Bloomsbury Farmers’ Market

An 8:40am hospital card is ne’er a welcome addition to the diary of one who, frankly, needn’t get out of bed at all, but the happy discovery of a previously unknown farmers’ market certainly helped to ease the pain.

Just three roads down from the hustle and bustle of Tottenham Court Road resides Torrington Square. Every thursday, this drab little piece of University of London-owned grey concrete transforms into Bloomsbury Farmers’ Market.

Promising seasonal produce all from within a 100-mile radius of the M25, the Market entices with stalls brimming with cheese, bread, jam, every pastry-based confection known to man, and fresh fruit and vegetables, the like of which you will never find in Lidl (much as I appreciate its very reasonably priced flat-pack furniture).

A jaunt to Pret-A-Manger was quickly cancelled in favour of a Moroccan vegan parcel, an olive ficcelle and a piece of chocolate Tiffin that was so sticky I’m still licking my fingers.

I took my goodies and parked myself on a sun-drenched bench outside the sublimely pretty University Church of Christ the King. Stretched out like a cat, I closed my eyes and pretended I was in Spain.

Ten minutes later, I realised I had burnt my nose. Good grief.

Deets of farmers’ markets across London can be found on the London Farmers’ Markets’ website:

Autumn is here.

Which means it is definitely a bad idea to go swimming in outdoor pools. Nonetheless, I’m not adverse to the occasional (or, indeed, frequent) bad plan, however what began as an error in judgment, ended as a very pleasant sunday outing with the extended skulk.

The area of London Fields, in central Hackney, has gained a rep in recent years for being a bit of a hipster hangout, having even been immortalised on YouTube:

Producer: Reuben Dangoor

Despite this, it’s actually a pretty decent place to live. It has enough dingy music venues to appeal to the cool kids and plenty of vegan cafes for the bohemian set, yet it still retains enough of its neighbourhood feel and diversity to keep it from being too self-consciously ‘cool east-side’.

Does mean the rent’s taken a hike, though.

Anyway, this has endowed the area with a fair bit of urban regeneration. The Hackney library and museum are just down the road: a shining beacon of knowledge and culture in a glass behemoth; the Fields themselves have been smartened up, playgrounds added, concrete rockeries decorated with mosaic covered sheep.

And, of course, there’s a fuck-off big 24 hour Tesco. Lovely.

Another of its pleasing attractions is the eponymous London Fields Lido, which brings me nicely back to this morning’s aforementioned jolly.

Not many of Britain’s old Lidos survived to see the new millenium: scrapped to make way for shiny new leisure centres with their more hygienic water filtration systems and warmer temperatures.

Yet, London Fields lives on. It’s surprisingly clean and inviting for an outdoor pool – I was expecting a Soviet-style concrete monster, with muddy water and outdoors communal showering. The showers are actually both outdoors and communal, but that’s beside the point. It’s colourful, cheerfully so, with primary coloured lockers, and entertaining photos of people enjoying a swim with snow surrounding the pool. As it’s a sunday, it was mainly filled with families and groups of friends enjoying a nice, wholesome sunday activity. We swam for an hour, felt very righteous for doing voluntary exercise (on a weekend!), and then promptly went on a search for cake.

Nearby Broadway Market did the job nicely. After skirting the crowds of hipsters enjoying their ironic pints of bitter kerbside, we popped to Cafe Gossip – a vegetarian cafe offering homemade cakes and enough varieties of tea to give me a caffeine hit just looking at them. If you’re ever in the vicinity, try the blueberry cake: you won’t be disappointed. A quick meander down the road gave us a plethora of new bookshops to explore and an excellent piece of street art hiding by a drain near the new Strut vintage boutique.

My love of bookshops, particularly art and design focussed ones, is something I’m sure I’ll share in a later post so I won’t go there now, but, needless to say, it really made me wish I were rich. I wouldn’t waste money on silly things like booze and cars, oh no. Books would be the killer. I would be the little old fox who lived in a house made of books.

A very pleasant day, indeed.

It is twenty past eleven and Lady Fox is getting tired and ratty. I shall ramble more another day.

Been a wandering…

… and found Exmouth Market! A little gem of a shopping street, secreted away between the old townhouses of Gray’s Inn and Clerkenwell. It’s been two weeks since I moved out of the area and I’m coming to realise that I’ve squandered the year I spent there. How did I not know this place existed? It’s 3 roads away from my previous address! And then there are the galleries I never visited, the restaurants I never frequented; ah, regrets.

Still, I’m making the most of my enforced sabbatical by exploring now. Today I stumbled across the food market, which fills the entire street on fridays and saturdays. It was RAMMED. I practically had to beat my way through the crowds of city types on their lunch breaks, but it was definitely worth the sweat. If you’re a foodie, like me, I thoroughly recommend popping down for an amble. As I was meeting Lady Fox, I was forced to restrain myself, but the cheese stall almost had me.

Oh, cheese.

Anyway, if you live or work in Islington or the City, or even if you’re a Londoner who likes their shopping independent, with a side of artisanal bread, it’s a good spot.

Nearest tubes are Chancery Lane, Angel and Farringdon. For the deets:

(Source: Yes, I will get my own damn camera. Just as soon as I make up my mind about which one. ‘Til then, it’s this sub-par shit, I’m afraid.)