‘Twas the weekend before Christmas and everything felt strangely calm. For the first time ever I had done all my present shopping and even wrapped most of them too, leaving a whole Sunday to find more of that festive feeling. I’d organised a last-minute catch up with Vanessa after realising we were both free to snap our way around London, which when added to the evening tickets I had for Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall, made for a festive-filled day.

Columbia Road Flower Market was our destination of choice. I could go at any time of of year but I was particularly excited to see plenty of seasonal blooms.

The first thing we smelt was a forest of fresh Christmas trees waiting to be picked and given a warm home.

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We don’t have a real Christmas tree in our house as we’re not at home long enough to really justify getting one, so I made sure I took a few deep breaths of that sweet grassy scent.

We wandered into the busy flow of people looking¬†for perfect centre pieces or, like me, imaging what I’d buy if I was hosting a lovely big meal. Of course the Flower Market has all of your festive flower needs covered.

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There’s something about the beauty of wreaths that I’m totally hooked on. I guess they make houses look so much more warm and welcoming at this time of year.

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And mistle toe is just so delicate, with that added bit of romance ūüėČ

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As it approached midday the market got busier and busier so we wandered the quieter streets nearby.

This part of town is full of colourful doors, but the wreaths at Christmas add that extra bit of charm.

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We passed a curious looking piano on wheels and then realised it was a sort of mobile carolling group.

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Sadly they weren’t ready to sing at the time.

But luckily, there was plenty of other music drawing in the crowds (and I knew I had some carolling to enjoy later on…)

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We grabbed some hot drinks and enjoyed watching everyone getting into the spirit.

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Since we’d got up so early we realised we still had some daylight to spare so we made our way west to Belgravia.

It’s always interesting to experience the contrast of east versus west in London. All of a sudden it feels just a little bit less relaxed and a little bit more luxe.

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Wild at Heart is one of those stores I will happily window shop.

Peggy Porschen meets all my perfect pink needs and sweet tooth desires.

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I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the Christmas lights on Elizabeth Street but I loved how chic and minimal there were.

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We found just enough time to find a few more lovely wreaths.

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And I went home feeling festive enough to enjoy the evening ahead.

Christmas carols at the Royal Albert Hall has been on my to do list for a couple of years, maybe even since Anita mentioned it in about 2013. But I always forget about tickets until it’s too late. This year I just about managed to get them before they sold out. As I made my way there I realised I was so excited to add another festive activity to my annual to do list but also to finally see inside such an iconic building.

Not so excited to miss seeing the Natural History Museum at night though.

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After a short walk I turned a corner and there it was.

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The hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and was dedicated to Prince Albert, who had died 10 years earlier.

I’d just finished Victoria and loved the tv series earlier this year so it felt easy to picture it as it was back in the day.

Not surprisingly it’s just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, especially when decorated for Christmas.

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The lights dimmed and the carols begun.

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Carols by Candlelight is a mixture of performances with and without audience participation. It took me right back to school days, especially singing 12 days of Christmas and everyone hollering “FIVE GOLD RINGS”.

We drank mulled wine, ate mince pies and enjoyed a festive-filled evening.

It was such a lovely weekend (James and I had managed Winter Wonderland the day before!) I can’t wait to enjoy the final festivities with our families.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! xxx

It doesn’t seem that long ago since I was sitting at the family table with my sister, eating chicken nuggets, potato smiles¬†and beans for dinner. But daily eating trends and being an adult means that what I eat on a regular basis seems to have¬†changed a lot since then. Whilst convenience food still thrives (and I’ve probably eaten 70% of M&S’ ready meals!), the ‘no nasties’ trend¬†of fresh produce, top quality meats and health boosters has taken hold of the city and it’s pretty hard to ignore. Londoners are now as happy to see a fresh produce market pop up nearby, as they are an independent coffee shop. Markets are no longer made for bargains, but for top quality ingredients and a place to grab a quick bite to eat. They’re popping up where they can all over the city.

Primrose Hill Market is what I’d call a local community city market. Much like the south-eastern Brockley Market, organisers found a gap in the affluent area and filled a school playground with fresh food for local residents and visitors alike. It’s one of the newest markets, opening up September last year. I popped along on Saturday to see what it had to offer a South West guest.

