First thing on a Sunday morning, London is like a ghost town, quietly waiting for its admirers. A short walk from Old Street tube station, takeaways and bus routes give way to older streets with more historical buildings and over sized greenery seems to be heading towards us, as people struggle home with a new pot plant or two. Where are we heading? Columbia Road flower market.
The flower market began as a Saturday market but was later moved to a Sunday to accommodate a growing number of Jewish traders, for whom Saturdays were a day of rest. Moving it to a Sunday also allowed traders from Covent Garden and Spitalfields to sell off stock left over from Saturday trading. Following a demise in the seventies when there were suggestions of demolition, the locals fought to save the market and the surrounding Victorian shops and since then it has gone from strength to strength. The market now attracts people from around the world and as well as being a great place to pick up a cheap bunch of quality flowers, or a pot plant to transform that awkward corner of your home, the market also appeals to photographers and film makers.
The market is a feast for all the senses, with flowers in every colour of the rainbow available, their sweet scents filling the air, blending with the waft of freshly brewed coffee coming from the many cafes. The day we visited, the air was filled with the sweet scent of lavender. The second or third generation market traders call out their deals in cockney accents and there is a general hubbub as people squeeze their way along the stalls. Music can also be heard from the street buskers.
When you have had your fill of the plants, the Victorian shops behind offer vintage crockery, gifts and art. Then it’s time to chill in one of the cafes. We accidentally stumbled into a vegan cafe and I can tell you a vegan pain au chocolat doesn’t quite hit the spot, but I did feel like a hip east Londoner!
My husband bought me the most gorgeous roses which lasted way longer than your average bunch, despite being carted round London with me for the rest of the day.
It might mean an early start but the market is well worth a visit on a Sunday morning.
This was Valentine’s weekend and so after the historic market, we headed to the modern Shard to experience the view from the top, whilst sipping champagne. I of course dressed themed for the weekend, in a top with hearts on the collar, paired with skinny jeans – both Oasis and complimented it with red ballet pumps by Mauro Leone purchased in Milan and a red heart bag by Floozie. I wore my trusted faux leather jacket from New Look as despite the sun, it was a chilly day.
At the beginning of any romance, it’s all hearts and flowers but once you have been together a few years, that all falls by the wayside, only to be replaced with the day to day routine. It’s important to still appreciate each other, so this year we decided to celebrate Valentines Day like we did in the early days.
The trouble with going out on Valentines is you are usually faced with an overpriced fixed menu and crammed in so tight that you virtually bash elbows with the person next to you every time you lift your fork to your mouth. Maybe we have just been unfortunate with our choices in the past, as this year we booked our local restaurant, Eight and although it was a set menu – the price was reasonable and we were in no way crammed in.
I wanted to get proper dressed up, just as you do in the first flourish of dates. I decided to embrace this year’s animal print trend and wore a jumpsuit from Oasis with some red wedge LK Bennett sandals. I even had my nails themed for the day.
Rather than just cards this year, we also did gifts. Men being notoriously hard to buy for, I got my husband some clothes from Superdry. He got me the best kind of chocolate – one that doesn’t get you fat! Have I discovered the holy grail I hear you ask? No just some fantastic eyeshadow by Too Faced that is scented with chocolate!
Love comes in many shapes and forms and needs to be nourished. Many of us spend the best years of our lives searching for our Mr Darcy, just like Bridget Jones. When we find him though, do we forget to appreciate what we have and take it for granted?
Along with romantic love, one of my other great loves is London. It is such a fusion of all the cultures and traditions of the world. It doesn’t matter how many times you visit, there is always something different to see and old and new blend together seamlessly. I particularly like the creativity it unleashes. A wander along the Thames from London Bridge to Blackfriars is made all the more beautiful by the entertainers. This particular day, there was a poet, typing you an instant poem on an old typewriter and a bubbleologist. A painting by Jimmy C of Shakespeare reminds us that London’s relationship with culture and the arts dates back centuries.
London’s people are what makes the city so wonderful and we all pull together when our centre of multiculturalism is threatened by extremists. The love Londoners have for each other is perfectly depicted in the street art of hearts created in Brough Market by the artist Jimmy C following the terror attacks there in 2017. Each heart represents one of the eight people who lost their lives that night. There is so much hate in the world but ultimately love will conquer all.