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Rachel Khoo

The Khoo Times

The
Khoo Times

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London Guide: Columbia Road

I was lucky enough to film parts of my new show in a house on Columbia Road, in East London. I loved getting to know some of the local businesses, during my time as a Columbia Road 'local'. Tiny boutiques selling goods from independent produces, one of the most famous flower markets in the world, and the cutest little terrace houses, what more could you want? This quaint street really is one of my favourite spots in the Big Smoke.

On Sundays, the street comes alive with the cheerful shouts and smiles of the flower sellers setting up shop. Jam-packed with stalls selling every flower and herb imaginable, the market really is a sight to behold. A word of warning – prepare yourselves for a big crowd! It's all part of the fun, and sometimes you just need to be swept along with the crowds of people searching for the perfect bunch of flowers.

Afternoon crowds at the flower market, picking up last-minute bargains

I approach the market in two ways: I either plan an early morning trip, in an attempt to avoid crowds, or I head to Columbia Road at around 3pm, when the stalls are closing – to try and get some bargains.

Heaven for an urban gardener

In addition to beautiful blooms, you'll also find lots of edible goodies and trinkets in the shops either side of the market (most of the shops are open during the week – check individual stockists for opening times). Pick up a mouthwatering cupcake from Lili Vanilli (tucked in Ezra Street), and stock up on Portuguese goods from A Portuguese Love Affair. Head to Brawn for a leisurely weekend lunch (like most places in the area – best to call ahead and reserve a table).

My favourite boutique has to be Choosing Keeping. I can't resist a good stationery shop, it's a serious addiction of mine! And owner Julia has such a keen eye for sourcing beautiful products.

Can't resist all the stationery goodies at Choosing Keeping

Remember to peer down the sidestreets, too. Lots of antique and secondhand bits and bobs waiting to go to a good home!

Wouldn't mind having the cut-glass bowl to use as a fruit bowl!

You'll find a list of my favourite places in London here on my blog.

And check out this video below for an interesting behind the scenes insight into life at the flower market. I love that this marketeer calls Columbia Road the 'market with the biggest heart in London'! Very true.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3StOwo1uyI

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