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Just 10 minutes from Chalk Farm underground station, sandwiched between residential streets and¬†Primrose Hill’s magnificent view, it¬†has grabbed a pretty great location in a school playground. There’s enough room for about 20 or so traders aiming to¬†satisfy your shopping list and hunger.

I had taken a cocktail-induced hangover with me so I was pretty pleased to find a coffee stall right at the entrance.

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Then it was time to make the all important decision of what to eat!

Toasties from Toastits?

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They didn’t quite fit that day’s cravings, but I am fond of a gourmet toastie!

Duck confit burger from The Frenchie?

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One step too far for breakfast/ brunch but could have made a great lunch.

Scotch egg from Finest Fayre? You probably know I don’t like eggs by now!

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Or one of the latest additions to the market – Muffin Man & Co?

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Homemade muffin and bacon jam, sausage meat, a slice of pork belly and an egg (for those who eat them), with a chorizo hash brown (not pictured). It’s not really my usual first choice but I was in the mood indulgence and it did hit the spot.¬†I was expecting something quite firm and a bit crispy but it was a really soft mouthful of flavours.

The muffin kept it’s integrity but I didn’t do very well at maintaining my food dignity as I lost a bit of control of the fillings and got my hands in a mess. (Note to self – take hand wipes to food markets). Luckily, if you don’t want to be seen demolishing your food¬†on Primrose Hill (or by the main entrance where I accidentally defaulted to in a fit of hunger!), I later discovered that there are a few seating options around the market.

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Having fixed the hunger issue, I thought I’d take a look around the other options. It has staple items on the shopping list covered with fruit and veg…

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Freshly baked bread.

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Cheese! YUM.

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Including truffle cheese, pictured far right above.

Fresh fish.

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Meat, not pictured as no one finds it attractive to look at.

Fresh pasta.

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Tea. I sampled one of the flavours and it was much nicer than anything I’ve tried from the supermarket.

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I was really tempted to grab a Crosstown Doughnut or Bad Brownie but I decided I’d ticked the indulgent box already that day.

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I was also sorely tempted by Roxy’s homemade jam but I only really eat it with scones so I thought I’d save that for a Primrose picnic.

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Alongside a few of these for my friends who love salmon.

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And maybe some cured meat or cheese.

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With some of Oliver’s Bakery bread¬†(pictured earlier on).

And a cute puppy would just help me fit into the local area.

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(Any excuse to share a cute puppy picture.)

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As for my final verdict on Primrose Hill Market, it has brought a good selection of traders to the area from markets Londoners might already be familiar with, alongside some tasty food-to-go¬†options and seems to have found a balance between the two for the space it occupies. I might like to see a few more food-to-go options vs grocery options (pizza option maybe? because well pizza!), but I’m sure that’s not what the locals would say as¬†it should definitely fulfill their fresh produce needs.

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Either way I’d definitely go back on the way to Primrose Hill this summer to check out what’s new. I can totally picture myself with resting on a blanket, perched near the top of the hill with a glass of rose in hand and a basket of food sitting next to me.

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Primrose Hill Market can be found at¬†St Paul’s School, NW3 3DS. It’s open every Saturday, 10am to 3pm.

You can find all the details, including a full list of traders, on their website.

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Do you enjoy visiting local food markets? Do you have a favourite or market trader?

I was invited to pop down by the market organiser, but it has been on my visit list for a while so it was a great excuse to visit. As ever, all opinions are my own.

If someone asked me what was the one thing I thought made everyone happy then my first answer would be delicious food. Of course what delicious food means to each and every one of us can be very different, but the pure joy from eating something super tasty is universal.

It’s this type of sheer happiness that when I take a moment to pause I’ve really started to notice at London’s food markets and it made me realise that if you ever want to see or make a happy Londoner the market is the place to go.

I take a little bit of this London food happiness back to Birmingham every Christmas by gathering a collection of food gifts from a market. There’s such a variety and plenty of¬†experimental flavours to be found in the city’s markets that I always manage to find interesting things to take back and it’s safe to say it goes down a treat. Of course, it’s also fun to shop for as I get to go to a food market and not worry about buying things that at times are a bit extravagantly priced. I also try to go to a different market each year, which ¬†means I’m slowly working my way round them all!

