December in Duke of York Square Market

When I was interviewed about my photography exhibition by Stuart from Inspiring City last month, we met near Duke of York Square on a Saturday – the only day of the week that the market springs to life.

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The first thing he said to me was, “You know you’re in Chelsea when there’s people sipping oysters in the local market.”

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Yes, there are buckets and crates of oysters, served front and centre when you pass by along the King’s Road. I haven’t tried them, but people seem to enjoy them.

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One of favourite vendors in the market so far is the duck confit people who make “the best duck sandwich in Chelsea”. It’s the only one I’ve come across anyway, so I’d vouch for that.

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Another good one is the dumpling stall. They are always fresh and tasty and the vendors are quite cheerful.

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The pie and quiche stall offerings look pretty delicious too but I haven’t given them a try yet.

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If you’re after a quick snack, stop by the Brazilian table for a Coxinha De Galinha.

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Plenty of samples are waiting to be snitched as well.

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There’s other goodies to take home like buckets filled up with many flavours of olives.

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You can choose a nice bit of fish to wrap up for dinner.

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Then there’s sweets. Mountains of sweets.

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And tasty loaves of bread in different flavours.

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And cakes.

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And more cakes.

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And more cakes.

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And more cakes.

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And piles of meringue.

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And rows of sweets.

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Finding desert won’t be a problem then (or if none of those appeal, there’s occasionally a donut stall too).

I also found something else that made me very happy to see: Colombian fruit – a whole table full of it – lulos, sapotes! When I lived in Colombia, the fruit was one of my favourite things and while I realised that ultimately I don’t belong in a tiny mountain village, there are a few things I miss. This is one of them.

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They also had what we called mamones. They are sold in bags along the roadside, especially on the journey to Bogota and you occasionally see the shells and pits flying out of truck windows and littering the ground in traffic jams. You bite into the shell of the tiny round fruit and scrape the small amount of flesh off of the pit in the middle using your front teeth. It’s more a way to pass the time than pass the hunger. Here they are 10 for £10, but they were dirt cheap for huge bags full in Colombia. (Here’s the first three months worth of Little Colombia Observationist if you’re interested. Unfortunately I switched to wordpress.org for the second three months and ended up losing the domain when I came back to London.)

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Around the holiday season, the mulled wine and chestnuts arrive along with a stall selling wreaths. One reason I’m always drawn to markets is that they are almost always lively and colourful. Another reason is for the smorgasbord of smells: the hot apple cider, then the fried dumplings, then the cheese wheels, then the stacks of fudge and the chorizo sandwiches. People tend to be in a bit of a jollier mood too.

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Especially in the Summer, the square fills up with friends chatting and laughing. It’s a brilliant place for people watching. I spent hours there with my parents when they were here on a hot day a few months ago. There’s plenty to do nearby as well so it’s nice to make a day of it. Saatchi Gallery, one of my favourites, is just behind the market. The whole of King’s Road is filled with shops (try Claudie Pierlot – my new favourite), cafes (love Joe and the Juice) and places to eat (Sushinho!). There’s the Curzon Cinema as well. Plus, Hyde Park (and all the museums around Exhibition Road) and Battersea Park are within easy walking distance. (Here’s a little walk around Chelsea post in case you missed it with some other ideas).

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If you have kids, take them to chat with Santa.

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And, if you’re excited about sweet American treats like I am, you’ll be happy to visit the Partridges on the other side of the market. Jorge bought me some mini fruity marshmallows the other day and I picked up some Swiss Miss hot chocolate to accompany them. Mmmm, childhood in a mug.

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Now we just need some snow…Here’s a photo from last year to help you get in the Wintery mood.

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(Catch me on my other blog, Little Observationist, as well.)

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In Greenwich for a Day

Looks like the cold dark skies of Winter are slowly rolling into London, the sun sinking lower into the sky each day in the hour after work.

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It won’t be long before we’re walking home in the dark.

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But while we still have Summer fresh in our minds, I’ll take you one a little photo journey through Greenwich.

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As I probably mentioned before, my parents were here from the States a few weeks ago.

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They organised a day out in Greenwich to meet up with friends and family who live in or near London.

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Heading via Canary Wharf to the DLR we made our way from west London to south east.

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We met near Cutty Sark, the dry-docked old British clipper ship (which had many other uses) that’s been recently restored after a fire about six years ago.

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I remember going on the ship when I was a kid and learning how to tie different types of sailor knots.

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I probably still have the one I brought home with me somewhere in one of the many boxes in my parent’s attic.

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We didn’t go on the ship this time, but we walked down to the Thames.

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From the railings lining the edge, we looked out over the brown river to Canary Wharf.

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Behind us, wildflowers were planted in nice little gardens surrounded by seating areas where people could relax.

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After that, we walked back into the village, past food stalls selling giant prawns.

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There was also trays of fudge, which was tempting but avoided.

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We had a pub lunch since there were about 14 of us.

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Far too many for impromptu meal organisation.

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We didn’t go this time, but if you go down there, pay a visit to The Trafalgar Tavern, which sits at the edge of the river, for a drink or two.

