In the space of a few decades the Camden Market area has grown from a modest arts and crafts arena surrounded by a gaggle of shops selling everything from junk to genuine antiques into what is reckoned to be one of the top tourist attractions in London.
There is estimated to be over a thousand shops and food stalls jostling for custom in what are five more or less distinct areas. Weekends are congested as an army of mostly young tourists - more interested in alternative fashion and photographing body-pierced and tattooed goths and punks than fine art - descend on the north London destination.
It is worth noting that Camden Town tube (subway) becomes exit only on Sunday afternoons to ensure safety on the tube platforms. The area buzzes at its loudest at weekends but many parts are open during the rest of the week.
To get the full experience – a unique combination of the edgy and friendly – best go on Saturdays or Sundays. You might get confused in the warren of cave-like shops and open-air foods stalls – think Blade Runner without the replicants. But the general direction of the human tide is northwards along Chalk Farm Road. Less than a mile away is your escape route Chalk Farm tube station.
But first you’ve earned a treat and across the road from the station is Marine Ices – where the Mansi family is into its fourth generation of providing the best ice cream in London.
Before then you will have encountered amongst other market sites the picturesque Camden Lock set by the Regent’s Canal and the cobbled Stables Market, which was once a horse hospital. The horses were treated for injuries suffered pulling barges along the canal’s towpath.
And you will have passed the Roundhouse concert venue, which started life as a giant turntable engine shed, in which steam trains were able to turn round.
There is no where else in London – and probably the UK – where the interest of young trendies and arts and crafts enthusiasts meet in such a heady atmosphere.