Sunday, 30 August 2009

Columbia Road Flower Market

This morning we went to the Columbia Road Flower Market, a spectacular market in Shoreditch near Brick Lane. We had heard a lot about it and saw beautiful pictures, and it was just what we expected. What a treat! The flowers were beautiful, and the street was lined with great shops and cafes. Columbia Road was packed with people as they made their way through the rainbow of colors, looking for the best deal from vendors who were shouting the prices of their various pots and stems. We also had a great brunch at Campania, which was delicious. I can't wait to go back!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Portobello Road

This morning I went to Portobello Road for the Saturday market. I got up bright and early and headed out solo while Andrew stayed at the apartment with Lois. I'm happy I went, but I'm not sure this market would be on the top of my list if I were just visiting for a few days. I've been once before a few years ago, but I didn't remember it being like it was today.

It was quite the tourist trap. At least a third of the street market consisted of new cheap goods, like vendors with knock-off Prada bags, and vendors with lots of tourist trinkets like little red plastic London double-decker buses. I got there pretty early, so it wasn't until about 10:30 when I was leaving that the masses of people became too much for me. I don't think I've ever seen so many fanny packs and cameras in one place! I admit I was one of those tourists (with camera, no fanny pack, just a big purse filled with random baby stuff). As I headed in the opposite direction back to the train station, it was like invasion of the fanny pack zombies, all rushing towards me, and I actually couldn't wait to escape!

The neighborhood is really nice, though, and I'd prefer to go any day other than Saturday and just browse in the shops and walk the pretty streets of Notting Hill. Having been to a handful of the antique markets now, I'd definitely choose Camden Passage Market over Portobello Road. Still, it was fun to have alone time and see the tourist madness that was Portobello Road. And it was a spectacular day. Blue sky, cool breeze, sun. Can't beat that. Here are a few pictures from the old side of Portobello Road.

I wonder how many times these Portobello Road row houses have had their picture taken. Lots.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Labour and Wait

As any chef, gardener, housekeeper, or DIY aficionado knows, good things come to those who wait, and even better things to those who labour and wait. Earlier this week I dropped into another great shop that I read about in The Traditional Shops and Restaurants of London: Labour and Wait. The shop has a clean, minimal feel and is stocked with practical tools for household tasks and general everyday life such as shaving sets, enamel measuring jugs, and metal watering cans. They also carry the infinitely useful ball of twine and twine stand. Labour and Wait left me daydreaming of a cottage kitchen with little a garden out back, both filled with functional, beautiful tools. Maybe it will do the same for you.

Labour and Wait
18 Cheshire Street
London, E2 6EH
Saturday: 1.00pm to 5.00pm
Sunday: 10.00am to 5.00pm
Wednesday, Friday: 11.00am to 5.00pm

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Camden Passage Market

Yesterday morning, before going to the umbrella shop later in the day, I went to the Camden Passage Market. I was close to experiencing antique overload, if that's even possible, but I think I was close. The street market was great, but it was all the little cozy shops that made my eyes start to hurt from over-stimulation. It was like a little fake town at Disney, Antique Town, but it was real! Tiny shops packed with silver, china, books, tools, vintage clothes, and a whole lot more random old stuff. I'll have to go back again with Andrew because most of the shops were too small and packed to stroll Lois in with me, so I just peeked my head into most of them, but here are a few snippets from the market. Tomorrow I might get another dose of antique overload when I go to Portobello Road. I should get some rest.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Rain, Rain Don't Go Away

Today I went to James Smith & Sons umbrella shop. It was a rainy day--perfect for visiting a beautiful umbrella shop. I loved seeing this girl in front of the umbrella shop, with her rosy pink umbrella. Like me, she was admiring the shop and taking pictures, and just from the sidewalk I understood why. It's one of the many great specialty shops I've read about in my favorite book lately: The Traditional Shops and Restaurants of London by Eugenia Bell (published by The Little Bookroom, publishers one of my other favorite books: Paris Made by Hand). James Smith & Sons specializes in custom umbrellas and walking sticks. I was especially interested in the umbrellas, and the designs and fabrics were diverse and beautiful. While I was in the shop I saw the proprietor repairing an umbrella with care. Umbrella repair is not something I've ever thought of and it reminded me that things weren't always disposable. These umbrellas remind me of a time when people really took care of what they had instead of just throwing it away when it broke. I would love to have one of their umbrellas, but I will have to go back with Andrew to pick one out. He will like them a lot too.

