Columbia Road Flower Market | London

Columbia Road Flower Market

I’ve well and truly been bitten by the Springtime bug, fawning over every bloom I pass on the streets, getting teary-eyed over shedding cherry-blossom trees and sniffing lilac like there’s no tomorrow. Spring in Dublin is magical but I have to say I get a teeny pinch in the ticker when I see all the flowery London snaps on Instagram. I mean, have you seen the #wisteriahysteria hashtag?! And did you know that the shops in Chelsea are decked with hundreds of flowers in honour of the Chelsea Flower Show? I can’t help being a tad jealous of the floral fete London is experiencing at the moment. So I thought it would be the perfect time to reminisce over a lovely Sunday morning I spent at the flower market in East London last Summer.

It was my first time visiting the Columbia Road Flower Market despite seeing it featured countless times in blogs over the years. Truth is, waking up early on a Sunday morning was rarely on my list of priorities in my twenties. Especially when visiting my favourite city. But with the thirties come wisdom… or at least a great urge to see flowers arranged neatly in buckets.

Columbia Road Flower MarketColumbia Road Flower MarketColumbia Road Flower Market

The flower market is a great little slice of London life. You’re surrounded by the colourful accents of the sellers hollering at the passersby, elegant women who look like they could single-handedly organise a party of 150. Others who quickly scan the stalls like resolute captains of their gardens and then there are the girls who look for a little bouquet to brighten up their small rentals. When the clock strikes 11, the street gets so crowded you can hardly move. I managed to go up and down Columbia Road a few times to take these pictures. It was one of the most intense photographic exercise for me. There’s people literally everywhere, the sun was shining bright on one side of the road while the other was plunged in the dark, shaded by the street houses. I generally like to take my time when I take pictures but I had to act quickly, constantly changing settings and trying to be discreet in order not to disturb anyone. I enjoyed snapping the pretty posies – roses, peonies, sunflowers and hortensias were in season – but also the patrons carrying their loot and their cute dogs!

Columbia Road Flower MarketColumbia Road Flower Market

Becky from the blog ACCOOOHTREMENTS shared her brilliant Londoner tip in the comment section:if you get there between 3-3.30pm, the sellers that are left are often doing very good discounts (last week I got 2 gorgeous bunches of tulips for £5!) :)

The market is not the only appeal of Columbia Road and its area. There’s a cute flea market in a nearby courtyard and so many beautifully curated shops on the street itself. Three especially got my attention: A Portuguese Love Affair which will remind you of a minimalist A Vida Portuguesa if you’ve ever been to Lisbon, Mason & Painter offers a great mix of vintage and new homeware, I absolutely adored their aesthetics and finally Choosing Keeping, a very chic stationary shop that made me want to have an army of pen pals.

Columbia Road Flower MarketColumbia Road Flower MarketColumbia Road Flower Market

There’s also a great selection of eateries, bakeries and places to get refreshments. If you’re in need of coffee, which let’s face it is more than likely seeing the market’s time window, I heartily recommend the little coffee stall located in The Royal Oak‘s backyard. I’m not a coffee connoisseur by any means but their flat white was so smooth I completely skipped the mountains of sugar I usually dose my caffeinated beverages with. The pub itself is actually a great spot too, I loved its old London charm and creaky floors.

All in all, Columbia Road is one of the most charming areas I’ve visited in London and I would love to go back, maybe this time on a weekday so I can give more attention to all the beautiful shops and the street architecture.

Columbia Road Flower Market

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Columbia Road Flower Market – website
Columbia Road
London E2 7RG

Opening Hours
8am-3pm, every Sunday

Bus
26, 48, 55 (Queensbridge Road stop)
8, 388 (Barnet Grove stop)
67, 149, 242, 243 (Kingsland Road Waterson Street)

Tube
Bethnal Green (Central Line)

Overground
Cambridge Heath

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Aunt Benny, snow and flea market galore | Berlin, Day 5

My last day in Berlin was a Sunday which is flea market day in the German capital. So many markets happening every single week, I’m a wee bit jealous of you Berliners! They’re my favourite things to do on holidays so I made something of a military plan to cover as many of them as I could. But first I needed some fuel for the busy day ahead!
Berlin, Day 5

