A Flaneurs View of London: Captivated in Camden
Captivated in Camden
Camden market is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions and was a fantastic place to experience as a flaneur. Historically, Camden was a relatively unknown area, a place to merely pass through en route to Hampstead, however in the 1800s the land was eventually developed, the lock was created and buildings were erected until this became too expensive and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the market was eventually formed. Camden market today is a bustling place enriched with a variety of different cultures and a range of goods on offer. Initially the market predominantly sold craft items and was particularly popular on a Sunday as other shops would be closed due to trading laws, but now the market offers clothing, food and drink, bric-a-brac and jewellery to name but a few.
The Camden high street you walk up on the way to the markets from the tube station definitely deserves a mention. It reminded me of being on holiday walking down coastal streets with a parade of shops with rather garish awning selling various tourist-esque items such as sunglasses and the infamous ‘I love [insert name of place] t-shirts on display outside the shops.
However, there was one distinct difference, in Camden the tourist tat that you may find abroad was actually in some shops designer brands. Timberland for instance occupies one of the shops and at first glance appears as a typical market stall apart from the brand name written on the awning. There is something much more unique and contemporary that sets this line of shops apart from your average high street as on the exterior walls of the buildings there are large three dimensional sculptured motifs, which represent what the shop sells. Above the Timberland shop there are huge boots in different colours to represent the footwear brand and above an army shop there is a sculptured tank emerging from the wall. This quirky addition makes it really memorable and gives it a distinction from other streets as it captures the modern ambience of Camden itself.
Although in recent years Camden market has been perceived to be struggling to stay modern and is less renowned for its alternative style than it has been in the past. As we wandered through the actual market there were parts that appeared to be slightly behind the times, particularly some of the clothing that was on offer. However, there were some great vintage pieces at some of the stalls, and the range of different items means there will be something that appeals to a wide variety of people. The atmosphere is one of the strongest aspects of the market, as you move from stall to stall the music altered depending on the type of shop which gave it a fresh and exciting feel. Despite not going during peak season the amount of people there also added to the bustling nature of the markets and gave a real sense that Camden was the place to be.
One of the best parts of the markets was the food section and once we arrived we released we had made the unfortunate mistake of having lunch beforehand and were very disappointed as all of the food was freshly cooked and looked delicious. There was a vast variety of food from different nationalities which makes it a great place to try something new. The food ranged from American style burgers to Italian dishes such as pasta as well as more traditional British cuisine. The Jamaican stall sold jerk chicken, wraps and salads; there was also an Ethiopian coffee stall and fresh lemonade if you fancied a light refreshment. For those with a sweet tooth the French Crepe stand would have been perfect, all freshly made with a variety of toppings. There really is something for everyone there, even if you’re vegetarian there’s a stall selling gluten free falafel. Definitely worth another visit to actually try some of it next time!