Ava's Tea Party

Meet Ivy. Isn't she the cutest? Earlier this week she celebrated what would have been her sister Ava's 6th birthday in pink tea party fashion. Ava flew to heaven before she had her first tea party, so her incredibly talented photographer mom, Sheye, threw a tea party birthday for her. Do you recognize the party hat and dress? I was so happy to have made a party hat and dress for Ivy in honor of Ava. Sheye and her family intended to have a small tea party at their house with close family and friends and make Ava's Tea Party a bigger event in the future, but after Sheye mentioned Ava's upcoming birthday on her blog, people all over the world celebrated with their own tea parties and wrote letters and sent pictures of their wee tea gatherings. When I get home I plan to make more vintage tablecloth dress and party hat sets and call them Ava's Tea Party sets and donate a percentage of the profits to Paradise Kids, the organization that helped their family during an extremely difficult time. Maybe that red balloon I saw last night in the pink sky was on its way to Ava.

Photos by Sheye.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Red Balloon

It's hard to move on from that Caravan post. I loved being there so much and showing it to you that I'd like to leave it here right on top of my blog like a favorite magazine in a stack. Ah, well, I have to move on at some point, and last night I found a good reason to do so (two actually, the other one comes later--saving the best for later).

Last night, after dinner, it was extremely hot in our apartment because I had the not so bright idea to make chicken noodle soup on one of the hotter days in London in a tiny apartment with no AC. Our windows just crack open, and they were cracked, but it wasn't enough. It was hot. Very hot. We have one door that opens to a railing, a sort of fake balcony, but it's too dangerous to have it open with the little one crawling around. After having our hot chicken noodle soup (that I made homemade from a chicken we roasted the night before, yum), I was sweating and thirsty for a lemonade. I opened the balcony door and yelled, "someone bring me a lemonade!" I don't think anyone heard me, and Andrew just laughed at me.

As I looked up the sky was beautiful, and I saw this one red balloon lifting up and up into the air. I lunged for the camera and almost tripped over Lois and fell over a chair to do so, but I grabbed it, and snap. I had no idea what settings the camera was on and didn't have time to check. I knew I would miss it if I didn't just take the picture. So, here you have a picture of a random cherry red balloon in a cotton candy pink sunset. It was one of those magical moments that went by in a flash, which might also be the top reason to always have a camera handy. You never know when you might see a red balloon. Maybe one day another red balloon will come along and follow me.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Yesterday I paid a visit to Caravan, a shop I've been looking forward to visiting for quite sometime now. Stylist Emily Chalmers, the very talented and lovely owner of Caravan, wrote my top favorite interior design book, Flea Market Style, which I love so much and have read cover to cover at least a dozen times. I can't even express how excited I was to visit her shop and meet her in person! The white-washed shop is warm and inviting with curated touches of vintage treasures, candles in delicate votives, and fresh flowers tucked here and there alongside the store merchandise. Caravan features a variety of delightful merchandise, some of which is quirky and fun like the Lou Rota bug plates, some pretty and elegant like the brilliant silver and gold metal roses, and some modern and functional like the colorful Jielde lamps by Jean-Louis Domecq. And much of what Emily carries is exclusive to Caravan, like those Jielde lamps--Caravan is the primary UK representative for them. You can also pick up a signed copy of one of Emily's books: Flea Market Style, Contemporary Country, or Table Inspirations. If you see something pictured here that isn't in the online shop, Emily would be happy to email more pictures and information. Head over to the shop and get some Caravan Style, and don't forget to pick up you own cute little Caravan!

3 Redchurch Street
London E2 7DJ
United Kingdom

+ 44 (
0) 20 7033-3532
Tuesday - Friday: 11-6:30pm, Saturday & Sunday: 12-6pm