Spending a Sunday morning at Columbia Road’s flower market

I haven’t posted too much recently because I’m on a mission to eat a bit less and move around a bit more, partly in anticipation of the impending party season with all its fatladen festivities, and partly because my liver was beginning to resemble meatloaf. Or possibly Meatloaf.

I have discovered, alas, that health kicks don’t really lend themselves well to writing a blog about eating and drinking anywhere, let alone London, so I’ve been focusing a bit more on the doing element (providing, of course, that ‘doing’ does not at all involve one’s mouth).

I’ve been getting back into running recently, but because I am naturally a very lazy person I have to set myself some sort of ‘running mission’ so I don’t just turn around as soon as I stop fancying it, which is invariably half a mile down the road. Today I decided to get up earlyish (inspired by my #EarlyBirdChallenge a couple of weeks ago!) to visit East London’s famous flower market on Columbia Road.

Columbia Road Flower Market

It was about 10:30am when I arrived, so it was already very busy.  If you don’t like crowds and aren’t scared of an early start on a Sunday, the market opens from 8am. The bustling atmosphere is actually quite lovely though, even with the dawdling hordes and the flower-sellers aggressively trying to out-yell each other (“Git chore hydrangea heads, three for a pahnd!”), and the sight and scent of so many flowers in one place is very beautiful. It is popular with tourists, though, and therefore pickpockets, so keep your wits and valuable bits about you.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market
I really wanted to buy some of the deep purple calla lilies, but they’d never have survived the run home. Plus my housemate is the snottiest, snivelliest, most allergic bastard there is, and lilies are the worst for pollen.

For those who haven’t been disgracing themselves into the small hours of Sunday morning, the flower market is the kind of place you might go for a mooch before ducking into one of its independent coffee shops, ‘artisan’ bakeries, vintage stores and second-hand bookshops. Yes, the whole street is just one living, breathing Shoreditch stereotype, but while you’re there you may as well embrace it. In twenty minutes I saw:

– A giant poodle wearing a hat (alas, a fast-moving one. I wish I’d got a picture!)
– A lady accordionist busking in French
– Another busker with a guitar selling a CD he, apparently, recorded in prison
– The world’s tiniest fancy juice bar
– Some of the ugliest jumpers I’ve ever seen in my life
– A garden ornament shop called ‘Stoned and Plastered’

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road is also home to the world's smallest juice bar...

Columbia Road Flower Market is open from 8am to 3pm every Sunday in every weather, although, of course, it’s much nicer in the sunshine! Most sellers do not accept cards so bring cash, and remember that nobody sells finished bouquets, so if you’re buying blooms as a gift you may need to do some DIY at home. As well as flowers, there are plenty of sellers hawking bedding plants, houseplants and larger items – like banana trees! – so if you’re lucky enough to have your own outside space in London, it’s a nice place to deck out your garden, balcony or window box. Find out more online

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.