Thursday, 30 September 2010

sep, 30th - T3L: columbia road....

day 230:

T3London - Columbia Road Flower Market (East London)
(*for a description of what T3London means, click on day 160)

Another East London I said, this is the creative heart of London at the moment, so it's not surprising  that it's where we find a lot of our inspiration. Although, today's Things To Do in London is not a recent creation but rather, an institution. A market was originally established in the area in 1869 (so no flash in the pan then)...but the fresh cut flower and plant market as we know it today, was only formally created in the 60's.

part of the history that I find fascinating is that, prior to World War II, the market started to focus it's attention more on cut flowers, plants and caged song birds as a result of demand by Hugenot immigrants who had moved into the area. The pub at the start of the market is still called The Birdcage.

It took us awhile to find this gem of a market but once we did, it became my favourite place in the East, West, North and South of London. While A. was playing cricket on a Sunday, I would make my way here and buy as many bunches of flowers as my arms could carry. and the best would cost less than £25.00 and they would last and last and last. in fact the really best part would be that the stalks would often still have a bit of freshly picked dirt on them and the blooms would smell like real flowers....i love flowers that actually smell like flowers.

since our first visit the area around the market has changed dramatically...highly individual little shops and cafes have opened up in the narrow cobbled backstreets. we now go not just for the flowers but also for a rummage through the antique shops, a bacon and avocado breakfast bun, a wander through the interior shops and a spritz at the real perfumery. even if you never make it to columbia road, it's worth checking out the fantastic journey down the street on their website - here (i've never seen it done better).

the market also attracts lots of creative types which makes it a Fantastic! place for people watching.

Basic Info:

Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Rd
London E2 7RG
Neighbourhood: Shoreditch

Nearest Tube Stations: Liverpool Street and Old Street

Open Sundays only: 8am - 3pm

Open every Sunday unless it falls on Christmas Day (25 December).


- the scent of flowers  that perfumes the air
- the chant of the barrow boys “Everthin' a fiver”

- arriving at 2:30pm when the flower deals are to be done
- the amazing vintage furniture found in a couple of shops
- watching lots of people walk away with huge bunches of flowers and big smiles


- cobbles....don't wear high heels or take a buggy that can't handle them
- squishy crowds through the flower market (stick to the back streets)

- forgetting the buggy rain cover in the car

Tot Tips:

- parking is available (either on the street or in a parking space opposite columbia road) so take the car
- change facilities are available in some of the restaurants
- didn't see any high chairs around
- cobbled streets
- lots of people so either try and walk the street early or later

See you there!

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