England

London: The Flower and Plant Stalls of Columbia Road


Today is our last full day in London.

We sleep in, then linger over the Sunday Times and coffee. Much to our surprise, we find an article by Barbara Amiel, our own Lady Black. We ask Neil if the Blacks have been “rehabilitated” back into society since the very public trouncing of Lord Black about the unauthorized bonuses his company paid him. Neil tells us that the Blacks slunk out of London unannounced, and haven’t been heard from since.

Columbia Road Flower Market

We are out of the house by 11:30 and head to Columbia Road and all the flower and plant shops that line the road there on Sunday mornings. This seems to be a happening spot because even when we arrive at noon it is still crammed. The Blokes are loudly shouting and touting their last sale of the morning, more insistently than their competition next door. We wander a bit, poke our noses into shops, and wonder what they are planting back home for next year.

Brick Lane and Bangla Town

Our walk continues over to Bethnal Green Road and into the very trendy Brick Lane area of London. Alternative and vintage clothing, cafés and second-hand goods abound. The area is also home to Bangla Town, where many of the city’s newer, trendier Indian restaurants are. We have been craving Indian food since we arrived and plan to make it our brunch today. We stroll through the stalls, past the dreadlocks, torn jeans and the tables lined with the 20 something’s and their Sunday morning papers, lingering over coffees and late breakfasts. We continue through to the Vespa store – Neil is thinking about buying one for the congested commute to work. The streets are teeming with activity as we continue the promenade towards the Indian restaurant called Brick Lane Spice, which friends have recommended.

 Along the Grand Union Canal

After our brunch of good traditional food, fussed over by a courteous old man, we start the walk back to Islington and home. We head up the City Road and spend some time walking along London’s Grand Union Canal, which is finally beginning to be gentrified, and which leads us to within two blocks of Neil’s home. John and I finish some shopping that we had started yesterday and then we head back downtown for a beer and meet Neil and Robert, who has spent the weekend in Brussels but is now back, for dinner. Then Neil sees friends of his, Greg and Kevin, walk by, with Kevin’s brother and his friend, who are visiting from Scotland, so we join them for a couple of beers before heading home.

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