London Exploring: Columbia Road Flower Market
I recently went on one of my favourite day dates so far this year to Columbia Road Flower Market and the surrounding area. It was the perfect combo of London strolling down tiny side streets and then falling suddenly into bustling markets whilst also being able to feast on brilliant street food and people watching some fascinating characters.... read on if this sounds like your cuppa tea.
Our route more or less consisted of getting the tube to Liverpool Street followed by a browse through Spitalfields market, then up via Brick Lane to eventually arrive at Columbia Road. It was awesome. I love a good market, no matter what city I'm in, but hitting three in one day in one of my favourite areas of London? Well that for me, was a totally ideal Sunday and comes highly recommended.
Columbia Road flower market has been on my London bucket list since I moved here so it's pretty nuts it's taken me so long to make the trip. It's a Sunday morning market and in east London with the nearest overground stop being Hoxton or Shoreditch High Street - as I'm currently living in South London it definitely needed a free day and a dedicated trip to make the journey. You can check out their website here before you set off.
But let's start with our first point of call, Spitalfields market - it's open 7 days a week so you can pop by whenever you fancy, but market traders do seem to often vary! Have a gander at what's on offer here.
If you couldn't already tell, I bloody love jewellery, and silver rings in particular I am very very rarely seen without. Spitalfields of all the London markets, never fails to disappoint with its finger adorning options and is fast becoming one of my favourite places to pick up something shiny and unique, that's also within my tight budget. I came away with a couple of chunky silver rings that are just dreamy to wear and I haven't taken off since. Even better though, this trip I also picked up an awesome little bar necklace (actually a belated birthday gift from Scott) which the seller printed my family name on for me in under 30 mins despite the Sunday rush.
A short stroll on from Spitalfields takes you to vibrant Brick Lane, which seems to be a little bit like Marmite for a lot of Londoners. You either love the weird artsy vibe with the vast array of vintage stands and grotty looking cafes, or you hate it and avoid the area like the plague, branding it 'too hipster' and (admittedly) touristy especially on a Sunday morning. I happen to hate Marmite, but I LOVE Brick Lane. The colours, the random-ness, the FOOD, oh god and the style. If i'm ever feeling a bit stuck for some inspiration I head to brick lane. There's always a busker or two singing something brilliant; always someone wearing something awesome (that I then lust after all day); always vinyls to rifle through; always interesting food to try; always a side street I haven't walked yet or shop I haven't entered. There's lovely vintage shops like Rokit Vintage which holds brilliant garms. There's all the food stalls selling the freshest juices or most delicious cuisines. There's the multitude of covered markets selling old and new clothes and homewares. There's the graffiti and messages of art and rebellion and soul covering the brick work. There's the awesome mirrored Libreria bookshop just off the main drag... Man, I love Brick Lane.
After delivering ourselves safely through the manic Brick Lane, we navigated our way up to Columbia Road -a colourful, classically London street, and of course, on Sundays home to the best flower market around. I actually can't believe I waited so long to visit as it fast displayed some of the traits I absolutely adore about this city, and some that just sum it up perfectly; hectic, noisey, beautiful and out of the ordinary.
The very pace of the market screamed London as all around me people were searching and bargaining for the best deals whilst barrow boys shouted loudly the daily deals (and what deals they were). Surrounded by foliage, from tiny cut flowers to fully grown banana trees, it's like another world shrunk down to the size of one street long. And by the looks of what Londoners lugged away from the market, there is something for everyone there. We opted for giant sunflowers (for £5?!) which lasted a good week and a half and took over the entire windowsill much to my delight.
Take a (very slow) stroll up the road and feast your eyes on as many colours and types of plant as possible - there is no real system so just follow the flow of people and pick up what you can along the way. You can also cut through one of the openings onto the pavement and the actual shop fronts behind. I'll definitely be going back, as I spotted some intriguing looking coffee shops and quirky shops just begging to be tried out. So grab your mates, your partner, your mum, or your dog and I guarantee you'll have a good time - and of course, come away with something gorgeous too.