Walking down Columbia Road today with the sun blazing, the flower market blooming and glorious shops beckoning me inside, I was happy. Very happy.
I had never been to the flower market before, so on a trip up to London to visit the V&A's quilting exhibition for my textiles project I couldn't help but take a look. It didn't disappoint. The street was a mass of tulips, gerbera, roses and people: some pushing prams and nursing ice creams, others cradling bunches of paper wrapped buds. Every now and then someone would push through the crowd with a potted plant in their arms. One man was carrying a twisted tree nearly twice his size. The hustle and bustle on this Sunday morning was one of the reasons I can't wait to live in London. I could just picture myself in my fantasy life, living in a pink clad apartment nearby and coming here early on Sundays to buy flowers and the odd vintage treasure from one of the pretty shops. Then off to Hyde Park in the afternoon for a picnic and Pimm's sipping afternoon with my friends. Bliss.
One of the blossom trees on the edge of the road was adorned with red apples, tied to the branches by threads. From a distance it looked as though they floated there as if by magic.
With so many different stalls the air was buzzing with the sound of offers being hurled back and forth. One stall was manned, or rather 'boyed', by a young lad who must have been no more than 12. Despite his young age it was a middle aged man's holler that escaped his lips, enough to rival any of the other stall holders.
Of the flowers my favourites were the tulips, tightly packed in shades of peach and pink and the gerbera, so bright and joyful - fitting for such a beautiful sunny day.
One of the shops flanking the market was 'Treacle' a cupcake shop from heaven. I loved its window display of hanging pink and yellow flowers. With enticing aromas wafting into the street mothers and children were drawn inside for mid morning treats.
This door caught my eye as I wandered down the street. The shop was called 'Jessie Chorley and Buddudg Humphreys' and home to a trove of handmade, vintage inspired treasures. Brooches, journals and trinkets made from old newspaper, hand embroidery and infinite care were beautiful and completely covetable.
This door caught my eye. I like the old fox knocker and think the peeling paintwork and mix of colours is unexpectedly beautiful.
As well as the flower market, my main reason for heading to Columbia Road was the fact it is home to Ryantown, the shop of my all time favourite artist Rob Ryan. I had read about the shop and longed to visit for a while, but never had.
When I saw the words 'Ryantown' scrolling across the blue fronted shop my heart leapt inside my chest. Stepping inside the small but bright and airy shop I had to fight back tears. Crazy I know, but my heart couldn't contain my happiness. All around me were Rob Ryan's painfully beautiful, hopelessly romantic cutouts making homes of bags, tiles, t-shirts, even a calculator, or simply (and most impressively) framed in their whole and perfect glory. Rob Ryan's artwork expresses a longed-for world of love, happiness and optimism, and to me walking into his shop was like walking into that world.
After browsing for a disproportionately long time considering the size of the shop, I decided I had to buy something. Unfortunately nearly everything was well out of my price range.
However, I couldn't leave empty handed. In the end I settled on a wooden key that I had been pining after since I saw it for sale on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park's website as part of their recent Rob Ryan exhibition. In the shop these keys were hanging from red ribbons from the ceiling, each one feauturing a cut out message. "The key to my heart will one day be used only by you" reads mine. Perhaps it is silly (or plain sad) buying such romantic things for myself (I already have a whole host of his cards, each featuring a similarly soppy message) but I don't care.
My key makes me happy; it now hangs in front of my mirror so I can see not one but two images of it every time I do my make up. When it is raining or I am simply having a bad day, Rob Ryan reminds me that as long as there's love and happiness around we're doing all right really.
Even the packaging was beautiful, so much so that I almost couldn't bear breaking into the bubble wrap and tearing the tape that says 'The star shine all day too!!'.
For the rest of the day I carried my bag with pride. "Everything's going to be ok,"; the pretty and cheerful message makes me say "Yes, it is".
I nearly, very nearly bought myself one of these hand printed cushions, before I convinced myself that spending £65 on a cushion was probably not justifiable. Alas.
Rob Ryan's cutouts sell for thousands, and no wonder. They are completely and utterly beautiful. "We had nothing, We had not much, We had enough, We had everything. P.S. Please don't ever let me have too much." Oh to one day be rich enough to have one of these cutouts hanging on my wall. It may take a while to save up the pennies, but it WILL happen.
"You are my universe. Moons circle planets and planets circle stars, Stars and galaxies rotate eternally and you and I circle eachother, For you are my universe entirely and I will always be yours."
I read in Vogue recently about a woman whose boyfriend proposed to her with the aid of Rob Ryan, who was a friend of theirs. When he got down on one knee and opened the ring box, inside was a tiny Rob Ryan paper cut out that read "Marry me Shadow" (her nickname). Who could refuse? Despite telling myself I don't particularly want to ever get married, I know I couldn't.
Rob Ryan has collaborated with Urban Outfitters to produce this amazing fish eye camera. See the world through Rob Ryan's optimistic eyes with this fabulous and fun creation.
Not on sale in Ryantown, but I couldn't help but mention them... Rob Ryan's collaboration with Tatty Devine showcases his style in jewellery form. This necklace is £210. But it is so lovely. And it is only in a limited edition of 25.
Columbia Road is now one of my favourite places. Flowers, cupcakes, and Rob Ryan. 3 of my favourite things.