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

Going/Coming back home

Like many others who choose to move to London, I now have two homes. One here in the heart of housing price-boom Hackney. I love everything about it despite the annoyingly 'cool' factor it has. Strolling to the markets, the cheery chaps in Costcutter, the little new gourmet food store on my street (Pinch), the London Field's Lido, my neighbours and more. Well, everything apart from the rent, the too-cool-for-school kids who have overcrowded my local, and the lack of property-owning. Then there's home-home. More than 11,000 miles away from London, back in the sunshine with my friends and family, green and lush, where I grew up, more than 24 hours on a plane, listening to Bob Dylan in the kitchen, hello the-worst-kind-of-jetlag home. New Zealand. Home where the other half of my heart is. We went home home in February/March... Pine Ridge Sewing lessons Mirror mirror Family portrait Green lake Nz Road Trip Rangitoto Photos by Luke

Living in a snow globe

This snowglobe print by Clare Owen pretty much sums up the last few days in London. It really is a bit like being shaken up in a snow globe when you're trekking around trying not end up on your bum in a pile of ice or sludge. But I can't complain. London all white is the stuff of dreams and film sets. Just lovely. The print is 50% off in the Papermash sale at the moment along with lots of other lovely stuff.

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Image: Papermash.

x C

Blossom

Spring in London is so beautiful. It always reminds me why I'm still living here when I've just about had enough of the seemingly endless months of depressing grey winter. Along comes Spring and the trees burst into blossom and yellow daffodils carpet the parks. Here are a few photos I snapped on my walk to work recently.

Wilton Way Blossom outside Violet Cakes.

Blossom snow.

There is a massive pink cherry tree that is putting on a spectacular display around the corner from my home that I haven't managed to snap yet as I never seem to have my camera when I go past. Hopefully, I'll manage to capture it before it has all fallen.

The light of day

The days are getting longer and the nights shorter. I work ridiculously far from home so have a massive commute every day. 7am really is an undignified hour to leave the house. But I love the early morning light.  After weeks of trudging through the darkness, seemingly the middle of the night still as the street sweepers shuffle along with their brooms, it’s finally starting to get light. Now it’s not pitch black I really enjoy my quick march to the tube station in the morning. iPod on loud to get me mentally prepared for the day ahead. Kyuss and strong black coffee – always a good combination.

I often have my camera handy and take a few shots along the way. The world seems pretty empty until I hit the main road. Just folks in their thrown on morning attire walking their dogs. If they are particularly lazy, or still half asleep and just rudely awoken by their mangy mutt, they’ll often just have their dressing gown or coat thrown over their pyjamas.

It may be light but it's still far too cold for my liking. Oh summer, please hurry. I can’t take many more cold mornings.