As you can guess by the title, I chose Broadway Market this year because it’s one of the last few established markets on my to do list. The reason for this –¬†it’s way out East. I’m a South Londoner and at¬†the weekend when I’m south of the river and wrapped up in my duvet, the 45 minute journey¬†sometimes always feels like a mission. Add on a 10 – 15 minute walk from Bethnal Green tube, the need to get to the market before sun down, and it could be on the other side of the country. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but as¬†the winter wind howled as I pounded the pavements I still had¬†a moment of doubt about whether I’d made the right choice.

Then as I crossed the bridge the smell of a delicious mix of food wafted over me and all that doubt melted away. I was itching to start exploring. But first, coffee.

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I made a beeline to Pavilion, a small bakery run by the guys behind Pavilion Cafe and Elliot’s. Aside from their mouth-watering bread, they serve coffee using Square Mile¬†and offer a great selection of pastries.

With my hands wrapped around molten happiness, I had an initial wander. I’m not sure if it was the caffeine buzz or the choice in front of me¬†but I suddenly felt a bit overwhelmed, where to start, what to eat myself, what to buy for gifts?

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Let alone, the desire to snap every tasty sight. (Turns out that markets are also places to make photography lovers happy too. There’s so much colour and variety!)

One of the upsides about Broadway Market, which I quickly discovered, is that the stalls stretch down the street in a straight line so there’s no chance of getting lost, or confused about where the stall you wanted to return to could be found.

I figured a good place to start was at the beginning of the street and I picked up some fiery chutneys and honey made from London bees. I wasn’t in the market for cheese (I’ve made the mistake of forgetting it or it accidentally disappearing from the fridge…) so when I stumbled across this stall¬†I managed to slow down my excited *buy all the food* pace.

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Then I found the colourful cabbages and cauliflowers and admired the healthy living in front of me. There was so many varieties that you just don’t see in the supermarket.

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I had to question whether these were turnips or if my vegetable knowledge THAT bad?

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As someone was gathering up ingredients for what I was sure was going to be a tasty dinner I started to feel inspired about one day coming back for that same task.

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How exciting would these mushrooms look on the dinner table?

But I was quickly brought out of my daydream with market hollers. “APPLES AND PEARS” *Done in my best trader voice*

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(Did you know there are more than 7,000 varieties of apple?!)

My mind returned to the task at hand so I sampled every flavour of fudge on offer before once again being drawn to colour like a photography magpie.

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After a good hour or so of rummaging, buying treats and taking pictures, my stomach started to rumble and luckily I’d reached the end of the market where all of the take-away food was being offered.

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Curries… Crepes….

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Scotch eggs (for the egg lovers out there)…

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Oysters for the sea food fanatics…

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Delicious treats for the sweet tooth.

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And more coffee to wash it down with, if you wish.

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There’s even a delightful looking bookshop to spend time in whilst you let all the goodness sink in.

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But like any decision in London, I was influenced by the fact that there were more options just around the corner and I had to make sure I was taking an informed decision. There’s nothing worse than food regret!

A short walk later and I arrived at Netil Market.

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After the big open space of Broadway, Netil Market felt small and cosy. I could see most of my options from the entrance but wanted to have a good look round just in case.

Terrone coffee is hard to miss.

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I’ve heard great things about their coffee¬†but I can only manage one coffee every two or three hours so I had to miss out this time.

I’ve also heard great things about Bao Bar and unlike the Soho restaurant it wasn’t all that busy.

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A bold claim but I have to admit their cakes did look delicious.

This could have been a fun lunch.

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Prosecco and pizza has got to be a good combination.

As usual, I got a little side-tracked by the small collection of non-food stalls and wanted to buy the whole Earl of East London collection.

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I satisfied the urge with a scented candle gift.

Of course whilst I was there the crowds got bigger but nothing I couldn’t handle.

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I wandered back to the beginning and pondered all the choices.

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Eventually settling on Bao Bar. The juicy pork bao bun was definitely the right choice! ūüôā

I left East London with the contentment of a good meal and a food haul that would make others happy.

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You can find both of these markets around here. But you might want to remember that sadly they’re only open on Saturdays.

I hope you liked my tour of Broadway and Netil Market. Do you enjoy visiting food markets?

