Six for a fiver!

4 Dec

Columbia Road Flower Market in East London, is a Sunday morning institution.  The narrow, ancient drovers road is crammed from end to end with stall holders selling their wares by the age old medium of yelling in a barely intelligible voice “six pots for a fiver, six for a fiver people”.

London has a plethora of weekend markets from Portobello in the West to Brick Lane in the East.  Pre-children we often spent our weekends squeezing through crowds and browsing stalls of secondhand Viewmasters, handmade jewellery or tropical plants, takeaway coffee in one hand, Portuguese custard tart in the other.

After a couple of attempts to snowplow a buggy along Goldborne Road with a toddler sized Eve who was less than impressed with a morning spent looking at other people’s knees, we regretfully gave markets up as a bad job and embraced the convenience of internet shopping.

But last Sunday, a failure to check museum opening times meant that we were hanging around in a very damp Shoreditch, with an hour to kill.  As Columbia Road Market was literally the only thing within walking distance that was also open, it was an easy decision to make.

And I’m glad we did.  The rain meant that the crowds were merely bustling rather than the usual jampacked, and the children loved the vendors and their patter.  Even in winter, the variety of plants for sale was impressive and it was our first Christmassy outing with fir trees and decorated wreaths for sale at every other stall.  Being a Sunday at the end of  November, it’s now been raining for the best part of a month, so they’ve diversified into umbrellas too.

Columbia Road is also home to lots of very enticing looking shops full of beautiful handmade crafts and cosy cafes with proper cakes and delicate wobbly chairs.  We decided not to inflict our damp, boisterous children on the cafe owners but we’ll have to come back on a sunny day and take turns to have a solo browse, whilst the children enjoy the large playground just behind the market.

We went home laden with a plain blue fir wreath, to decorate ourselves for Christmas, big bunches of shiny red berries like sweeties and triffid-like white amaryllis.  And of course, who could resist six pots of pinky-white, heart-leaved cyclamen for a fiver?  It’s a steal.

This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.  For lovely travel pictures, click here


22 Responses to “Six for a fiver!”

  1. Little Brown Bird 04/12/2009 at 9:10 am #

    Sounds fab…..was meant to visit a month ago but something came up……Maybe next week.

  2. Pippa 04/12/2009 at 11:27 am #

    One of the best bits of the market is listening to what they are shouting!

  3. Vic 04/12/2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Petticoat Lane is my favourite. We did Portobello once in the summer in the days when we still had a buggy and it was nightmarish – will probably only go back there now without the boys.

  4. Cate 04/12/2009 at 3:04 pm #

    Love London markets — on nice days. I’ve read about the bad weather the UK has been getting, doesn’t seem to deter people from doing their Christmas errands.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 04/12/2009 at 10:56 pm #

      It was really fun to watch people carrying their Christmas trees home.

  5. Jen@TwoKidsandaMap 04/12/2009 at 3:08 pm #

    I have found that if you can brave the crowds that the kids love to wander up and down the market stalls looking at all the bright colors, items and tasty goodies! We love to find markets when we are traveling and hit our local one as often as we can.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 04/12/2009 at 10:54 pm #

      I can’t wait to take the children to markets in South East Asia. They are most definitely attractions in themselves.

  6. Karen from Travel With Kids 04/12/2009 at 5:50 pm #

    LOVE that first pic. This post made me homesick for Britain. The rain has just turned to snow here in Central Ontario, but I’d still love one of those £1 umbrellas!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 04/12/2009 at 10:53 pm #

      Wish it would snow here, it would be a lot more fun than the endless rain!

  7. Josie @Sleep is for the Weak 04/12/2009 at 10:39 pm #

    Gorgeous photos! One day I am going to come visit you and we can have a photography expedition 🙂 xx

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 04/12/2009 at 10:52 pm #

      You are most certainly on! Fingers crossed for a new camera from father Christmas!

  8. Aly 04/12/2009 at 10:40 pm #

    I live in a town with a small market which I love visiting every month.We have ontinental markets twice a year with their french cheeses and german sausages.The kids love the hustle and bustle and the smells.Life certainly becomes more interesting when people come together.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 04/12/2009 at 10:50 pm #

      Despite what I said about Internet shopping, I actually live very near a Market which I use for my shopping every week. You can’t beat Barbara & Ted’s fruit stall!

  9. angelsandurchinsblog 04/12/2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Ooh yes, do love those Portuguese custard tarts. Even have a recipe for them, if you’re interested! Lovely post, makes me realise how much I really am a Londoner at heart.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 04/12/2009 at 10:48 pm #

      I love baking, but they’d never be as good as the golbourne rd ones accompanied by a proper coffee. London is completely fab isn’t it?

  10. Brit In Bosnia 05/12/2009 at 8:10 am #

    You’ll have such a great time travelling – markets galore. We always try to go to the markets if we can – the kids love it, especially the toy gun stall which I am less keen on…

  11. Vacation Deals 05/12/2009 at 10:28 am #

    love the flower market..
    attractive flowers bloom there..
    love it..

  12. Heather 05/12/2009 at 10:54 am #

    lovely photo’s. Markets are one of the things I miss about UK.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 05/12/2009 at 10:56 pm #


  13. Lora 05/12/2009 at 4:01 pm #

    I love detours, especially when they bring such unexpected pleasures. Your photographs are amazing.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 05/12/2009 at 10:55 pm #

      thank you!

  14. Dominique 06/12/2009 at 6:42 pm #

    Love the open-air markets. This looks like a great market.
    We’re fortunate to have a year-round one here in Detroit, as well…so we’re thinking of going in a week or so for some last minute local goodies.

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