Columbia Road market. Meeting the Queen.

French lavender

Spring prompts me to get up early on Sunday and head down to Columbia Road flower market. In spite of my best efforts, I didn’t make it there before 10am. It already feels crowded, especially as it’s a sunny London day and people have started out early.

I was trying to get out of the throng, when I saw her – the Pearly Queen of Royal Greenwich, standing on the corner by the door of the Royal Oak. Apt, I thought. She wore her pearly costume proudly, matched with bright pink lipstick. I loved it.

Her name is Gwen and she is the Pearly Queen of Royal Greenwich, across the river yonder. She comes to Columbia Road once a month to raise donations for The London Pearly Kings & Queens Society Charity Fund.

A little girl came to talk to her and the Pearly Queen was effusive. She showed off her handbag. She held out the hem of her skirt where the first line of pearly buttons were sewn. She explained the meaning of some of the pins. And she read out the charities that the fund supports. Then she told the little girl, “now you can tell your friends that you’ve met the Queen.”

I left the market at midday, laden with pots, plants and flowers. By then, people were streaming into Columbia Road. They would have to inch their way through the market stalls.

I had a big smile on, satisfied with my haul. And after all, it’s not everyday you get to meet the Queen.

~ Spotted Cow

Pearly Queen of Royal GreenwichPearly Queen of Royal GreenwichOpen househydrangeas Haul from the market


To market, to market …

Ubud, Bali

… to buy a fat pig.  You can do just that at the Ubud public market. There is a stall that sells suckling pig or babi guling, the local specialty. The market is located across the road from Ubud Palace in a multi-storey building full of stalls that spill over into the car park and onto the street. Vendors sell flowers, fresh produce, cooked food, fruit juices, sweets, temple offerings. Get up early, and by early I mean around 7am, otherwise you’ll miss the good stuff. Remember to bring your camera. Many of the vendors are happy to pose for photos, especially if you ask them nicely.

Spotted Cow

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