Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Notting Hill

Yesterday I mostly hung around our apartment and dealt with some email correspondence.  We are currently scheduled to vacate the apartment by 10 am on Tuesday, May 3, which is the day our lease begins for our rental house on Florence Road.  However, we can't really move into the house until we have stuff to move.  All we have with us at the moment is whatever we brought on the plane with us -- mostly clothes and Josh's bike.  Everything else -- all our furniture, dishes, linens, and most of our shoes and clothing -- is in a shipping container making its way across the Atlantic.

So, I was emailing back and forth with the movers and the relocation company to see if I could get an estimate of when our stuff would arrive, clear customs, and be available for delivery -- and if we could tentatively extend our stay in the apartment if that won't happen by May 3.  This is further complicated by the fact that Josh is scheduled to go on an overnight business trip May 3-4, so I'm especially motivated to make sure I don't end up homeless while Josh is out of town.  I also started making some initial inquiries into finding a job here, but since we have Easter, the Royal Wedding, and a string of bank holidays coming up, I may not be able to make many inroads until everyone is back from their vacation.

Today was yet another beautiful day, so I decided to take a field trip.  A quick glance at the tube map indicated that I could get to Notting Hill without having to change trains, so that seemed like as good a destination as any.  I headed up there this morning to check out the neighborhood and the famous Portobello Road market.

This wisteria is gorgeous!  I know it grows like kudzu, but it's beautiful if you can keep it under control.
There are a lot of antique stores on Portobello Road.  This one had some beautiful art nouveau tiles.
Lots of colorful storefronts, even at the quieter end of the street.
This storefront was used as the Travel Bookshop run by Hugh Grant in the movie Notting Hill.  Now it's a shoe store with a very self-aware name.  Right after I took this photo, a cute young Italian guy asked me to take a picture of him in front of the store.  I was a little surprised, as he seemed too young (and too male) to be familiar with the movie, which came out in 1999.
As I went further along the road, there were vendors set up in the street selling produce, crafts, and other random stuff.
When I got to the end of the road, I stopped for a rather disappointing lunch at a Japanese place, and then walked back to the other end, where I made up for the bad lunch with some tasty dark chocolate gelato.  Since it was still early in the day, I continued walking towards Kensington.  Along the way, I passed this pub, which seems to have gone a teeny bit overboard with the flower boxes.
And another wisteria-covered house.  According to the circular blue plaque, it was once inhabited by the composer Frank Bridge.
I eventually reached Kensington High Street.  The "High Street" is generally where all the shops are in a town -- sort of like "Main Street."  This cool art deco building once housed a big department store.  Now it has a Whole Foods on the ground level.
I wasn't in the mood for shopping, so I continued on to Kensington Park, which is adjacent to Hyde Park.
Even though it was early on a Tuesday afternoon, the gardens were mobbed with sunbathers, picnickers, dog walkers, cyclists, tourists, and people just enjoying the nice weather.  It was 75 degrees, which is unusually warm for time of year.

Here's Kensington Palace.
And the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall.
The Serpentine Gallery, which had a disturbing modern art exhibition.
The Long Water/Serpentine - a long man-made lake that divides Kensington Park from Hyde Park.
At the northern end is the Italian Garden, with formal walkways and fountains.
There were LOTS of different kinds of birds in the park -- particularly water birds.  This swan put on quite a show for the paparazzi.
I also noticed some green birds flying from tree to tree.  It turns out they are feral parakeets!  Apparently, there are several populations all around London.

I just happened to capture this pigeon in flight as I was photographing the Italian Garden.
A fountain overlooking the Long Water.
Detail of the fountain.
A heron having its afternoon tea.

By this point, I was getting tired and thirsty, so I walked towards Paddington Station in hopes that I could find some refreshments before getting on the tube.  There wasn't much along the way, but I spotted a Garfunkel's right across the street from the entrance to the tube station, so I went in and ordered a glass of iced tea.  That hit the spot!


  1. Did you find any books about the Isle of Naboombo in that book shop on Portobello Road (the place where the riches of ages are sold)?

  2. Uh, no. Just a lot of ugly shoes. No Hugh Grant, either.

  3. I love Kensington Park and spent some time wandering around there a couple of years ago. I think that's the park that has a memorial fountain to Diana, which almost looks like a necklace. You're having warmer weather than we are, mostly, although yesterday, it hit 88!!


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