Last weekend, I was all bunkered down at home, set for a grey, cloudy day of movie-watching and sweet treats when the sun made a surprising appearance. Never one to miss an opportunity I scrapped my date with the couch in favour of a trip over to East London to the Columbia Road Flower Markets.
Every Sunday this little street tucked away behind Shoreditch becomes an oasis of flowers and foliage. Notoriously poorly connected on the east side, I had a bit of a stroll from Old Street station but with every block I passed more and more people with armfuls of flowers so I knew I was heading in the right direction.
Now, I'm fairly certain I could almost smell the markets before I found them, such strong perfumes from all the beautiful blooms. And there really is an incredible amount of them! Most of the sellers grow them themselves and there is a disarming assortment of varieties - a great deal of which I'd never heard of or seen. But they had my favourites - hydrangeas and peonies - so I was a happy girl.
Although you must prepare yourself, it's crazy busy all the time.
Open every Sunday, rain, hail or shine, from 8am, if you're strategic and go towards the end of the day you can pick up several bunches for a steal. I was there around midday and the flower men were cheerfully telling me I could have 3 bunches for £5 - which in their East London speak sounds like "free for a fiva!".
Then again if you're more of a roses girl, you can have a big bunch for only £7!
Undoubtedly, it's the market holders that really make the experience what it is. From buxom women happily calling out, to this sweet little old man, glass eye and all, who clearly lived for selling his flowers and has probably been doing so for over 70 years.
Next time you're in this neck of the woods on a Sunday please do stop by. You'd be bloomin' crazy not to!
Photos by Krissie.