Monday, October 14, 2013

September 18, Wednesday Last Day in London

Sept 18, 2013
Today was our final day we could do anything in London since we leave tomorrow to fly home. On my list was to go to Grays Antiques, and the Camden Town flea market I'd been told about. Camden Town had turned the old underground horse stables into many small shops similar to a swapmeet. It would be a good place to possibly find some vintage or antique items, and it was a great place for tourists to buy small gifts.

The weather was nice today and we walked the couple blocks over to Grays. It was open at 9:30 but the majority of the 200 booths were still locked up. Most were jewelry vendors and Oriental art. We walked quickly through the upstairs and I didn't see anything I wanted to look at further. So we went downstairs to more shops. Again, the majority were closed with roll down grates so you could see the items enticing you but couldn't touch or buy. I found one dealer who was open with lots of antique pocket watches and asked if he had any Victorian ladies ones. He had some very dainty ones with tiny seed pearls around them, or miniature paintings but most were around L300. I finally said do you have any that don't work? At this point if I found one that could just be for show I'd be happy. But he didn't have any of those either. I got a nice show of all the pretty ones he had but had to walk around with just a visual memory of them. 

We went out the back door and went into another door that took us to yet another building. These were mostly closed too but I found one booth that had some mourning brooches in it so I went upstairs to find the receptionist who said she could come down and unlock it. She brought out a couple items I was looking at but since I already had two brooches I'd bought recently, I decided these weren't really a great price that would make me buy them. The receptionist talked to me more about the jewelry and said you really know your stuff. Could you tell me what something else was because they didn't know some of the dates of things. So I pointed to a couple things I recongized, and she thanked me. She said Grays Antiques had a blog with lots of mourning jewelry on some posts and she went upstairs to her computer to find it and actually printed out the articles for me. I thought that was very nice of her. Another vendor who was interested in Victorian dresses joined us and she introduced me to her. I handed them both my card with my blog address on it, and she gave me one with their blog address. Many of the items they post about are actually in the store for sale. So you locals there might take a look. 
Our next trip to Camden Town needed a ride on the Tube and then walking for a couple blocks. When we came out what we first saw were blocks of narrow streets with shops filled with ecletic art, hippie and Goth clothing. I was told most of that had taken over the area but to keep going to get to the horse stables of the flea market. After a couple blocks I started walking into shops and asked for further directions. Each one just gave a vague description but to keep going. So we kept going. 
Finally! There is was!

At first view there were two levels. In the center very wide stairs led to the lower section. I didn't walk long before I found an antique shop. Yay! It was mainly furniture and decor again but right away I found this lovely Edwardian parasol. It was in good condition and very pretty with the tufted embroidery designs on the silk twill canopy. It was tagged at L25 which I thought was an excellent price. 
I walked around a bit more then took it up to the front counter to buy it. The owner was on the phone talking to a dealer for another customer, and one lady (his partner)) was sitting in a chair in front of the counter. While I was waiting I heard a loud "omph!" from a back corner of the shop like someone had coughed or maybe fell. I looked but didn't see anyone. I noticed the lady in the chair was looking back that way too and I asked her if she heard anything. She had and it sounded like someone had fallen and had the wind knocked out of them. She got up and we both walked back there but no one was in the store and we didn't see anything that could have caused the noise. 
We went back to the counter and told the owner what we had just heard, and thought we may have heard a ghost. He didn't blink and said there have been times when he was downstairs in the horse hospital at night after closing and had heard the clip-clop of horse hooves. So we told him he now had a new ghost story to add to their history. 
Oh, and they sold me the parasol for L20! 
We continued on downstairs to a third level and begain seeing more of the original horse stalls that were converted to shops. I never saw any more antiques but did find a couple neck scarves to buy as gifts. 

At the final level we saw more and more brass plaques showing its past history as a horse stable.

Even the trash can was art. 

Then we saw these amazing brass figures coming out of the walls and even the floors.

Just as we were leaving I saw a couple more booths that had some sewing machines in them and took some stealth photos of them. The first one was a Jones like the handcrank machine I have.

We walked back out on the streets and headed back to our hotel. But just outside the horse stables we saw this, the Camden locks. We recognized that it was similar to the Panama Canal locks we had seen last year but on a much smaller scale. We had missed this on our walk looking for the stables, and stood and watched the water levels being changed inside the locks for the small canal boats to go through. 
And the walk continued back to the Tube passing these interesting buildings. 

Back at the hotel we talked about what else we wanted to see in the few hours we had left. We decided on Big Ben and the surrounding areas there. So we got back on the Tube and when we came up the steps, Big Ben was right above us. Moments later I was able to take a video of it as it was chiming the hour. 

Right behind it was the House of Parliment and its Gothic style really stood out. 
We walked across the bridge to get a great view of London and the London Eye. I asked hubby if he wanted to go on that but his vertigo on heights couldn't handle it, so we just enjoyed the view from here. And again you can see the storm clouds looming in the background. 
We walked over to Westminster Cathedral and the surrounding park with all its statues of famous people.  
Besides the great statue of Winston Churchhill they also had Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln.
Then it was time to head back to our hotel and start packing. This is my view of the escalator going down to the Tube. I'm sure glad we didn't have to walk down stairs for this. 

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