I went to the uber popular brunch spot, Aunt Benny, which was just down the road from my airbnb. I would lie if this didn’t majorly factor into my choice of accommodation (that and the cat of course). The place was already packed by 9.30am and as it was too cold to sit on the benches outside, the lovely waitress suggested I sat in the shoebox-sized adjacent bar. I ordered the quiche with a cup of sweet chai. It was simple but fresh and well executed. I also sampled the bagels and the homemade cream cheese, which gave me a whole new appreciation for the combination. And because I was still reeling from the previous night’s cheesecake fiasco, I may have had a naughty slice of New York cheesecake. So good!
Berlin, Day 5

The first flea market of the day was actually a couple of streets away from Aunt Benny and my airbnb. On Boxhagener Platz, the cute stalls were peppered around the square park and the little kiosk. As I got closer to the first stall, the snow started to fall heavily. I was having a real pinch-me-now moment. Everything looked so bright, kids were being pulled on their sledges by their parents between the stalls. It looked like a romantic film set, up until the path turned into an ice-skating ring and standing up straight was a matter of life and death… for my butt. I’m glad to say no damage was done and that I jumped on the tram for my next flea in one piece.
Berlin, Day 5

Mauerpark is like the mother of all flea markets. I can’t believe how big it was! Rows and rows of cardboard boxes full of junk, you could literally spend all day digging through old stuff. Once again, I was solely attracted to crockery so I reluctantly cut the research effort short knowing that it would be hard to bring anything back home. Nonetheless what a lovely way to spend a Sunday. If old stuff is not your cup of tea, there are lots of food stalls and crafted gifts. On a nearby snowy hill, kids were having a ball, sliding down on their sledges. Very picturesque! But the afternoon was getting on and I still had one flea market to check out.
Berlin, Day 5

Rathaus Schoneberg had a completely different vibe. Located in a quiet area in the West of Berlin, the market stalls were spread on the cobbled-stoned square facing the town hall. It was definitely not as busy but quite neighbourly. I had a quick browse and walked back through the snowy park to the U-bahn station where the train would take me back to Friedrichshain.
Berlin, Day 5

There, I had a little play around with the iconic photoautomat booths next to the train station before heading to the vegan supermarket. This might have been my favourite supermarket experience. What a wild statement. I love how fun the food was there. In the freezer, there was a whole fake turkey! With a limited luggage space, I had to settle on a couple small items so I picked white strawberry chocolate and vegan salami. They were so convincing. Next time I need to bring an empty suitcase to stock up!
Berlin, Day 5

For my last meal, I could not not have falafel. Luckily, I was standing a few meters away from Mustafa Demir’ Gemuse Kebap. It’s a hole in a wall kind of establishment so don’t expect comfort or chairs for that matter, you’ll have to dine on the pavement. But their falafel wrap is pretty amazing. I’d go as far to say that it was the most creative in terms of toppings I’ve had. So much going on between the flat bread, I couldn’t make out what half of it was but it was bursting with flavours, no greasy sauce needed.

That’s a wrap (!!) on my Berlin trip. Unfortunately, it was cut shorter than anticipated as Aer Lingus changed my night flight to a morning one the day after. I wish I had the time to visit the Charlottenburg palace and had it been warmer I would have definitely gone to Templehof Airfield and Spreepark, the abandoned theme park. I definitely need to plot another visit to Berlin. I hope the last few posts inspire you to do the same. One word of advice if you go, plan your trip during the warm season as I felt the city truly reveals itself while aimlessly wandering.

Day 1| Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Rococo, Finnish Trolls and More Pizza | London, Day 6

Shut the front door! Has it been really a month since my last post?! This is just a bit ridiculous, I’m not sure how that happened, time has slipped through my fingers….
Well today is the day I’m finally coming at you with the tale of the last hours I spent in London this Summer. This is how it went.

