Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

4 for the price of 1

August 28th, 2010 · 12 Comments

Today we were assigned to explore the Camden Street Market and the Stable Market. Four stops north of Goodge station we emerged into a neighborhood where London’s infamous punk culture is still thriving. Head shops, tattoo parlors, and jazz and rock bars lined the street as we made our way to the Camden Street Market. Residing in an empty lot designated for the market, the rows of tents provided the eager shoppers with clothing. After only a few minutes the group realized that most of the stands, which were run mostly by Southern and Eastern Asian immigrants, were hocking the same articles of clothing. Cheaply made summer dresses, sweaters, and tee shirts sporting ironic sayings and American pop culture icons were only a few of the items that we passed over and over again as we looked through all of the different tents. Although most of the garments did not have price tags on them, the proprietors were quick to offer “great” deals to us, which would become even “greater” deals after we had begun to walk away.

After emerging from the Camden Street Market we searched the neighborhood for the Stable Market. After around 30 minutes of searching (passing pubs with such colorful names as, “The Elephants Head,” “The Spread Eagle,” or my personal favorite “The World’s End”) we finally stumbled upon a crowd of people looking over the edge of a bridge. As we looked over ourselves to see what all of the fuss was, and soon uncovered the Camden Lock Market, and the Stable Market beyond it. These made up a sprawling market that seemed to run for miles.  In the Camden Street Market, the shop keepers were mostly English citizens who made their living selling among other things, hand made crafts, art, clothing, and antiques.  The shops at the center of Stable Market are housed in the dozens of old stables where over 250 of London’s horses were housed in the centuries before the automotive revolution. The market boasted as much diversity in its food as it did in its vast variety of vintage clothing. The mass of stalls prepared food from every continent (including Antarctica whose population of penguins eat mostly raw fish), which was perhaps, a vague reminder of the worldwide empire that was once ruled from London, as well as a sign of the how multicultural the city has become.  After three hours of adventuring through the market we were unable to see all of it’s shops or follow every vein of the market. Some highlights we saw were a spontaneous drum circle that had sprouted in the middle of an African drum store, a stall that offered foot messages to customers by having them soak their feet in a tank filled with fish, and cup cakes so small and well decorated that they would have put anything on the food network to shame. After a quick meal by the little river that snaked through the neighborhood, we gathered the bounty of dresses and skirts the girls of the group had acquired and regretfully said goodbye to the market, vowing to return again.

For more information see http://www.stablesmarket.com/

And for Time Out’s guide to the Camden Markets see http://admin.timeout.com/london/shopping/features/8798/Camden_Market_guide.html

Tags: 2010 Emily · 2010 Kaitlin · 2010 MatthewG · Uncategorized

Camden Town: London

August 26th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Our adventure through London commenced with a magical trek from Arran House to Euston St. where we crossed the scariest intersection ever, and got onto the Underground at the Warren Street Station. We passed several colleges on the short walk there. Upon entering the Tube, we were nearly stampeded by what we assumed was a mass of English people fleeing Godzilla, but apparently it was just the normal speed people walk on the left side of the playbill decorated escalator (only the right side is for standing). On the approximately 10 minute ride, we noticed a lot of traditional religious dress, including Jewish men wearing yarmulkes and Muslim women wearing head scarves. This manner of dress was replaced in a dramatic way upon our exit from the station onto main street of Camden Town, part of the Borough of Camden in northwest London, by another form of culturally-influenced dress.  The downtown area was filled with many aspects of thriving goth and punk sub-cultures. Tattoo parlors advertised themselves with what looked like controversial picket signs, reflecting a style rooted in subversive movements. Punk and alternative clothing outlets (some with plastic mannequin legs covered in ripped tights in place of awnings), independent record sales on corners, and many, many piercings filled every inch of the street (We received 4 piercing pamphlets within 5 minutes of arriving). Dreadlocks and mohawks ruled the day. This was very much in keeping with the spirit of Camden Town, though not in regards to its original namesake, the 1st Earl Camden, but rather by the integral part it played (and continues to play) in the development of the goth, punk, and underground music sub-cultures.
In addition to still being a gathering place for rebellious youth, Camden Town also features a huge variety of ethnic cuisine in fast food or market formats.  The Camden Town Market appears to be an eccentric, large, and broad conglomeration of peoples and things from throughout the world.  Throughout the Market, there were large bronze statues of lions in a Sphinx-like pose, an image that was repeated in all of the Market’s advertising.  These figures’ effect on the population was amusing to behold as tough teens went over to pose with the statues, which represent the area that reflects their anti-conformist natures.  Unfortunately, when we were preparing to take a picture of one of the monuments, we were caught in heavy rain which might have damaged the camera, and turned our return trip to the Arran House into a much less pleasant and enjoyable endeavor, as we had arranged our Tube departure to allow us to walk most of the way home, through Bloomsbury via Camden Town to Tottenham Court Road, where we changed direction and took Bloomsbury Street until it became our own Gower Street. On a brighter note, we did get to see some of those awesome Harry Potter-esque double decker buses.

