It’s probably decades since I set foot in Grainger Market, but, like so many places in the city, as soon as I did I was hit with that strange mix of nostalgia and unfamiliarity that characterises so much of my experience now I am back home.
So much of it was unchanged: the butchers and fishmongers that made me, a vegetarian teen, so squeamish. The grocers and the clothes shops and the Marks and Spencer stall, commemorating the chain’s market roots. Newcastle Book Exchange, where you used to be able to buy second hand books then return them for credit towards more, which kept me in the science fiction novels I devoured in my youth. (I didn’t check if they still did the scheme: I really can’t buy any more books this month!)
Scorpio Shoes, which specialises in Doc Marten’s, and which I used to fantasise about being cool and rich enough to shop in (I may very well have bought my first docs there, actually, though that memory has faded – all I remember now is how bloody painful they were to break in). (They now also stock Irregular Choice shoes, so a return visit is very much on the cards.)
Scattered among these old stalwarts now are gourmet coffee and tea shops and artisan bakers – the market has become a bit of a foodie destination. There are also vintage clothes stores and game and comic shops, and a variety of indie outlets.
I was there in particular to see the Make and Mend Market. This monthly event (located next to Oliver’s Coffee, if like me you are capable of wandering round for ages looking – the market’s deceptively big. I knew about this because of the involvement of papercraft artist Britt Coxon – who I have mentioned before, mainly because she did the cover of my book The Bridesmaid Blues.
An array of stalls include card and jewellery designers, natural soaps, art and clothes. It’s not massive, but there’s a pleasing variety of quirky work, and the market now runs a monthly Make and Print Market, too. All the makers I spoke to were lovely and friendly and happy to chat – so why not get yourself along?