I have been wine tasting too many times for someone who persists in knowing nothing about wine.
But I do know this. A dry crisp white with a good friend can take you far away from November in London. To tasting the first of summer or filling up crystal glasses on Christmas Eve.
Take someone wine tasting and you get a proper conversation. So going with a great friend was the perfect gift.
We went to Bedales in Borough Market. It’s one of those cozy, special places – lit up with candles and small wooden tables – made for rescuing people from dark winter nights.
Casual but classy, our expert host – Angelo van Dyk – was very knowledgeable and took a small, intimate group of us through a combination of unusual wines in a session called ‘The Lost Grapes’.
And the last one? By that point I can’t remember or read my writing, which says it all
If anyone goes…please find out and tell me!
One of my favourite places to spend a Saturday is the Northcote Road.
Most of South West London seems to agree with me, as the place is always packed with that diverse, yet stereotypical mix of people which sums up Clapham Junction. Families with kids strolling around the markets, set against groups of twenty-somethings starting all-day benders in superhero costumes, while the rest of us are having brunch, either with a smoothie…or with a wine. Anything goes.
I find a stroll down Northcote Road can affirm why I choose to live in London, and particularly, this corner of South West London. Although sometimes I wonder if this is because it gives a false sense of lifestyle akin to starring in your own feel-good London film like ‘Notting Hill’ or ‘Love Actually’…(which would be a worrying uncoupling from reality). ‘Oh HEY! Just buying some artisan bread on the Northcote road and bumping into my friend!’
It is an established fact that Northcote Road gets buzzier and more ‘high street’ (read skankier) the further you travel down towards Clapham Junction station. This is perhaps why a place with so many high-end baby shops can also be attacked by mass rioters…
My favourite things about Northcote Road (in a classified order):
The Weekend Market
- The bread stall – It is nice to be able to buy sausage rolls and feel somehow that this is a sophisticated and authentic choice. You just don’t get the same buzz from going into Greggs.
2. The flower stall – Beautiful flowers and good options for buying plants if you can’t go to a garden centre. (Watch out for bees though. It is very awkward if you are buying a plant with a bee on it and you are afraid of bees).
- TWO Oliver Bonas stores – I spend a disproportionate amount of my life buying greetings cards and gifts from Oliver Bonas. But its great fun browsing cookery books in there.
- So many brunch/lunch places – Byron (which I have waxed lyrical on before), Brew (which is amazing for brunch) and loads of Italian restaurants – my favourite of which is Franco Manca
- TK Maxx – FULL of bargains (and, as you may have guessed is towards the ‘station side of town’). I have spent way too many rainy Saturdays in TK Maxx getting overexcited about reduced price Le Cruset for someone of my age
- Space NK – No explanation needed. Always fun. Always makes you feel glamorous
Gourmet food shopping
- Jamie Oliver’s Recipease – you can get cookery lessons there AND buy a ‘ready to roast” lamb. But I haven’t been able to justify this (yet)
- The kitchen shop (La Cuisiniere) – I like going in there as it makes me feel like a grown up, as I want all the things. That is until I realise I can’t really afford anything and need to leave
- The two butchers – there is nothing like buying freshly hacked meat to feel truly human and middle class. I was once shamed by a butcher in Dove & Sons for buying meat in supermarkets, which did teach me a lot
- Northcote Records – this is really a list of things I like to do in the DAY but NSR is a great bar and has fantastic live music. You just probably can’t go at 11am.
Things I would change about the Northcote Road:
- The kids – without wanting to sound like King Herod, there are a lot of children. Perhaps too many on little scooters to watch out for. Don’t get me wrong, I think kids are lovely and all…but they make me feel old and trip me up.
- The outfits men wear – why does every man on the Northcoat Road have to wear brightly coloured trousers and boating shoes. You can only pull this off in ‘The talented Mr Ripley’ in my opinion.
- Why isn’t there a Zara? Why isn’t there a H&M?? There is a New Look, there is a Clarks, there is a Debenhams, there is even a Jack Wills for Chrissakes…