London - A Market Day Out: Spitalfields and Seven Dials

August 2009

Well, this will have to become a two piece review. We had planned for a trip to Spitalfields Market and Camden Markets, and then we were running out of time, only managed to do the first one and then discovered a jewel.


But first things first: I am living in the East so I always hit London via Liverpool Street station, and when a friend told me that there was a great market place just around the corner I was thrilled. It's just nice to know where to go after arrival, to have a lunch or to kill a bit of time before catching the train home.

I was told that it is nothing like Camden Market, but a bit posh-ish with neat and healthy food options; so off we went! And it IS just around the corner of Liverpool Street Station, not more than five walking minutes.

It is not huge - when we were in Camden before the fire we got somewhat lost. Here at Spitalfields there are signposts and a public toilet which is not perfect but surely usable, and it is easy to find ones way around.

The big hall is Old Spitalfields Market which is a big glass roofed building with restaurants for every purse, taste and poshness, shops and a lot of space where the market stalls are. If you are interested in particular things then check out the website. Not everything is there every day.

So we arrived, browsed a bit and then decided for Tapas food at La Tasca which we thoroughly enjoyed, the more that it was a £10 lunch deal for two.

See the thing is that as a tourist one doesn't know the places where Londoners eat reasonably and we always ended up in some ridiculously expensive and bad Italian style restaurant around Leicester Square. The next phase we went through was some Starbucks/Coffee Nero/Costas sandwich lunch - which is not cheap either, but at least one knows what to expect.

Now we were so pleased to find a place which was reasonable in price and had a friendly service. There were other options like 'create your own salad', all fresh and nice and there were plenty of benches to comfortably sit like at an under-roof beer garden.

While browsing for a restaurant we already had spotted the Movenpick ice cream and it was decided: First the work part - then a rest with ice cream.

Off we went to explore the area. The stalls were nice but nothing I needed, although I spotted some really nice belts, interesting dresses, and bags. And then came the nice surprise: The shops right outside the market along Lamb Street, Commercial Street and Brushfield Street, are sort of included in the scheme.

There we discovered a coffee place which was so good that I only concentrated on the coffee and cake and forgot to note down the name, and we found Lulu and Lush - FairyGothMother on Lamb Street.

Oh my goodness me! I always loved corsets but I never had one - and there was a shop full of them. That was when the usual tiptoeing into a shopping frenzy started: Hesitatingly entering the store - 'No thanks, I'm only browsing!'; touching the one or the other item and starting to reason why I shouldn't; finding a cheap and reasonable item to try on - £28 for a shrug that I could need anyway: Done! and thus contact with the staff established...

Oh well, the rest is history!

After the sweet lady almost killed my breath by lacing me into my first corset I was hooked - literally. These things are amazingly comfortable, and one feels utterly sexy but extremely safe. They are like an armour. So a skirt needed to be tried on and a petticoat with it. Gosh am I glad that I bought these Gladiator sandals the other day, at least the shoes were sorted.

More pictures on MySpace

With another hole in hubby's pocket caused by a smouldering credit card we cooled down with the well deserved ice cream, followed by the formerly mentioned cappuccino only to realise that there is not enough time to visit Camden Market properly. Since my blood was filled with fashion-adrenalin I remembered that Soho and the area towards Covent Garden has some quirky shops.

Seven Dials

Thus refuelled we hopped onto the Central Line at Liverpool Street, left at Tottenham Court Road, walked down Charing Cross Road and took a right turn just before we reached Shaftsbury Ave to find ourselves amidst the more dodgy end of town and thus idling back to Charing Cross road along Shaftsbury scratching along China Town - I never will get used to those glazed ducks hanging in windows for display with their heads still attached. I don't really know why I still like to eat roast duck at Chinese restaurants.

However, when we crossed Charing Cross Road to walk towards Covent Garden everything changed. I guess there might be a few Londoners mourning the flair of the non-refurbished and the hand made fashion - but I love it the way it is now!

The area around Mercer Street, Neil Street, Long Acre is completely refurbished; blocks of buildings built into mini malls and the whole thing is called 'Covent Garden's hidden village - Seven Dials! Food, fashion, beauty, places to sit, to walk... Shopper's heaven!

Well, as soon as one reaches Covent Garden the atmosphere is buzzing and of course there was a street artist, but it is all rather touristic. So we hit the road again, and walked to Oxford Street via Leicester Square and Regent Street to get to the Borders book store for our traditional final coffee and toilet, only to find that we just made it. Our favourite Borders is closing down, and it's our fault as well - who is buying books in stores when there is Amazon?

With a last cappuccino we said farewell, I changed from heels into flipflops and took the 8PM train home, proudly carrying the bag with my gown and contemplating the options to actually wearing this thing!

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Author: Rika