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

Today I'm besotted with...

...this ASOS Salon prom dress in gem floral print. Oh the swishing one could do on the dance floor in that. Gorgeous.

Photo: ASOS

ASOS have just added a few new frocks (want them all) to their Salon collection which launched earlier in the year.  And I have a bit of thing for brown floral at the moment and recently wore a Liberty lawn-esque (not sure if it actually is or not) dress of my mother's from the 70's to a wedding recently. The pussy bow and knee-length style is still just as fabulous as it was when she wore.  Thanks mum for keeping your dresses!

Liberty miniature suitcase

Last Christmas  I had a lovely big box arrive on my desk at work.  A purple box from  my favourite shop - Liberty! Inside the big box and all the wrapping was this lovely gift coin in a velvet pouch, a present from my big sister to spend on whatever I wished.

Even though I'm always in Liberty or lusting after something on store's website, I've only just gotten around to spending the coin - eight months later. And here it is. A gorgeous Liberty print mini suitcase, which is now home to some of my fabric, linen cloths and ribbons.

Too pretty to hide away in a cupboard that's for sure.  I wanted to get one of the Merci green ones when they came out several months ago, but unfortunately they sold out before I could get my paws on one.

I chose the red Wiltshire pattern, which is also stunning inside with a pale pattern.

I told my other half it's my hope chest (or glory box) - clearly I don't have much hope as it's so small - hah.

More posts to come this week hopefully. I'm in Glasgow for work and trying to make the most of the peaceful evenings in my hotel room by catching up on here.