During my first year as a student I would do my weekly food shop at the nearest supermarket. Circumstantially the said supermarket wasn't student-friendly, and they knew it - they had cornered the market and were laughing all the way to the bank. Amidst the impoverished period that was my university life, I found the beauteous discovery of local markets. Excited, and looking for a bargain, my usual weekly spend was halved. All the fruits and vegetables, meat and eggs were 40, sometimes 50% cheaper than the supermarket. Get in.
Since graduating I have decided to keep shopping at markets, especially for fresh produce. I've found it's better for the economy, healthier for you (because the produce is local), and I like to spend my money on more exciting things than groceries.
My local market is Blackheath Market, a mere ten minute drive away. Blackheath Market isn't any old market, it has a history. It's common superstition that old buildings and old land retains some of the charm and pull of the times of yesteryear. Times when the place in question was as popular as the new places are nowadays.
Lloyds Estates bought the market in 912; Buffalo Bill's Circus visited the market during 1913; and it has since been coverted into what it is today after stallholders purchased the market in the late seventies. You learn something new every day.
Inside the market
Blackheath Market certainly has variety. Layers upon layers, shelves, upon shelves of DVD's, puzzles, books, and films are crammed into the stalls. Consumables are at the front and back of the market, with everything else in between.
The fresh fruit and vegetables stalls at the front of the market stock every day, British produce like apples, leeks, carrots and cabbage, as well as the imported, slightly more exotic foods like cherries and citrus fruits. At the back of the market you'll find the butchers who sell out of chicken most mornings, but they usually have an array of red meats and (farm and free range), eggs left over.
You'll also find the café at the back of the market, to the right of the butchers. If you don't mind the smell of meat mingling with your food it's a cheap place to grab a sandwich or hot drink.
Halfway down the market are 'comfy chairs' and mobile scooters for the less able, which I really didn't expect to find in a market, let alone in Blackheath. There's also the kitchenware stall. Now, I'm a bit of a magpie when it comes to cute muffin tins, glossy baking trays and ceramic goods. You can only imagine my joy when I spotted the sheer variety of cookware that shone like a diamond in the rough.
In a bid to seem sane, I left the kitchenware stand and had a look at the other stalls, with only a few (six) ramekins stuffed into my bag. The quality of goods on offer was surprising. Everything was new, packaged, and a branded item. It's a wonder why we ever shop at the supermarket - there's such great produce available at bargain prices elsewhere.
Blackheath Market is definitely a bargain hunters paradise. Full to the brim with high quality goods at student friendly, and pensioner-aware prices. Even though I am no longer in the 'student' bracket I know I'll go back. Six isn't quite an even number of ramekins you see.