Christmas Gifts: Streets ahead

When you're tired of traipsing all over town, it's time to find one site for all your shopping needs
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Anxious to avoid the chaos of the Christmas high street and shopping centre? The biggest street market in Europe, at Camden Town in north London, could be the answer. The streets between Camden and Chalk Farm tube stations actually embrace four different markets, the Stables, Camden Lock, West Yard and Market Hall, each with a distinct personality and style.

Traders in the Stables deal mainly in antique and imported furniture, home furnishings and collectors items. They sell everything from Moroccan lanterns to mahogany dressers and Sixties lampshades, all significantly cheaper than the equivalent in specialist shops.

The most popular and most bohemian part of the market is Camden Lock, where an endless web of busy, cobbled alleys weave around the Market Hall. Here, funk collides with techno, and Afghan coats clash with silver spacesuits.

Situated alongside the canal is West Yard, which forms a colourful grid of small stalls selling hats, silver jewellery, new clothes, and bizarre bric a brac And for quality crafts, try Market Hall, which encompasses two vast floors. A diverse selection of wares includes mosaic mirrors, carved wood sculptures, paintings and picture frames.

Top row: 1960s Swedish telephone, pounds 38; 1960s clocks (clockwise from top far left): German kitchen clock, pounds 28, orange Japanese clock, pounds 70, Metamec kitchen clock, pounds 28, Krups, pounds 22, Chinese alarm clock, pounds 22, Japanese alarm clock, pounds 22; spiral egg cups, pounds 4.50 each, all at Acme Decorative Arts, Unit 2, The Stables (0958 569198).

Bottom row: Moroccan lantern, pounds 110, from Jagannatha Enterprise, Catacombs, The Stables (0171-267 7772); mosaic and Tiffany-work mirrors, pounds 13.50 to pounds 300, Eileen Mahoney, 302 The Stables (01582 585847);green inflatable muscle jacket, pounds 200, by Wild and Lethal Trash, at Year Zero, The Stables (01493 601927)

Below: antique black silk toppers, from pounds 35, Brian the Hat, Hat Stop,The Gin House, The Stables; 1965 Keracolor TV, pounds 750, CO2, The Stables (0171-609 7597)