As a lucky resident, I look forward to the Notting Hill Carnival every year and make sure I get out and about and enjoy the world’s second largest street carnival right on my doorstep. It splits views in the neighbourhood with many residents making sure they are nowhere near and boarding up their houses against the feared hoards, while others, like myself, enjoy the vibe, the music, the food, the costumes and the all-round good time. Continue reading
The last 2 years at Notting Hill Carnival were rather hard work in the rain and the chilly temperatures but 2016 saw blue skies and a full burst of summer. It’s one of London’s great events and a major feature in our diaries. Continue reading
Was it the chilliest and wettest August bank holiday Monday ever recorded? It certainly felt like it as the rain poured down and soaked us to the skin but did it wash out the Notting Hill Carnival? Of course not! The crowds braved the weather and the dancers in parade carried on as if being completely drenched was perfectly normal for them.
I go to carnival every year and still love it just as much – the music, the parade with mad costumes, the food, the noise, the people watching, the colours, did I say the noise? Some residents of Notting Hill head for the country while others, like myself, make the most of one of the world’s best street carnivals coming to their doorstep. Continue reading
We are having a summer like no other, as the Mayor of London’s slogan tells us on billboards, leaflets and even T-shirts, but it’s not over yet. We are just taking a breather at the moment and recovering from our Olympic hangover! Continue reading
Bye for now,
The last weekend in August must be kept clear in many of our diaries for just one thing – the Notting Hill carnival. Europe’s biggest street festival (well Rio is bigger) comes to town and brings in over a million party goers to my neighbourhood. There’s a huge parade winding its way through a 3 and half mile route which takes hours as they dance their hearts out. There are loads of trucks with deafening music systems or steel pan bands followed by dancers, many in huge and elaborate costumes, others in very little! The parade is only part of the fun as the other streets are full of food stall, clothes and Caribbean stuff, and the loudest of loud sound stages with a whole range of musical styles but all with massive speakers. Caribbean food has to be eaten – jerk chicken, goat curry and saltfish with ackee are the key dishes, accompanied by plantain, rice and peas. It was the 47th carnival but only my 7th! Here are a bunch of photos which give you a better idea of it all than words can.
London – so varied, so interesting, such unpredictable weather! I like to think it’s always sunny in London but we do have rain or our parks wouldn’t be so lovely and green. This week’s wet highlight was Kenwood – a series of open air picnic concerts set in the lovely surroundings of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath. We went for the summer proms featuring Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which turned out to be accurate as we had sun, cold and the most amazing downpour I’ve been out in for a very long time. We were half way through the picnic when the heavens opened on us and despite enormous amounts of plastic we were soaked to the knickers! No photos of this as the camera was safely away in one of the few dry sections of the bag. Being British we ‘kept calm and carried on’, sat it out, finished the picnic and enjoyed the concert tho’ sitting in damp clothes is not my favourite feeling. Here’s a photo of the venue just before the rain…..
It was classical music week with a trip to the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall where we saw Elgar and Vaughan Williams performed by the Scottish Symphony Orchestra. It’s a beautiful venue and I love to hear music there. It was good to see it full as the Proms are a fabulous national treasure from the BBC – the world’s largest classical music festival with over 70 concerts spread over 3 months every summer. ‘Prommers’ queue on the day (queueing again!) for standing tickets at just £5 which makes it brilliantly accessible for the less well off but hardy folk. Luckily for me we had box tickets as I’m too short and too lazy to stand for a couple of hours! Here’s a photo of the inside of the wonderful hall, taken just after the performance finished in case you were thinking I’d taken in mid symphony which would be a major Proms crime…
One of my local galleries was holding their Summer 2010 Collection which was very interesting. Salon Contemporary on Westbourne Grove showcase the best of new British talent in this annual event in its 4th year now and new graduates get to show their work in the trendy gallery. It was invite only and was absolutely packed. The most eye catching was Hye Young Ku who works with bin bags and combines a static piece with performances and the photos shows her is in her bin bag bed creation within which she sang short sets. Salon Gallery has regularly changing exhibitions and is an important champion of new work. They also initiated a great new local initiative, First Wednesdays, where local galleries and fashion shops open late on the first Wednesday of the month (it was in the name I guess!) which just makes Notting Hill even better.
So, that was 2009 but before we let it go, have a look at my list of my 2009 favourites if you scroll down you can see what they were. It was a fun year but it went in a flash and I guess 2010 will speed by too so let’s see just how much we can cram in. You can see how I do by following my blog and hopefully the blog will give you an insight into life in London and what a good time you could be having if you were to visit us here.
As for the closing days of 2009, I spent these in Iceland which was even colder than London but not by much! We had a great time and saw some wonderful sights including the huge Gullfoss waterfall which was almost frozen over and so was I after staying on the viewing platform rather too long taking photos. We bathed in the Blue Lagoon which is a very large outdoor heated thermal pool and was a wonderful experience if a little weird as it was about -5 degrees outside making the dash back inside a major challenge. Although I did hire a robe to save my body freezing as I hurried back to warmth, they were not hiring out flip flops and my feet were so cold that I’m warning everyone to take some! But worth it….
Favourite restaurant: Wolseley in Picadilly
Favourite show: Matthew Bourne’s ballet of Dorian Gray at Sadlers Wells
Favourite bar: The Oak, Notting Hill
Favourite event: being on Centre Court Wimbledon for the first ever match under the roof
The bank holiday weekend in England always feels like the end of summer and it certainly goes out with a huge loud bang in Notting Hill when the carnival swings into town. We are lucky enough to have 2 days of the world’s second largest street party – I think Rio still beats us! The build up feels weird as they start boarding up shops and restaurants the days before and some locals rush away, especially if they are on the parade route. And the anticipation builds, especially for those in the parade who have spent all year making huge and elaborate costumes.
On the mornings of the event, all starts quietly and then the noise starts to crank up as the parade winds itself around the long route and the sound systems keep moving the volume button to the right. If you want to see the extraordinary bright colours of the parade costumes, smell the wonder of jerk chicken and feel your sternum pulsate to the rhythms, then this is the place for you! Several of my neighbours can’t get far enough away as the hundreds of thousands of visitors make it a bit of crush at times but I love it. I really enjoy showing friends around which they appreciate as we pass endless lost people turning maps every which way to find out where on earth they are. The police patiently give directions and brace themselves for the later stages of the event when they have to try and get everyone on their way home after a few beers (the carnival goers that is not the police!).
The next day it’s like nothing has happened as the amazing clear up puts us all back to normal and I spend the next day sorting through my photos to keep the few great ones and lose the rather blurry dozens and wonder if my neighbourhood is the same place that hosted the carnival madness.
Not much time in between for restaurants, bars or art etc but local eateries I’ve frequently this week were: Toms Deli for brunch in their lovely outdoor garden (a rare treat as they normally have a huge queue), and another return to Aphrodite for a pre-carnival fortifier.
One more thing to let you know about was the One Magic Summer event in Trafalgar Square, brought to us by the Mayor’s Office (Boris Johnson). Rows of deck chairs in the middle of the square had been set out for anyone to sit in for free and chill out for a few minutes or even hours with entertainment laid on. It was a lovely day when I went down and the whole idea really brought smiles to a lot of people’s faces, always a delight to see in a big busy city.
Bye for now.