Sunday, May 22, 2011

Columbia Road Flower Market

Today Rhys and I headed to East London- my first time venturing into that part of the city. The East end is famous for being a bit rough (have you ever seen the soap opera EastEnders?). However there has been a lot of investment in the area, and it's supposed to become the next technology hub in London. At the same time a lot of hipster kids live in the area, making it a very trendy, arty place to live.
hipsters: so cool it hurts...
We were headed to the east end with a specific destination: the famous Columbia Road flower market which I have been meaning to go to since January. A long wait that was well worth it!

The Columbia Rd market sells only flowers and plants, and has been doing just this since the 1860s. And in the true spirit, some of the flower sellers who trade there today are the 2nd or 3rd generation in their family to do so. Many of them also were the growers of their flowers and plants, coming directly to the market to sell (I assume they sold other places as well). While we there we even saw young kids learning the trade from their parents.

The market runs along only one street that is closed especially for the market every Sunday. It was full of the most beautiful colours and smells, with hundreds of cut flowers, potted flowers, orchids, wisteria, jasmine, tulips, roses, lavender, basil, name it, it was probably there. 
Naturally, the market was absolutely jam-packed with people so it you sort of had to edge and dart your way from stall to stall, trying to see everything. Another unique facet of the market is the hawking; each stall hawks its wares properly, just like some sort of old-timey movie. And the stall holders are teaching their young kids to shout their lines as well, making a fantastic cacophony of accents and some hilarious one-liners. Most of the shouting involved hawking "everything for a fiver" "3 for a fiver" "look at these beauties, only 4 for a fiver". They sure liked the number five, at least. 

I will have to return once I have a space for a garden full of beautiful flowers. At the moment my pots of vegetables are taking up all the space in our backyard, without encroaching on the BBQ/badminton space.

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