Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Don't Miss In London!!! Columbia Street Flower Market

Our last day of Blogtour London was filled with so much goodness I decided to break it down into a couple of posts.   Veronika gave us the morning off to as we pleased.  She had promised Florence, her daughter she would take her to the local flower market on Columbia Street.  They offered for any interested parties to tag along.  I have never been one to miss out on an adventure, so I got up bright and early in preparation for the day.  Since this was not part of the blogtour itinerary, I decided to dedicate a post strictly to the Columbia Street Market.  I took so many pictures I really had to cull through to only share the best.   I'm so glad I went!  It was a a lesson in local culture.  I loved every minute.  I hope you enjoy seeing the market through my photographs.  

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   Columbia Street is not to be missed if you are in London on a Sunday.  From the time the taxi dropped us at the corner til we left the market, it was a morning filled with delight!

Veronika gave us the lay of the land and details on what not to miss.  It's so helpful to know where to go and what to see when you are a first timer to events like these.

Before we actually got to the flowers, Veronika told us not to miss out on the quaint shops, which line the streets behind the market.  Of course I couldn't disregard a shop named "The Cake Hole" so I popped inside to check it out!  The front of the shop was filled with china, dinnerware and everything in between.  I was secretly wishing I had an extra suitcase to transport china! 

We mentioned to the shop owner how much we liked her displays and she said "my husband thinks I have a boyfriend, because I spend so many hours here arranging the dishes."  She did have a love and it was her dishes, you could tell by the way she referred to them!

In the back of The Cake Hole was a little restaurant.  I didn't go in there, but it looked as
 quaint as the shop and well attended.

All the  shops were so attractive it was hard not to keep popping in those, but we were there for the flowers, so we hatched a plan to go see the flowers first, then visit the shops on the way out.

Of course my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw this vintage shop.  I had a brief moment of sadness mixed with relief when I realized it was closed.  I knew I would be in trouble if it were open. Just take a gander at the goodies in the window!!!  All upscale name brands.

This was another shop calling us in...Could a name be more perfect for a shop?  

And then we reached the flowers..... rows and rows of beautiful flowers....

It was truly flower heaven.  My photos really don't
 do it justice.

The exotic items were abundant and so interesting. 

Delphiniums have always been one of my favorites.  These looked fake they were so perfect!

Can you imagine being able to drop by the local market and bring home
a bouquet of beauty such as these?

The various colored grasses were as lovely as the flowers.

I thought how lovely it would have been if we each had chosen just one flower to represent who we were as designers. Wouldn't that have made an interesting bouquet.  Oh well, when we go back we will have to do that Veronika (hint, hint!)

Somehow this name doesn't represent the bouquets.  Way too colorful to be called "rustic"

This guy enjoyed yelling at our group and even resorted to trying to sound "southern" in hopes of selling me a bouquet.  He was really cute!

Florence was inspecting a little closer.  She took amazing pics with her phone.

I have never met a tulip I didn't like but orange tulips...this many in one place!
When I saw these it reminded me of the debacle that Traci Zeller and I had 
the day our flowers were not what we ordered for our show house room and we
drove all over Greensboro trying to find orange tulips!  Hello orange tulips!!!...
no wonder we couldn't find you in Greensboro, you were all in London!

Chinese lanterns were in abundance.  I wanted to grab a bunch to
decorate for fall.   

Hydrangena were also in abundance.  I loved the mix of colors available.

Beautiful display of lavender.  Made me think of Mr. Steam and how the fresh lavender 
would smell so lovely in a steam shower.  

Every flower you could think of was available here at the market on Columbia Street and the prices are amazing!  The sellers yell out prices and banter back and forth in hopes of getting a buyer.

The Royal Oak is a famous eatery on Columbia Street.  I'm sure some of my group would have loved to have partaken of the bloody marys or the  pork rillette, picked onion salad and crispy pig skins for 6.5 lbs, if it had been open.  (Of course it was a bit early in the morning for the pig skins, but the bloodies would have been nice to sip on our stroll through the flowers). If I ever move to London to live, I may consider opening a bloody mary stand at the flower market!  I'm sure I would be a favorite among the vendors as dollars seem to flow more freely when alcohol is around.

We made our way past the market into the "flea market" part of the market.  There was a guy sining reggae on the corner.  I thought I took a picture of him but can't seem to find it in my 6,000+ pictures I took while away.  Florence and I eyed this lovely little bakery on the corner.  We couldn't resist the fumes wafting from the open door.  We had to go inside if for nothing else to smell the fresh bread. 

Once inside, there was no way were we leaving without some of that fabulous smelling bread!
We bought almond croissants that were still warm, smoked salmon with fresh cream cheese and egg & mayonnaise (which is what we call egg salad ) on bagels.  Everything was still warm and oh so good!

 We ate our goodies and continued to stroll around.  I loved the door of the stationer's shop.  It was so colorful.  I pondered what might have been inside if it had been open. 

