Today the Boos were going it alone without our beloved leader.
Jason had to go home last night. We took him to St. Pancras and waved him off, hankies aloft.
We do not like holidaying without him, but we decided we had to do our best, and that probably some cake might make us feel better.
As you do.
The first plan for today was to go to Columbia Road Flower Market. I haven’t been here since Tilly was about eighteen months old. She used to demand chilli prawns from one of the food stalls there. I always thought that was rather strange. We discussed it today, she does too. She isn’t keen on prawns at all. Luckily for her, the stall had long gone, so we didn’t have to test them for old times sakes.
I love Columbia Road. It is truly what the term ‘a riot of colour’ was invented for. Today it was chock a block with buckets and buckets of peonies and sun flowers, but you can buy everything from roses to tree ferns. One intrepid chap bought a banana palm and we caught sight of him waving about in the crowd as the day progressed, amazingly, the palm was still intact.
It’s a skill.
I didn’t buy any flowers, because I knew we would be out all day and everything I bought would be in tatters by the time we got it home. It doesn’t matter if you don’t buy anything, you really need to go for the atmosphere. I love the hawkers, shouting about their wares and competing with each other for your custom. It’s a real battering for your senses too. It’s noisy, it’s colourful and it smells amazing.
On top of that, a whole street of fantastic cafes, boutiques, galleries and shops have opened up on either side of the road and you can buy all kinds of wonderful things you never knew you needed.
I was delighted to find that two businesses I follow on Facebook, Suck and Chew the sweet shop, and Jimbobart have shops there. I was even more delighted to discover a new favourite, the Lily Vanilli cupcake shop.
Oh. My. Word.
We had the most glorious chocolate cake, slathered in chocolate frosting and a kind of chocolate biscuity rubble. It was divine.
We shall return.
After we had been fortified with cake we wandered up the road to Hackney City Farm so that the children could chase the chickens around and Tilly could commune with goats.
Tilly wants to be a goat whisperer when she grows up.
The farm is free to visit, and it’s a nice way to spend an hour if the weather is good. It really is a community project, with a side line in organic veg boxes and a matching garden, and a nice little cafe with things made with home grown produce. It’s well worth a visit. The animals aren’t terribly exciting, but the chickens are entertaining, and there are some mean cats which have warning signs of their very own.
We sped down to Spitalfields for a wander around the market. I found about a dozen coats to die for, along with great jewellery, fabulous hats, a vintage traffic light (as you do), and lots and lots of shiny fings. I used to take Tilly there when she was a baby too. I was retreading my old stomping grounds a bit today. It has changed a lot. It is very corporate and upmarket now. Everything is tidy and clean and lots of chi chi brands have moved into the shops around the market square, but it is still fun to visit, and as it’s undercover you can visit in any weather.
We had lunch at The Real Greek – a tried and tested favourite. The kids are all obsessed by halloumi at the moment, so it was an easy decision when it came to choosing where to eat. I had their delicious feta, beetroot and lentil salad, and flatbreads with dukkah. Washed down with Prosecco and a fierce coffee, and eaten outside in the sunshine, it was pretty perfect.
After lunch we headed into Shoreditch and the street market around Brick Lane. It was buzzing with people and we wandered round for about two hours. We loved it.
There were some fantastic buskers. We sang ‘The King of The Swingers’ with a double bass and voice ensemble. We danced along to a pair playing the most amazing stuff on squeeze box and drum. We listened to some stunning classical guitar.
The children hoovered up more free samples of food. There was every sort of food you could imagine. Brick Lane is famous for its curry houses, and the smells were amazing, but the street food was eclectic and really exciting looking, and had I not been full from lunch I could have snacked my way round the world ten times over.
We talked to artists selling their wares. A particularly lovely lady who sold Tallulah some super cute earrings in the shape of tiny blackbirds definitely deserves a mention. Her company is called: ‘I am Acrylic’, and we loved her things.
We were collared by a very odd antiques dealer dressed like a deck chair, who despite us telling him that my parents were antique dealers, insisted on telling us all about the trade and what is hot (Chinese ceramics are big news apparently), while a crazy guy tried to sell us second hand jumpers. ‘Look laydee, this is a very good thing from Reever Is Land. It is two pounds. TWO POUNDS?!’
We browsed galleries. I wanted a picture called something like ‘Favourite Suicide Spots’ which looked like one of those Seventies super drenched picture postcards with four scenes on it, all bridges. Tilly wanted a gigantic gnome in the shape of Lenin and a gold penguin.
There was so much to choose from.
And so much to see.
We walked and walked until our feet fell off.
Because our feet fell off, we took a bus from Liverpool Street to Clapham, so we could have a nice long rest, but still continue to be nosy. And we had snacks, so it was a total win win situation…
Until Tallulah got stung by a wasp.
Then we had a bit of a drama.
And then it was alright again.
So, apart from the wasp, it has been a most excellent day.