Market knowledge by Stephanie Nuzzo
Ask any op-shop lover and they’ll tell you London’s markets are treasure-troves. And you should believe them – once you step foot into one of these super-sized trinket boxes, you’ll never see Balmain’s weekend markets in the same way. These markets are the havens of hoarders, hagglers and trendy-types alike; lining streets with all things vintage, crafty and kitsch.
During my time in London, most of my weekends were spent roaming about the city’s best known markets. I went out and visited spots with world-class reputations and consulted my trusty Lonely Planet Guide for tips on sites that were a little less notorious.
So here are my thoughts on a few that stood out:
Camden Lock: Biggest. Disappointment. Ever.
People rave on about this market, and like most things with phenomenal reputations, it did not live up to the hype. I was expecting Neverland and what I got was more like Jamberoo. Sure there were nice stalls, but I saw the same nice key-rings and nice printed tees over and over again. It was huge, kind of dirty, and way too congested.
Best Buy: A virgin Pina Colada that came in a pineapple with a mini umbrella poking out of it.
Portobello: Maybe it was because I loved Notting Hill, but I got a fuzzy feeling in my stomach when I saw the stalls set in front of those brightly-coloured houses. I half expected to see Hugh Grant strolling to the tune of Ain’t No Sunshine as I perused the vintage books and cameras. And the food at this market made me never want to leave. There were home-made pastries, fresh fruit and veggies and exotic dishes from places like Morocco, Thailand and Spain.
Best Buy: A turquoise pendant from Afghanistan.
Old Spitalfields: There was once a woman who married the Eiffel Tower. If I were to marry a public site, it would be Spitalfields markets. It’s creative, unique and quirky, and you can walk around without being hassled every five metres – all the makings of a perfect partner. This is where artistic-types gather, and you can find some really inspired pieces by truly talented people here. I day-dream about exploring this Wonderland – and it’s in Brick Lane so you can head out for a drink in the uber-cool area afterwards, too.
Best Buy: A leather Indiana-Jones satchel and a necklace with a bronze pig-with-wings pendant.
Camden Passage: If this were a Facebook page, I’d be a fan. Actually, there probably is a Facebook page out there somewhere that I should find and ‘like’. Camden Passage is a small market in the back streets of Islington and is mainly made up of vintage clothes and pretty-but-useless ‘things’ that I always seem to find an excuse to buy. It’s great for an afternoon stroll, and The Breakfast Club café has great food/coffee/brownies/everything.
Best Buy: Three beautiful, vintage silk scarves.