Sometimes I can’t believe how much of London I still have to explore.
I’ll start feeling like I know it really well, and then all of a sudden I get off at a new tube stop and I have no idea where I am. I’ve said it before – I feel like a person could live here for years and years and still barely see the half of it.
With that insurmountable challenge in mind, I set off last weekend to meet my friend Nausheen in Camden Town.
She had a couple of friends in town from back home (which is Sydney for her) so she thought we could multitask by showing the Aussies around while seeing a new part of London ourselves.
Camden is home to a huge sprawling network of street markets that weave through its streets and buildings, so we decided to take a wander through. It was brilliantly sunny and we took our time strolling down the high street.
Our first stop was into Camden Lock Market, one of the biggest and most well-known markets, right along the canal.
(I’m thinking of running for mayor. One of my Front Porch customers once told me, “You’re ridiculous when it comes to Christmas.” I wear that hat proudly.)
We helplessly followed our noses into the food stalls, where you could order everything from Greek gyros to Philly cheesesteaks to Asian fusion sushi & stir fry. Our standout favorite was this dessert stand called Batch Bakery, which specializes in brownies and all things miniature. It reminded me a lot of Abby’s style!
We tried white chocolate brownie Rice Krispies treats, Oreo peanut butter brownies, and brownie banoffee pie – and it was all mouthwateringly amazing. Nausheen and I have already started plans to follow their pop-up around London like groupies.
We wove our way through the pathways of Camden Lock Market and then checked out The Stables, which is another big market complex that’s actually built half-underground and half-aboveground in old horse stables.
The look of this place is really cool, and they even have an old-timey town crier (see him in red in the photo below?) ringing a big brass handbell and shouting, “Hear ye, hear ye!”
They’re quite proud of their horsey heritage, too.
If you wade through the shops vending hoodies and keychains and “I <3 London” t-shirts above, you get to the underground part of the market, which is more like a cross between a thrift shop and someone’s really old country house.
It’s a bit of a mess, but if you have the patience to sift through everything, you’re sure to find some gems!
These were 100+ year old pen sketches of cities and locations around the world. I even found a few of Saratoga, NY!
And of course I wanted all the maps, all the maps.
Further in, come further in. (Just a little stealth Narnia reference for you)
This, my friends, was just about the coolest little coffee shop I have ever seen. And I have a high standard for that.
I couldn’t decide what I liked best: the authentic old paintings, the scrap lumber walls, the vintage tufted furniture, the mismatched china…
Heading back out into the sunshine, we wandered back through the high street markets.
We left the crowds behind us and followed the sidewalk along the canal again, where a delightful old man was singing Bob Marley under the bridge.
We found a great new pub, which I wish I’d taken my dad to when he was here!
Compared to the markets, the outskirts of Camden are a quiet little part of London, with pretty architecture, wide streets, and plenty of greenery.
They even have their own little version of Rainbow Row!
Our last destination was Primrose Hill, which our friend Leo had told Nausheen & I was his all-time favorite view of the city. A credible recommendation, coming from a native Londoner.
It’s set in the corner of Regent’s Park, and although the hill itself isn’t actually very steep or high, you still get an incredible vantage point on to the city in the distance.
You can see for miiiiles and miiiiles and miiiiles!
It’s quite a popular spot when the sun is shining!
This couple came along just after we got there, and stood directly in everybody’s line of sight (and photos), for the next twenty minutes. It was kind of irritating at the time, but they look rather sweet in retrospect, like this could be a movie poster for a romcom set in London. Aw.
The sun was getting lower while we perched on the hill, so the light kept getting more dramatic.
“Primrose Hill” fits easily into the lyrics of “Solsbury Hill,” so Peter Gabriel was the soundtrack of the afternoon.
We trotted down the other side of the hill as the sun sank below the treeline, said our goodbyes, and split up to wander off in search of our respective tube lines.
I just barely beat the sunset home.
Now I’m torn on plans for next weekend – it’s hard to venture on to other London landmarks when this one was so lovely that it’s just begging me to return! So much to see, so little time.