The thing about most of London's markets is that you can come away without buying a thing and still feel a sense of satisfaction at a day well spent. Columbia Road Flower Market is one of those markets. The flower market opens at 8am, and if you're an early riser, it's highly recommended to visit at about 10:30am if you want "the pick of the crop" and to avoid the crowds. Unfortunately, neither I nor Charlie is a morning person so we hit the market at 12ish after grabbing some hot salt beef bagels on the way.
Beigel Bake: Hot Salt Beef Bagels at £3.70 each
The market itself was more crowded than Covent Garden on a Saturday. We dove head first into the moving mass, slowly inching forward as we weaved our way from stall to stall for a glimpse of the bucketfuls of vibrant hydrangeas, roses, orchids and peonies. While I've never been particularly partial to flowers (whether owning them or receiving them; they wilt so fast it's hardly money well spent), they are undeniably pretty and extremely photogenic. I didn't bring my Canon 550D this time, having traded it for the much lighter Canon S95, but it turns out that the latter can be very beneficial for taking quick shots in crowded, slightly claustrophobic situations. Fortunately, having been subjected to Oxford Street's hectic December and July crowds, the turtle pace of the flower market crowd seemed almost gentle in comparison.
|Be prepared to face crowds|
After the market, we headed back towards Beigel Bake / Redchurch Street, when there were plenty of boutiques still holding extremely tempting summer sales. Along the street, we encountered Mast Brothers Chocolate Makers, a chocolate factory with a shop-cum-cafe front offering hipster-imbued, chocolate-inspired items from hot chocolate to cold-brewed chocolate beer. The interior is all clean lines, minimalist furnishes and finished concrete floors, a space dominated by attractively wrapped slabs of chocolate stacked in neat rows. Were I a younger and more naive version of myself, I would've loved it. Unfortunately, a quick google search revealed that chocolate experts apparently hate the Mast Brothers for their low quality chocolate which, according to one of the articles, is all bark and no bite. Eschewing the chocolate itself, we went for a chocolate beer instead (and as a secret Harry Potter fanatic, this excited me because it reminded me of Rowling's butter beer). It turned out the name was surprisingly accurate - "Chocolate Beer" went down as smoothly as beer, and struck a fine balance between the bitterness of beer and the nutty sweetness of dark chocolate.
|Pretty packaging for the instagram obsessed and Mast Brother's hipster interiors|
|Mast Brothers Chocolate Beer: Cold Brewed Chocolate (non-alcoholic) - £4|
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Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road, London
Nearest tube: Old Street Station (Northern Line)