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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Goodbye Rain! Hello Colourful Columbia Road

We have just had the most beautiful weekend in London. It was welcomed by all! When the rain goes away, you may wonder where the umbrellas go...

These are found in a courtyard near Borough Market. Their bright colours against a blue sky are stunning. One of the many lessons we have learned during our time in England is get off the main path. Go done the alleys, lanes with hedge rows, take the path less traveled. Treasures and treats await for those who venture away from the more popular sites and paths.

Sunny weather and warming temperatures are like magnets drawing Londoners out of doors. The streets and parks were overflowing with people from all walks of life. After such a long period of grey, it is wonderful to see colour. It is such a  joy to our hearts and eyes.

Today, our destination was Columbia Road and its famed flower market. Columbia Road is off Hackney Road, in the borough of Tower Hamlets and presents a Victorian-era style street with shops. On Sundays, it converts into a flower market.

Columbia Market was established in 1869 as a covered food market. The Huguenot immigrants (French Protestants) introduced an interest and demand for flowers. Today, the market is only open on Sundays and many of the traders are second or third generation sellers in the market. In the early days with traders arriving in London from around the world, caged song birds were popular, hence the logic of the local pub being named... The Birdcage...
The market becomes a festival with street musicians playing, classical music, french jazz and current pop.
Behind the flower market are wonderful boutiques selling unique clothes, handmade papers, crafts, art and food.
Suck and Chew not surprisingly is a candy (sweet) shop. They sell 'penny' candies... well 5p individual sweets from large jars.  
As we wandered in and out of shops we were impressed by the colours.
One of our favourite shops was J&B The Shop, owned by 2 Welsh girls and brings 'a little bit of the Welsh Countryside to the City.'
Off on the side streets are courtyards, only open on Sundays and filled with booths selling fabrics, food, antiques and oddities.
After walking about, a cup of coffee or cream tea and scones or cake are in order. We found the Cake Hole
Creatively, they use Scrabble tiles to label their cakes and scones...

The Cake Hole, is actually a quaint tea shop in a small room behind Vintage Fabrics, run by Margaret a lovely Irish woman. Her shop is filled with vintage dishware, very carefully displayed by colour with clever vintage books tucked in here and there and vintage tea towels and linens. It was in the rear of the store that we found a gorgeous pair of 1940's floral curtains.
We definitely were inspired with this find....colorful Spring rain, lots of sunshine and the Columbia Road Flower Market. The rain will return one day, but until it does, we will search and discover new treasures in all this glorious Spring sunshine!!!


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