When you look at social media it often looks like the average Londoner spends some part of the weekend at a food market, whether¬†it’s a Friday¬†evening¬†street food market, a weekend local produce market or a Sunday flower market.¬†The reality is that the average Londoner¬†probably visits them¬†when¬†there’s a¬†guest to impress¬†with the¬†‘Londoner’s London’,¬†to find something nice to¬†do, or to check out a new market on the scene.

Last Sunday is a prime example – I had a day to myself and thought it would be nice to check out Wapping Market (which opened this summer).

I wasn’t looking for anything particular but knew something would catch my eye and that¬†it was worth a meander down to Wapping to check it out. It’s a short walk from the Wapping Overground, or Shadwell DLR. I took this route from Shadwell and got a misty view of Canary Wharf over the quay.

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As I got¬†closer I got a better view of the size of the market. Like its sibling, Brockley Market, it’s quite a small site but as I found out it packs in a good variety of stalls.

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As with any food market, I always like to walk around to see what’s on offer before I commit my cash. So I started at the entrance…

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And walked around all the stalls, up to the top.

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My sweet tooth got the better of me and before I got to the end I made a bee-line for Crosstown Doughnuts, picking up a chocolate mousse and rasberry crumble doughnut. A great treat to take back for Sunday evening!

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Then I spied these croissants and was utterly tempted to demolish one.

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But I thought something tasty for later was a better buy and grabbed a fresh loaf of bread instead.

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With a few slices of this ham.

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Making a perfect pick me up sandwich for Monday lunch.

But if you’re looking to russle up a tasty meal for evening dinner there’s plenty of fresh produce to be found. From staple vegetables…

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To more seasonal varieties.

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There’s fresh meat for your roasts, and cheese for¬†cheese boards (or crackers!) …

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But for quicker cooking times there’s fresh pasta sauces and pestos too.

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If you want to complete your evening with a drink you can pick up a bottle of wine there aswell.

If all that food gets your stomach rumbling or you’re more about eating food right there and then, there’s a great selection.

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Swine Dining will sort out a Saturday night hangover.

Van Dough will offer wood-fired pizza with fresh toppings (see the one I tried in Brockley here).

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And Spit & Roast will save you from roasting your own meat.

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I also spotted The Roadery and FishDog.

I made the mistake of eating breakfast and getting there too early for lunch so I enjoyed this takeaway coffee from Dark Fluid instead.

The market was already getting into the festive spirit with a small selection of Christmas trees.

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But according to the website they’ve got a Christmas food market planned¬†every Sunday in December (excluding 28 December), where you can get all you need for your Christmas dinner (and maybe one of these gifts…).

Wapping Market is open every Sunday from 10am to 2pm. I got there about 11am and it was pleasantly busy but, as with most London markets, I recommend getting there early so you have the biggest selection of food before the traders run out.

If you’re planning your trip as part of a leisurely afternoon,¬†a walk along the Thames River Walk back to Tower Hill only takes about half an hour.

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When the tide is out you can walk along the Thames shore and enjoy the temporary peace and calm (without a single entertainer in sight).

A pretty nice way to spend a Sunday.

Do you regularly visit London’s food markets? When do you get the urge to go?

You just can’t beat a good leisurely Saturday. You know the kind I’m talking about. You wake up at a respectable time in the morning to no alarm and a good night’s sleep, get a few dull but necessary errands done before midday, leaving the afternoon totally open to whatever you fancy. Whether you have company or not you’ll always find something to enjoy in London, especially on sunny autumnal days. So you can imagine how happy I was to find myself with one such Saturday this weekend.

I set my sights on making my way South-East to Brockley Market. A trip to a food market was well overdue and this time of year is my favourite time to browse around food stalls. Wrapped up in layers, you can buy tasty food to make a hearty meal at home or satisfy your appetite and add warmth with a good lunch from some fine street food sellers.

Whilst St John’s Hill is probably the nearest station I aimed for Brockley, where I was very happy to discover Browns of Brockley right opposite the station. A highly rated cafe I was surprised I hadn’t thought of it before I left the flat. Cute, cosy, busy with locals. As it was lovely and sunny I decided to take my coffee to go.

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A very tasty Square Mile coffee indeed!

Hot drink in hand I walked along the leafy streets of Brockley to the market outside Lewisham College. Less than 10 minutes later I was greeted by the billowing clouds of heat from hot food and the sweet smell of good meal on the horizon.

