Columbia Road Market and Greenwich

Columbia Road. One of the best ways to spend a day in London that I know of. A tiny street miles away from its nearest tube, Old Street, it feels like you’re heading the wrong way out of trendy Shoreditch.

However, if you visit on a Sunday you are met with a street full of people, quirky and artistic shops, street musicians and, most of all, flowers:

Columbia Road flowers

Of all kinds, sold in traditional market stalls:

Columbia Road cacti

Many interesting shops, including my favourite shop in the whole of London, Jessie and Buddug, and Rob Ryan‘s sentimental yet poignant gallery. And some great doors, too…

No junk mail

We could, and probably will, write about Columbia Road again, but on this day we headed on to Greenwich. On the DLR, which is simply brilliant when you can DRIVE. THE. TRAIN. OK, so you can’t drive the train. But because it’s completely automated, you can sit in the drivers’ seat. Oooh. [Occasionally someone does actually drive the train, often when they go underneath the Thames for some reason, but we don’t talk about that.]

Driving the DLR

The Old Royal Naval College, now home to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, has some stunning buildings which are open to visitors. Exquisite to walk around, especially if you then head across to Greenwich Park, it’s one of the most special parts of London, and not one I’d visited until surprisingly recently. Features include the Painted Hall, designed by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor but painted by the lesser-known Sir John Thornhill. He made it his life’s work, and literally covered every inch of floor and ceiling with painted scenes. It’s fascinating to get up close and see his technique develop from one corner to another.

Painted Hall

Painted Hall dome

The Chapel, though, is the real highlight for us. Beautiful and simple in colour, the mouldings and light streaming through the windows combine to make something very special, and hints of pale blue add to the airy feel.

Greenwich Chapel

Always ones to follow our own advice, we headed up the hill to look over London. With Greenwich in the foreground and the far more contemporary Canary Wharf in the background, it’s a fascinating contrast between old and new.

View over Canary Wharf

We then decided to return to central London via a lesser-used method of transport… the Thames Clipper. Wouldn’t it be cool to commute on this every day? Go out the back for a breezy but beautiful view:

Tower Bridge by night

Tower Bridge isn’t the only sight worth seeing, but this is possibly one of my favourite pictures ever taken. Sometimes, though, you have to admit London does give you a little help…

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