International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
Pop-up shops and food trucks are so last year. This summer in London, it is all about the barge boutique.
A fleet of approximately 15 temporary storefronts is currently floating on Regent's Canal about a mile away from Olympic Park in Mile End Park. On 20 August, the market will float over to Little Venice near Paddington in time for the Paralympic Games, taking place in London from 29 Aug to 9 September.
The market sells everything from handicrafts and artwork to vintage clothes, herbal remedies and homemade Slovakian food – with shops for nearly every interest.
Rawling's Cakes, which specialises in gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods, serves items such as vanilla and blueberry cupcakes, chocolate macadamia nut brownies, and carrot, lime and black cardamom muffins. Equally appetizing is Vareska, a Slovakian cafe run by a mother-daughter team. Signature dishes include Kapustica (sauerkraut, smoked sausage and mushroom soup) served with crusty bread, and plnena placka (a potato, garlic and marjoram pancake filled with sautéed chicken and vegetables).
The Sandwich Barge is an organic cafe selling -- you guessed it -- freshly made sandwiches along with soup, cakes and even baby food. For the Olympics, the menu’s focus is on traditional British fillings like Wiltshire ham and mature cheddar, or marinated chicken with mango chutney. They also have a chandlery service that sells organic boating supplies such as toilet fluid if you're in the market for that.
On the apparel front, Frocks A' Float is a vintage boutique on a narrowboat selling women's clothes and accessories from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Owner Tamsin Elliott also offers her dresses on Etsy. The charming floating hat shop Chapeau Bateaux sells a variety of upmarket modern and vintage-style caps from The New York Hat Co. The shop also hosts canal-side concerts with upcoming singer-songwriters such as Eliza Shaddad and Felix Fables who performed on 25 July.
Slightly more offbeat, Stormvogel, the Herbal Barge, gives natural medicine consultations, sells herbal remedies and holds workshops on herbal medicine making. They claim to be London's first floating herbal apothecary in 350 years.
Word on the Water is a floating second-hand bookshop owned by three men who call themselves "The Doctor", "The Professor" and "The Captain". The barge has a few cosy reading nooks as well as a resident cat curled up in the corner and a rooftop stage where local musicians perform.
The floating market will close on 2 September.