Saturday morning arrived; we all got dressed and head down to a little cafe on the square outside the flat. The sun was shining, Rayban’s were donned and we were all sat with annoyingly smug smiles on our faces. Saturday also signalled the arrival of two more of our friends and an even bigger group to get in the way of angry Londoners. We made our way up onto Tower Bridge and waited with anticipation like little school girls for the arrival of Doddlaaar and Miss Knight. A swift phone call signalled they were on the other side of the bridge and in a cliché Miranda and Steve (SATC) moment we met in the middle. After a few more pictures and giggles we quickly dropped off our stuff at the flat then made our way back to Tower Hill to once again negotiate the tube. This time I didn’t mind how many people I annoyed or stalled…I was going to CAMDEN.
As a self-confessed shopaholic and vintage clothes whore, the thought of a market as big and eclectic as Camden’s is pretty much what dreams are made of. I was beyond excited about visiting it; so when my cousin who lives in London asked if I wanted to meet up for a few drinks in Camden on Saturday afternoon I didn’t have to think twice about my response. As all the other girls are equally addicted to shopping they came along too and before we knew it we were emerging from Camden tube station…
Little did we know that it was actually Camden Crawl that weekend – a kind of music festival where big and smaller local bands play all across Camden, whether it be in specifically designed venues like Koko or smaller bars and pubs. Or even, as we discovered, in shops! On any other occasion I would have loved to go to this event, however it was like the equivalent of turning up to Pilton on June 25th and not realising 100,000 people had turned up for Glastonbury. The high street was heaving…and everywhere you looked there were swarms of mod rockers and punks wanting to get a glimpse of their favourite ‘scene’ band. If anything though, this just added to the crazy, bohemian atmosphere that I love about Camden.
We quickly immersed ourselves into the maze of stalls and shops around Camden Lock; they have everything from standard vintage clothes stalls to shops selling purely checked shirts, quirky jewellery stalls to antique furniture havens – the place really was like a huge Aladdin’s cave. I was in heaven. After a good hour or so of perusing we were all feeling a little worn out and hungry so made our way to the outdoor food stalls – this area was kind of like a festival, with endless amounts of different cuisines to choose from and row upon row of park benches to eat your £6 noodles. We managed to secure a bench and all sat eating our different lunches; people watching and admiring each other’s food.
After our food the weather took a turn for the worse and we quickly decided to head for shelter in a local pub where my cousin and girlfriend were residing. The pub was up a little side street off the main drag and packed to the rafters. We couldn’t find a seat so had to drink our cider stood at the bar. I left my friends at this point and had a quick catch up with my cousins, telling them about the previous night’s antics and asking for recommendations for the coming evening’s events. They recommended a club in Shoreditch called ‘Favela Chic’ so I relayed this to my friends and we travelled home on the tube looking forward to our Parisian club experience.
When we got off the underground at Tower Hill the rain was really coming down, I’d conveniently left my umbrella on the tube so ended up walking over the bridge in nothing but a small pair of shorts and a jacket over my head. We all got back to the flat and got straight into our PJ’s – I think we’d all underestimated how tiring walking around Camden and the shops had been so decided to chill out for a bit before heading out for another night on the town.
By the time we were all dressed and ready it was getting on for half 10 – knowing that Favela Chic shut at 2am we all agreed that we’d preferably like to go somewhere that was open later till at least 4, so we then all sat on our iPhone’s/Blackberry’s for 30 minutes trying to find big clubs open till late. The problem we were having is that we were all into different styles of music and London didn’t seem to have a club that would cater for all. Myself and a few others wanted to go to Fabric but were aware it was expensive to get in to and purely house/electro all night. Other’s wanted more of an R + B/ Hip hop club with a bit of dance and cheese thrown in but again, we just couldn’t seem to find anywhere that had this combination. In the end we decided to head to Shoreditch again, and decide from there where we wanted to go. Looking back now, this idea was probably flawed.
