East London may not be everyone's cup of tea - but for my mind it's packed to the brim with hidden treasures: vintage lovliness, quirky shops, bohemian people, busy streets and a colorful (sometime chaotic) atmosphere sandwiched in a setting of cramped Dickensian rows of houses and Brutalist, sad grey 70s flats.
One of East London's hidden treasures is the Columbia Road Flower Market. It is a little piece of the world that is free from the clutches of big business and chain stores. The Market has been going in various guises since 1869. The rows of cosy Victorian shops and houses that surround the market are filled with all manner of gorgeous, quirky shops and cafes.
A Sunday stroll through the maket, with the air intensely filled with the scent of winter hyacinths, the calls of sellers, "One pound a daf'" and "Everthin' a fiver" and the strains of a ukaeleles and accordians invitograted all of my senses - which was well welcome in the dulling winter chill. There is really no other lovlier thing to do on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.
Be sure to stop by Jones Dairy on Ezra street, which is open until 2pm. Starting as a small dairy at the turn of the 19th century, it is now a charming old fashioned grocery store offering a selection of gourmet delights from free range eggs direct from the farm and unfiltered unpasteurised apple juice to traditionally oak smoked salmon.
If something sweet is more to your taste, check out Cake Hole, which is a cafe set within the shop Vintage Heaven. You might also like to visit the cake stall, which was on offer the day we visited or pop into
The best thing about the market is that you don't have to rush there too early in the morning as it runs into the early afternoon - and around 1pm you can get those dafs' for 50p!!
Flower Market & Shops:
Sundays from 8am ’til 3'ish
Tube: Old St / Bethnal Green