Saturday, July 26, 2014

you'll find what you want

Portobello Road, Portobello Road
Street where the riches of ages are stowed
Anything and everything a chap can unload
Is sold off the barrow in Portobello Road
You'll find what you want on Portobello Road

What we found, mostly, was tourists. But I expected that. It is always thus. Portobello is crazy and crowded and noisy and confusing and it's also exciting and surprising and robust. There's an energy there that is oddly addictive and alternatively overwhelming. There's just so much to look at. And though we came with a giant group of the students, we were all separated within minutes. You can sorta expect that, too.

Today I found the secret recipe to enjoy Portobello. First of all, bring very little cash. Otherwise, you'll spend it. Secondly, walk the entire road - a good hour's walk - without buying anything. Then eat. You'll feel better once you eat. Then turn around and head back down the road. This time you'll know what you're looking for, you'll know where stuff is, and you'll know if you really want it. Amazing thing about lunch: it clears your head. I bought a leather motorcycle jacket - my first Portobello purchase in years of coming here.

There are also some fantastic side shops just off the road. The deals are just as great, but far less packed. Miles and I browsed the record bins at the infamous Rough Trade music shop, and then later we spent some time in the Spice Shop on Talbot Road. We smelled everything, and loved the fact that our hands smelled like pumpkin the rest of the day.

We also stopped at the food market and I told Miles he could choose lunch. He chose Bratwurst on bagels. They were fantastic. Packed with onions and relish and pickles and so big I couldn't finish mine. We sat under the bridge and sang "Royals" and "Ho Hey" along with a street busker. We watched a man put his head into a metal bucket and then stand on it. Miles joked that doing this must have been on his bucket list, which made me laugh out loud.

After lunch we went to the Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising, situated on a little side street of Notting Hill. I've never been to this place; turned off completely by the worst name in museum history. And now I want to go back every year. It's packed - literally packed - with merchandise, advertising, and tchotchkes from the Victorian Era to the present. The woman told us it would take an hour at least to see everything and I scoffed at that. She was right. I need a half day to see everything. It's a cheery museum; funny, well organized, modern, and colorful. It's a prop master's dream. I loved it. So did Miles. It may be one of the few perfect museums in London for kids.

We started to head back to the flat for a rest, but stopped at the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street for a pint of Coke. We needed to get off our feet. This was an awesome place to do it. Completely covered in flowers. I've never seen anything like it. How do they garden all of that?

Instead of going straight home, we stopped in Kensington Gardens and read our books under a huge tree. The weather was perfect and the park wasn't nearly as packed as I thought it would be. Miles and I had the entire tree to ourselves. I fell asleep until a bug bit me. Or so I thought. It was actually a prickly weed I was laying on. Whew - spared again from Lyme disease or something.

Tonight Miles and I went our separate ways. Our first night apart! But he's a grown up boy now and I trust him on the streets of London. Especially since he was with Brian, Chris, and Kacey. They went on the St. Paul's ghost walk, which we did last year with Simon. Miles loved it. He told me all the spooky stories later that night. I was having a spooky story of my own. Alex and I went to see David Lynch's Blue Velvet at the BFI. Holy crap, that movie. I forgot how scary it is, and how campy. I'm never sure I totally get it, but it's always worth the ride.