With things a little tighter for most of us this year, it's great to find a place where we can still feed our addictions without breaking the bank.
That place is certainly Alfie's Antiques Market in north west London, where I have just spent an extremely enjoyable and fruitful two days. Whatever it is that you collect, you're bound to find it here. In fact, I challenge you to browse without being tempted.
The first point of call has to be Beth Adams, on the ground floor, slap-bang in the middle of the Church Street facade. Her panoramic windows are packed with an colourful variety of quality stock from jazzy Art Deco ceramics, to 1930s chintzware and nursery ware, to gorgeous 20thC glass, and more traditional ceramics. Beth's prices are nothing if not reasonable and fair, which explains why her stand is always so busy, with plenty of new treasures to see each time. (Below, from left: Beverley, Mark & Beth)
Next stop has to be her mother, Beverley, who has recently moved into the market from a shop across the road, and has not one, but three, stands! A dizzying array of fantastic late 19thC and early 20thC teacups and saucers is at the centre of her main stand on the top floor, and is surrounded by beautifully displayed (and beautiful) ceramics ranging from blue and white to Moorcroft, Doulton and Deco. Traditional teacups and saucers have become immensely popular again, partly due to the revival of cupcakes (or fairy cakes) which even Posh 'n Becks are rumoured to enjoy! With years of experience behind them, what these two ladies don't know about ceramics between them isn't worth knowing. I'm lucky to be able to count them as friends.
Opposite Beverley's stand upstairs, you'll find Ian Broughton, who runs the eccentric, but very stylish and cool, 'Manic Attic'. Ian specialises in the 1950s, be it a fine lamp base, set of cocktail glasses, or even a tea towel! As you wander around the centre, you can't help but recognise him, as he dresses in 1950s clothing with his hair arranged in a '50s quiff. I found a rather fab '50s vase in his shop, which I bought for an arguably affordable £30 - maybe you can spot it in the image here? It's by Bay Keramik, and I believe the design to be by the notable Bodo Mans. Research will confirm it! As with Beth and Beverley, Ian's prices will always make you happy.
On the way back down the stairs, don't forget to visit Geoffrey Robinson for amazing 20thC glass and ceramics, as well as Wesley for yet more fine quality traditional ceramics, and Victor Caplin for all your bead needs - but more on them next time. Just like I have found, once bitten, you'll be smitten. You're sure to add this to your list of regular haunts!