A frosty London Fields

We haven't had any proper snow, i.e. more than a light dusting, in London for a couple of years now. I miss it. Instagram is killing me at the moment. Between the glorious days of sunshine my friends are enjoying in New Zealand and Australia, to the heavy blizzards and snow in New York, it's envy-making.. I can't really complain though. We've had plenty of beautiful frosty mornings lately, where Jack Frost has danced his way through town making everything glisten magically.

A frosty winter London fields morning

And finally, a light sprinkling of icing sugary snow.

Snowy London Fields

"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” 

Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

I wish I could go to sleep like the seeds some days and wake again in the warmer days of spring.

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

Oh hello there Winter...

...I was hoping you'd passed us by. Like everyone else in the UK, I'd been lulled into a false sense of security that Spring was on its way and that I'd be lolling in the garden sipping gin in no time. Sadly, I've had to dig out the mittens and wool tights again to keep away Jack Frost. Despite the chill, I've been keeping myself motived to walk the four miles to work in the morning by trying out my new Christmas camera on the way, snapping whatever catches my eye and hopefully walking off the winter waistline in the process.

Everyday I walk past Violet cakes with a heavy heart, knowing that I can't just pop in for coffee and a slice of ginger and molasses cake (truly the best cake I have ever eaten and yes I would have it for breakfast). But how cosy does the little cafe look in this pic? Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

This yellow beauty caught my eye as the ticket inspector checked its frosty windscreen. It's such a daffodil yellow, and looks so cheerful (even with a thick layer of ice covering it).

I'm trying to take a couple of pics each morning, as I don't have much time to spare (no time for dawdling otherwise I, a. get cold and b. am late to work). I'll try and share them on here. I really appreciate the morning walk - it's better than sitting on a crowded bus, surrounded by commuters, with coughs and runny noses, talking loudly on their mobile phones.

Fingers crossed I'll get to take some snowy pics before this cold snap passes!

xxx C