Archive for January, 2010

Last time I posted about Columbia Road Market, I had forgotten to take my phone or camera, so when we went back today I took some photos of my favourite haunts there.  The iphone isn’t the best camera for a dull day, so I apologise for the quality.

I will start with a general overview of the market, before taking you round some of my favourite haunts.  First and foremost, the Sunday morning market is a fabulously cheap place to pick up plants and flowers.  It’s a gardener’s paradise.

There is a mind-boggling range of market stalls offering everything from bedding plants to seeds to herbs to cut flowers.  It reminds me of Hampton Court Flower Show in the variety and quality of the items for sale, but about half the usual price.  Most of our favourite specimen plants have been lugged back from here at some point in the last 10 years or so.

But although the flowers and plants attracted us there, it is the boutiques and shops that bring us back time after time.  Here are some of my favourites.

First up, the Fleapit, one of the fantastic retro coffee shops in the area.

All the furniture and even the crockery feels like it is straight out of my childhood home.  Well, if my parents had stuck to their original 1970s style, I suppose.

It is a great place to get a home-made cupcake and a coffee to start you off on a cold morning.

First stop after coffee was Vintage Heaven, where they have the most fabulous collection of vintage crockery, kitchenalia and fabrics.

It’s an absolute treasure trove of bits and bobs, and not so expensive that you can’t pick up something quite reasonable to add to your rapidly expanding vintage fabric collection (eek).

This time I got a set of chair covers for some dining room chairs that haven’t made it out of my head into reality yet.

Next up, Treacle the cupcake shop, which is the only reason my girls still get excited about the whole experience.

They definitely have a way with icing and pink sparkles that hits the spot:

The smaller cupcakes are £1.  Although it’s a lot of money for a mouthful of cake, it is worth it for the rapturous reception the girls give it, and the 10 minutes peace and quiet it buys me to browse the other shops and galleries to follow.

Fred Bare, a shop dedicated to interesting handmade hats:

Lots of shops full of vintage inspired nicknacks:

A retro sweet shop:

Beyond Fabrics sell a range of haberdashery supplies and lots of fabrics sold by the metre:

I love the range they have, again many either vintage or retro-inspired designs.

This is really just a very small selection of some of my favourite places.  There are baby boutiques, vintage clothes shops, as well as many places to buy unusual gifts.  It’s very hard to come away without buying anything, but you also bring with you a hoard of ideas and inspiration.

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Well, I’m sure that title needs an explanation.  Improved British Winter??  What about all the snow and the disruption?  Well, firstly it is a question, not a statement.  I am not saying it is definitely better.  But on the other hand, I can see the benefits.  Snow and frost break up the soil nicely.  They also kill lots of bugs.  Non-native invaders like killer bees and monster ladybirds will find it difficult to survive the colder winters.  The weeds will not have grown so rapidly when under cover of snow.

Important to look at both sides I think.

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Apologies for the long break in blogging.  There are various reasons for this, some important and some trivial.  The main one is that I was involved in an accident in November where I lost the end of my right little finger (eek).  I have had various operations since then (including one on Christmas Eve), and I had effectively lost the use of my right arm until now as I was having to wear it in a sling and with a huge bandage.  I am starting to get some use back, and am testing the waters by entering this post, but it is going to be a long road to recovery.  I am tentatively starting to type again, a bit slower than before, but thankfully with less agony than it was late last year.

But enough of that already.  It is now thankfully 2010, and I am making a fresh start on many fronts.  As there is very little to report on the plot at present, I thought I would do a series of some of my favourite pastimes when I can’t do much on the plot.

The cold makes the finger very painful, so there will be very little going on this winter.  Come April there will be a frenzy of activity!  We are trying to move house, so this may be the first year that we are able to grow seedlings in a greenhouse at home.  The reason we haven’t put a greenhouse on the allotment already is that we don’t get to visit reliably as often for watering as I think you need to.  Really for us it needs to be out the backdoor or on a windowsill.

Our flat is now just too small to accomodate the various propagators we have acquired over the years, so we have waited until we get a small garden with at least one sunny spot for a greenhouse.  Anyone who has ever tried to sell and buy a house can imagine how fraught and stressful the whole process is, and so the sooner it happens, the better for our sanity.

Onto the main topic of the day:

Idea 1.  Visit Columbia Road Market

A fabulous market for garden and plant lovers, and well worth a visit to London if you live further away.  Every Sunday morning, rain or shine, the market is a hive of activity, from fantastic value plant and bulb stalls, to flowers seemingly straight from the suppliers.

In addition, the road itself is lined with shops selling vintage and handmade stuff, as well as a sprinkling of unique and interesting cafes.   Nearby at Bethnal Green, is the recently refurbished Museum of Childhood.  The V&A have taken it over and made it a fanastic experience for young and old alike, with vintage toys  from your childhood as well as lots of sensory and play areas for children of all ages.  Well worth a visit while you are in the area.

Photo Gallery of the Museum of Childhood:

Thankfully there are still lots of toys before my time!

My kids still play with these classic building bricks, although the packaging has changed over the years...

Enid Blyton - Essential To Childhood

Snoopy Dog - how many of you remember this one? We had one at home.

Who could forget the story of Dogtanian, which brought serious literature to pre-schoolers?

This set brought back memories that I didn't even know I had until I saw it!

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