Ladies in London

Monday, 11 April 2011
'Portobello Road' clip from Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
"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 in Portobello road.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks was one of my all time favourite films as a child, and I so wanted to visit Portobello Road. I figured it was a more realistic ambition than visiting the beautiful briny sea or watching animal football. Some twenty years later I got my chance last Monday! Lindsay and I decided to have a girly day in London with our main stop being Portobello Road. Although Portobello Road's Antique Market is mainly done on Saturday, there was certainly plenty to do and see. 

My three favourites being:

  1.  A number of cool vintage shops. Lindsay said they were either like walking into her grandmother's closet or her closet circa 1984.
  2. All of the Mediterranean/vegetarian food restaurants/stalls. I'm a sucker for Mediterranean food, especially if it's vegetarian. Quite a few of the restaurants in the area seemed to cater to this type of eating and with things like halloumi (a cheese from Cyprus) my mouth was watering.
  3. The fresh fruit and vegetable stalls. Yes, there were scarves and rings and all sorts of other trinkets for sale but the fruit and veg stalls are what really caught my eye. Because there were so many of them the prices were unreal. I bought two packs of dates for a pound.
Reaching the end of Portobello Road, Linz and I had discussed earlier in the day having tapas for lunch. Linz had found a tapas restaurant online close to Portobello Road, only problem was now we didn't know where it was. Lindsay was consulting her map when we were approached by a rather eccentrically dressed older woman. We told her what we were after and she offered us to walk with her for she knew where I tapas restaurant would be. She was one of the most remarkable woman I've ever met. Not only had she travelled extensively, on her own as her husband had sadly passed a number of years ago, but she was fluent in French and could speak a little Polish. She had taught herself Polish because one of her all time favourite destinations was Krakow. I could have spoken to her all day so I was sad when we arrived at our destination and bid farewell. I considered inviting her to join us for lunch but without the means to communicate this to Lindsay first, I decided against it. It turns out Linz felt the same way about her and was thinking along the same lines as me, but by this point we were seated and she had disappeared into the crowd. I'll always wish I'd asked her to lunch, I didn't even catch her name but the twenty minutes I spent in her company were very pleasant indeed.

The tapas were lovely, Lindsay and I split four dishes (chicken roulade, beetroot salad, squid fricassee, and cheese & pepper croquettes)  and washed them down with a glass of the house wine. After which we wandered through Whiteleys, England's first department store, upon suggestion from our mystery friend. Whiteleys is no longer a department store but in fact a shopping centre but you can see how grand it must have been in its heyday. While there we popped into Zara's to continue search for a black blazer. I've wanted one for a number of years, but not just any old blazer a really nice fitting tailored one. I absolutely love blazers and there were so many in the store I wanted, not just the black ones, but alas none of them fit me right. My quest continues.

Whiteleys Department Store

Disappoint search for blazers at Whiteleys over and done with, we made our way to Kensington Gardens. One thing I love about London is all the green space in the form of the Royal Parks. If I had to choose a favourite royal park, it might just be Kensington Gardens or Hyde Park (which runs directly into Kensington Gardens). On nice days I love to just walk through the Royal Parks, I did this with my mother in October and Amy when she came to visit in March. The parks are usually just so peaceful. I say usually because this time I had a stalker in the form of a very persistent squirrel. He followed me halfway through Kensington Gardens. If I stopped he became motionless in the hopes to make me believe he wasn't in fact stalking me. I nicknamed him Ninja Squirrel and couldn't quite figure out his fascination with me until I remembered the dates I had bought earlier in the day. I refused to give him one, namely because I had no idea what effect they might have on his little tummy. But after being followed for no less than fifteen minutes I felt his persistence should be rewarded, well that and the fact that he was sitting on my boot and it was the only thing I could think of to make him move. He got exactly one date and after he decided that I wasn't going to give him any more, he scampered off so quickly one would have thought his tail was on fire.

Our day out ended in Covent Garden. We arrived just as the shops were about to close, with just enough time to go into a couple. Our main aim in coming to Covent Garden was to have dinner before catching our train home. We stopped at Le Pain Quotidien, which I would go back to again in a heart beat. The food was all fresh and the prices were very reasonable, especially for London. I stuffed myself on an Italian platter made up of cheeses, cured meats, and tapenades. Delicious!

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day out, and once Luke and I move to Milton Keynes an easier experience to repeat!



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