London, Play

Portobello Road – a new found love

Portobello Market

My very first and very fond memories of London are firmly rooted in W10 and the little, scruffy area underneath the concrete flyover at its southern bottom. Despite the fact that my actual first visit to London hadn’t included a trip to Portobello Market (but a stay at the posh Covent Garden Hotel) and that it lies about ten years further back in the past – Portobello Market always reminds me on my first days in London. And it sums up why I fell in love with this city.

At the time, the air of renewal that fulfilled the space had intrigued me. Everything seemed possible. Starting up your own business, choosing creative freedom over financial stability, living from hand to mouth to achieve a greater, bigger dream – the market people were my personal role models.

When I visited my friend A, the initial plan included staying for a weekend, getting a break from a hideous internship and from a slightly dysfunctional relationship. A few weeks later the hideous internship was over and the relationship was history, too. I needed a place to hide. Somewhere that had nothing to do with the well-off middle-class existence I used to share with my ex in Switzerland. With little money to spend, W10 turned out to be my own little haven of shabby chic.

In fact, it turned out to be much more than just a haven – running away from my troubles didn’t proof to be very recommendable. My problems seemed to be catching up with me rather quickly, inviting new problems to join.

After a rather rough time, I decided to go back in time to face my demons, cleaned up the mess I made and waved London goodbye. For good, so I thought. Fate, luck and a lot of love brought me back only a year later. As long as we were not moving back to W10, I could live with moving back to London.

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Precious market finds

I went to see my lovely artist-come-writer-come-dentist Simon for a check-up last Friday (seriously, if you are looking for a good dentist, book an appointment with him) – his practice is located just off Notting Hill Gate. Instead of heading straight back home afterwards, I strolled down Portobello Road. I hadn’t set foot on the market in more than three years.

A favourite lunch spot

It is all still there. The antique dealers. The fruit and veg stalls. My favourite lunch spot. The clean whiff of fresh soap that scents the air anywhere south of the Lush shop. The Halal butchers with their raw displays of dead meat. The guy with beads in his hair and beats on the turntables.

Wandering around in between the vintage stalls, I realised that some things are so good, they make you come back for them all over again. And that time heals all wounds.

26 Comments

  1. Beautiful post, Met Mum. Life has a funny way of taking us by surprise don’t you think? How amazing we found yourself back in London.

  2. How lovely! I loved this post – I’ve lived in Manchester all my life, but have moved from Greater Manchester to another part, which is actually a lot different than you’d expect. Most people would think Manchester is a shabby place, but really, if you’ve lived and looked there enough, you’ll see that really, it isn’t. Great post xx

  3. Lovely post Deborah. Funny how life has its twists and turns. I go there quite a lot. My little sis used to live just round the corner – very handy. And we’d end up in Belgo’s eating mussels.

    All life is there. Love it.

  4. Good post MM. Nice to step back in time and still feel the connecction and the love for the place.

  5. Wonderful post, Met Mum! I just got back from my first visit to London a few weeks ago! Sadly, I didn’t get to the Portobello Road area. All the more reasons to come back. We loved London – what a fabulous town! Happy weekend to you! Lovely blog! 🙂

  6. What a wonderfully written post, I have this huge list of things to do in London when I find the time to visit, and Portobello market is right there under ‘notthinghill bookstore’ and ‘the eye’. Very exciting stuff, I’m sure.

  7. Lovely post. I really like portobello road and notting hill area.
    We are back in London, if you and kid are available someday, we could have a coffee . Take care

  8. you are such a good writer. it makes me excited for your book 🙂 i’ll be in london at the end of september…does this market happen on the weekends?

  9. Great post. I love Portobello – my husband grew up round the corner and we spent much of our early time together mooching around Notting Hill.

  10. London – Love it, hate it, can’t seem to leave it.

    Funny I was thinking about trying to find a dentist and one who is also an artist, writer etc. sounds too good to be true. x

  11. Love Notting Hill, spent lot of my childhood round there- I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday than strolling down Portobello Road 🙂

  12. As usual, absolutely delightful. I think I need to come to London as soon as possible. 🙂

    xo, Annie

  13. This is a beautiful post that makes me reminisce my London. We left Hackney 18 months ago, and though I vow never to permanently return, whenever I do venture back for the day, I’m reminded of why I loved it for as long as I did. I wish I could look back on ex boyfriends with such content.

  14. I like Brick Lane and Petticoat Lane markets a lot. I think being born in London I was never really in love with it it was a bit like athletes foot – always there and a bit annoying. When I was there recently I kind of wondered why anyone would pay to stay in such a busy filthy place – like I say if I lived in london it would be Hampstead or Highgate all the way!

  15. Such a nice post. Had a little cry.. shame, you did have a bit of a bumpy time back then. xx

  16. It’s not often I truly miss London, but I think this post has made me a little bit. I love Portobello market and you sum it up beautifully here.

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