When I first moved to London three years ago there wasn’t a lot happening on Redchurch Street … but my, how things have changed. With the opening of Terence Conran’s traditional British caff Albion at Boundary Project, as well as a slew of pop-up shops, boutiques and galleries, not to mention its proximity to Shoreditch House and Tea, Redchurch Street has evolved into East London’s latest destination for hipsters and cool kids.
But don’t let that put you off. Especially when there are so many delights to be discovered at Caravan, which moved from its Spitalfields Market location 18 months ago. The brainchild of interiors stylist Emily Chalmers, this cosy and welcoming boutique is filled with the kind of lovely stuff you never knew you really wanted (or so desperately needed), like angel wings for candles, toadstool lamps and white ceramic owl money boxes.
It’s superbly edited and excellent for last-minute gifts, especially for those who love their stuff feminine and quirky with a vintage edge. And you can pick up some exceptionally well-priced things and get change from a tenner, like ceramic animal jugs (£8.50 each), small furry deers (£9.95) and hare snowdomes (£8.50).
Caravan is also the main retail outlet for Deborah Bowness’ distinctive hand-printed wallpaper, as well as the main UK stockist for iconic Jielde lamps. There’s also a variety of glass display domes from £29 – perfect for showcasing your favourite pieces Victorian-style (see what I mean about things you never knew you wanted?).
The online shop is equally lovely, with a good selection of some of the shop’s best-sellers, as well as a new
sy and inspirational blog.
Keep an eye out for super-friendly shop-cat Bagpuss, who may just come and rub his head on your shins as you consider your purchases.
3 Redchurch Street
London E2 7DJ
Tel. 020 7033 3532
Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
Click here for a Wee Birdy map
11am – 6.30pm every day until Christmas Eve.
Special late night opening until 8pm every Thursday
Click here for nearby shops I’ve reviewed in East London.
In all my (two) years of posting about Christmas wreaths, I don't think I've ever stumbled across anything as unashamedly romantic and pretty as this antique garden rose and rose hip wreath (from £90) by The Real Flower Company.
I also love the festive simplicity of this rose hip and ivy wreath. The last delivery before Christmas is Wednesday 23rd December – perfect for a lovely (and unexpected) last-minute gift as well as
a welcoming door decoration. They also offer same-day delivery to any
London postcode from their Selfridges concession.
1. Fortnum and Mason biscuits
A tin of biscuits may be a bit of a Christmas cliché, but Fortnum’s Piccadilly Biscuit Selection, £13.95, is a particularly elegant option, with a pretty tin of butter biscuits in six different flavours (golden crunch, date & walnut, lemon curd, ginger, macadamia nut and chocolate pearl).
2. Colour-changing umbrella
I’m fascinated by this umbrella, which features a white London skyline on a black background. When it rains, the water turns the skyline a rainbow of colours. Genius. £30 from Squid London at Beyond the Valley.
3. Shepherd’s diary
Hand-bound in Shepherd’s London bindery in a range of decorative Japanese papers. The slim-line pocket diary is £19.50 and available from the Rochester Row & Southampton Row stores, as well as Liberty.
4. Ormonde Jayne’s Tiare fragrance
Bypass the department store perfume box sets and head to Ormonde Jayne for the exquisite new Tiare fragrance, which features mandarin, orange flower and Sicilian lime in the top notes, with a ‘heart’ of Tiare, freesia, water lilies, jasmine, orris and ylang. £68 for 50ml Eau de Parfum.
5. Pigeon hankies
Brilliance in a hankie, by London-based designers Thornback and Peel. £18 from Liberty.
6. Alex Monroe bird ring
Wonderfully detailed and delicate work. Alex is a South-Londoner, too. £132 from Alex Monroe.
7. Grayson Perry Tate Modern scarf
Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry has turned his attention to the Tate Modern in this beautifully illustrated silk scarf. (Thanks to Kate Wilson of Little Doodles for the tip!). £63.61, from the Tate Modern shop.
8. Mimi leather purse
This 'Merlin' leather purse is by East London designer Mimi, and features gold foil stamping by Lucky Bird. £37, from Mimi.
9. Rococo Chocolates
I love Rococo as much for their distinctive blue and white packaging as for their delicious chocolates – and this box of rose, violet, lavender and geranium creams (so very English) is a winner for under a tenner. "Fiori e Cioccolata" 8 flower fondant creams, £9.95.
10. Mittens necklace
Toasty mittens to hang around your neck, £63, by Tatty Devine.
Cracker crib notes:
What? Emma Bridgewater Union Jack Crackers.
From? Not on the High Street.
How much? £12.99 for a pack of six.
The booty? A novelty, hat, snap and a motto.
Cracker crib notes:
What? Christmas print crackers.
From? Cath Kidston.
How much? £12.50.
The booty? Each cracker contains a small prize, a motto and a paper hat.
Cracker crib notes:
What? Splendid Sweets Mini Crackers.
From? Fortnum and Mason.
How much? £12.
The booty? An ‘entertaining scroll’, snap and assorted wooden stickers of teddy bears, reindeer, angels, Christmas trees and baubles.