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We headed over to the market after lunch, losing each other as we split up amongst the stalls.

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With a fair share of original artwork and craftspeople sharing their latest inventions, it’s a bit different from a lot of the other markets in London in that it.

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My favourite bit was watching some of the artisans at work.

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Others were simply hanging out and waiting for buyers.

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It’s also under cover.

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One end has food – the usual market food – crepes, curries, paella.

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I was tempted to shuffle through stacks of secondhand books, but sadly have not found too much time to read this year. A few years ago, I read 52 books – one a week. This year I’m barely hitting 20. I guess that’s the way life goes.

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I didn’t buy anything at the market, but my cousin found a shop that sells old fashioned milk-bottles – not the glass kind, but the sweets. We enjoyed a few of those.

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And just across from the market, my dad found an old fashioned sweet shop with the jars lined up on shelves behind the counter.

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You could request a handful, which was weighed and priced out – of course, much more expensive than it would have been 50 years ago.

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My dad stocked up on rhubarb and custards, wine gums and a variety of other goodies that we all shared.

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We made our way to Greenwich Park then, the oldest enclosed park in London.

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My mom, Aunt Rhonda, Jorge and I took a walk while everyone else hung out on a picnic blanket, caught up and ate sweets!

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One of my favourite features of the park are the wide avenues lined with Spanish chestnut trees.

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Some of them are over 400 years old, which is pretty obvious from the size of their trucks.

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They are huge!

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Not so tall, but really, really wide.

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And the detail in the bark is incredible.

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Where next… so many options..

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We walked up a long sloping hill to the Greenwich Royal Observatory.

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Also up there is the Prime Meridian Line.

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Although the best part is definitely the view.

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When you look down, you can see the river snaking through the city, Canary Wharf, the O2, the Gherkin and the Emirates Air Line.

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We admired the clock for a minute.

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And everything else up there!

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We spent the afternoon in the park before heading back down the Thames by Clipper boat at sunset (a phone photo with good intentions…).

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Anyway, it would be nice to live closer because it’s beautiful place to be on a sunny day!

Photographing London’s Petticoat Lane Market

Petticoat Lane Market is messy.

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It contains boxes and tables and racks full of cheap clothes from “Top Shop, Asos and Urban Outfitters” etc, mobile phone covers, granny panties and saggy bras, tourist souvenirs and heaps of shoes.

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But it’s colourful and it’s one of the oldest markets in London.

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Just around the corner, when you enter from the Liverpool Street end is a building covered in work by street artist Ben Eine (who also spray-painted the entire alphabet on a long series of shop shutters on this street in 2010).

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Petticoat Lane as a street has been trading fabrics and fashion since 1608. The main road is actually Middlesex Street now, its name changed by the Victorians who felt it was a bit too risqué, or so the story goes.

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Sir Alan Sugar started his business career in a stall in Petticoat Lane Market, boiling and selling beetroot for a bit of extra cash.

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It was also prime Jack the Ripper territory as is memorialised in the Jack the Clipper barber shop just on the outskirts of the market area on Toynbee Street. But don’t be scared. It was named one of London’s coolest independent hairdressers by TNT.

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The market, and this whole area around Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields and Brick Lane and beyond attracts stunningly diverse crowds. It feels like a true global city. You could be anywhere in the world; it’s as if the whole world has gathered here.

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Music pumps through speakers on tables that are selling rows and rows of used CDs, “Who Let the Dogs Out” the featured sounds as I walked by, a few people in the street tapping their feet and bobbing their heads.

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Across the way, there’s a nut seller, which made me think of Christmas. You could smell them from a few stalls down – the smoky, woodsy scent of open fire.

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This man selling a variety of lipsticks was one of my favourite shots of the day.

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In the distance, the City and the Gherkin loom over brick council houses and the conglomeration of market tables.

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Vendors cry their sales: “Just a fiver. Get your designer goods for just a fiver! Come on ladies!”

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It’s a market full of life where people make a living from old fashion trading and locals stop by to bag a bargain without encountering the fluorescent lights of Primark.

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It’s also an interesting area to walk around when the market is not in full swing. The permanent shops along the pavement have names like “African Queen Fabrics” and “Cockney Touch Clothing”.

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I’m not sure how long they’ve been around, but dotted along the pavement are painted hats, shoes and other items that are for sale in the market.

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It’s not a very big market and I reached the other side before long. But first I took a little detour down Toynbee Street where I found the Jack the Clipper shop.

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It’s a pretty run down area, full of rubbish and derelict buildings, weathered posters peeling off of walls.

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Some of the posters looked more freshly pasted.

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But it also has what may just be a hidden gem covered in graffiti – Mama Thai, which has great reviews on Yelp despite questionable outward appearances! Has anyone ever eaten there?

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When I reached the end of Petticoat Lane Market, I walked on toward the just as colourful and diverse Brick Lane, but more photos from there soon!

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Hope you’re all having a great Monday! What did you get up to this weekend? Anything interesting? Was anyone else around Brick Lane? I seem to have stocked up the old Instagram account a bit and did some baking on Saturday afternoon when the rain started (If you can handle it, look for a recipe for Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting on my other blog Little Observationist later today around lunch time…!).

