You have 24 hours in the Camden Borough, London. You could rush around and say you’ve ‘done’ Camden in a few hours and then go to Central London and ‘do’ that too, or you could take the time to really explore the boundaries and see the London borough beyond Camden Market and Camden Lock.
8am It’s Saturday. Wake up early so as ‘not to waste the day’ at my flat in Kilburn. Persuade my boyfriend to get out of bed even though he only got in it a few hours ago. Pull on some jeans and a top, but bring a jumper and coat too. Slip an umbrella in my bag just in case too. Learned the hard way to never trust the London skies.
8:30am Pay 50p to get in the boot sale at St Mary’s School on Quex Road, Kilburn. Hope to find a bargain like last week’s vintage binoculars for just £3.
9:30am No bargains. Stomach’s rumbling. Agree to go to LoveFood in West Hampstead for a traditional big breakfast, with a Bloody Mary on the side.
10:27am Stuffed. Must. Move. From. Seat.
10:52am Charity shop shopping on West End Lane in West Hampstead and fully enjoying the run of eight of them. Boyfriend finds some top quality dapper shoes, they “fit like a glove”. Purchased for him and in the bag. Of course I have to carry them all day now.
11:22am Wander through Hampstead admiring all the beautiful big houses. “How do these people afford them?” Come over all entrepreneurial and conceive a multi-million pound business plan with serious potential.
11:33am Find gaping holes in business plan, decide to think about it later.
12:16pm At Hampstead Heath and sit down to rest our throbbing legs. Watch all the dog walkers and think I’d quite like a dog. Then dog squats and owner does the hand/bag trick to pick up the offerings. Stomach churns. Resolve to never have a dog.
12:40pm Get invited to join in a Frisbee game and picnic with some cool kids. Feel honoured and am reminded London isn’t as unfriendly as everyone makes out.
1:30pm Bored of Frisbee and make our excuses so we can go to the deli shops that line the Heath to get a picnic lunch.
1:45pm Bottle of Cava takes my fancy.
2pm Get back on the Heath and eat lunch by the dipping ponds. Watch all the crazy women braving the cold for a swim. Debate whether I could do that. “Another day, maybe”
3:46pm Wake up from a hazy, drink-induced sleep and decide to venture up to Parliament Hill to take some photos of the incredible view of London.
4:15pm Eat ice cream and marvel at the view from up here. Try to show off London geographical knowledge, but I’m actually making things up. I say it with such conviction boyfriend doesn’t even question me. Good skill learnt from dad.
4:53pm In Belsize Park now to watch the early evening screening at the Everyman Cinema. Share popcorn and sweets.
7:09pm Walk down Haverstock Hill and arrive into Chalk Farm – have a quick look around the Camden Markets and get some pizza to eat at the tables in the market.
8:30pm Stop for a pint on Camden Lock in the disappearing sunshine. The Lockside Lounge is buzzing with trendies and we can see over the market.
9:06pm Make our way back along Chalk Farm Road and visit the Lock Tavern to sit in the roof garden.
10:46pm Pear cider is flowing through my veins and I need to dance it off. In the queue for Proud in the Camden Stables.
11:14pm Finally in! Shots are lined up, oh dear. Admire the decor, especially the original horse stables kept intact. Oo, shot time.
2:30am Thrown out, last ones in the club. Achievement.
3am Walk over to Marathon Kebab House just up the road. Start to order chips and cheese and then realise there’s a party going on out the back. Buy some beers from behind the counter and join in.
5am Climb up to Primrose Hill and watch the sun rise over the city. Drunk, it’s beautiful. I’d cry if I had the energy.
7am Collapse into bed.
Top 10 tips for making the most of Camden
- Walk it, or rent a Boris bike. Third choice is to get a bus, but there’s no need to hide away on the Underground.
- Plan for all weathers – a day in London can bring extreme heat and then hailstones. If you’re climbing up to Parliament Hill you’ll be especially grateful for this piece of advice.
- Make sure to explore the back streets and never judge a shop or café by their frontage. Many restaurants in this area are just hiding their coolness in the back.
- Take your time in the parks and suck up the fresh air.
- Before you leave the house check on the internet for farmers markets and jumble sales you could frequent along the way.
- Wear comfy shoes, but not trainers or you won’t get in the clubs later.
- Make sure your camera is well charged – you’re sure to want to take plenty of photos when you see the beautiful views from Parliament Hill and Primrose Hill, and all the sights in Camden Town.
- Shop around before you purchase anything on Camden Market, the prices can vary greatly.
- Save money by visiting one of the supermarkets for your lunch rather than the Hampstead Heath deli shops where everyone panic buys.
- There are loads of bars in Camden, some a lot better than others so have a scout around before you commit to buying a drink.