THINK: Camden Lock Night Market

4As a local I reckon to spend a fair amount of time doing local things, especially during the weekends. But it has to be said that there’s an awful lot I still don’t do. And some of it, now I think of it, is down to good old fashioned local snobbery.

Take Camden Market for instance – parts of it, yes, are awful. Screeching women thrusting over-cooked, over-battered prawns at you, cheap tat sold by cross Polish men, and the never-ending presence of Goth Chic. (If such a thing exists). Camden Market has become such a tourist trap that any self-respecting local stays well clear. Which for the most part, makes sense.

And yet, by doing so, we are missing so many parts of the market that we should be supporting. Someone recently told me, for instance, that Camden Market is one of the busiest places in London, not visited by Londoners. And, did you know, that it’s not actually just one big market, but several, smaller markets all managed separately by different organisations, some of whom are very selective about who they rent space to.

2Take Camden Lock Market, for example, which is the bit in front of Lock 17, through into the Market Hall – ground floor and mezzanine level – and out into the Middle Yard, running back to West Yard, finishing at Cafe Chula, and skimming the canal. This area is one of Camden Market’s oldest and loveliest, the stall holders here are experts at what they do, artisans, craftsmen and women, fashion experts and proper foodies. There’s vintage stalls, gift shops with high end gifts, designer fashion, book shops and jewellery makers who are stocked in the likes of Joseph and Matches.

Not only is a great place to pick up something unique and distinctly un-high street, it has a great atmosphere (much nicer than the braying, shrieking of its rivals) and is a lovely place to go for a quick bite to eat. Cafe Chula, for instance, right on the canal is lovely early in the morning with the sun bouncing off the canal and filtering through the windows. Throughout Christmas (and during the summer) they are running Night Markets every Thursday, with mulled wine, jazz bands, Christmas carols and a pop-up from Mark Hix, called Fish Dogs. We went along last night and had a lovely time, picked up a few presents for the relatives, enjoyed some huge glasses of mulled wine (slightly pricey at £3.85 a pop, but delicious all the same), listened to some carols and pottered around.

Be warned, if it’s bad weather – like it was last night – the outer areas, West Yard especially, will be closed – so pick your day wisely, but please go. It’s wonderful.

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