Brrrr in Borough Market and Beyond: A Photo Walk

There are a few reasons why I love a good lazy Saturday afternoon browsing the stalls in Borough Market.

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The smells, for one, are reason enough to return time and again – melted cheese bubbling and browning on fresh bread, Summer scents of sweet red strawberries and perfect plump tomatoes, perfectly brewed coffee smells wafting out the door of Monmouth wrapping through the inevitable queue lined up around the corner.

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The reason I ventured east a few weeks ago with Carolina and Leslie was mostly for their fabulous company but also for the food: roasted duck piled into fresh ciabatta rolls. Yum!

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Can’t believe I haven’t had a chance to put these photos up yet! I’ve been busy building websites for my dad’s business, Sadler Garden Collections and now my brother’s Sadler Fence and Staining. My dad’s site is finally live if you want to stop by and see what I’ve been up to: Sadler Garden Collections.

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The other site will probably take me the rest of the month to finish, but after that, the blog should be more alive! Anyway, throughout this entry are some of  my photos from that Saturday, finally.

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Come along, I’ll take you on a little walk…

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Curvy little narrow cobbled streets surround Borough Market and I love to explore them (not great in heels if you’re wondering).

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You know the phrase “In the clink”? It came from the famous Clink Prison on Clink Street. It was burned down in the riots of 1780, and of course a tourist attraction in the form of a museum you can tour sits in it its place.

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None the less, like much of London, it’s an area steeped in rich history. It’s also the location of some pretty popular films and TV shows: Oliver Twist, Doctor Who, Bridget Jones’s Diary and An American Werewolf in London all contain scenes filmed on Clink Street.

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Just around the corner, in another nod to history is a replica of the Golden Hind, which circumnavigated the globe in the late 1500s, captained by Sir Francis Drake – one of those names that takes you back to childhood history classes.

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It’s always surrounded by tourists (and people like me) pointing their cameras.

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But it’s easy to see why. It’s colourful, first of all, but it also has lots of lovely little details.

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On the other side of the market is the Southwark Cathedral, a beautiful building that is a little slice of history in its own right.

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According to their website, “Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London, and archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that.”

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Near the side of the cathedral, just outside the market, there are a bunch of seats so we settled in there to eat our duck rolls, brushing the flour from the tops of the rolls off of our faces and coats every few minutes. Delicious!

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With frozen fingers and toes, we wandered through the winding side streets in search of some tea and came across this little door (which is smaller than it looks) and an old Banksy piece next to it.

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On the nearby Vinopolis Piazza is a fun, Crayola-coloured canopy of umbrellas.

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I’m not entirely sure why they are there (feel free to enlighten me), but I think they’re pretty fabulous.

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One more close up…

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After an afternoon of constant girly chatter, giggles and tea, we parted ways and I decided to walk back to Chelsea for some fresh air. Took a few hours!

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There was a lot to look at along the way. Architecture, mailboxes…

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…some left over graffiti from the Olympics.

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I wandered down The Cut, past the painted Lord Nelson pub.

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Upper Marsh Street (where my favourite Scooter Caffe lives) and through the Leake Street graffiti tunnel.

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There were tons of artists working away and of course the intoxicating scent of spray paint.

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They’ve even painted the bins.

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From there, I found myself dodging tourists on South Bank, but I stopped for a shot of good old big ben with one of the fish on the lampposts that line the river Thames.

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From there, on over the Westminster Bridge where one of the lights on the corner had burned out. As a friend pointed out on Flickr, in that location you would think they’d have fixed it!

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After that windy walk, I put the camera away and stuffed my freezing fingers into my pockets. You can see from this last photo what I mean. Brrrrrrrrr!

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The end. Hope you all have a fantastic week ahead!

Down in Deptford Market

Deptford Market is in a part of London I’ve never explored very well. While I sort out a job (help?) and a flat, I’m staying with my aunt and cousin in Plumstead which is nearby. My aunt took me out on a little adventure the other day that started with a walk through the L-shaped market of Deptford.

My favorite market goodie that we came across was this gigantic Jack Daniels lighter and equally massive cigarette:

Like all London markets, it was colorful and quirky. Deptford Market is full of bric-a-brac, shoes galore, locally-grown fruits and veg, cheap clothes, fresh fish, funky buttons and eccentric people. Just as a market should be.

When I was away from London for the last nearly 10 months, one aspect of London life I missed the most was the markets. They are where all life seems to unfold.

The market has an old-fashioned vibe to it with the cockney sellers shouting their wares. Super friendly vendors and no tourist knick knacks.

Stroll down the high street and you’ll find restaurants serving Indian, Vietnamese, West African, Chinese, Pakistani, Sri-Lankan, Cambodian and Turkish food.

And down miss the awesome pink building with the His & Hers chimneys!

Check it out on a Wednesday or Saturday then add your pics to the Flickr pool for a chance to be featured here.

Have you been to Deptford Market? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found there? Would you recommend a visit?