternoon, I took a gamble on the Northen Line and found myself in Camden. As with most of my days in England, it started off with relatively clear skies and ended in a downpour. Not to worry. One can have fun no matter the weather (which is a difficult thing for some to comprehend).

I walked along the High Street. I am still not sure what the High Street is, nor why it needs to be capitalised as so. Is it high end stores, or a street above ground? Can someone please explain? The High Street, or as I prefer with my minimal capitalisation in sentences - the high street - was a mix of shoe stores, punk, body piercing and tattoo parlours and markets. There were people holding placquards of protest as well as advertising tattoo parlours. Young goths and girls in Doc Martens and floral skirts walked the street. It had a mid 90s air about it, and I loved it.

The shop fronts had massive shoes and jeans above them. Like this. There was also a Panda Potter - cute!

I passed the Camden Market on the street - the first of the myriad of markets I explored. There are a series of markets in Camden, meandering along the street, through old buildings and around the canal. More information about the history and stalls can be found here.

This street market sold clothes and shoes - bright wellies, band tees, a huge variety of Keep Calm tees and some hand sewn or printed clothing. I made my first expensive-ish purchase of my trip at £50 (everything I buy is so considered - what is the conversion rate, will it fit in my luggage, how much will it cost to post, do I need it and how much money do I have left????? - perhaps I should continue budgeting this way when I return home!) a a skirt by Australian designer Nicola Quilter - pictured in the bottom left of the photo below. There was a small range of limited edition skirts for sale and I chose the dots over the embroidered map of the world.

From there I made my way to Camden Lock Market which sprawls over the canal. Here I saw many hand made goods including clothes, jewellery and home wares, plus more alternative products such as smoke pipes, parody logo-d items and obscure records. I purchased some totes with cute designs on them, including this one - "Unexpected panda in bagging area". You can buy more totes like mine from Rainbow World Art.

The guy selling the bags pointed me in the direction of street food for lunch and I am so glad he did. I wandered over the bridge and found an amazing array of food stalls from lotss of nationalities. There was French, Jamaican, British-Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, Turkish, German, Chinese, American, Peruvian, Danish and others, It was hard to choose and due to my excessive walking and non-dining at night, I decided to do away with minimalism and just eat whatever I felt like.

First up was a plate of Peruvian chicken and vegetables. It was spicy barbequeued chicken with potato, stewed eggplant and beans, onions and salad. So tasty! I also had a non alcoholic pina colada made from pineapple juice and coconut milk. You can see that they are served in pineapple halves. Very cute. I had mine from a cup.

Then, after wandering through more markets (The Stables Markets) to find an ATM that accepted my Australian card, I had American mac and cheese - the traditional kind with cheddar, Red Leicester and Parmesan cheeses with a touch of nutmeg, and macaroni and bechamel sauce, cooked in a pan as I watched. There were other toppings to be added - broccoli, tomato, jalapeno and capsicum, plus Stilton and ricotta cheeses, but I already had my vegies from the Peruvian stall. The stall holder said he has run the stall for three months, and started it up because he loves to cook and loves mac and cheese. I also had two deep fried Oreos - Oreo biscuits dipped in pancake batter, deep fried and sprinkled with icing sugar. So naughty, but very yummy. It was cakey and chocolatey and had an oozey centre.

The food stall holders are friendly and so are the visitors to the market. There is a bohemian vibe to it - reminded me a little of Brunswick Street but on a much bigger scale. The food is great value - I spent around £15 for two main courses, a drink and dessert. From overhearing comversations, the Camden Markets is both a regular spot for Londoners and a great visiting place for tourists.

As I went in search of the ATM, I saw the Stables Market which was an Aladdin's cave of more treasures - handmade crafts, leathergoods, clothes, music memorabilia and alternative lifestyle products - read more smoke pipes and drug paraphernalia. There were also more food stalls but this time under cover. It was like being across many eras - Beatniks, Hipsters, Stoners, Grunge and Hippy. The Stables used to be a horse hospital. The sculptures, protruding from the ceiling and from the floor, are larger than life.
The downpour came and my bags were getting heavy. It was time to return home. On my way I recognised some Australian accents (sounding so ocker in a foreign country!) and chatted to the couple who were holidaying from Wollongong. They loved the markets as much as I did. I dodged hitting umbrellas with mine (I rarely carry one due to curly hair and vaseline - but have decided to be sensible in London and am carrying one) and saw a cafe with these scooter seats. How cool is that!?!

I do like Camden and it is on my list to return to while I am here. It was a fun day today!

What's next? Tomorrow morning is a restful one with washing - I am so on top of my washing here - and reading for Changing Faces, then another meeting there at Changing Faces HQ, and a catch up with a fellow Aussie at night. Hope you are all well :)

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  1. I think i might still be stuck on deep fried oreo! It is amazing what people think of. I was in london a couple of times a few years ago but never made it to camden market. I'm a bit jealous now, it sounds wonderful!

  2. I think i might still be stuck on deep fried oreo! It is amazing what people think of. I was in london a couple of times a few years ago but never made it to camden market. I'm a bit jealous now, it sounds wonderful!

  3. That Mac and Cheese looks awesome. It's funny, when we were in the States I had nothing but dreadful Mac and Cheese. So disappointing. That one looks like it would be worth travelling to London for - seriously.

    Do you like pastrami? If so, Brick Lane is worth travelling to. Go to the Brick Lane Beigel Bakery (159 Brick Lane - Shoreditch High Street is the closest station). Apparently it is phenomenal. Alternatively The Brass Rail at Selfridges does a great pastrami sandwich too!

    K xx

  4. I love Camden!
    Its always changing and so cool for people watching!
    I wish there had been the mac and cheese stand there when I lived in London tho - YUM!

  5. What a fun excursion! Eating and shopping...my two favorite things. The chicken sounded good, and as for pastrami, boy will you enjoy eating at a Jewish deli in New York! Many culinary experiences await.


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