Sunday has always been considered the day of rest. Even the big guy upstairs needed a break and Sunday was that day. However, for many of the stall holders located all over London, rest is far from their minds as they have to be up early to nab that great pitch and steel themselves for the baying crowds.
One of these people is Elaine, a work colleague of mine who moonlights as an online search specialist by day but chooses to sell gifts and gadgets at the Sunday Up market (located in the Truman Brewery), unsurprisngly on Sundays. I decided to go and visit her stall, and under her "Tobycat" brand (affectionately named after her cat...er...Toby), she sell an array of strange lamps, watches and lighters (amongst other things) to her adoring public.
After wondering around the vast array of stalls, selling everything from clothes and art to tea (I bought some great green tea from Yumchaa) and gadgets, head to the back of the market where you will find food from across the globe. With stalls selling comestibles from all over the world, including Brazil, Sri Lanka and the standard Japanese and Indian stalls, you really can get a taste of almost anywhere. On this visit, I bought some pao de queijo (or Brazilian cheese balls) and a bánh mì from the lovely Aussie girls at Mon Me (sorry for the awful pic!).
In my eyes, Sunday Up still remains true to many traditional market values. There are a smorgasbord of stalls run by members of the public, open to haggle and eager to sell, all for a modest amount of rent. Spitalfields Market used to be like this but after a (relatively) recent redevelopment, seems to have lost much of its original charm for me.
Some of the traditional stalls remain, but the seemingly smaller space is flanked by an array of chain restaurants and more established retailers. In addition, the food stalls lack the ruggedness and variety of Sunday Up with dedicated units built into the walls with the sole purpose of providing food. They even have running water! It's still a decent market, but if you want character, head across the road and have a wander through Sunday Up.
After all that hustle and bustle, it was time to take it easy and get some caffeine in me. Prufrock Coffee is a small coffee concession in a shop selling clothes (Present on Shoreditch High Street) and a mere stroll from Sunday Up and Spitalfields. A strange combination, but when coffee is this enjoyable, it doesn't really matter where it is made. Serving Square Mile coffee, it is the brainchild of Gwilym Davies (reigning world barista champion). Smooth and nutty with a strange slightly sweet finish, this is really high grade coffee and the perfect pick me up after a hard day at the markets.
Sunday Up Market - Ely's Yard, The Old Truman Brewery E1 6QL
Spitalfields Market - 105a Commercial Streeet, Spitalfields E1 6BG
Prufrock Coffee at Present - 140 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JE