Autumn is often seen as kind of an intermission between summer and winter; the heat has gone and the countdown to Christmas has begun, so it’s time to switch off and reboot before the festivities. But thinking like this means you can waste a lot of opportunities, because there are some places that really come alive in the autumn. I’ve been invited to curate a collection of places in my local area, Greenwich, which are guaranteed to get you into the autumnal swing of things, and falling a little more in love with this time of year.
Chances are you know Greenwich as the tourist destination with an incredible history, a distinctive culture, and a bundle of views that have been snapped on the cameras of millions of tourists. This is all part of its charm, but if you had only 24 hours to experience Greenwich you would be missing out on a hell of a lot if you only visited the more famous attractions. Greenwich village is a hotbed for independent cafes and unique traders, which will keep you coming back if you’re not local, and seeing a whole new side to the village if you are. Here are some of my favourites!
Al Pancino is just a stone’s throw away from Greenwich Park, neatly tucked away from the bustling centre of the village. As soon as you walk through the door your senses are bombarded with an assortment of pastries, including fresh cannoli, and an Italian deli, along with an extensive coffee and wine menu. The cosy seating areas round the back and upstairs are the perfect spot for a quite breakfast, or an afternoon of reading for when the weather takes a turn for the worse. I naively thought that Al Pancino was an Italian phrase for something, like al fresco, not thinking that it could simply be the witty combination of two Italian names: Al Pacino and pane (aka bread). In fact, the name pretty much says it all. This is an Italian cafe run by welcoming Italian people, which doesn’t take itself too seriously. No wonder it’s a local favourite!
If there’s ever a time to visit the Royal Park, it’s during the autumn when the air is crisp, the sun is shining, and the landscape is littered with orange and brown leaves. Head up to the Observatory for panoramic views over London, the perfect spot for a picnic (or a selfie). Or, if you’re the type who can’t pig out without working up a sweat first, be sure to check out the running club on Saturday mornings, run by local coach Ellie Brown, or drop into Pilates at her studio on Sunday morning.
There’s no way you can visit Greenwich and not stop by the Market – and not just any market, it’s the only historic market located within a World Heritage site. Whether it’s intentional or not, you will end up meandering through the stalls poking at unique jewellery, admiring the handiwork of the crafts, and being drawn into the enticing fumes of the food market. And don’t worry, it’s covered so unpredictable autumnal weather is not a problem. Each time I go there I find myself gravitating towards Roccabella jewellery, a collection that centres on raw cut gemstones that have been handmade into rings, bangles, and earrings that are all unique, but equally beautiful. Their aim is to make natural looking pieces that, whilst simple, can make a statement no matter who is wearing them. Roccabella jewellery is just one of the many treasures you can find in Greenwich Market.
On the weekends the food market is bursting with delicacies from Madagascar, Ethiopia, Mexico, Italy, and Brazil, to name just a few, so you can see why it’s so easy to spend the day hopping from stall to stall. There’s an incredible variety to make sure no one goes home hungry, so whether you’re vegan by choice, or gluten intolerant by nature, you’re sure to find something!
A stall that immediately catches my eye is Ruby’s of London vegan patisserie. It’s free-from baking at its finest, offering an extensive selection of vegan baked goods (some gluten-free) that are as delicious as they are beautiful. Inspired by the founder’s own intolerances as a child, you can feel the love that goes into every single cake: from the heavenly taste of each mouthful to the handwritten “homemade with love” on every box. If you’re spoilt for choice and struggle to choose just one to try (which is highly likely) I can recommend the raspberry coconut cupcake, which is vegan, gluten-free, and oh so tasty. Ruby’s trades exclusively at Greenwich Market on Saturdays and Sundays 10-5:30pm, or online (delivering to Greater London) 7 days a week. Going vegan has never been so tempting…
For a post-market pick me up, head to Buenos Aires Café for all the cake, pastries and coffee you could ask for. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in the evening, Buenos Aires comes alive with a menu full of pizzas, Argentinian steaks, and tapas. The word ‘sophisticated’ comes to mind.
Greenwich is buzzing no matter what time of year it is, and the only way to really experience it is to visit the independent businesses and events that are the backbone of this unique village. It’s accessible by bus, train, DLR, underground and even by the Thames Clipper, so you really have no excuses not to! The summer may be over, but whenever I’m in need of some inspiration for what to do in my local area I know I can always find something on Eventbrite. There are so many events to discover, catering to all kinds of interests, and you can even use it to sell tickets to your own event. I myself am on the waiting list for an event called How to be Beyoncé, I mean, what more could you ask for? If you have just 24 hours to spend in a new area, or you want to create your own fall guide, then make sure you check out Eventbrite. And instead of whiling away the time indoors waiting for Christmas, make sure you get out and about to really make the most of autumn.