The Wallace Collection
THE WALLACE COLLECTION

First I headed towards the fancy area of Marylebone via the dreaded Oxford Circus. It wasn’t too bad actually, I’ve seen worst crowds (namely Oxford Circus on the 23rd of December 2007… never again). There, I came to visit The Wallace Collection. How to explain the Wallace Collection to you if you’ve never heard of it? Take a good dose of silk tapestries, all the colours of the rainbow, if available, add gold in large quantities and tons and tons of majestic paintings and there you have it, the stuff rococo dreams are made of. Needless to say, I pretty much had an eyegasm. There was so much stuff to look at, you can tell from the pictures I took that my senses were overloaded. Not one picture is straight. Oops. I will show you what I can salvage from them in a later post. This place certainly needs a whole post dedicated to it.

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN
http://www.wallacecollection.org/
Covent Garden
COVENT GARDEN MARKET

Then I walked to Covent Garden Market with one goal in mind. The Moomin Shop! Back in 2008, I went to Finland and as well as bringing back bringing brilliant memories, I bore one regret: not buying a Moomin mug. I was too worried it would break as I was backpacking, you see. So London was my chance to send back that regret to oblivion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so as I got out of the shop empty-handed. I just couldn’t justify the price, especially with the steep conversion rate. Dramatic Face. It was a damn cute shop tho!
Neal's Yard
NEAL’S YARD

I forgot all about my moomin mug misfortune and mooched around Covent Garden, gawking at all the pretty windows (Ladurée <3) and went to Neal's Yard for my final stop of the day… well, of the trip. I had never stepped foot in the colourful courtyard before. It's quite a surprising space to stumble upon right next to London's busiest streets. My stomach led me straight to Homeslice for I had heard only good things of their pizzas. I went for a slice of Margherita and I had a bit of shock when I was handed a portion pretty much the size of an actual pizza. It's definitely great value for money and it was SO delicious!

That’s it for my trip to London this Summer folks, I hope you enjoyed the account of the few days I spent there. I do have a few more Summer memories to tell you about but I think it’s time now to switch the blog on Autumn mode, don’t you think? x

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Flower market, pizza slices & tower blocks | London, Day 4

Columbia Road Flower Market
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET

Sunday mornings are made for markets, right? One I had been meaning to check out for a long time is the Columbia Road Flower Market. That weekend, I finally managed the early rise necessary to enjoy the market before it gets too crowded.
I’m not a coffee drinker but that morning, I really needed a caffeine fix. I was on full Zombie mode. Luckily, Jane knew a great cafe stall, which was located in the courtyard of the pub The Royal Oak (on Columbia Road). The coffee there was so smooth, I swear, I didn’t even need to put sugar in it! Thank the Lord, I don’t live anywhere near that place, I would have started down the dangerous slope of caffeine addiction at full speed.
I enjoyed the market a lot, I walked back and forth several times to look at all the flowers and to get all the shots I wanted. The light was quite stark, the sun shone brightly on one side of the market while the other one was in the shadow. Switching from one side to the other, in between the people, was a great camera exercise. It forced me to remember the settings and not to rely on my screen anymore. I feel like I made some progress that day! I’ll show you the pictures in a later post where I’ll talk more about the market and the surrounding shops.

Columbia Road, London E2 E7RG
http://www.columbiaroad.info

The City of London Police Museum

After the market, I mooched around in Shoreditch. It’s such an energising area. So many incredible shops and eateries, one can easily lose track of time… and money. I took note of two beautifully curated shops on Calvert Avenue: O’Dell’s and Luna & Curious. My stomach reminded me of its presence and I went on a food mission. I ended up grabbing pizza slice in the snazzy Voodoo Rays. It was pretty good and it gave me the energy I needed to walk all the way to…

Barbican Centre
THE BARBICAN CENTRE

If you’ve never heard of the Barbican Centre, it’s a housing estate slash arts centre slash music and drama school slash conservatory… I probably forgot something but it’s an imposing structure and walking among its halls, I felt like I was on the set of a working-class film from the Sixties. Again, I’ll talk about it in more detail in a later post.

Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
http://www.barbican.org.uk/

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhal Market
LEADENHALL MARKET

The rest of the day was spent walking in the City of London, which is a district I’d never really explored before. I took my sweet time, nose in the air as usual, getting lost sometimes, but always inspired by London’s great architecture and its different variations. And speaking of astounding architecture, my last destination that day was Leadenhall Market. It’s one of the oldest covered markets in London. It dates back from the 14th century. If it looks slightly familiar to you, it is probably because you’ve seen it before in the first Harry Potter film. It is a bit magical, even in real life, even on a Sunday when the shops are closed and the galleries deserted.

