Yes, it was slightly raining. Yes, it took a while to park the car in a somewhat dodgy area. And yes, there were loads of signs telling me to watch my bags. Once over all that, a visit to this area is huge fun. Aldgate East tube station if you'd rather not drive. Bits of the market are on Friday through Sunday, and to get everything and the wonderful contrasts, Sunday about 11am is the best time I think. We wondered along Brick Lane, so many curry houses, your eyes boggle at the choice. Actually there is even better to come, in the Old Truman Brewery buildings, you could eat your way around the world! I was tempted by Jamacian goat curry, and totally astonished by the Malaysian pancakes. Small, thick and sweet or savoury. Fantastic. With smiley, happy, vigourously hand washing vendors. Move further inside, away from the tantalising smells, and there are the stalls, tee shirts, jewellery, art, clothes, the works. Most were manned by young people, we met some who sold clothes made from re-cycled saris. Beautiful, both the clothes and the young people. They were just back from Goa, having wintered there, October to May! Good for some. We chatted to some keen Polish designers selling stylish shoes made from the softest leather at very fair prices too. We went back to the street again, and into a mini retro/antiques cavern, it was like being back in my grandmother's house, with matching stallholders. In fact this for me was the thing, the people, so many totally eclectic and diverse characters.
This is in the centre of Banglatown, near the East London Mosque & Islamic Centre, which sits pride of place next to the Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, a reminder of the history of the area. We saw Hassidim on bicycles, all curls & hats, the Jamacian curry man dreads and rasta, and a Vivian Westwood dressed very tall Japanese woman. Not to mention any number of eccentrically dressed market sellers. It is worth a detour to the Columbia Street Flower market, olfactory mayhem, and a riot of colours as well as interesting shops too. Open 8am to 2pm, Sundays only. There are not many places where you can get your hair cut outside, to the sounds of a jazz jam session whilst eating a Malayasian pancake. Well, not in the UK anyway. But here it's possible! A final tiptop find at the far end of Brick Lane, two fabulous Beigel shops, one selling prawn & bacon fillings along with salt beef, chopped liver & pickled gherkins. The other open 24 7. We wandered happily for 3 hours, and I could've stayed an hour or two longer. Not a place for flip flops, streets get a bit grim, and take cash, there are few stalls who want plastic. And remember your camera!!