Sometimes fate decides to take a hand and you are very glad it did. On Sunday, I went to London to see the Grace Kelly exhibition at the V&A and was umming and aahing over whether there was time to visit the Columbia Road flower market as well. I am so glad I decided to go as it turns out the V&A exhibition was fully booked anyway - and I would have missed out on a cherry blossom tree decorated with apples and some great jokes shouted out by the flower sellers.
Not to mention the rows and rows of flowers.
The market fills the sweeping curve of Columbia Road every Sunday from 8am - 2pm and is just a riotous mass of colour. You do have to dodge the crowds; people carrying bundles of flowers, and now and again, someone staggering along with the odd tree or two.
If the crowds in the centre of the road get too much, you can escape into the quirky and interesting shops that line Columbia Road.
The market is famous for being great value and the stall holders often sell the flowers in the wraps as they appear in Covent Garden, so, for example, tulips are sold in paper wraps of fifty.
There are some great buskers, and convenient pubs and cafes where you can sit and enjoy the music as you watch the world go by.
Fate also took a hand when I was up in London earlier in the week. I had planned to visit some city flower shops, but time marched on, and I only had a few moments to call into one shop. I chose By Appointment Only Design in Marylebone.
It is such a gloriously grown up shop. A shop you feel you should be wearing kitten heels in. As soon as we started chatting I discovered that not only do they know my books (very gratifying) but they also know Miss Pickering as well. Fate!
Miss Pickering has a gorgeous floral emporium in Stamford and features as the March florist in Flower Shops & Friends.
It seems that Miss Pickering was present at the launch of their shop in Chiltern Street. From here, Javier Salvador and his staff provide a full wedding and party service, so the shop is not only filled with wonderful blooms (the coral peonies were simply stunning) but they can provide exquisite cakes, favours and all the other accessories as well.
They apologise that the shop is not looking at its best. But it is clear they perceive imperfections I can't spot. All I can see it a very stylish and elegant shop filled with sumptuous colour. I must remember to come back when they think it looks good!
Down stairs is a quiet area for consultations. It is so warm and welcoming and Chiltern Street is such a good location near to the Marylebone Road, I find myself wondering if they would notice if I moved in for a while!
I am so glad I called by. It is too short a visit, but I think Fate got it right.