Tags: 2010 Elizabeth · 2010 Jesse · 2010 MatthewM

A Dickinsonian Instant Favorite: Camden Town

August 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

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We arrived at the Camden Town markets around 9:30, after learning that the markets open around 10. In a matter of a half hour, we had found at least 4 different kinds of markets. The first one we explored was the Camden Market, a simple and small market with many snarky T-shirts and punk-rock items. All of us had expected this market to be like the markets you read about in books. Instead of the farmer’s market image with the stands of fresh fruits and vegetables, we were surprised to see many basic retail and punk-rock items. Only a few minutes there were needed. Across the street, was the Inverness Street Market which was smaller and consisted of the produce and tourist stands. However a quick turn put us at the base of the beautiful Camden Lock.

An enchanting bridge provided a pathway into the next part of the Camden market scene. These next three markets: Camden Lock, Interchange and Stable were connected with some indoor, some outdoor, and some both. Camden Lock and Interchange were outdoors and consisted of mostly food stands. Stable, our favorite, was a gigantic, mostly indoor market focusing on vintage clothing and antiques but with different vibes and from different cultures. We were surprised to observe that in the markets there was very little diversity amongst the shoppers. There were mostly white, British, young and middle-age shoppers, hardly any families or other ethnicities. The shops themselves though, were diverse in tastes and products from a Middle Eastern furniture store with beautiful chess sets to Cyberdog, a futuristic-themed clothing and accessory store. At one point there were also 6 restaurants in a row, ranging from Japanese, Indonesian, Mexican, BBQ, Indian, and Italian.

Since the tube stop was packed with people coming off, a quick turn onto a side street revealed a quieter neighborhood with few people about. This could mean that the patrons of these markets are not from Camden town and perhaps that many Londoners are drawn to it as a mecca of the trendy, funky, and diverse.

Having heard so much about Camden Town we were looking forward to spending the day browsing the markets.  However, we found that 3 hours was sufficient to get the feel of the area and its visitors.

Tags: Aidan · Alli · Amanda · Markets

Jeyla: Architecture and British Sarcasm, what could be better?

August 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

   Traveling through the Thames River to Greenwich was a magnificent experience which allowed me to view a city that is not always known to visitors or even individuals living in London. Upon walking to the boarding point I realized that Big Ben was visible from where we were standing and has made me realize that I am actually exploring London. Yesterday’s travels were exciting and new; but I was left feeling that I was just in another big city like New York or Los Angeles. Seeing the landmark of London brought upon me this new recognition. The actual boat ride allowed us to view many parts of the city and get me excited for the rest of the trips that we will make throughout London; however, I have also recognized a new interest for architecture.  I have noticed the mixture of structures the first day in London when I traveled to Liverpool Street but it seems that such juxtaposition is all throughout the city and while traveling on the water one can distinguish the historical places that were build centuries ago from modern buildings used by corporations and residential buildings which exuded creativity. Walking in Greenwich has allowed me to set my foot back in time. The structures whether it be the Queen’s House or the metal planks left from the industrial period once again shows a diversity that exists in London where the history  has integrated with Victorian and Industrial periods.

   Upon leaving the Market that was taking place next to the pub, Anthony, Flow and I decided to take the 188 bus through Elephant and Castle and other neighborhoods back home. I was interested in viewing the class and race differences that exist in Gower Street area and those which exist in Elephant and Castle. The difference was definitely present, not only in skin color but also the stores that occupied the streets and the types of housing that we have discussed previously. Upon getting back to Gower Street, we made a visit to a local technology store where an unexpected conversation took place with local salesmen in which the topic of President Obama and how we feel about him rose up as well as our traveling plans and our feelings about London. Overall, I found them friendly and I loved the British humor that they possessed. I am looking forward to interacting more with the British in London and once we get to Norwich. Later that evening, we once again decided to randomly take a bus and head wherever it would take us. We ended up in Camden Town which is probably my favorite part of the city. Filled with rockers of our age and a mix of Columbian music and small boutiques, Camden Town is a place for leisure.

