London – Notting Hill

Since living in London I have always wanted to visit Notting Hill, yet for some reason it has taken me over a year to do it. It wasn’t that crap movie with Hugh Grant and that annoying American model that made me want to explore Notting Hill, but instead the allure of the notorious colourful houses and the bustling street market. I was fortunate to go there on a sunny day with the mother during a bank holiday. We walked up from Notting Hill Gate to get breakfast at a restaurant called Bumpkin on Westbourne Park Road, which is funnily enough the street that Hugh Grant’s character lived in. If anyone cares.

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Bumpkin is a very nice place inside and has a great menu. The problem was that my mum had come there for their acclaimed juices, which they no longer served. Following this, and much to my dismay, the menu was severely lacking in bacon so I had to haggle them for a bacon sandwich. I don’t even know what breakfast looks like without bacon to be honest… It’s probably a very upsetting sight I imagine.

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After finishing up rather promptly at Bumpkin we ventured towards the market. Portobello Market (unsurprisingly on Portobello Road) is one of the biggest markets and attractions in the whole of London. On a sunny day it is easy to see this as the herds of tourists mix with the locals to form a gigantic cluster of people managing to move at negative speeds. Stalls are littered across every part of the road, selling a vast array of different items. There is a great used vintage camera stall, a stall specializing in french horns, one in vases, another in silverware and a whole host of them selling food from across the globe.

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The market is almost like a long journey through different cultures as you wind through the masses of people seemingly into different countries, each absorbing you into their culture for just a second before your pulled into another. This is only emphasised by the number of tourists all injecting their own culture into the fantastic blend of nationalities. It is a market that can at one point feel typically British before suddenly feeling like something out of a holiday.

There are not just stalls set up though, there are also the actual shops of Portobello Road luring in customers in abundance. These shops are a similar mix of different specialities, some more high market than others. Hidden amongst the more mainstream shops (all the shoes, clothes, candles and what not) are the real gems of the streets shops. For instance there are a couple of interesting shops selling weird ornaments from across the world. Inside they feel like a temple almost with their menagerieĀ of spiritual relics on display.

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The positive side of having to stutter at snail-speeds through so many people is that it forces you to look around you more, and this is a great road for doing that. The shops themselves are brilliantly designed, each projecting their own cultural heritage, while the buildings themselves are just as beautiful. The coloured houses that I had come to see were certainly on display. There were all kinds of coloured houses laid next to one another like a scene off Balamory.

The beautiful sites along with the bustling atmosphere combines to make a really great place to visit. Like a tour through picturesqueness, navigating through the market takes you through the heart of Notting Hill in all it’s glory. A place that feels very alive and home to a sea of culture it is very fun to explore all it has to offer. There are shops for every interest possible, ranging from vintage comic book stores to stalls selling falafel, and much more to gaze at while you find your way through the crowd.

– Charlie

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