Sunday, 8 May 2011

Borough what? Hitting the North End Road Market

Having promised myself a quiet (and crucially, cheap) local weekend I found myself waking on Saturday morning and wondering how I could pass a morning productively, fill my fridge and research a blog post - all the while avoiding a deathly dull supermarket trip (Sainsbury's - you're great - but the Saturday morning 'family-shopping' hour is just too hectic).

I rarely meander up to Fulham Broadway of a weekend just for the sake of exploration, and even more rarely venture towards North End Road. However, just I was setting off for a little stroll - namely to satisfy a random craving for frozen yoghurt (more on that later) - I had the good fortune to remember a friend's recent recommendation that I ought to give the North End Road market a try.

I confess, I wasn't expecting much. My most recent memories of the North End Road include seeing an Iceland, various pound stores and (most exciting of all) a shut-down outpost of TOWIE's infamous Sugar Hut. Yet, the North End Road is a rough gem in a borough that often seems a little over-manicured and yuppy. Apparently, most of the market pitches have been in the same families for generations (the market has been running since the 1880s) and the bargains you get are unbelievable. Most of the stalls are for fresh fruit and veg, although the odd home bric-a-bric stall is peppered in and there is also a French cheese monger, a fishmonger and a few fresh juice and falafel carts. The whole street has a wonderful, vibrant hurly burly about it as shoppers jostle their way into rough queues and stallholders hawk their wares and call for refills. The variety of fruit and veg is amazing - and most sell at £1 per medium sized bowl (I found it much better value than the supermarket). Local shops really thrive on market day too, and Dickinson's the butchers had customers queuing half way down the block. I also frequented a really friendly Mediterranean deli.

If you're most at home in the sanitised environment of M&S then the tustle of the market may not be for you, but it's a fantastic way to spend a morning whilst loading up on cheap, healthy food to boot. As for me, I'm thinking of turning it into a weekend ritual. Just look at everything I picked up for just over £10.


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