An ode to Columbia Road

A piece of my heart belongs to Columbia Road.

Hyacinths at Columbia Road flower market

I’m not sure why I’ve never written a proper post on the East London street made famous by it’s old flower market. Sure, I’ve mentioned it in passing but I’ve never gotten around to a whole post dedicated to what is undoubtedly one of my favourite places in London.  I lived just off Columbia Road for two and a half years and absolutely adored it. A busy, bustling house filled with beautiful and hilarious housemates. Where we always had flowers, the biggest tree we could find at Christmas, and a glass of wine was never far away. Where too many mid-week drinks at the Royal Oak was a frequent occurrence and too much karaoke at the weekend would keep us awake. The ‘Columbia Road girls’ who appeared on a cooking show (the less said about that the better)…

The Royal Oak Columbia Road

My love affair with Columbia Road started on my first weekend in London. My old friend Emma said to me, “I think you’ll really like it” as we walked down Bethnal Green Road. I couldn’t believe such a glorious place existed. As a girl who grew up with a big rose-filled garden in New Zealand and home was always filled with flowers, it was a dream come true to find a flower market in the East End. I grew up learning all the names of the flowers and plants in the garden with my very green-thumbed grandparents. I even won the Flower Show Cup at primary school. (Yes, we had such a thing. It was the highlight of sports’ day – which I did my best to get out of.) It’s fair to say, like my sister, I have inherited the gene for all things green and flowery. I was lucky enough, after a couple of years in different London flats, to find my dream (well, almost) house share just off Columbia Road.

Seasons at Columbia Road

A few happy years later, I now only live a 15-minute walk away and if Sunday is looking quiet, a stroll to Columbia Road is always top of my to-do list. Now we have a little garden I buy as many plants as I can carry back home, usually a bouquet or two and a coffee. The ever-changing seasons are so visible at the markets. Spring = bulbs galore and cherry blossom. Summer brings roses, glorious dahlias and perfect peonies. Autumn = orange blooms for Halloween, and winter brings Christmas trees, bunches of cotton and vibrant red berries.

Columbia Road vintage plates

 

An ode to Columbia Road

I will always love rolling out of bed on a Sunday morning for a coffee, a bunch of flowers and a stroll around the vintage stalls and shops before the heaving crowds descend. The wonderful little shops where I will always find the perfect present. The hilarious long-time stall holders. The cakes at Lily Vanilli. The teacups at Vintage Heaven. The gorgeous mosaics outside the school. If I’m feeling glum, the Mr always knows a trip to Columbia Road will make it better.

Columbia Road School Mosiac

It pays to get there super early to avoid the crowds or, if you’d like a bargain bunch of blooms go about 2pm in winter or 3pm in spring/summer when the stallholders are selling everything they have left cheap. For a look around the shops, get there early, or better yet, go on a Saturday when most of the shops are open and there are no crowds.  The late night evenings in the lead up to Christmas are equally crowd but loads of fun with chestnuts being roasted, carol singers and mulled wine for sale. Perfect for gift shopping. It’s so pretty all lit up at night! And if it snows…magical.

Late night at London's Columbia Road

Columbia Road, you hold a very special place in my heart.

Columbia Road Flower Market is on every Sunday, rain or shine, 8am til 3’ish. You can find out more about Columbia Road and how to get there over here.

Photos by Luke and me

Lately I’ve been…

Spring flowers co-ordinating my outfit with the fallen blossom petals…

loving the Welsh Poppies, Nasturtiums and other blooms in my garden. Foxgloves, I love you…

Eating & baking baking spring birthday cakes and decorating them with nasturtiums and violets from the garden…

trying not to eat all the sourdough bread the Mr has been baking…

cooking up a nut roast pie and baking peach tarts for a friend over for dinner…

Sweet violets

picking teeny-tiny violets from the garden…

Ruby grapefruit & berries

trying to make up for all the cake by eating raspberries and grapefruit…

Lately

trying not to steal the neighbours cat…

then eating more cake…

enjoying the spring sunshine…

and spring storms…

Treasures

tidying up my inherited, vintage and new treasures…

As you can see lately has been all about being at home, baking cakes and hanging out in the garden.

All photos from my instagram @theteapotexplodes xx C

Frock Friday: The palest green dress

I’ve always been of the you-can-never-have-too-much-stuff school of thought. Another black skirt? It’s a workwear essential. More vintage china? It’s so pretty! Must-have beauty products? Totally needed. But after reading Amy’s post on Experience vs. Things on DesignSponge, I decided it really was time to curb the habit. I’ve jumped on the no-buying bandwagon for a month and so far it’s been pretty easy. I haven’t bought anything that I haven’t really needed to, other than a vintage wooden hand mirror, a glass dish and some old bone-handle cutlery from the local charity shop for a grand total of £6. Not too much of a slip up. I’ve created a ‘No-buy list’ over on Trello (which I love) and will review all the things I’ve added since 1 May at the end of the month.  My birthday is the beginning of June, so I’m going to treat myself to something special. The latest addition to my no-buy list is this:

ASOS Green cut-work dress

ASOS Salon Lace Insert Smock Dress. Photo by ASOS

The palest apple green dress with pretty cut-work details over by ASOS Salon. Please don’t sell out before 1 June. I’d definitely ditch the short patterned under dress and wear over a black or cream vintage silk slip. It’d be perfect for wearing to one of those summer weddings we’re going to or equally perfect for frolicking about picking daises in a meadow. Paired with much sensible footwear, of course.

