Hot on the Highstreet Week 163

When the sun decides to shine on London we all panic about how to make best use of the warmth. My preference for Sunday mornings has to be Columbia Road, the lovely East London street full of quirky things to discover. Obviously the fragrant flower market is the main reason to visit, but even if you don’t intend on buying a bunch it is great fun to wander through observing seasonal plants and magnificent flowers whilst listening to the cockney geezers giving their best spiel.

After picking up a bouquet and gorging on Italian brunch at Campania, there are a host of independent shops to eat up your loose change.

Choosing Keeping is a stylish ubercool stationery shop for magpies like me! It is all arranged in a systematic layout that is very attractive and tempting. The type of shop that can urge you to make a credit card purchase in the hope that you can make your office look more like Choosing Keeping. I loved the rainbow-coloured Sakura Coupy pencils, the neon yellow fountain pens, and the dinky Japanese miniature desk accessories.

Vintage Heavens sells gorgeous sets of teacups and saucers, plates, vases, and ornaments. Affordable and one-of-a-kind, it is perfect for kitting out a new home.

Two Columbia Road is a bit pricey but the spectacular vintage finds here are worth the dollar. We found wonderful art deco lamps and an old map of the world.

Suck and Chew is the shop to satisfy all your sweet-tooth childhood fantasies: liquorice, sherbet, and chocolates of every kind are presented in wacky retro jars and pots. Fill a bag with your favourite sweets and indulge while you walk around the flower stalls.

At Number 94 Columbia Road you will find a special little jewellery shop ideal for picking up a present or treat for yourself. When I visited I saw the ‘Wear it Out’ collection, and particularly loved the matchstick range from artist Petra Bishai.

If you need a caffeine kick there are plenty of hidden baristas to attend to your cravings. A blackboard stating “Coffee, any style” is the best for a creamy Monmouth blended flat white.

Tip for the day: take lots of cash, ATMs are hard to come by and the market traders don’t take card!

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