Sunday 25th August 2013(As always – please feel free to click on any image to view a hi-res version in Flickr) A track of our walking route today can be viewed HERE
A veritable treat lay in store for today – a visit to the world famous Notting Hill Carnival. I’ll admit to being slightly nervous about this beforehand – as kids growing up in the West Midlands our view of the city of London was that of a big, bad faraway place, and all we knew about the carnival was what we read in the newspapers or were told by Sandy Gall and his colleagues on TV :- Drunks, drugs, pickpockets, violence etc. But what the hell – it was something I’ve never experienced before, and a side of London culture that I thought I should witness with my own eyes, rather than via the flat screen in the corner of my lounge . . .
Starting at comfortable old Brent Cross underground station, on the Northern Line, our plan was to hop onto the Central line at Tottenham Court Road, then alight at Notting Hill Gate, from where we’d just follow the crowds. Hopping off the Northern Line Train we were immediately thrust into the midst of the crowds that were heading in the same direction as us – This was gonna be a busy day !
The Central line train got as far as Lancaster Gate before grinding to a halt, accompanied by an announcement over the PA system informing us that the train needed to wait until platforms at the stations ahead had been cleared, and that Notting Hill Gate station, which was meant to be exit only for most of the day, had been closed completely. No problem – We could just alight at Queensway and walk the half mile to our intended start position. Queensway was a rather nondescript station, to be perfectly honest. Also, instead of escalators it had lifts, of which I’m no fan, especially when they’re crowded. It was a case of “Grin and bear it”, however and we soon emerged into the bright sunshine of the Bank Holiday afternoon. As we walked along the A402 towards Notting Hill Gate the noise levels rose steadily. Whistles and horns, both readily available from the countless street traders, were being blown as revellers started to get into the carnival spirit. Upon reaching the top of Kensington Park Road we paused to prime our cameras, zip up our bags and stow any loose items – no point giving the pickpockets an easy time. Then we entered the fray.
It wasn’t long before we encountered the first floats. The leading float was basically an articulated lorry, piled high with amplifiers and speaker cabinets, atop of which sat a few DJs. F*CK, this was LOUD ! ! ! !
Dodging between lorries we continued on our way, all the time passing people just having fun, for funs sake. The sounds and aromas were an assault on the senses – whistles, horns, drums and amplified music made ones head spin, whilst stalls selling mouth-watering Jerk Chicken and an array of other delicious Caribbean foods made the tummy rumble almost as loudly . . .
Turning onto the Portobello Road, home to the famous market, of which there was no trace today, we took time out to sit and people-watch as we drank ice cold Red Stripe.
Continuing on we next paused to watch an African drum group play some fantastic rhythms. A nearby shop was offering Red Stripe at £5 for 3 cans – it seemed rude not to….
Next we made our by now very merry way up to Golborne Road, as we wanted to see and photograph the infamous Trellick Tower. Love it or hate it (I’m no fan – to me it looks horrendous) the building is certainly impressive.
With readers of the blog in mind, and plenty of Red Stripe coursing through our veins, we attempted to blag our way into the tower to get photos. We got as far as the lift before we were apprehended by security and asked to leave. Oh well – it was worth a try . . .
Retracing our footsteps along Golborne Road we ambled our way across to Ladbroke Grove, where we sat down to catch our breath and eat ice cream. A friendly, rather inebriated young man said hello, and upon hearing my Black Country accent asked me if I was Australian ! ! G’Day, Mate ! !
As we climbed up the steep hill of Ladbroke Grove, passing more carnival lorries, we were able to turn around and view the vast sea of bodies, as far as the eye could see.
The carnival today was without doubt the most people I’ve ever seen in one place and, apart from a small dispute between a few girls in the toilet queue, I experienced nothing but people being friendly to one another and having fun. There was much alcohol flowing, and the aroma of Ganja was abundant, but the police officers, of which there were thousands, allowed the proceedings to flow. I take my hat off to every single officer I saw today at Notting Hill – to a man (and woman) they were cheery and helpful. Some even put on fancy dress items and allowed themselves to be photographed – wonderful stuff.
After reaching the top of Ladbroke Grove we made our way along Holland Park Avenue towards Notting Hill Gate, still surrounded by plenty of now tired, but still whistle and horn blowing revellers. It was time to head home, eat, relax and reflect on what had been a truly unforgettable day . . .
- Notting Hill Carnival 2013 images (Shelbel64 on Flickr)
- Thousands enjoy Notting Hill Carnival in bright sunshine (metro.co.uk)
- Speeling Error of the week (stevegwilcox.wordpress.com)
- Hundreds of thousands of revellers descend on Notting Hill for day two of carnival 2013 (standard.co.uk)
- Notting Hill Carnival 2013 (lucieloublog.wordpress.com)
- Dancing policeman at Notting Hill Carnival (itv.com)
- Colour of Notting Hill Carnival attracts 1m as large-scale trouble stays away (metro.co.uk)
- Notting Hill Carnival Police In Dance-Off (news.sky.com)
- Notting Hill Carnival (carabensonphotography.wordpress.com)
- Notting Hill Carnival Photos (carabensonphotography.wordpress.com)