 

xC

P.s. An equally stunning bird-embellished summer dress.

Going/Coming back home

Like many others who choose to move to London, I now have two homes. One here in the heart of housing price-boom Hackney. I love everything about it despite the annoyingly ‘cool’ factor it has. Strolling to the markets, the cheery chaps in Costcutter, the little new gourmet food store on my street (Pinch), the London Field’s Lido, my neighbours and more. Well, everything apart from the rent, the too-cool-for-school kids who have overcrowded my local, and the lack of property-owning.

Then there’s home-home. More than 11,000 miles away from London, back in the sunshine with my friends and family, green and lush, where I grew up, more than 24 hours on a plane, listening to Bob Dylan in the kitchen, hello the-worst-kind-of-jetlag home. New Zealand. Home where the other half of my heart is. We went home home in February/March…

Pine Ridge

Sewing lessons

Mirror mirror

Family portrait

Green lake

Nz Road Trip

Rangitoto

Photos by Luke

 

Lately I’ve been…

lately

reuniting old sparkly friends…

trying to tame my wild herb garden…

buying spring blooms…

eating Hawke’s Bay peaches off the tree…

NZ1

drinking really good coffee in Wellington…

visiting home sweet home…

having NZ beach days…

drinking wine with old friends…

NZ2

going on trips…

having beach picnics with one beardy bloke…

having last suppers…

chilling on the purple velvet sofa…

and drinking more coffee.

The Welsh seaside – New Quay

New Quay boatLooking out my window at the grey sky it’s hard to believe that until a couple of weeks ago we were basking in the midst of an elusive ‘Great British Summer’. Since I first arrived here from sunny New Zealand, I thought a this thing was just a myth or a strap-line that some advertising clever clogs had made up in the 50s to lure tourists to the grey island called Britain. Now I get it, it’s actually a thing!

I wanted to share some photos of sunny New Quay in Wales from a trip back in the very beginning of summer, when everyone thought it was still going to rain for months. No, I’m not confused. This is New Quay in Wales, not Newquay in Cornwall. Different places. We even saw dolphins (dolphins! who knew!) playing in the sea.

New Quay - Wales

New Quay - Wales

The fishing town on Cardigan Bay, West Wales, is filled with picturesque cottages, many a fish’n’chip joints and ice-cream counters. The town is believed to be the ‘cliff-perched town at the far end of Wales’ as immortalised by Dylan Thomas in ‘Under Milk Wood’.

Buckets, spades - Wales

New Quay WalesCome back summer. I’m not ready for endless grey days just yet. See that blue sky? NO FILTER!

St Benedict – A Victorian B&B

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Without a doubt this is the most amazing home I’ve ever been lucky enough to stay in. It’s probably the most amazing home I’ve ever set foot in to be honest. St Benedict Victorian B&B can be found in the sleepy East Sussex town of St-Leonard-on-Sea, neighbour to Hastings.  I’d been wanting to visit Hastings for ages after reading about it on both Sarah and Ellie‘s blogs and we decided a last-minute weekend away was just what we needed. After searching around online for somewhere to stay and giving up on any Air BnB options, I stumbled across this place and knew it was worth investigating.

St benedicts windows

It’s like stepping into a past era. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we arrived but I knew it was going to be amazing. I never expected it to be this good. Any pictures I’d seen online could not have prepared me for the absolute gorgeousness of the place.

St Benedicts

Owners Paul and Steven have spent the last 18 years transforming the home, which was divided into flats, back into a full house. It’s clearly been a lot of hard work and  a labour of love. But the result is completely breathtaking.

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We stayed in the old nursery room  on the top floor. The antique bed is probably the comfiest I’ve ever slept in, with its antique hand-embroidered sheets and cosy blankets. The room also has a spectacular view of the garden with its massive pond, own chapel and summer-house.

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St Benedict Victorian B&B view

St Benedict Victorian B&B

Breakfast was served on gorgeous china and silver serving ware, all sent to the dining room via the dumb-waiter from the kitchen below.

Breakfast at St Benedict

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St Bendicts BB sink

Each room also has its own bathroom with roll top bath and Victorian style loo with wooden seat.

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I honestly can’t explain in enough detail how amazing this place is. A single blog post could never do it justice. It’s not stuffy like a museum but very welcoming and comfortable (although it is more amazing than most of the National Trust places I’ve been)! Only 1 hour 40 min or so by train from London Bridge it’s an easy weekend away. Just go. I know I will be visiting again.

x C