Day Trips: Columbia Road Market

Despite it being very accessible to me, I don't really go to East London much. I think it stems from the fact that I've never been particularly cool and am a bit wary of overly hipster-ish areas. So when my friend C suggested a Sunday trip to Columbia Road, I have to admit I was a little bit reluctant to go there. But equally it was somewhere I'd wanted to visit for a while, so yesterday we met up at London Bridge, hopped on the 149 bus and off we went!

We started off with a visit to an amazing little shop called Vintage Heaven, which sells a fantastic array of beautiful vintage crockery and china - I fell in love with a load of gorgeous plain turquoise blue plates which would be a brilliant classic set for everyday use (one for the wedding list maybe?). They also have a brilliant cake shop called Cakehole out the back which is really reasonably priced and does amazing - and huge! - slabs of cake. I had the Victoria sponge which was really tasty, C had a scone and we shared a massive pot of tea.

Afterwards I bought C an Edward VIII coronation mug that we randomly found in Vintage Heaven as an early Christmas present, and then we had a wander up the road and looked in all the little quirky shops. Columbia Road is mostly famous for its flower market but also has loads of independent shops selling lots of cool clothes and random decorations for your house and garden, as well as lots of food shops. There's a place that sells the most amazing-smelling hot prawns and calmari and another that does Portuguese food, but I was particularly taken by Suck & Chew, the old-school sweet shop. Look at all those retro sweets and the cool vintage Coronation tins! The vintage bike is pretty awesome too.

I can't remember the name of the shop where I saw these Coca-Cola Santa tins, but they are awesome and I want them. They'd be great for storing homemade sweets or bakes in over the Christmas season.

Openhouse is one of my favourite homewares shops on Columbia Road - probably jointly with Ryantown, which is Rob Ryan's shop and sells the most beautiful papercut artwork. Openhouse specialises in signs and garden things with a few small bits and bobs for the house as well. Sadly you're not allowed to take photos inside but outside was good enough for me - I can't be the only one who wants a Hogwarts sign and a Potions planter!

I like this little gnome fella in his flowers - unfortunately the photo hasn't come out fantastically well but he still looks pretty cool!

I am a sucker for a good punning shop name. Stoned & Plastered anyone?

Queenie & Ted is one of my favourite shops on Columbia Road. They customise clothes with gorgeous one-off embroidery - the dress in the window has budgies stitched onto it but there were loads of different designs and they will embroider your own clothes for you as well. I bought the most amazing funky floral empire line dress which wasn't cheap at £45 but looks ace over a long sleeved top and paired with my riding boots.

 Alright Treacle?

The Birdcage is the pub at the top of Columbia Road - it looks brilliant and is definitely on my list for next time we're up that way - and these two guys were performing outside. They were pretty impressive too, I didn't catch it when I took the photo but the one in the hat was tap-dancing along.

All in all, we had a really good day out on Columbia Road and I really want to go back! Highlights for me were discovering Queenie & Ted and the amazing cake at Cakehole. Next time I'd like to go a bit earlier in the morning to see all the flowers in the market - we went mid-morning so most of the flowers were gone by that point - and to take N's camera as I reckon I could get some ace photos with that. It's a really cool area with a great atmosphere and not hipsterish at all. Definitely a favourite place in London.

Have you been to Columbia Road? What did you think of it? And which are your favourite unknown areas of London? Let me know in the comments and have a great day!

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