4 Sep 2014

A Wander Through Columbia Road Flower Market

Having lived in SW London for two decades I always feel a little out of place in East London. Occasionally I venture there but still feel like a fish out of water. It's become busier over the years, if not bustling, and is now full of vintage clothes shops, quirky independent coffee shops and cool bars. Market stalls line various different streets on different days of the week.

One of those, which I heard about a few years ago but had never visited until this weekend, is Columbia Road flower market. A small stretch of the road between Hoxton and Bethnal Green comes alive with dozens of flower stalls each Sunday. It's not the easiest place to reach on first glance, with no tube stations that close, but there are plenty of options whichever direction you're coming from. Hoxton Overground station is a few minutes away, but the Overground often closed at weekends (so check before you set out!). I walked up from Aldgate East (easy District Line journey from Parsons Green for me), up Brick Lane and through Shoreditch (lots to see along the way). It's not too far from Old Street tube station either, on the Northern Line (City branch).

By 10.30am the place was already buzzing, stall owners shouting about their wares (everything is pretty much a fiver), and giving a little jokey spiel to get you to buy from them ("so cheap you can even afford to buy them for people you don't like!" said one, with huge bunches of yellow flowers in each hand). Nearby cute little independent boutique shops entice in the locals and tourists that arrive in their hoards on a Sunday morning. The older, traditional eastenders rub shoulders with the young hipster types that now frequent the whole of east London, with families and photographers everywhere too. Stripey t-shirts abound.

It's a great place for a wander, a people-watch, or to buy flowers, of course. I couldn't visit a place like this and come away empty-handed, so I bought 3 little lavender plants for my window box for £6 (£5 only gets you two!) from the man who promised they were so cheap I could buy them for my enemies - his line was the best of the lot, I thought.

More of my photos can be seen on my website
and more information about the street can be found on the Columbia Road website.

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