Tags: Jeyla


August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

DSC07935[[On our way out from the Greenwich Observatory we sat down at the steps and had a short discussion as a group where Professor Qualls spoke on the concept of time, and how we can use it as a tool to observe as well as analyze the different communities we were to explore in our time here. And that is just what I have attempted to do today.]]

Time. I moved slowly.

DSC07918As a group, we took a somewhat speedy boat ride through the Thames river in order to get to the Greenwich. This boat ride was… fascinating. We saw various popular spaces such as Big Ben, The London Bridge, The Tower Bridge, The Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, among many others. The whole time we were on the boat I only moved if necessary, to get a better view for instance. I was mostly touched by the breath taking view of Big Ben, finally the sight of one of the London’s most popular icons, the one I have always associated with the city. Just yesterday I had only seen the sight of Big Ben in pictures, three thousand four hundred and forty miles (a 6-hr flight) later I am here facing the marvelous structure. It was a slow moment of glory for me.

Time. We moved fast. They moved slow.

After arriving at our final destination Greenwich Pier. We walked through the Royal Park to get to the Greenwich Observatory where the Prime Meridian is located as well as an Astronomy Museum and a really cool clock exhibit. We left here and walked through town a bit, where we saw various interesting places including the architectural marvel of the University of Greenwich. Then went to eat and to a cool market where I purchased earrings made of Chandelier crystals for only 1 pound.  All of this was done by approximately 2pm… we were moving fast.

They people in Greenwich moved slow. Since we visited many popular (touristy) locations, mostly frequented by tourist, people moved slow, at their own rhythm. People sat peacefully at the Royal Park, they paced calmly through the museum and through the University. People moved slowly.

Time. People moved fast.

I went to Camden town, a cool funky place filled with young fast moving people. Everyone had lots of energy. There were people everywhere chatting with friends, shopping and eating at various local eateries. For some reason, I was a little surprised to see a few well-know stores from the U.S. such as: The Gap, Aldo, H&M and American Apparel. I liked this place a lot, time went by pretty quickly. People moved quickly and I moved at my own rhythm.

So far, the concept of time in the different communities I have been to has definitely been an interesting variation, influenced by numerous factors such as the location of the community and people’s purpose for being there. Time, whether it goes by slow or fast impressively projects  certain truths I have been previously unaware of, I now see time in a different way… and I am glad for my timely lesson. Thanks professor!

Tags: Flow

Camden Town Adventures!

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

So for our first independent day in London, Maddie and Andrew tubed  (that’s a word now) to the oh so amazing Camden Town. Before we left, our only perception of Camden was from New Jersey, which is a shithole. Needless to say, we were both more than pleasantly surprised. Three stops down from Goodge St. we disembarked the train and feasted our eyes on the eclectic streets of Camden Town. To quote a friend of Andrew’s, it is “The Venice Beach of London.” He wasn’t kidding. It is a counter-cultural Mecca abundant with youthful vibes and great music. The town seemed to be divided into sections by musical genre. We initially entered into a world of punk rock, black leather corsets, and tattoo parlors. We traveled through a world of hippies, metalheads, new agers, and everything in between. It was a maze of marketplaces, reminiscent of the Middle Eastern shouk where merchants peddle their wares, expecting haggling.

Neither of us think we saw a single person over forty. It is a major hangout for youth, especially those musically oriented. Amongst the record shops and live music cafes, we encountered a diverse mix of people, sounds, and smells ranging from France to Bangladesh to Thailand and back. People from all walks of life are not only welcome, but encouraged to spend time in Camden Town. The people we spoke to were very friendly and eager to discuss their unique perspective as either a resident or frequenter of the area. Both of us agreed that our time in Camden will be never forgotten. Our mutual love of music and interesting people will guarantee that. We highly recommend that EVERYONE IN THE WORLD visits Camden Town.

Visit Camden or this guy will pierce you in your sleep!

Visit Camden or this guy will pierce you in your sleep!

Tags: Andrew B · Maddie