Is it bad that I chose my halls of residence largely because of its proximity to the Columbia Road Flower Market? Perhaps, but it is nonetheless one of my favourite spots. After a hectic few days Sunday was the perfect lazy day. After a deliciously long (and well-needed) lie in I headed to Columbia Road with Angel, my flatmate, and Lucy who lives across the hall.
As soon as we stepped onto the street we all agreed how happy we felt. The atmosphere there is thick and sweet with happiness, laughter and the aroma of more flowers than you could ever imagine. And oh, the flowers...
Columbia Road may be famous for its floral market, but it's not just about flowers. The whole street is lined with quirky galleries, pretty cafés and beautiful shops. I was so happy to see that the gorgeous Jessie Chorley & Buddug Humphreys shop (that I have blogged about before) has moved from a small dark room upstairs to a new, street-level location. Their things look even lovelier in their new, light and airy surroundings.
Inside the shop is an Aladdin's cave of handmade treasures that are heart-achingly sentimental and appeal to an old softy like me. I wanted to buy everything. More than that even, I wanted to live inside the dreamy, softly lit interior of the shop where vintage trinkets hang next to carefully crafted gems, and where love and nostalgia are the ruling forces.
"Love is the flower you've got to let grow", reads the inscription on this vintage brooch. I can't decide which was my favourite, this one or another that read: "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life".
In one corner of the tightly-packed room stood an old dress-maker's mannequin with these handmade rosettes pinned to its chest. "Once upon a time..." read one velvet trimmed version.
Just down the street and tucked into a tiny courtyard were piles of vintage quilts and rolls of fabrics. One shop was alive with vivid colours and 60s style prints, and a rack of rainbow threads hung on the wall.
We were even provided with entertainment as we wandered down the street. Flitting between chat and song they made a charming pair, and I couldn't help but fall slightly in love with the smiley double bass player.
And of course, no trip to Columbia Road would be complete without a visit to my hero's gorgeous shop. Rob Ryan: my love will never die.
I already had 3 of Rob Ryan's laser cut cards attached proudly to my pin board, but I thought it was only right to complete the set. Therefore it was only natural that I bought the one I had been missing, a cute blue card which now tells me each day to "Believe in people".
If your walk down Columbia Road leaves you in need of a sugar break, then head to 'Treacle', where the cupcakes look as beautiful as they smell.
The cupcakes are displayed in an old-fashioned glass cabinet for you to choose. What will it be, gooey chocolate, pink and sparkly, or perhaps one of the desperately cute minature cakey morsels?
In the Nelly Duff poster shop I could have parted with considerable cash. I loved the mottos and the bold designs and could have quite happily brought home several of them to hang on my walls.
There was one, however, that stood out. Printed boldly in one particular frame were the words "Work hard, be nice to people". Now that, to me, sums up succinctly what it is all about.
Perhaps instead of posters, however, I could opt for wall stickers. This shop sold a huge array of fun designs to brighten up your wall and make you smile.
If the cupcake hasn't sustained you and you are still in need of refreshment, head to this green gated courtyard for a salmon and cream cheese bagel, or fresh oysters served to you buy the 'oyster man' as my friends named him.
As Angel enjoyed her oysters we enjoyed the square, with the old shop that looked as though it had stood there forever...
On the way back from the market we stopped off at Hackney City Farm. Now I grew up in Dorset, and by the time I came to leave I was so sick of the countryside I never wanted to see another field again, let alone a farm animal. However after just one week in the big city I was back on a farm, this time rejoicing over the sight of chickens and hay.
It felt so surreal to wander off a busy central London street into a haven of rural calm. We had lunch in the busy restaurant, and my salad (filled with homegrown ingredients) tasted like heaven on a plate. In the room next door pottery classes were taking place, whilst outside arts and crafts stalls were set up on wood chippings under tents.
"Samba classes in the hay barn" announced a loudspeaker as Lucy and I tucked into the homemade chilli and chocolate brownie we had just bought.
For me a farm is nothing new and all in all I much prefer London life, but to see the faces of city children light up as they petted what was probably the first donkey they'd seen in their lives made me appreciate the quirky perks of rural life.
Angel and Lucy were quite tempted to take this sleepy pig home and keep him as our flat pet. I, on the other hand, didn't think his belly would fit through our door.
In the field we watched as a calf and a sheep had a headbutting contest. The sheep won. The calf ran back to mum and hid behind a fence as the sheep looked on, victorious. If a sheep could possibly look smug, this one did.
And finally I couldn't help but smile as dad explained to son how to use the gears on a tractor. He may have been a fully-grown man, butyou could tell that deep down he wanted a ride too.
So there you have it, the perfect lazy Sunday in Hackney. I rather like living here. :)