Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

After a wonderful month of travels, Monsieur and yours truly arrived back in Perth last week. House, pets and family all well though my body clock still seems to be stuck somewhere in Berlin! Add piles of washing, sorting out correspondence, pets, babysitting grandchildren, work, uploading photos etc to the mix and the holiday is starting to seem like a distant memory! Over the course of our trip we visited London, family in Yorkshire (me) and the West Country (Monsieur), Lake Como in North Italy, a quick day trip into Switzerland and Berlin – so many places to write about!

We started off however in London visiting our younger daughter, Mlle, who has been living and working there for nearly 2 years. Having lived in London ourselves for 9 years we had no particular agenda other than spending as much time as possible with Mlle. Whilst Monsieur took himself off to see his team, Tottenham defeat Manchester Utd at White Hart Lane, Mlle took me on a tour of a few of her favourite places in the old East End of London. The area has been considerably revamped and gentrified since we were living in the metropolis and is now a colourful melting pot of different cultures, arts and crafts, quirky characters and numerous markets. We had an amazing time at the Brick Lane Markets, which I’ll write about in more detail next week but one of my favourite places was the delightful Colombia Road Flower Market. Best to consult a map (all the info you need is here) as Mlle took me on a tour through various housing estates and back streets – quite frankly I would have no idea how to get back there again except that we started and ended up at Liverpool Street Station! However to give you a rough idea, Shoreditch lies to the west and Brick Lane and Spitalfields are both nearby.

 

 

Colombia Road is renowned for its flower markets, which take place on Sundays from 8am to 3pm ish. The trick is to get there from about 2.30pm onwards as then the prices start to fall – all the photos were taken at the end of the trading day and you can see what a superb array of flowers was on offer! It is crowded so be prepared to hold onto your wallet and possessions tightly and be assertive – that’s what I learned from Mlle and we ended up with some wonderful tulips to take back to Mlle’s flat.

 

 

Like many parts of London, Colombia Road has a colourful history. Originally a rural area, the road lies on an old pathway for taking unfortunate sheep to the Smithfield slaughterhouse. Later, as London grew, the land was taken over for development and many of the rows of shops that you can still see today date from the Victorian era. They served the residents of the nearby Jesus Hospital Estate. The wood turning trade was also a big feature of the area and some of the factories used for milling have been converted into trendy cafes and shops. Alas we didn’t have time to stop off at any on this particular visit as Mlle had somewhere else in mind for tea (more of that in a future post). Β The Colombia Road website has more information on the history of the area here and for details about the myriad of quaint shops, galleries and cafes see here.

Colombia Road is the sort of neighbourhood in which you could happily lose yourself for many hours! It is crowded but maybe as a former London resident it didn’t bother me and I found all the quirky shops and the bohemian vibe of the area utterly charming. The flowers were amazing and well worth a trip just to get a couple of bunches. After much deliberation we ended up with one bunch of soft buttery yellow tulips and another of deep fuschia pink ones. They looked so pretty adorning Mlle’s dining table later that night!

 

Tulips from our trip to the Colombia Road Flower Market (the roses were bought elsewhere the previous day)

Tulips from our trip to the Colombia Road Flower Market (the roses were bought elsewhere the previous day)

Copyright Β© 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

36 thoughts on “Exploring The Old East End – Colombia Road Flower Market

  1. poshbirdy says:

    Lovely post, Chic. Flower markets are such special places and that area of London is so full of history, both generally and for me (my dad used to work at Smithfield)

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    1. Thanks! How interesting that you have a family connection there too! I have one from many years ago – my 3 times great grandparents were married at St Botolph’s Aldgate and worked in the rag trade. I loved going round the whole area – never been there before but it was such a special place. The flowers were just gorgeous! πŸ™‚

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  2. All areas we visited on a trip to London in 2014…these areas are great places for strolling around and observing details. Nice pics. (Suzanne)

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    1. They are wonderful areas to stroll around aren’t they? I did so much walking in London way more than I do back home! The history and the juxtaposition of old and new was fascinating. I will check out your old posts too – would love to see your photos as well πŸ™‚

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      1. Yes, they are and we always walk a lot when we visit various cities…it is the best way to discover a city.

        Here are our posts on those areas: Columbia Road Flower Market and London East End.

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        1. For some reasons the links to the two posts don’t show but if you click on the titles of each of the article, it will bring you there…

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          1. No problem at all Suzanne – I will find a way to the articles!

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        2. Thanks Suzanne for the links – will head over to read them! πŸ™‚

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  3. Gorgeous photos Rosemary, I’ve never been to this part of London but it looks great. What a superb choice of flowers too at the end of the day – Mlle is lucky to be able to get blooms for her table at such a lovely flower market.

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    1. Thanks Joy – I had been wanting to visit this part of London for a while having heard and read a lot about it and fortunately Mlle was very happy to take me there as it’s one of her favourite haunts! The markets are all amazing and I’ll be writing more about them but the flower market was one of my favourites. We are lucky enough to live close to a farmer’s market at our local school and get fresh flowers there but I’d never seen so many flowers all in one place as I did at Colombia Road! Mlle has also got a lovely orchid that she bought some months ago from the market – still going strong! πŸ™‚

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  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    I have never been to this part of London but follow the blog Spittalfields Life which ha smade me want to go, as has your post.

