An ode to Columbia Road

A piece of my heart belongs to Columbia Road. Hyacinths at Columbia Road flower market

I’m not sure why I’ve never written a proper post on the East London street made famous by it's old flower market. Sure, I’ve mentioned it in passing but I've never gotten around to a whole post dedicated to what is undoubtedly one of my favourite places in London.  I lived just off Columbia Road for two and a half years and absolutely adored it. A busy, bustling house filled with beautiful and hilarious housemates. Where we always had flowers, the biggest tree we could find at Christmas, and a glass of wine was never far away. Where too many mid-week drinks at the Royal Oak was a frequent occurrence and too much karaoke at the weekend would keep us awake. The 'Columbia Road girls' who appeared on a cooking show (the less said about that the better)...

The Royal Oak Columbia Road

My love affair with Columbia Road started on my first weekend in London. My old friend Emma said to me, "I think you’ll really like it" as we walked down Bethnal Green Road. I couldn’t believe such a glorious place existed. As a girl who grew up with a big rose-filled garden in New Zealand and home was always filled with flowers, it was a dream come true to find a flower market in the East End. I grew up learning all the names of the flowers and plants in the garden with my very green-thumbed grandparents. I even won the Flower Show Cup at primary school. (Yes, we had such a thing. It was the highlight of sports’ day – which I did my best to get out of.) It's fair to say, like my sister, I have inherited the gene for all things green and flowery. I was lucky enough, after a couple of years in different London flats, to find my dream (well, almost) house share just off Columbia Road.

Seasons at Columbia Road

A few happy years later, I now only live a 15-minute walk away and if Sunday is looking quiet, a stroll to Columbia Road is always top of my to-do list. Now we have a little garden I buy as many plants as I can carry back home, usually a bouquet or two and a coffee. The ever-changing seasons are so visible at the markets. Spring = bulbs galore and cherry blossom. Summer brings roses, glorious dahlias and perfect peonies. Autumn = orange blooms for Halloween, and winter brings Christmas trees, bunches of cotton and vibrant red berries.

Columbia Road vintage plates

 

An ode to Columbia Road

I will always love rolling out of bed on a Sunday morning for a coffee, a bunch of flowers and a stroll around the vintage stalls and shops before the heaving crowds descend. The wonderful little shops where I will always find the perfect present. The hilarious long-time stall holders. The cakes at Lily Vanilli. The teacups at Vintage Heaven. The gorgeous mosaics outside the school. If I'm feeling glum, the Mr always knows a trip to Columbia Road will make it better.

Columbia Road School Mosiac

It pays to get there super early to avoid the crowds or, if you'd like a bargain bunch of blooms go about 2pm in winter or 3pm in spring/summer when the stallholders are selling everything they have left cheap. For a look around the shops, get there early, or better yet, go on a Saturday when most of the shops are open and there are no crowds.  The late night evenings in the lead up to Christmas are equally crowd but loads of fun with chestnuts being roasted, carol singers and mulled wine for sale. Perfect for gift shopping. It's so pretty all lit up at night! And if it snows...magical.

Late night at London's Columbia Road

Columbia Road, you hold a very special place in my heart.

Columbia Road Flower Market is on every Sunday, rain or shine, 8am til 3'ish. You can find out more about Columbia Road and how to get there over here.

Photos by Luke and me

A festive bat

Meet my very festive bat. He flew in from Elphicks on Columbia Road. He decided mid-November to hang around this spot in my living room. I don't think he'll be leaving any time soon. IMG_1615

I took a break from blogging during the second half of 2012 to focus on other things. But I've really missed it. So here I am. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of snow to put your priorities in order.

I can't wait to see where 2013 takes me.

x

A bluebird on my jug

I went to Columbia Road flower markets yesterday for the first in ages, and bought a couple of lovely teacups from the lovely Vintage Heaven. I really must stop buying teacups for I am rapidly running out of space!  I was on a self-imposed china buying ban too. Obviously I broke that. I'll save my new purchases for another time but  here's some photos of my lovely bluebird jug. This was also a Columbia Road flower market buy and was only a few quid. Always the perfect size for a bunch of spring blooms from the flower market. It's in perfect condition despite its age and the painting is just adorable. I've had it for about a year now but still whenever I use it Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds version of  'Bluebird on my shoulder' pops into my head. Not surpising considering how much I listen Mr Cave....