Owing to the late hours, Vanessa and I didn't leave the house until 3pm. *wrinkling my nose in disgust*
So Richmond, Hampstead, and any local stately houses were off the list because they close at 5. On Tuesday I had discovered Camden for the first time, alone, not having been there since I was a wee thing. So I dragged Vanessa out there because she is funky enough to appreciate it.
Still...we walked there through Regent's Park, past the London Zoo and through Primrose Hill. After all the walking yesterday I felt like giving up when we got to the Zoo, but walking is all about putting one foot in front of the other.
Camden is cool. As soon as we got there, V detoured into a scarf shop and picked up two, one for herself and one for her sister (yellow, she loves yellow - even her pickup truck is yellow...). Vanessa, predictably, chose a true camel beige. She is into that and olive green at the moment. So I yelled at her a bit and she relented and picked a beige with red and black stripes.
After he found out we were not sisters, the shop guy couldn't understand how a Brit could know an American and we didn't bother to explain. But two Korean-looking girls walked in and he asked us whether they were related; I said no, even though they looked as similar to each other as Vanessa and me.
Also, he established, with repetition, that my voice is ever so polite. And he gave V her two scarves at a considerable discount.
Basically, for the rest of the afternoon, we wandered around going, "Wow." We reached Camden Lock, and turned off into the indoor marketplace. They were prepping for a fashion show, which looked as if it might be a bit Goth. V wanted to know the difference between Punk and Goth, and as she asked, we conveniently passed two shops side by side for easy illustration. We both agreed that if we did have to go "off mainstream" we would choose Goth because there is some elegance in the velvet, lace, and elements of the 18th and 19th centuries. Whereas we would not be punk because, well, because...
Anyway, V is already a hippie. She has been wearing gypsy skirts since they were invented, she loves knitted ethnic bags - bought one in Soho yesterday and had to restrain herself in Camden where they were overabundant.
You know, she owns 50 skirts.
I have a weakness for Chinese/Japanese decorative arts. I dived right into a Chinese tailor's shop and oohed and aahed over the lovely fabrics and elegant shapes. I spotted a size 8 black velvet coat with the straight collar, satin frogging down the front and two side slits. It was perfect and the only one. On sale from £75 to £45, I hesitated and he dropped it to £35; another moment and it was down to £30. Nice buy.
We went into a batik art gallery, where V was seriously tempted to buy a tiny one. She spent that long in Thailand and only today discovered how amazing it is. The owner creates them himself but also has many artists contributing to the collection, and he described the entire process. It is essentially like working in negative, with wax to delineate the design at first, and then later to protect the areas that you don't want to change with each dying stage.
At another stall we each bought a skirt made of assorted panels of rich Asian silks, tied round the waist with a nice ribbon (£4.99 each). V bought a pair of hair chopsticks and a headband for 89p each.
Then we wandered into a vintage shop and found a delightful chest of scarves. We are both scarf girls. This week I have taken to tying my scarves around my head in either Regency or 60s style, depending on the length. Today hers was around her waist. I picked a Pucci-style print, heavy enough for my waves, and V found a very light purply-pink thing.
We were tempted to attend the fashion show at 8pm, but there was food for dinner waiting in the fridge, and I wasn't too keen on finding the way home from Camden in the dark. Already as we were leaving around 7, the evening crowd was moving in. Lots of men in drag and folks shot through with bits of metal. The percentage of cannabis-smoking in the neighbourhood must have jumped 100% by then too. The air was redolent...
So we went home on the bus and had rack of lamb for dinner. Followed by some of those chocolates we bought yesterday at Fortnum's. Once again the evening has slipped away (we held our own fashion show), but I intend to have my head on the pillow by 2am. A tall order, judging by the new activities V is taking up. She read this blog pre-post and had a good giggle. Also, she has just measured the length of her hair and is now sitting down with her current book about the Killing Fields in Cambodia.
It is now 1.27 am.