London EC3V 1LT
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/eat-drink/leadenhall-market/Pages/default.aspx

And that’s day 4 over! Only two more days left of my trip to London to tell you all about! If you missed any of the previous days, here is a recap:
Day 1: Audrey Hepburn & Ice-Cream along the Thames | Day 2: Spicy falafel, Totoro, golden gates & confettis | Day 3: Canal walk & neon signs

Spicy falafel, Totoro, golden gates & confettis | London, Day 2

Portobello Road
Day 2 was a Friday and I kinda got that itching of going back to Portobello Road. I hadn’t browsed the market for years and back when I was living in London, it was one of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday. Even though it’s super touristy and crowded!
I don’t think I’d ever visited the market on a Friday and it was definitely more chilled. I also went the furthest I had ever been along the Road, past the Westway flyover to check out the Falafel King (pictured above). I googled for the best falafels in London and this is one of the places that came up. This was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone!
I enjoyed their falafel pitta and fresh lemonade in the blinding sun and made my way back, after my tongue recovered from the hot sauce (I made the mistake of asking for all the toppings, including two types of hot sauce and a chilli pepper… greedy, me?!).
Portobello Road
I then noticed on my right a cute little shop called Lavender Home (pictured above) where I found the meaning of the word ‘Kawaii‘: Japanese Stationary, artworks, postcards and various knicks and knacks were stocked on the shop’s shelves. I wanted everything, especially all the Ghibli merch. I managed to restrict myself to a fluffy little purse, which I’ll show you in a second.

The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to wandering about in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. I wanted to see the St Luke’s Mews which are located just next to Portobello Rd. They’re those cute colourful houses converted from old stables, I’ve seen them featured on Instagram so many times. There are many mews in London but the light was so stark that I didn’t manage to capture any on camera. All I have is that little bridge view below.
Kensington & Chelsea Kensington & Chelsea
Kensington & Chelsea The Churchill Arms
I kept walking northward as I wanted to go window-shopping on the posh King’s Road. On my way, I made sure to stop by The Churchill Arms (see picture above), a pub famous for its incredible floral display. It looked like hundreds of flower bombs exploded on its facade.
I also took a breather in the beautiful Kensington Gardens. I sat on the grass to look at people go by and admire the intricate gilded gate of the Palace. I really wanted to visit it but couldn’t justify the price, especially after converting it to euro. Gulp. Looks like you’ll have to hold on to that change for a little while longer, new purse!
Kensington Palace & Gardens Kensington Palace & Gardens
Kensington & Chelsea Kensingon & Chelsea
As the sun was setting down, I finally made it to King’s Road. The remains of a wedding ceremony stopped me in my tracks. I looked down at the pretty confettis then headed to Anthropologie, a homeware shop, so I could day-dream of what I would do when I finally get that winning lottery ticket.

If you missed Day 1 of my trip in London, here it is! Hope you’ll come back tomorrow for more x

Rialto Market | Venice

Rialto Market

I visited the Rialto Market January this year in the early hours of the afternoon. So these pictures have a definite end-of-market vibe. Which suited me perfectly as it meant I could take pictures without disturbing anyone.
You see, I was a bit nervous as I had been shouted at for taking pictures of food a few days before. Venice is magical and all that, but the truth is, as a shutter-happy tourist, it can be a bit daunting. I made more than one Venetian roll their eyes at me while capturing a moment; a moment I ended up not wanting to keep anymore for feeling like an absolute dork.
I don’t know if it was because the market was about to close down and the sellers were relaxed and happy to go home soon but they made me feel welcome, greeting me with gleeful Buongiorno’s. So my camera and I were once again happy together, taking portraits of heart-breakingly beautiful artichokes and those weird vegetables that look like Rastafari martians called ‘Treviso Tardivo‘ (I had some on a pizza on my last day, they taste like mild chicory).

