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). 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!
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