Find yourself edging toward the bottom of Portobello Road on a Saturday morning and there will inevitably be a sea of people moving slowly through the streets in the same direction. I did just that a few weeks ago and thought I’d share a few of my photos.
If you’ve stepped off the tube in Notting Hill, you’ll walk past a handful of shops selling second hand designer clothes, cheap and cheerful summer dresses and quirky toys.
There’s even a new branch of Bubbleology on Pembridge Road selling some classic bubble tea. I remember what a novelty that was when I first tried it sometime around the age of 13. Well, it is quite pretty anyway.
And just as colourful, there’s these amusing tights on mannequin legs hanging in the window of a shop nearby:
Swing around the curve and meander along the road to where Portobello Road begins. Number 22, a light blue house with a red door was home to George Orwell for about 47 years. The neighbouring homes are painted in a range of colours until you reach the end of that section where the real market madness begins.
The first stop for most people coming from this direction is probably the shop selling tin pub signs and the musicians performing on the corner.
My favourite part about visiting Portobello (and likely the only reason I would ever go there on a Saturday) is for the people watching.
It is, I promise you, an endlessly fascinating activity.
It’s nice to separate yourself from the crowd so you don’t get swept up in the flow, step out onto the pavement in a spot with a good view and soak in the surroundings, the colourful houses, the antiques, the fashion.
This girl has a pretty good view.
And I loved the look on this woman’s face as she watched one of the street musicians play.
This man was all about the patterns.
And this one seemed to have stepped out of a different era. Or Shoreditch.
I just love the colours.
Not to mention the fashion.
The stallholders themselves are often most interesting. Many of them have been part of this market for as long as they can remember and they have plenty of stories to share if you find a moment to strike up a conversation.
The beauty is in the small details that are easy to rush past. I enjoy a slow stroll to take it all in.
I was chuffed to see a Niagara Falls sign next to some Chelsea Flower Show pots (I was born 10 minutes away away from Niagara Falls, New York and now live in Chelsea here in London).
Paddington Bear was hanging out there as well, another slice of childhood, looking quite fabulous against that bright blue wall.
This wooden basket made me feel like a weekend in the countryside.
It’s sensory overload, that’s for sure. A lot of it is aimed directly at tourists – shopping bags with Union Jacks or that say “I Love London”.
There’s plenty of antiques on this end and random things like horns…
Tables filled with bits and bobs.
(which looks pretty cool as a coaster)
And magnifying glasses…
My dad always says be sure to look up in this city. With all the shops to distract us, sometimes we miss out on the details.
And look down as well. I love to spot interesting combinations of texture and colour, like this yellow bike against the black wall of Ben Sherman.
Walking on, the antiques change to jewellery.
Of all sorts.
A few oddities.
A few more oddities.
Cheese, honey and jam.
There’s also paella.
Or if you woke up this morning itching for a viagara prawn wrap, well now you know where to go.
On the complete opposite spectrum, there are toys.
And behind the stalls are rows of other permanent shops. Pharmacies, clothing stores, butchers.
There are flower sellers.
Hat sellers with scary mannequin head displays.
Anyone need a dreamcatcher?
And just around the corner, there’s even a spot of street art strewn across the wall near a section of food stalls. This is Stik. He looks good in orange.
And nearby is some pretty terrible fashion…
All the way at the end of the market as you turn toward Ladbroke Grove, there is this pretty angry looking tiger standing watch.
At the end?
Some very good and very very nice food, of course.
An excellent tour! In the sunshine it will be better still.
Dad is right, always look up, especially when around old buildings!
Thanks! And yup! He is right. I’ve noticed that especially around central London where all the shops can be a big distraction, there’s some really amazing architectural details.
Oh, wow. Looks like so much fun!
Always is 🙂
What a fabulous, colourful, interesting and mouthwatering walk down Portobello Road! Thank you for taking us with you. I agree with your dad. Always look up!
Welcome! It’s definitely colourful alright. And I have been spotting some interesting bits of architecture looking up lately so I’m starting to agree as well!
I just love the quirky and insight documentation of Portobello. Love the details, brings back some good memories.
Definitely a quirky little slice of London. That’s a good word for it. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