I couldn't help, but capture the vespas that looked like they had been parked to
 match their surrounding backdrop of graffiti. 

Local families come out to shop the market.  Lucky people. I enjoyed watching this little boy with his mum.  You could tell he was accustom to being at the market with her.  While she chatted with the vendors he busied himself with toys.

The variety of items for sale is interesting. This vendor sells everything from mattresses to furniture.

Veronika directed us to this courtyard for the best coffee of the morning.
I think Lisa Kahn-Allen also found a "to die for" sausage sandwich here too.

This was the place that really had me wishing I could scoop up china to take home.  You wouldn't believe how cheap it was!  I could have purchased this entire table!

I would have taken this table of goodies too, if transportation had not been an issue!  When I go back, I'm taking empty suitcases for shopping finds.  I asked the vendor of this area, where he found the dishes and he said old estate sales.  Can you imagine?  China from old English estates!!!! (I die!)

Vintage clothes were also for sale at the market although none of these tempted me.   I was already trying to figure out how I was going to drag what I had brought home. 

 Olives, olives and more olives.....

These wooden barrels of fresh olives would have been irresistble to me if it had been later in the day.

Can you imagine being able to buy every imaginable kind fresh pesto at the local market?
A cup of anyone of these a a nice chunk of bread would provide a feast fit for a king.

  I would have loved to swoop up a few of these to bring back, but decided a photo
 would have to be my only souvenir of these handsome guys.

Richard Rabel, being the gentleman he is, decided to share his find of
 "the fresh oyster guy in the alley" serving Colchester oysters!  

Veronika liked the vinegary sauce on hers.

  Here are some of the gang enjoying the oysters!
Florence, Laura and Ann shared one with me! 
They were truly divine!

The oyster guy had step up shop in the alley, but his actual restaurant 
was just through the arches behind his pop up eatery in the alley.

The menu looked amazing!  Too bad we were already full from our
variety of treats already consummed, including his oysters.

Had to laugh at this "wanted" sign next to our oyster hang out.  I'm sure if I 
lived near by and was a few years younger this would totally describe me.

All along the streets were windows filled with amazing looking delicacies.

I mean really...have you ever!!!!

This was the candy store.  I'm sure if my children had been with me, this would have been a point of interest, but I did my best not to go inside.  

The shops were so interesting.  Flo brought me in this shop to see this tea towel. I almost bought it because it described how guilty I was feeling about being in Europe without my family.  It it had said "local woman get's month off" I couldn't have resisted. 

Everywhere I looked my pocketbook said "restraint please"!  Just look at these artistic plates in one of the shop windows.  It was painful resisting not just opening my pocketbook and saying ok, first come first serve...come take all my money and give me what you've got but then reality set in and I remembered I had to save money to get home.

This window combines all my favorite colors into one display!  If I had to pick one picture from my trip that made me happy it would be this photo.  Love it!

Color is everywhere in Europe.  

They aren't as inhibited as americans when it comes to color.  Even the brightest
boldest colors are splashed on storefronts.

There are also soft colors like this beautiful blue.

This was a photo from my favorite shop on Columbia Street which I will share more about later.

As we were leaving the market Courtney tries his hand at the street puzzle

If it had been later in the day I would love to have gone in The Birdcage for an ale.


Everything about Columbia Street and London in general, can be summed up in this photo.  This photo  represents the beauty of dichotomy: old architecture mixed with modern, proper teas or gritty pubs, color versus absence of color, the grandiose juxtaposed with the simple, that makes this an interesting place to visit.  It's all so exhilarating and inspiring.

On our walk out, we found the vintage store was open! Yes, open!  Be still my heart!!!!!  Did I buy the shoes or not?  I exercised restraint.  I'm still sad that I didn't purchase the turquoise and black Nicholas Kirkwood shoes.  I don't think it was in the cards for me to bring these home.  I'm not sure how I let these get away?   Could be because they looked so perfectly displayed in the window like a fine piece of art?  Yes, that might be the reason....

My day at the Columbia Road Flower Market will forever live as a favorite day in my heart.  
A memory to be cherished of fun times shared with my Blogtour London Friends.

Thank You Veronika Miller and all the sponsors who made it possible.

Mr. Steam, Laufen, Blanco, Poggenpohl, Modenus, citizenM

my trip was paid for by these fabulous sponsors but all opinions are my own

(All photographs are property of Lisa Mende Design and should not be used without permission)

Thank you to the wonderful sponsors of Blogtour London!
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  1. Lovely! What an adventure and reminder to travel for the simple joy of exploring! Thanks for the pics and the great stories!

    Legacy Classic

    1. You are so right! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Your trip was a dream.....except for your fall!
    If I ever get to France and England I will check out all the wonderful places you have taken us to.

    1. yes it was Patty! I do hope you get to go! I didn't realize what i was missing out on!


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