Paradise by way of Kensal Green

20 Mar

Yesterday’s weather was so sunny and inspiring that I found myself aching to take a nice, long walk to a place I had never been. This place turned out to be a vintage flea market inside a pub in Kensal Green. I love days when I can walk to my destination, without having to give a second thought to bus timetables or Oyster card top-ups. Getting to know our own neighbourhoods is something we should all take the time to do.

Guests entering the flea market

Steve found out about this one-time flea market online. We had certainly never visited a flea market within a pub, but I am a firm believer than anything taking place within a pub can’t be too bad. The £1 entry fee went directly to the Sustainability Institute in South Africa, so we had nothing to lose.

First impressions

We were greeted by a lovely representative from the Sustainability Institute, and were kindly asked to pay our £1 entry fee. Upon entering, we found vintage items in every corner of the pub. Vendors had set up camp wherever they could. No one was pushy; everyone allowed us time to browse and enjoy the event.

The prices varied from cheap to expensive depending on which booth you visited. I found a lovely owl made out of seashells from the 70s that I secretly wanted to buy for £5, but my boyfriend quickly reminded me that owls aren’t nearly as cool as I make them out to be. So much to my disappointment, I put the owl back and hoped it would be adopted by someone else.

Anyone for cake?

We made our way upstairs to find even more booths. I loved the chaos and random placement of vintage hats, clothing, and house wares. A trip down a narrow hallway found us in a lovely patio garden where fresh baked cakes and pastries were being sold under the sunshine. What a delight! It was the perfect setting for a tea party. We refrained from eating any sugary cakes, only because we had lunch plans immediately afterwards. But boy, was it tempting.

We walked out of the event empty-handed, but that didn’t matter. It was well worth the trip, and we did our small part for charity.

Post flea market fun

It was then off to explore Kensal Green’s other offerings, which included lunch at Minkie’s Deli. I had been wanting to try this particular deli for months, thanks to its adorably small building and outdoor seating. They only cook with fresh ingredients, and it certainly shows. Two bagel sandwiches and a pecan tart later, our stomachs were fully satisfied.

After lunch, the sun was still shining. Those of us who live in the Big Smoke have to find every reason to stay outside when the sun is gleaming through the clouds. Being an Atlanta native, I took the sun for granted until I moved to London. I now consider it a rare luxury.

We wandered back towards Queen’s Park where we strolled until we reached the park café. We made ourselves at home on an empty bench and ordered some wine to share. What a perfect Saturday.

Return to Paradise

After a quick dinner at home, we returned to the Paradise Pub to take part in the second charity event of the day – comedy for £2. Our expectations weren’t high (we have become veterans of attending cheap comedy shows with not-so-funny acts), but we figured even a bad show would be worth £2. And once again, the money went to the Sustainability Institute.

Paradise Pub

Two of acts were alright, while the other three left much to be desired. We were, of course, made to interact with the comedians since we were in the front row. The strangest person was a girl who was in a weird soldier-like costume and sequined hat. She tried to be funny by getting way too close to people and asking weird questions. When Steve answered one of her questions by saying Madonna was “alright,” she demanded a more straightforward answer. When another lady in the audience shared her dream with everyone else, she was told her dream wasn’t good enough. Not at all funny. Just weird. And sort of rude. But hey – we enjoyed our wine and had a few laughs. What more could we ask for at the small price of £2?

We ended the night at one of our favourite spots: The Diner. Its milkshakes, hamburgers, and American pancakes remind me of home. Because of this, we often find ourselves here on Saturdays. We wanted to share a milkshake, but were told they were closing (two hours before they should have been). I inquired as to why this was the case, and they informed us that they were having serious staffing issues. However, we were able to convince them to let us stay under the condition that we only ordered a milkshake. Success.

Moral of the story

Sometimes the best things to do in London are only a walk away. You needn’t spend loads of money to find entertainment in this city. A simple Google search and an open mind will often find you at some of the city’s coolest offerings. Get out there and explore your own neck of the woods. You’ll be surprised what you find.

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Posted by on March 20, 2011 in Lynsey Free


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