Every year for my birthday since I turned 18, I’ve received flowers from my mother. I decided to reciprocate this traditional gesture of thought and affection by also treating her to some, but as I stood in my local florist pondering over the variety of ice-cream pastel peonies and vividly blinding tulips I thought it would be better to let her pick a blooming bundle herself. And where better than Columbia road flower market. Every Sunday the east London street - a 12 minute walk from Bethnal Green station - is turned into flower pageantry, with an ocean of colour and waves of all imaginable petal shapes. Gentlemen stroll hand in hand with their beaus looking for that special bouquet to buy, tourists point their cameras at the delicate petals that envelope a rose bud and the traders shout out their 3 for £10 deals in a true cockney accent You can’t help but love the cheeky market traders whose quick thinking banter wouldn’t look out of place in a Carry on film.
In keeping with the on going theme of 'surprises' during the weekend I simply instructed my Mum to put on something comfortable and prepare for a walk. Mummy was entirely clueless and thankfully didn't click on to passers by carrying various bunches of flowers in their arms. As we approached the bustling road I turned to Mum and explained that she could pick some flowers for her birthday. she was delighted with the surprise :)
The flowers may have enjoyed the days weather but for us the rain poured in a typically british manor ushering us to find shelter - and something edible - in some of the local shops. Luck was on our side however when we quite literally stumbled upon a little cafe called The Lily Vanilli Bakery. We were greeted with a counter full of creative delights. Each delicious treat was paired with petal paper explaining the unconventional but oh so delectable ingredients. We admired the 'sweet potato and parsnip cake' and a baked creation that was made with Guinness. The cafe itself was small, but there was a welcoming atmosphere with groups of people laughing and smiling as they sipped from their cups of coffee. My mother and I chose 'stuff on toast' which is, quite literally, stuff on toast. It was simply heavenly; thick, moist bread topped with bacon, roasted vegetables and cheese, although there was lots of other 'stuff' to choose from.
As I sat debating whether to have another slice I noticed a rather pretty book I had seen only months before and fell in love with. 'Sweet Tooth' is a recipe book that's so colourful it could blend in to the rows of flowers that line the street just round the corner from the bakery. Lily Jones who began with the Lily Vanilli Bakery has gone on to produce this fabulously quirky book of tips and recipes on how to create something truly memorable - and sweet. After this weekend Mummy remembered how much I loved Sweet Tooth and bought it for me for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I can't wait to try out the recipes and I'll be sure to write a post about how I get on! The book also acts as a lovely reminder of a fabulous weekend in London with my Mother.
If you're ever in East London and looking for a charming cafe this is the place to go. It's definitely a new favourite of mine and I can't wait to take my friends to Lily Vanilli.
As we continued flower shopping I began to notice my Mum ignoring the dainty bouquets of cut flowers and instead she hovered around small potted trees and climbing plants. I still hadn't revealed to her that I had afternoon tea booked, a long tube journey away across London. I could only laugh at the irony when my Mother chose a large pink climbing camellia! She later told me that she chose the camellia over the cut flowers because she wanted something that would last forever - to remind her of the weekend! She's a cute one!
We made our way across London, miniature garden and all to enjoy the remainder of the surprises ahead! It was rather amusing to look down the underground escalator to see a mass of pink flowers nestled amongst the black suits of commuters! But odd looks from Londoners aside, I think Mummy made a fabulous choice! And look how proud she is! :)
Thanks for reading lovelies! Part three coming soon!
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