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It was about 1pm and pleasantly quiet, such a contrast to other London food markets! So I browsed the stalls at leisure.

There’s nothing more autumnal than the sight of vegetables like this…

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But I have to admit it’s sights like this are more likely to get my mouth watering.

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And I couldn’t help but drool over this hunk of cheese.

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Amongst the cheeses and chorizos you’ll find artisan breads, authentic Italian pasta, chutneys and jams, fresh fish and even pretty plants.

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But I was in the mood for a sweet treat for later and Kooky Bakes had my name written all over it.

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I’ve got a real weakness for Oreos and had to try one of these cupcakes. The fudge sauce in the middle of the icing made for a messy and indulgent treat.

But I was most looking forward to this…

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The dosant, the infamous croissant/donut hybrid. I had to grab one to go for an after dinner dessert.

Once I’d stocked up on the sweet stuff it was about time to hunt out something savoury. Had I made it there before 12pm I definitely would have tried a Good and Proper crumpet.

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(The “Sweetie” being the obvious choice.)

I was seriously tempted by Mother Flipper¬†(their website should come with a warning!)¬†but I feel like I’ve had a lot of burgers recently.

Brockley-Market---Mother-Flipper

So I decided upon Van Dough. You can’t beat a good pizza!

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And check out this menu…

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A tough choice but after salivating over lots of cheese at the market I decided upon the courgette, goats cheese and pesto. It was nearing 2pm-ish so I was pretty glad that I managed to get my hands on this before they completely sold out!

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YUM!

If I could eat without guilt and had a stomach that could manage it I would have been tempted by donuts and salted caramel from Fish Dogs. They were SO good at Truck Stop this summer.

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There were a number of other street food sellers I could have enjoyed but sometimes you have to admit defeat and save it for next time.

If you’re over that way and you need some fresh food or a tasty brunch/lunch then you should pop by and have a browse. If like me you’re not from this side of the city, make it a leisurely afternoon out like I did. Spend an hour or so at the market and then head over to Greenwich (which is just a few stops on the DLR) for some greenery and city views. I’ll be taking you there in the next post ūüôā

Have you been to Brockley Market? Do you have any favourite food markets? What do you enjoy doing on a leisurely Saturday?  

There’s alway something exciting going on in London. This means that the minute you book a trip out of the city there’s a high chance you’ll need to sacrifice doing or seeing something from the city’s busy event calendar. A trip to my hometown was well overdue this weekend which meant I had to miss the¬†Crafty Fox Market, a date I’d had in my diary since it was released. ¬†Luckily, Rebecca from Runaway Kiwi¬†was also keen to check it out and happy to report back!

Here’s what she thought…

There are not many things that would convince me to leave the house on a snowy Saturday, but a craft market in a pub with a high chance of scones is one of them. The Crafty Fox Market is a regular popup market based in the Dogstar Pub in Brixton. It’s a Mecca for small scale designers with homemade and vintage goods, and trust me your wallet will be a lot lighter when you leave.

After a tip-off from Laura, I made a bee line for The Teas Knees as soon as I arrived. I’m glad I did because the minute I sat down the place was packed. The biggest problem was deciding what to eat first; the fresh scone with clotted cream or the mini maple pecan cupcake.

Next up were the mesmerising screen printed textiles of Joanna X Kangan. They were exactly what I needed to brighten up my snowy day.

One of my greatest finds of the day was the artwork of Sandra Dieckmann. If all my friends receive mystic animal birthday cards this year they know who to blame.

Crafty-Fox-Market---Sandra-Dieckmann

And no trip to the Crafty Fox Market is complete without a visit to the Den on the top floor. When I went they were running a screen printing workshop, where for £5 you could design and print your own tote bag.

Crafty-Fox-Market---Screen-printing

The perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends hiding from the Spring weather.

Have to agree it looks like a great way to spend an afternoon hiding from the current chilly temperatures! ¬†And those cakes definitely seemed to have lived up to all the positive reviews. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the next date!

Have you been to Crafty Fox Market yet?

If you want to follow Rebecca’s city finds you’ll find her @Runawaykiwi on Twitter. Here’s a link to the blog¬†too! (there’s a good post on the weekend’s Chocolate Festival which I also missed out on ūüôĀ )

If you want to submit your own guest post, get in touch!