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    1. I will have to check that blog out Anabel as it sounds fascinating – the whole area is so interesting and I feel we only just touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of places to see! Glad you enjoyed the post – not only are the flowers wonderful but there were so many quirky shops, art galleries and antique places to see – could have spent all day there if we had the time (lots of cafes, eateries and pubs too!) πŸ™‚

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  5. Welcome home! Hope you had a wonderful time and look forward to reading about it. I love the vibe of East London and I rarely get to go now as I live so south. The flowers in Columbia are so vibrant. I want some flowers now for the house! Have a lovely weekend πŸ˜€

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    1. Thanks Ting! Had a really great trip – took so many photos and have lots of places to write up about! I will be along to catch up on all your posts too – it was quite hard to keep track of things when I was travelling so took a break from blogging apart from Instagram and the facebook page. We used to live in north London and never went down to the East End (though Monsieur worked in Bishopsgate not far from Liverpool Street Station at the time). However it’s really been done up in the last few years or so. If you ever need flowers for a celebration or just to decorate your home it’s well worth making a trip to Colombia Road – the quality is sensational and the prices good especially at the end of the trading day (around 2 – 2.30pm onwards when the traders are offering bargains). Congratulations on your blog award nominations – I will follow the link and vote for you! Have a lovely weekend too πŸ™‚

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  6. Welcome back! What a delightful post. So many beautiful pictures. I miss tulips. Your daughter is adorable. I am glad you had a nice time with her. Glad Tottenham won!

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    1. Thanks Lisa! Yes it was so lovely to spend some time with Mlle in London (and later she came to Italy with us too). Tulips are one of my favourite flowers and the range of colours they had in the markets was wonderful! Getting back into the swing of things and catching up on blog reading too! Are you still in Sydney I had a feeling you had set sail again? Have enjoyed your street scenes series from Sydney very much! πŸ˜ƒ

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      1. Well it was fun to hang out together on Instagram while you were traveling. Looking forward to seeing future posts to hear more details of your trip. We are currently in Mooloolaba in Queensland. An unexpected stop as we look to have our freezer repaired. Luckily, we have a spare (how spoiled are we) but we prefer to travel toward Indonesia with two freezers so that we can bring more foods. If we can’t get it fixed easily here, it can wait until Darwin .

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        1. Thanks Lisa and it was great that you could follow my progress via Instagram – the wonders of social media! πŸ™‚ I’ve visited the Sunshine Coast just the once (we stayed in Noosaville many years ago when our girls were small). It’s a lovely part of the world though so sorry to hear about your freezer woes and hope you can get it fixed before you set sail for Indonesia. Hope you are enjoying the Queensland Coast in the meantime – I think it’s still really warm there at the moment!

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          1. It is warm here indeed. Freezer sorted. We are off to Fraser Island tomorrow ⛡️

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            1. Great to hear! Enjoy Fraser Island! πŸ˜ƒ

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  7. KerryCan says:

    Such beautiful images! I really like the tablescape in the last photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kerry! The table was laid by my daughter and her artistic flatmates – the tulips complemented it well!

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  8. fifi + hop says:

    There’s nothing happier than a good flower market. Sounds like you had a wonderful month full of travels and look forward to reading all about them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love flower markets so was very happy to wander round this one. Had a wonderful month away – took so many photos!

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  9. RuthsArc says:

    Welcome back Rosemary. I love Columbia Road Flower Market. It is an interesting part of London. I worked near Liverpool St for many years and was a “reading partner” at the junior school in Columbia Road. It was a lovely experience to see the kids grow, literally and with their reading skills. Thanks for the memories your post has invoked πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ruth and what a lovely story! I used to help out with literacy programmes at my daughters’ schools – it’s so rewarding πŸ™‚ Great to hear about your special connection with the Colombia Road area and so glad the post brought back happy memories for you – I loved the Colombia Road Flower Market and will definitely revisit it on future visits! πŸ™‚

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  10. restlessjo says:

    Loads of happy memories, Rosemay! I can almost feel them bubbling over. πŸ™‚ We were away at much the same time so we’ll have plenty of story swapping to do. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes definitely so many happy memories and stories to share Jo! I hadn’t realised you were away whilst I was so yes will be looking forward to hearing about all your travels! I loved our time in London – was so enjoyable to have Mlle as a guide too! πŸ˜ƒ

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  11. vinneve says:

    Beautiful flowers it is a perk me up thing! Seems you did enjoy your travel galore πŸ™‚ welcome back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes the market was so beautiful – so many gorgeous flowers to choose from! I would spend a small fortune here if I still lived in London!

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  12. Beautiful! The table with the flowers at the end looks so nice πŸ™‚ Just got tulips in the garden. It seems like that have so many interessting flowers at that marked.

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    1. Thanks Hanna – the flower market was amazing you can get so many different types of flowers there and they are fresh and in season too. I have always loved tulips so it was good that we were there in the spring. Mlle and her flatmates decorated the table at their apartment – the flowers we got added a lovely touch. Great to hear from you and I’ll be heading over your way to catch up on all your latest blog posts too! πŸ™‚

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  13. Rashminotes says:

    I love visiting flower markets too; we have many of them in India:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes flower markets are lovely aren’t they?! The ones you have in India must be gorgeous too and so colourful! πŸ™‚

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  14. Indeed, the Colombia Road Flower Market were simply delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a gorgeous place – all those flowers! πŸ™‚

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