The People of Portobello

I didn’t bump into Ron and his dog Betsy this time, but Portobello Market is always prime people watching territory on a Saturday. We walked down from Notting Hill to Ladbroke Grove. Here’s a few photos I took along the way.

Palm Reading

It was a slow stroll through the cluttered shops and stalls full of tacky London souvenirs, the union jack shot glasses, the racks of postcards, red telephone box keychains, tee shirts announcing “My sister went to London and…”

A Browser's Contemplation

And then past the second hand porcelain teapots and antiques market, the boxing gloves and war paraphernalia, rows of various analogue cameras, stamp collections and silver tea spoons.

Tea, Texts and Cigarettes

The music plays. The CD stalls, the buskers, the Johnny Cash man with his big old double bass, a woman singing sweetly with a guitar sitting on a street corner, nestling her chin into layers of colourful scarves to keep out  the January chill.

Windy Day

It was a windy day. One vendor selling jewellery told me she’s been selling in the market for over 15 years and this is the windiest day she has ever seen. Stalls were blowing over. A woman’s rack of tights spilled onto the street, the man above fixing mugs blown in a gust, clothing racks tipping slowly onto the road.

People of Portobello

People walking alone. People walking in groups. People walking their dogs.

We walk past the fruit and veg vendors shouting “one pound a bowl, just one pound a bowl!”, filling paper bags with apples and avocados, passing change over the table of grapes and tomatoes and plastic containers of blueberries for £1.50.


The smell of paella cooking slowly in giant woks, steam rising into the cold air, people standing against walls on side streets digging plastic forks into tins of noodles, hands wrapping around hot plastic cups of tea.

People chatting and laughing and eating and shopping and yelling and cooking and walking.

A woman made crepes with ham and cheese or sweet with bananas and Nutella.

Hairnet and Apron

Food stalls faded into clothing stalls, racks of generic £5 market dresses causing crowds in booths that look like closets, tables piled with boxes full of sweaters and tee shirts and belts and scarves.

Wonder What's Down That Way?

The fashion is always fascinating. A woman wearing snakeskin leggings and a neon pink jacket with a big furry wolf hat. A man who could have walked straight out of the 1920. Cultures mingling, languages spilling about.

We head toward the Westway. Graffiti starts to pop up. An old protected Banksy behind plexiglass, a Don banker and colourful murals behind the barrier walls.

Portobello Transaction

We dig through little cardboard boxes full of old jewellery remnants – pendants, beads, broaches and rings. There are boxes of buttons.   Unpolished stones. Watches, hats, wallets, gloves.

Portobello Shoppers

In the vintage and secondhand clothing market, there is leopard print, faux fur, red leather boots, a pair of jean short completely covered in band badges.

Peacock Feathers B & W

A peacock feather seller stands silently with his goods in the street.

Seeing Red

The cold seeps into our bones. Our hands are red and white. The wind whips around. Bags blowing. People bundling and huddling.

The Lip Bite

We decide it’s time to head home.

A Look of Disbelief

So I will leave you now with a video from Stall Stories, the story of Portobello Road Market.

Vendor on a Winter Day


9 comments on “The People of Portobello

  1. Perhaps it’s just my very Canadian sensibilities, but this post (not unlike your others) is incredibly charming, both the writing and the photos. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My favorite two shots are of the man sitting checking his phone in front of the flower mural.. timeless. Also love the man selling the peacock feathers.. never even knew you could buy them? Keep up your creative edge and thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for all your comments today 🙂 Funny enough that man checking his phone looked up at me while I was trying to take a second shot and I have a photo of him wiping his snotty nose with the palm of his hand while he notices me 😛 I’ve seen the peacock sellers around Brick Lane and Shepherds Bush before. This was the first time I noticed him in Portobello….Cheers about the blog!

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