Rialto Market
Rialto MarketRialto MarketRialto MarketRialto Market

Rialto MarketRialto MarketRialto MarketRialto Market

I’ve wanted to see the market ever since I stumbled upon Skye McAlpine’s instagram (she also has a dreamy food blog). She seems to always bring the most beautiful produce and flowers from the market. I couldn’t see any flower stalls (is there a specific day for the flower market, does anyone know?) but her instagram was certainly telling the truth, everything was looking well delicious and fresh. I only wished I had rented an Airbnb so I could bring some home and slice, sniff, taste and cook to my heart content… Do I sound like a vegetable pervert?

Rialto Market
Practical Information

Rialto Market
Campo de la Pesceria
San Polo, 30125 Venice

Opening Times
8am-1pm; it can be a bit earlier or later (Mon-Sat; Fish Market Tue-Sat)

Vaporetto
Rialto Mercato (line 1)

Broadway Market | London

broadway market + red car
london fields park

After the Wiltshire fiasco, I thought I would comfort myself by reminiscing my time in London over the past couple of years. So over the next few weeks, here I will revisit a couple of places that I enjoyed in the British capital and hopefully you’ll find some good recommendations along the way.

Let’s kick it off with the Broadway Market, the go-to market in East London. It’s a total foodie paradise with its selection of fresh bread, cheese, cured meat, cakes, good coffee and the old fruit & veg’. Other goods are available too, such as flowers, crafts and vintage clothing. I don’t like throwing the hipster word too much around but one could say it has that distinctive buzzing vibe.

The bordering shops are also well worth your time, settle in a cute café or browse artsy magazines in Artwords, which has one of the greatest selection of fashion magazines I ever seen; or pick a classic or two in Broadway Bookshop.

broadway cafe
flower market
broadway bookshop
young coconuts

Broadway market is one of those places I want to come back to next time I’m in London as I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of this bubbling area. I keep learning about new places that each sound more fabulous than the last; like this shop that sells rainbow meringues or this vintage seller under the cover of a launderette.

broadway market

Practical Information

Broadway Market – website
Hackney
London E8

Opening Hours: Every Saturday, from 9am to 5pm.

Victorian Fruit & Vegetable Market | Dublin

mary's lane

Last Friday, I paid a visit to the Dublin fruit and vegetable market. I wanted to see the ‘beast’ before it gets renovated later this year. I’m surprised that in the 6 years I’ve been living in Dublin I’ve not stumbled upon this imposing structure. Although I have to say I don’t think I ever ventured into the area between the charity-shop filled Capel Street and Smithfield square.

Currently, the building is inhabited by produce and flower wholesalers but by September 2015, the place will be remodelled after a continental-style market: half wholesalers, half retailers. Food counters will be available to the public: cheesemongers, butchers, greengrocers, … but also cafés and stalls serving food to eat on the premises.

victorian fruit and vegetable market + lettuce box
beetroot cases
joseph duffy + gerard dowling victorian market
washed rooster
turnip cases

The other reason why I wanted to visit the market was that it’s currently peony season. Idealist me was hoping for a sea of peonies at the resident wholesale florist. Sea of peonies, not as such, only two containers but they were surrounded by loads of other kind of pretty posies, which made me forget why I came there in the first place.

red peonies
pale pink peonies
hydrangea

After seeing the market last Friday, a part of me can’t help but feel a tad worried. While I think the renovation plan is an exciting idea, believe me I’ll be the first at the opening eating my way through all the food stalls, I wonder if the feeling I experienced of opening a ‘secret’ door to the old Dublin will disappear next year. I was watching some RTE archive footage of the market earlier and sure the machinery has evolved but the hustle and bustle seemed like it hasn’t changed one bit. I’m glad this beautiful building, dating back to 1892, is to be put on the map of the exciting things to do in Dublin but I hope it’s not at the cost of its authentic charm.

east entrance victorian market dublin

 Practical Information

Dublin Corporation Wholesale Markets 
St Michan’s Street
Smithfield, Dublin

Luas: Four Courts stop
Bus: 25, 26, 27, 39, 51, 66, 67, 69, 70, 79, 83, 145

Opening Hours: 6am – 2.30pm (Mon, Wed-Fri) / 6am – 12.30pm (Tue) / 7am-11am (Sat)