Unlike what you have been reading in the Daily Mirror and on Facebook, the ongoing summer in the U.K. has been non-existent with sparks of heatwaves here and there (a couple of very hot days over a span of a couple of months) and the past few weekends have been rainy and cold. However, we had a bit of luck last Sunday, as the temperature was pleasant and it’s cloudy and only rained for about 5 minutes so we decided to leave the comfort of our sofa and venture outside for the day.
We first went to get a bite for breakfast at the Breakfast Club near Spietafields Market – I love their pancakes but as it is very popular, the wait is often more than half an hour and it is very convenient to book beforehand.
After stuffing our faces with amazing pancakes, we went to the amazing Pettycoat Lane Market, a non pretentious street market where you can find many nice fashionable clothes for a few £ – the vibe is very different from your average Borough Market. The good news is that I love fashion and I definitely love a bargain! I honestly think that this market is very underrated, if you look closely you’ll find items of the past or current season of brands like Top Shop, New Look, Next, Urban Outfitters and just at very low prices. I got myself a £45 blouse by Urban Outfitters which I only paid £10! The tricky part is that it doesn’t have a “tourist vibe”, it’s not fancy nor tidy at all, there is a wide choice and to explore it all will take you half a day – as I previously said, I’m always hunting for bargains so I don’t mind at all! In my opinion, all the possible “downsides” are not relevant at all. This is the market to go to if you’re ever hanging out in East London on a lazy Sunday and you like the whole street market experience.
As usual, I ended up spending too much than I had planned before leaving my place that morning and since we were in the area and since it was still quiet early, we walked from Liverpool Street to a Columbia Road Flower market which is in fact, only open on Sundays.
Columbia Road Flower Market
The market is really overcrowded so I would suggest you to visit it in the morning, but it is a must-see, especially if you have done all the basic touristy stuff. There is a long line of market stalls where you’ll find only flowers and vegetable plants. There are stalls entirely dedicated to every kind of orchids, flower bouquets, seeds, giant apartment plants and tiny cacti.
Before today, I only had been there once a few years ago (in winter) and I have to admit that this time I enjoyed it more, even if the weather wasn’t the best we could ask for, Summer vibes change the whole perspection. The market itself is not big, but it will roughly take you half an hour to visit it all – unless you go there to actually buy flowers, in which case it may take you a bit longer.
I didn’t buy anything there today as I didn’t plan and I may move soon, but as soon as I know what is going to happen to my housing situation I will go there and raid the market. There are plenty of good deals! Where else in London you can get away with 2 beautiful healthy orchids for a fiver (not even in Tesco!)? FYI: only a couple of sellers accept cards so make sure you bring plenty of cash or you may end up leaving your flowers there or missing on the best deals because you need look for an ATM!
There are also a lot of vintage and independent artists’ shops. Amazing to look at and get some inspiration! My favourite shop was the Mexican shop (not sure how they are called but they are very easy to see). They have crafts, furnitues, decorations and even chocolate from Mexican artists and companies! Here’s a few example below:
I also learned a new quote while I was visiting this shop: ”El que lava un puerco con jabon, pierde el tiempo y pierde el jabon” (when you wash a pig with soap, you waste your time and the soap). Great quote that suggests that sometimes we just waste time and precious oxygen on people who don’t really deserve and will never change.
The Columbia Flower Market is probably the only market in London where you won’t find any food stalls. Don’t panic though, there are plenty of cafes around and even today, we’ll go on a diet tomorrow.