We got to Shoreditch and couldn’t get into the bar we wanted to so headed for Trafik – a long, thin bar with a dance floor downstairs playing mainly R+B with the occasional indie anthem thrown in. It was ok in here; I just found it to be too crowded and full of sleazy men. It was also suffering from raining outside syndrome – i.e. really warm and sweaty with no air, which as a woman you hate because your perfectly straightened hair turns into a bouffant. With big hair, sweaty faces and ears ringing from the dodgy chat up lines we decided enough was enough and headed outside to go elsewhere. By the time we all got out of the sweat den it was around half one and we had to make a decision quickly about where to go. Fabric was off the cards as it was too expensive for some and not what everyone wanted to do. Favela Chic was also a no no as it closed within 30 minutes and going home was also not an option as we were all still really up for clubbing some more.
And so we stupidly ended up in a grimey club called ‘Plastic People’ – a place that was basically the equivalent of a tiny 5th Ave in Manchester playing poor underground drum and bass. We paid £10 to get in, our feet stuck to the floor, the only seating available was metal stools and to top it all off the bar was shutting in 15 minutes despite the club being open for another 2 hours. To make the most of the night we figured we’d just get on with it so my mate Hayley headed to the bar – her conversation with the barman went something like this: Hayley: “Do you sell wine?” Barman: “No” Hayley: “Ok I’ll have 20 double vodka lemonades then!” (When questioned about this choice later, Hayley admitted that she’d bought 20 so that we’d all have 2 drinks each…when reminded that there was only 5 of us she understood why we’d all laughed so much!) So we all stood there with 4 drinks a piece, hair frizzy, make up smudged, little party dresses sticky and sweat-ridden and a sea of drugged up Londoners circling us like vultures. This is the last thing I remember from the night…
I woke up the next day with the mother of all hangovers to the sound of laughing coming from the living room…I dragged myself out of bed, duvet and all, and headed towards the noise. And then I saw them…the pictures. Oh how I loathe the invention of digital cameras! It was like being in my very own version of The Hangover – the drunken kisses, the gangster dancing, the take away, the taxi ride home with my head out of the window, the jumping in the fountain outside the flat…just utter carnage. Everyone felt equally rubbish when we got up and all were dreading the journeys back to the various parts of the country. I literally could not face another megabus journey home so managed to get a lift back to Birmingham with one of my friend’s boyfriends.
The journey back was sedate to say the least, three of us in the back trying not to be sick, barely able to see and trying to get some sleep. Rhod, my friend’s boyfriend, did what any male would do in this situation and turned up his thumping rock music, purposely swerved the car from side to side and did numerous emergency stops to jolt us back into consciousness whilst laughing to himself. He’s such a lovely guy.
Two hours later we arrived in Solihull and said our goodbyes – what an epic weekend. London is one of those places that as a home-bred Northerner, you’re brought up disliking. The familiar sayings of “everyone’s so cold and out for themselves”, “it’s too busy and noisy” “it’s much more friendly up North” admittedly came out of my own mouth prior to this weekend and I would have never have dreamt of moving to London but here’s the thing…Yes, London is noisy; yes, people can be unfriendly and out for themselves and yes, it is extremely busy…but my god it’s exciting! There are so many different places and experiences waiting to be discovered in London; I felt like round every corner there was another potential night out or quirky cafe to be unearthed. There’s so much variety and culture down there, it really does epitomise the word cosmopolitan. As a tourist, I think the tendency when visiting London is to see all the major landmarks and stick to the bars and places you’re familiar with from home but it’s the smaller, one of a kind venue’s that make London what it is. It’s completely unique and individually tailored – there really is something there for everyone whether you want a relaxing weekend touring the cafes of Notting Hill or a weekend of shows in the West End, London is what you make it.
And so, this is why after only 3 days in London I have decided that after my Masters has finished, I think I might move down there. I’ve lived in Manchester all my life and as much as I love it and love the people and music scene up here I feel like I’ve explored what it’s got to offer. It will always have a place in my heart and will always be ‘home’ but I think for now, whilst I’m still young, I owe it to myself to open up to the world of opportunities and possibilities that London presents…
For now though, I’ll just have to admire from a far. Here are some pictures from the weekend for you to enjoy…