Who doesn’t like a toasted cheese sandwich? Or a scotch egg? If you’re looking for a better version than what’s available at Costa or Sainsbury’s, I recommend making a trip to Maltby Street in Bermondsey, south London.
This short lane which runs along the railway arches just south of London Bridge station is a paradise of street food on the weekends. It ranges from English pies to French tarts to Thai curry, accompanied by a glass of one of many London beers available, some brewed just yards from the stalls. If it’s later in the afternoon, you might want to have a Jensens gin and tonic from the local distillery. Or a coffee, or a cupcake, or how about some oysters? The list goes on …
Maltby Street is a spin-off of nearby Borough Market which some feel has now become a little too expensive and oversubscribed. It’s certainly more manageable than its larger, older sister. Mr Minted and I happily grazed on its offerings last Saturday lunch-time: a deliciously spicy scotch egg made with chorizo and a massive cheddar toastie from The Cheese Truck, one of the trendiest eateries in the capital right now. We washed it down with a beetroot and ginger smoothie before stopping in the White Cube gallery for an update (and to see if there were any pretentious books suitable for the Minted coffee table).
Supercool – but for us it was also a step back in time to when we used to live in Bermondsey at the turn of the millennium. The area has massively improved since then – along with property prices which have pretty much trebled in that time. Of course it’s stuffed with fabulous bars and shops because you’ve got to be absolutely minted to afford to live there. And it did make me wonder how my kids are ever going to get on the property ladder.
All of which brings me to a little-known financial product, the Lifetime Isa (or Lisa). This was introduced in April but so far not many firms offer it. It’s a bit complicated and there are some hefty penalties for early withdrawal. However, this is missing the point. The Lisa offers ‘free money’ from the government towards your first house or a pension. (It’s actually the income tax back on money you put away so it’s debatable whether it is actually ‘free’ but this is a minor detail).
A Lisa might not be appropriate for everyone but, with property so expensive at the moment, you’d be foolish not to at least consider one if you (or someone you know) is saving for a deposit. I’ve written a guide to Lifetime Isas to help you decide. It might just be a step-up to living the dream of your own place.