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

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.

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!

Hibernation.

Santa kindly gave me a cold for Christmas. I've had it ever since and it seems to be getting worse, not better. And this morning, after two days in bed I woke up with an eye infection to top it off. A runny nose, dry cough and bung eye does not equal glamour in my books.  Fortunately I have some lovely plates on the wall and Columbia Road roses courtesy of the Mr to cheer me up from my sick bed.

I hope to be back at work and back in the land of the living tomorrow. x

Floral needlepoint 1950s bag

I was reading about online vintage seller Allen Company Inc over at the lovely Wish Wish Wish and accidentally made my first purchase from Etsy. So right now I have in my hot little hands this wonderful embroidered 1950s bag...

Photo: Allen Company Inc

Isn't it gorgeous?  Bought on Friday, waiting on my kitchen table when I came home from work on Monday. Talk about speedy.  This lovely purse will be going on its first outing to a wedding in Northumberland this coming weekend. Goes quite nicely with my pale gold silk frock. I love the embroidered Pansy faces. I'll be saving my pennies for one of the beautiful fifties frocks the Etsy based Allen Company Inc next.

I also had another package waiting at home for me yesterday - birthday present from a friend back home. A beautiful Witchery black cuff. But more on that another time. Such lovely things made my Monday so much better.

Flowery feet

It's my 30th birthday tomorrow. Death to my twenties. Perhaps it's time to treat myself to the most inappropriate and frivolously girly pair of shoes I can find me thinks. I've been salivating over these delicious wedges from Topshop for months...

Even if they will make me 1. ridiculously tall and 2. look like I should be wandering in meadow... they would look fabulous on my shelf though. Next to a teapot or two.

Maybe I should go for a more practical flowery footwear. Quite like these little cuties from Office.

Maybe turning 30 deserves both pairs.

Teapot of roses

I found this lovely little  pot of roses at designsponge -  a gorgeous site which makes me pine for my own little house/flat/place.  The rose and jasmine arrangement (by sarah brysk cohen from blossom and branch) reminds me of a bunch I did for my primary school flower show competition when I was about 10 years old.

We always had the flower show contest in Spring on the same as athletics. While I could quite happily ignore the sporty side of event, the flower show cup bought out my competitive side.

For the unusual container section I used an old  enamel brown teapot that had been found rusting in my grandma's garden, a relic left over from the days of camping at the beach. The flower show cup was mine that year. Wonder where the rusting teapot is now...